Playing a Tune

Watch oil painting “Serenity Piano” come to life

in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

I composed and played the music for that video. I wrote lyrics for it, but I’d have to dig those up because I don’t remember them. It’s something like “Life is so beautiful”, but it’s fuzzy to me now. Yesterday I had to re-arrange my space to make room for a stash of Christmas presents I need to hide until December 25th. In doing so, I cleared out the corner where my keyboard was inaccessible and collecting dust.

Before I even had everything put away, I couldn’t resist stopping what I was doing to play a little tune. I played a few Christmas carols and realized how long it’s been since I’ve last played. I’ve never learned how to properly play the piano and I’d been working on the chord method when I abandoned the project because I became busy with other things and then let my music become out of my reach for over a year.

It’s a bit of a shock to realize how quickly this sort of thing happens. I pledge now to make regular time for learning how to play the piano and enjoying making music. Is there anything that you had good intentions to learn or do, and you’ve let life clutter it up until you’ve forgotten all about it? How much time has slipped past? It’s not too late! 

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Happy Grief?

Watch this hedgehog oil painting come to life in about 1 minute

(time lapse)

You might remember when I painted this one and shared it in early April? At that time I hoped that the world would have sorted a few things out by the end of summer, and obviously that didn’t happen. But through it all, I try to share happy things when I can. Is there such a thing as “Happy Grief”? In my experience, yes, there is.

When we share hardships collectively as humans traveling in the same time line (those of us currently alive on this planet, spanning four or five generations across the globe) we may feel a special connection with humanity that is unique; and known only by people who experience the crisis together. Of course we may need to be “on the same side”, however we may define that to be. Connection is based on kinship, and that doesn’t happen with those who rule in dominion over us, or with those we perceive as in alignment, enforcement, or loyal to the ideology of those we are oppressed by. We do not bond with our abusers, but we develop intimacy with fellow travelers on the same journey. This is part of the “Happy” side of grief. Feeling close to fellow humans makes us happy.

Another aspect of “Happy Grief” is due to the extreme emotions. When our lows are very low, when our spirits try to counter-correct and restore balance, we swing to the other extreme- very high; happiness, joy, elation, bursts of creativity, optimism, and overall confidence that “everything’s gonna be alright”. We may feel surprisingly nostalgic and have vivid flashbacks to times, places, and people from years ago, or even many years ago. We may then take an abrupt turn in mood, as we remember people we’ve lost, and a world that used to be, but is no more.

During these extreme mood swings, we may land somewhere in the middle, but it’s not an ordinary kind of middle. It’s the middle that happens between highs and lows of crisis grief. In this sacred space, we find the greatest treasure in “Happy Grief”. We feel certain of what is most important in life. We know the secret of happiness, and it’s not things or work or relationships that we do not choose. It’s a secret that many elderly people already know: happiness comes from doing what we want to do.

When we see time as precious, vulnerable, and fleeting; when we feel that our future is uncertain and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed; when we can’t trust that the world we know today will still be there tomorrow… we live differently. We live with intention. We choose to spend time with the people we truly love, and have little patience for time wasted on those we do not enjoy being with. We structure our days differently. We are more willing to do productive work like gardening, baking, or making something homemade without thinking we should be doing work that pays an income or we should be doing nothing at all. Why work if there’s no pay check? Because productive work is happy work, and when we do something productive we are often rewarded with adventure, a pleasant outcome, and connection with others. These things make humans happy.

When we live life with intention, instead of scurrying along each day on a schedule to get each thing done, every item checked off a list, prioritizing meeting the expectations of others, putting paid work ahead of anything else- then we start to live on our own terms. We remember who we really are, and we may wonder why we squandered so much of our life trying to please others and doing what was expected instead of what we want to do. We may wish we had “one more day” with someone we lost. We may feel overwhelmed with regret or pangs of longing.

As the grief emotions sweep over us, we can channel these highs and lows into something good that improves our lives forever. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Be that person you’ve always wished you could be. “Live as if there’s no tomorrow. Love as if we’re on borrowed time.” It’s not just a catchy phrase or song lyrics, it’s real. And we know it’s real when we are in a state of “Happy Grief”. That is what I meant by Happy Grief. Because, when we live as if there’s no tomorrow, we finally learn how to be happy. May we take this precious awareness into a post-grief season, and never forget. But, of course, the grief season must end before the healing can begin. I will pray for deliverance, and I will pray for YOU. I do not need to know who you are to do this. Prayer is powerful. I need only to care. God bless you and your families.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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As Summer Leaves Us

Watch this “Flower Angel” painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

You might remember that I shared this oil painting when I finished it at the beginning of May, while the promise of spring was still unfolding. And now here we are approaching the end of August and summer is soon ending. The time has gone by quickly, yet slowly… as time often does.

As summer leaves us I remember how grateful I was to see flowers and feel the sun upon my face when spring first came to us. Now that the heat and insects have made outdoor experiences unpleasant, and the flowers are mostly gone, I suppose we’re feeling ready for the change of seasons. But whether we are committed to it or not, autumn is near – at least it is in my part of the world.

With so much uncertainty, it is comforting to remember the sameness of seasons. Every year we experience twelve months, fifty-two weeks, and twenty four hours in each of those 365 days. Time passes, both quickly and slowly, and when it does we can look back with certainty that the time we spent is now in the past. Given all that we’ve been through since this time last year, we may be relieved to see the seasons slip forward.

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Serendipity

Watch this oil painting called “Time” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)

Two days ago I blogged “One gone, another enters” and I was reminded of the story of when Mom died… one dies, another is born. I meant to talk about this yesterday, but the toad drummer distracted me and I had to blog about him first! I figured we could all use something funny and joyful, so I went with that first.

This other story is somber and mysterious, yet uplifting and I’ve shared it here before. But I never know how many have seen the things I’ve written previously, so it’s good to share them again as new friends join us. Also, there’s a bit of an update. The story is now published as the first chapter of “Beauty of Time” and can be read free as part of the new Kindle Vella program which officially launched recently.

I thought I could copy and paste the story in, but Amazon won’t let me do that… which is a good thing I suppose. A screen capture is a bit of a mess to stitch together, so please visit the story directly. It is FREE to read “Serendipity”, and it’s a very cool template, at least in my opinion. The text feels easy on the eyes to read. Anyway, my story is here, and if you like it, there’s a little thumbs up button at the end… that no one has yet pressed. I’m not sure anyone’s even read my stories. I don’t write the type of things that are popular there. But that’s OK, I write what is true to who I am.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

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Autumn in 2021

Watch oil painting “Autumn Tree” come to life in under 2 minutes This short project began with an abstract background. Next, while it was still

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New Painting

Watch my new painting “Pumpkin Carving” come to life in just over 2 minutes (time lapse) Father and son enjoying an autumn custom of cleaning

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Worn

Watch this “Armor of God” oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse) There’s a lot going on in the world today, and

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New Painting

Watch me paint this “Autumn Leaves” oil painting in 2 minutes (time lapse) No matter what is happening in the world or in our personal

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Setting or Rising?

Watch my “Trees and Stream” painting come alive in 2 minutes

(time lapse)

Was the sun rising or setting? Was she enjoying the early morning serenity, or was she so absorbed in her book that the sun set on her? Time has no meaning without context. Without it, we choose what it means.

Today, time slipped away and I didn’t paint as I’d pledged to do yesterday. Instead, my daughters had me on a bit of an adventure. At one point I was helping to remove a pine tree that was growing inside a flowering shrub. I transplanted that tree and I plant to decorate it for Christmas. When I do, I’ll think about how my oldest discovered the tree and how excited she was to show it to me. I’ll also remember when my youngest pulled on the root, fell backward onto her bum, while showering me with a cloud of dirt. I’ll recall how she laughed while telling the rest of the family this story.

Maybe I’ll paint the tree. I paint what inspires me. Sometimes it’s not very inspirational, just a project assignment, but I find a way to connect to it. Other times my art is deeply personal, profoundly sad (and I cry while painting it), or a humanitarian statement. But usually, my art is something in-between. It’s the real life moments between the sun rising and setting, when we choose what time means.

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Are you worried?

Watch me paint this puffin in 2 minutes (time lapse)

We have many reasons to feel worried. We worry about our personal circumstances that few (or maybe only we) know about. Private fears keep us awake at night: fears about illness, tragedy, work, financial crisis, grief, and trouble concerning our families. We also worry about things that the world tells us to fear; things that may be real or built upon deception in whole or in part. These worries may never come true, but life has its share of heartache and hardship, so we can never be completely safe from the things we fear. 

In my video of the puffin, you may notice:

  • As I’m painting, you can see glimpses of other paintings in the background. You see not only this single painting session, where I’m sitting there in my comfy red work shirt painting at home, but the evidence of several others. This represents hours of my energy and focus directed toward creating art to share.
  • If you’ve made it to the end of the video, you saw the music credits. Can you picture someone recording that happy guitar music to share with others? That musician invested energy and focus into making music. It was probably after years of playing the guitar, perhaps a lifetime.
  • And… the puffin is investing time and energy into simply being a puffin.

When we invest our time and energy into CREATING, MAKING, and BEING, we occupy ourselves with the act of living. We have filled the spaces of our minds with positive thoughts, leaving little room left over for worry.

  • CREATE: We don’t have to create art to be creative. I feel the same peaceful awareness of the goodness of creativity when I garden. Planning and growing my garden creates a new living world that is a masterpiece. Creativity can be in the kitchen, the garage, or any other place. An “artist’s studio” is wherever we feel creative.
  • MAKE: I’m grateful when musicians offer their music. I have a tight budget as a one-person enterprise, yet I need quality talent for my art videos. My art is made better when music sets the mood for my videos. But we don’t have to make music to contribute our talents to this world. Not everyone was born to be a musician. We all have our own gifts and talents, even if it seems we don’t. Making the effort to make life better for others, especially our families who love us, is one of the greatest roles we can have. What we make of our lives matters. Each of us has an opportunity to make a difference.
  • BE: When we are busy creating something new or making a difference in the lives of others, we have little energy leftover for worry. But, the true state of peace is when we don’t need to busy ourselves with positive distractions to fill our spiritual spaces… when we are unworried while in a state of simply “being”.

When I was learning about puffins to create that painting, I discovered that the puffin is a social creature who seems to love hanging out with other puffins. Yet there were plenty of instances in which the puffin was fine to be alone while flying, swimming, or simply being. The body language of a puffin suggests a relaxed, content spirit. 

Do you think that the puffin is aware of what an inspiration he is to humanity? As he goes about his animal life, with his funny stature, color block body, and unusual lifestyle combination of flying and swimming, does he worry about anything? This interesting little bird was given a singular purpose to live the life of a puffin. He was given gifts and talents to make that life possible. He was blessed with the company of other puffins for the journey.

Is the puffin immortal? No. They live an average of twenty years. But during that time, they protect each other from predators by forming groups when they are feeding at sea. They are highly social animals and deeply loyal, as they mate for life. To protect themselves, puffins nest high on top of cliffs and burrow deep under the ground. Instinctively, they understand their vulnerability and they take measures to keep themselves safe. But do they “worry” as we humans do? Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be the case.

Puffins are mysterious. They spend a lot of time at sea, where it is difficult for researchers to study them. In a world where every living creature is spied upon, analyzed, and intimately known, the puffin has managed to keep part of its life relatively private. I’ve blogged about how important it is to be mysterious.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned activities like painting, playing music, gardening, cooking, socializing, swimming, and flying (unlike the puffin we obviously need planes, but we too can escape to far away places). Nowhere did I mention filling our time with a devotion to media, the Internet, or packaged passive “entertainment” scripted with an agenda to steer us toward a faux reality, and away from our natural intuitive lifestyle. When we reject that which is fake and choose those things that are real, we live an authentic life. It is easier for us to just “be”.

Our life expectancy is much higher than that of a puffin, yet we waste so much of it in worry. May we strive to invest our time and energy into making and creating until we evolve into “being”, at peace while standing still. Whenever you start to worry, think of my puffin painting. Be a puffin!

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Peace be with You

Watch me paint this Cherokee Rose in 2 minutes (time lapse)

I originally had a completely different post written, one that I spent a couple of hours on. It was briefly published, so some of you may have seen it. Unfortunately the new technology that I was so excited about sharing with you (making a larger painting come “alive” through clickable hotspots to interact with the image), didn’t work when the post went live. So, now I’m writing a new post that relates to my experience this morning.

I get frustrated and upset when the time I invest seems wasted. I value my time as the greatest treasure I have. Money that is lost can be regained, but time can never be recovered. However, when I will myself to calm down, I can usually see that failed experiences are often more valuable than we think. Even if I can’t see the point of something right away, if I trust that purposeful intentions matter, I can let the issue go.

We can’t always control the outcome of our time investment, but if we approach every minute with purposeful intentions and honest expectations of time well spent, I believe that the spirit of our intentions and expectations will be honored and rewarded. My painting of a Cherokee Rose (at the top of this post) was meant to be part of the hotspotted image that I wanted to share with you. It seems appropriate to share it anyway, as it is a fitting metaphor for my change of blog post.

The Cherokee Rose is one of the elements in my patio garden painting that isn’t a part of my real life garden. I painted it because it is Georgia’s state flower. The project was for my book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia“. Previously, I’d never heard of this type of rose. When I saw a picture of it, I thought it was very pretty. After painting it, I was wistful to get one of these roses, so I looked into where I could get one.

This was weeks after I’d invested my time in painting the Cherokee Rose, formatting the photograph to publish as art in the book, and even designing the beautiful scarf that I’d put together show you (and even modeled it for you! 😂) in my video below. I was very excited about using my oil paintings for fashion. I love pretty things and this was such a thrill!

But, guess what? After all of this… I decided not to get this beautiful rose. It turns out that this rose is apparently quite wild and can be invasive. It needs a lot of space to grow. It’s not at all like my classic red roses that stay contained to their designated pots. In the end, the exotic Cherokee Rose doesn’t work.

I had invested a lot of time and energy into the idea of this rose, an idea that I thought would lead to this rose manifesting itself in my garden. Was that a waste of time? Of course not! I painted this rose in two different paintings, designed my first fashion scarf, and published it in my first art book collection. These are big things that matter to me.

Now, we don’t always see the results of our “wasted time” played out in such an obvious way. Sometimes we are kept in the dark about how the pieces of our lives fit together. Then again, other times the mysteries are much greater than a painting, fashion, or a book. Most of us have stories of moments when we failed to be where we intended to be, only to be at exactly the right place at the right time for a miracle to happen (or a disaster avoided). In such moments, we vow to never again doubt the connectedness of all things.

Every moment matters- even when we can’t see it. We may fail in our original plans, but succeed in ways that only God knows. At the right time, we may know how it all fits together, but it’s possible some things will remain mysteries. When we are at peace with the unknown, we can go about our lives with the best of intentions, while letting go of the disappointment when our plans (no matter how great or how trivial) don’t work. Whatever you’re doing today, may you succeed even if it seems you have failed. No matter the outcome, may peace be with you.

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New Painting

Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister

Read More »

Do We Want Peace?

Watch me paint “Dove of Peace” in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Surely most of the world’s people want peace. So why don’t we have it? Who is acting against our wishes? What is our response to these actions against our will?

These are big questions, and the answers appear to be unsolvable. They were unsolvable in ancient days, and unsolvable now. We may want world peace, but those in power do not listen. However, if we want spiritual peace, we as individuals will have it. No one can stop us from this choice.

Inner Peace

Inner peace is often described as being calm even if situations are stressful. Others describe inner peace as being strong in the face of chaos and crisis, rather than crumbling to stress and anxiety. I think of it as a combination of “calm” and “strong”. Spiritual peace is quiet strength.

Quiet strength can make the difference between surviving or not. It can make the difference between saving others or not. It can make the difference between a prosperous, happy life or not. The dangers of panic, anxiety, and fear are often greater than we realize. The absence of inner peace can make us sick, can cause us to make rash unfortunate decisions that harm ourselves or others, and can create favorable conditions for accidents. Whereas, the presence of inner peace protects us from these dangers.

Benefits of Spiritual Strength

The first three items on the list (rational thinking, steadiness, and calming to others) increase the likelihood that we and anyone near us will survive a crisis. Spiritual strength makes an impact on minor situations as well. When we handle problems with authority and grace, stress and anxiety don’t have time to take root. Therefore, we head off tension between people that could have lasting effects. We may even reverse the situation from something potentially damaging to an incident that people are proud to recall.

The second three items (confidence, physical health, and better relationships) are reasons for the final benefit on the list: greater prosperity or other rewards. For when we make good decisions, maintain good health, and make solid connections with the people in our lives, our opportunities for success expand exponentially. It all begins with a choice we can all make as individuals: peace.

People of faith find inner peace through spiritual redemption and confidence in a higher power. It may be difficult for a disillusioned person to find this type of calm, but there are still steps one can take that are general tips for healthy living. Even if not fully convinced of the importance of spirituality, putting a desire for peace into action will encourage a strong spirit.

Tips for Establishing Inner Peace

  1. Cut the cord. Shut off the TV. Turn off your phone. Yank the Internet. Do this for 30 minutes. Next time, try it for longer. Aim to cut back on some of these habits permanently. Cull your accounts, platforms and subscriptions. Carve out time in which you go completely unplugged. No screens. No phone. No earbuds. Just you.
  2. Learn how to tell time. The way we measure time is based on societal rules. Learn how to measure time differently, in a way that works for you. I will explain this further in a few minutes.
  3. Eat well, sleep well, play well, love well. Everything is connected. When one of these is off, our emotional self is effected.
  4. Limit the clutter in your physical spaces. Clean out your vehicle, home, outdoors areas, your closet, your desk, your kitchen cupboards. Everything in your path should be as free of distractions as possible. Make your space pleasant to be in.
  5. Work hard. In everything you do, from taking care of yourself to taking care of others, from vocational goals to hobbies… in every action of your day, expend passionate high energy as much as you can. When you are tired or need to pace yourself, slip into a calm state of deliberate action. Do not allow yourself to be “checked out”, but in all ways be mindful of what you are doing. Time and energy are an investment, a priceless treasure that is finite. Never let it slip away unaware.

When you remove something, you must replace it. For example, if you want to curb an Internet addiction, create a new activity that forces you to turn away from the screens. If you don’t fill the space, it will likely cause you to feel restless and antsy. Your commitment will waver.

The second tip on the list is about measuring time. We often allow outside factors to structure our days. Take control of your most precious resource, the one thing that can neither be added to you or subtracted from you- time. Try this little experiment:

 

  1. Time yourself doing routine things. How long are you really “checking your messages”? How long does it really take you to get ready to go somewhere? How long does it really take you to fix your lunch and eat it? How long does your bedtime routine take? Try not to hurry your natural routine. You want an accurate result.
  2. Time yourself again, based on the estimates you found in step one. Use a timer that makes noise when your time is up. The more obnoxious the sound, the better. If you have a timer that ticks down the final minutes, that’s even better.
  3. Next round, use a sand timer (a tea timer, often in an hour glass shape). If you don’t have one, set a timer that has a pleasant soft sound when it ends, perhaps music.
  4. Next, use no timer at all, but make note of how long it took you to do your routine tasks. Did you move faster or slower than you did before the experiment? Did you move at about the same pace? What difference did an awareness of time make?
  5. Finally, choose a day when you can let go of your schedule and hide all clocks from yourself for a two hour period. How does that feel? Are you anxious? If you are serious about learning how to measure time differently, make at least one hour a week without clocks a regular event.

Self-improvement, health improvement, de-cluttering, and all of the other lifestyle tips do help. They help spiritually strong people as well as those who feel that they are standing on ground zero. But, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably guessed that I believe the biggest help is faith in God. When we believe in a higher power who loves us, we have less fear and anxiety. When we believe that when someone says, “God bless you”, we truly will be blessed, we have inner peace.

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Dark to Light

Watch me paint “The Moon and the Stars” in 2 minutes

(time lapse)

The phrase “dark to light” is heard a lot these days. Often, people refer to the disclosure of a horrible, grim truth that they perceive has been covered up by those who gain by secrecy and lose with transparency. Some of those issues are factually proven to be the case (powerful persons, entities and governments hiding unfavorable information to evade justice, accountability and/or damage to reputation and standing). Others are propaganda causes that the populace has become irrationally loyal to (causes promoted to manipulate the masses toward political change by skewing statistics and exploiting events, using advanced marketing and profiling strategies along with community organizing and other masking terms to package and disguise the abuse of the citizenry). 

When filtering information to determine if a “movement”, “science” or a call to “civic duty” is real or not, consider the following:

  1. Who is promoting, supporting, and possibly excusing accusations or even concrete proof of wrongdoing associated with their favored issue/agenda/call to action? Are they profiting or benefiting in any way from the popularity of the movement or the response to a call to action? Political gain, monetary gain, notoriety? Where there is motive to lie, there is likely bias, deception, or even outright fraud.
  2. Among those who seem to have no motive to lie, what might motivate them to believe what they do? Do they cite the media or other supporters? In other words, do they trust those in the first point above, those who have motive to lie? In this case, the source is the same, as they merely repeat the same things that untrustworthy, biased sources have said.
  3. If the information is coming only from those motivated to lie, and those who repeat the same things from those same untrustworthy powerful sources, then it’s prudent to research the events, issues, and people ourselves. A wealth of information is found in public sources, meaning that we can simply look statistics up for ourselves. We can compare and contrast the numbers for various issues and see what the true risks, fears, outrage, or hatred level should be. Better yet, since all statistics can be accidentally wrong or intentionally misleading or brazenly fraudulent, it’s good to listen to real people who have experienced things firsthand. In many cases, it is clear that the populace is being deliberately manipulated to respond emotionally and react irrationally to information that has been exploited, skewed, or even invented. This is never for the good of the people, but always for the benefit of those who profit from pushing people to do what they want. Often, SOME of the information is true, which makes forming an opinion difficult (by design… the best con artists use truthful foundations to “sell” a lie that is added to that layer, so when people see the part that is true, they will likely believe that the lies must also be true).
  4. Is this call to action moving at a fast, manic pace, with coordinated messaging meant to push people to respond emotionally? Are the messages hostile, shaming, or fear inducing? Consider that people who genuinely, authentically care about others seldom use an abusive approach to coerce people to act. When truth and pure intention is on our side, we need only honest communication, delivered with respect.

But, the oppressive actions of others (governments, entities, or other organized agents of darkness) are not the kind of “Dark to Light” that I’m talking about. What I’m reflecting upon today is what we can control, which is our own thoughts, beliefs, responses, and actions. Even when it seems that we are powerless, we are not.

There are few instances in life when we are ever in complete and utter darkness. We are more aware of this during a power outage after our eyes adjust to being suddenly without a source of artificial light. Even without a flashlight, candle, or other illuminating tool, we quickly adapt.

Our eyes decipher light when we are in darkness. We see it in the moon and the stars, as it filters through nature and into houses. We see it in reflections bouncing off mirrors, glass, and glossy objects. We see it perhaps on our own bodies or clothing.

The darkness is not purely black, but also purple and blue, and splintered with yellows and whites. We are not in a colorless vacuum, even when it seems we are. This is a metaphor for life. No matter how dark it seems, there is always light if we train our eyes to see it.

Seek good people.

Do things that give you joy.

Work passionately.

Love fiercely.

Play hard.

The darkness of lies, deception, manipulation, greed, and evil cannot destroy us without our consent. We give consent spiritually when we comply with the call to live in fear, anger, and malice. We refuse to comply when we choose the opposite- when every call to live in darkness is countered by living in Light. 

When the world says “FEAR”,

we must say hope.

 

When the world demands “ANGER”,

we must choose self-control.

 

When the world screeches as demons, commanding we live in “MALICE”,

we must choose love.

 

Hate destroys, love creates.

 

When enough love is created, it outshines the hate. When the global focus is on destroying everything “bad”, destruction overtakes creation, leaving the world in darkness.

 

When the world is saying, “hurry, hurry, act NOW”, when the world is shaming those who do not respond, and when the world leverages others to do what they demand, this is an abusive relationship. A healthy relationship allows space for people to reflect and make careful decisions before acting. A healthy relationship doesn’t play around with emotions- using gimmicks and flattery, and manipulative language to entice people to act together as a group to feel as if we belong… and then if this fails, snapping and turning on reluctant citizens in psychotic anger. A healthy relationship is one that cares about the truth so deeply that the source matters. Anyone with profit motive, associations with those who have a profit motive, or who are merely quoting those who do, are not valid sources. This matters when one cares about the truth more than an agenda.

We must reject dysfunctional relationships, whether they come from people in our inner circle, our workplace, our communities, our governments, or our global society. We must be empowered to counter unreasonable or cruel demands with demands of our own. Demand these things:

  • Time: we must be granted the freedom to slow down, think, and filter information at our own pace.
  • Calm: we must be protected from shaming campaigns, hostility, and punishments. As they have all of the information and have the advantage, we must have calm as we process what is demanded of us.
  • Power: we must have the power to say no. We must have recourse if we choose not to believe in the positions that force change, in the science that forces change, in the doomsday scenarios proposed, etc. It is not our responsibility to prove our right to freedom. It is THEIR responsibility to prove us guilty of citizen crimes. It is THEIR responsibility to prove their claims and their supposed reasons for why the world must comply with their demands. It is THEIR responsibility to prove that we must change our thoughts, words, associations, and actions to comply with their agendas.

If, after thoughtful consideration of the data, facts, information, and personal experiences of all parties, we decide that we agree with the claims used to argue for change, then it becomes our choice to comply. We deserve that choice. This applies to any situation, as there is no such thing as a social crisis, health or climate emergency, or impending disaster great enough that there is no time or space for individual human freedoms. Anyone who claims otherwise is using panic, fear, and bullying techniques to push people to make impulsive illogical decisions that always land in favor of those in power who benefit.

Analyze if dysfunctional relationship traits are clearly visible in the darkness. If you see unhealthy coercion, it doesn’t matter how many people are doing it or how widely coordinated it is, it is wrong. There is always a better way. There is no such thing as hate for one’s own good. Goodness and kindness give time, space, and calm to people. We do not abuse each other in the name of progress.

Today, if you feel pressured and pulled, imagine yourself as that little figure I painted in the video at the top of this post. There you are, standing in a peaceful space, in which you see that the darkness has beautiful colors. You are not without light, as you have the sky to guide you. No one can keep you from this spiritual place, where you can choose calm and hope over mania and fear. You can look up at the divine order instead of down at the manufactured chaos.

Choose to be loved as you deserve to be loved.

If you make this commitment, pay attention to what you see.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you see something beautiful… a butterfly that flies directly in your path as if to communicate with you, an unexpected visit by a wild animal, a flower growing in an odd place where you never planted it, or something else. Just wait and see.

When we choose to see Light, we do.

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