Sunday, October 25, 2015


By the time I got up and walked to the computer, I had already forgotten what I had dreamed about and planned to blog this week so I decided to write about something my cousin and I have discussed many times, loneliness.

I am very introverted. I take medication for anxiety and to keep me calm yet I still find myself standing alone so often in a crowd of people. Upon the suggestion of my therapist, I have been trying to go out and socialize more but it seems to end uncomfortably every time.

I tried going to an event with the Steel City Bears, Sloss Fright Furnace with the hopes that a very kind friend would be there to keep me company. One friend had other plans and the one I hoped to see did not show up.

So there I was, my wonderful ADD interferring with me remembering names and my shy nature preventing me from introducing myself to the members (it was my first time meeting the group). I wanted so badly to turn and leave but I knew that would be ackward so instead, I stood along for the most part. The organizer (whose name I don't remember) not only bought tickets and got us a special rate, but he made it a point to go around introducing himself and also the other members of the group to each other. A very nice guy!

I did notice one person I knew and latched onto him like a life line and I could tell after a while that he wanted to mingle and eventually he did and I found myself standing all alone again.

Another guy came up and introduced himself as coming from the same city as myself so I made it a point to introduce myself, verify he was from my town, and struck up a conversation. He too was very nice and soon more people began to talk as the group grew before going into the attraction.

The neighbor offered to hang out with me so I wasn't alone and this was great since I had forgotten every other name I had been told already. Although the attraction wasn't the greatest, that one simple connection made it so much better! Along the way, another guy in the group started hanging with us and I kept asking the first guy what his name was. It was like holding water in a sieve.

By the end of the event, we were chanting and having a good time even though it soon turned out to be just me and the first person I met since I didn't recall anyone else. I wasn't being rude, I just couldn't remember anyone's name. We soon said our good-byes and I couldn't get away fast enough. I wanted to just crawl in a hole.

I vowed not to return though I knew I'd have to try again at some future event. Why is it so hard to remember names and converse with strangers? I recall a kid that wandered everywhere on his own and made friends everywhere he went. What has changed and how can I get that back without having some friend there to be my buffer? It only seems to get worse, not better and all I want to do is stay at home.

Even when I do get a friend to go with me, if we separate, all eyes seemed to turn on me. There's always some problem I fixate on and before you know it, it feels like everyone is staring at me. I then want to get in the car, running away and leaving my friend behind. Every shadow seems to be a threat.

I know this isn't my usual positive blog but occassionally, we have to take a chance an exposing our weaknesses and issues in the hopes that someone else has the same issue and hopefully a suggestion or doesn't feel so isolated themselves. I know nothing seems to work for me except staying at home, all windows closed, most days barely able to venture outside. At least I've got my blind cat to take care of!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

One Tribe - suffering

Studying religion is a big subject rarely given the breadth it should be given in order to understand people through their faith. I myself struggle with an imperfect memory so I am constantly re-learning the bits that just don't stick. I find Sacred Texts to be one of my favorite sites for so many and so varied a set of religious texts. It's definitely worth a look!

I recently came across World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained which is a nice place to start such studies of those religions with large numbers of followers but there are many more than those few listed. It's often a great way to understand how best to communicate with someone if you know a little about their spirituality.

We often close down our listening when we discover we are at odds with another's spiritually. Sometimes it is simply a defensive way of avoiding being preached to or getting into arguments over what is perceived as a difference. It's difficult to keep an open mind and seek similarities when a conversation goes from two-way to one-way.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings over many atrocities executed in the name of the Creator. They just don't seem to go together. It seems I'm not able to simply forfeit my life for others to avoid harming them. It is an ideal that I've not yet mastered. Strange reflections on this date of the Little Boy.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reading is FUNdamental!

I recently began reminiscing about not having children and how many folks have them and say they simply don't have the time to do simple things like read them a story. It made me think of The Cat's In The Cradle .

So I went out and bought some children's books to send to some Daddies I love very much and respect a lot. They're not MY daddies but I think they are very loving daddies that want the best for their kids. I hope they get the hint and realize how much more important books are than toys. Only time will tell.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was one I sent. I learned to read from many Dr. Suess books.

Another was Dr. Seuss's A B C which is a great starter book for young minds.

I also got them "Noisy Dinosaurs" which I couldn't locate on Goodreads but includes buttons that make sounds that the dinosaurs pictured may have made a long time ago.

And lastly, Little Golden Book Daddy Stories that thet will hopefully be encouraged to use to teach their kids how to settle down, listen, and create memories of Daddy telling stories.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's always time

Mark, our last trip to Pensacola, Florida

Yesterday, April 20th, I played a Mix CD for the first time in my car. It was dance music made by a special friend for me back in 2012 before he was murdered. I had the windows down as I pulled out of the basement so I turned if off so it wouldn't disturb my neighbors.

I got out on the street and tried to turn it back on but it wouldn't work. I ejected the disc and tried again. "No Load" appeared and I just got the feeling the maker of the disc was with me, trying to get my attention so I ejected it again. "Come on Mark", I said to my dead friend as I pushed his Dance Mix in one more time.

Again, "No Load" came up and stayed up as the music began to play. He had gotten my attention like he wanted. He didn't want me to just hear the music, he wanted me to listen to it too. You see, something no one but me knows (until now) is that when Mark made me a music CD, he put the songs on there that had special messages from him to me. He was very touched when I first realized it and told him about it.

He was always shy about such things but I let him know how much that meant to me. Like I said, he was very happy that I had noticed it and was actually "listening" to what he was saying to me through our mutual love for music.

And that's why we stayed friends. For all my craziness, he still loved me and cared for me. People didn't see that. They just saw that mean exterior but I knew the heart that beat beneath it.

As I listened to the words of "Renegade" by Eva Simons,

it was if he was speaking from the grave, prophetic and encouraging, I could almost feel his hand on my shoulder. It was overwhelming. It still is. I am listening to it now and the tears are streaming down my face.

I hear you Mark and miss you very much. I believe the best way we can honor someone who has passed on is not with flowers, or visits to the service or the grave, but by learning from their passing. The circumstances and perhaps the mistakes.

You see, Mark and I had had a disagreement and weren't talking when he passed on. I wasn't the friend he needed me to be. The right word in the right way may have saved him but I was selfish and mad and so I didn't say what needed to be said.

The last picture Mark took of me in Pensacola, FL.

He had discussed it with me but I was selfish and so I kept quiet. So did others. We were wrong and all I can do is say I am sorry and resolve myself to do my very best to speak up the next time someone reaches out to me.

I thought I had destroyed all my mix cd's Mark had made for me but when I finally recovered my computer this year (that's why I've not blogged in so long!), in my playlists appeared a special copy of the last CD he made for me in 2012.

So here's to the music and the message where ever you are! Keep on dancing my dear friend!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Love is alive and well!

Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham

We each have a unique and wonderful path to traverse through life if we simply make the effort to find it and work hard being present each moment of our lives to ensure we remain on it. I consider myself quite fortunate to have found a wonderful sanctuary that supports me in that task. It welcomes all faiths and exposes me to love and light in so many forms and religions. When I go there I usually come away more educated of beliefs from many cultures. It helps me better understand and practice my belief of "ONENESS". It is called Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham and all are welcome.

During this wonderful time of equality for Alabama, the church has stepped up in offering information and services.

Marriage Services

Rev. Lone's Interview

Help with applying for a marriage license

Speak up!

In a time and area where the LGBT community struggles to find LOVE and SUPPORT, I can personally vouch for this organization. All are welcome. Give it a try!!1

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Incarceration: Humanity or Inhumanity?

The following article that a friend posted made me realize I was missing an opportunity to discuss an issue that is very personal to me.

Preying on the Poor: For-Profit Probation

I particularly liked the title because when you say "Prey" out loud, you might think "Pray" and I believe that is a part of the issue as well as a solution. I often wonder what access inmates have to their own religious texts for all beliefs like they do when they are free.


Listen with your heart, especially when following links to articles and videos I reference. I don't agree with everything in them and I bet it will be the same for you.

We have given a certain amount of responsibility for our safety and welfare to the government and the responsibility for carrying it out or failing to do so should remain with them. That includes the complete responsibility for doing it and budgeting the money for every program needed to break the cycle of returning to jail instead of breaking the person.

I respect law enforcement and they have treated with me respect in my own encounters. I hold them in my heart and am grateful for their protection and the hard job they do.

I do believe it is a very dangerous job to police inmates and law enforcement officials have a right to protect themselves and use their best judgment to decide what force is necessary in every situation. That is a HUGE responsibility and a hard one to maintain when you are also trying to stay alive. Most people don't understand this and some of the examples that follow show how biased news agencies and individuals can be.

For example, jump to 3:12 in the video "Torture in American prisons". It is an attempt by the creator of the video to sensationalize a short clip to make the police look bad. The clip shows inmates fighting and police attempting to break it up. If you jump to 18:00, the interviewer implies using lots of man-power was uncalled for.

I disagree with the interviewer. I think it's one of the most courageous ways to diffuse this situation. The inmates were already fighting. Instead of the police standing back and using their weapons, they risk their own lives and physical injury by simply wrestling the inmates to the ground. More guards help to restrain arms, legs, and heads. They were very courageous and no weapons appeared to be used.

Another example, at 16:55 in the same video "Torture in American prisons", listen to part of the discussion on using pepper spray. You get the feeling that even pepper spray is wrong.

The narrators imply no force should be used and that's just ridiculous. The police have to have tools to protect themselves and resolve problems AND the good judgment to know when, what and how much is enough. Again, a lot to do on top of simply staying safe and alive!!!

Image from the purple oasis.

So let us hope it is a minority that feels it is important to punish them even further than taking away their freedom or subduing them. Those that punish can be very cruel in their activities, , from humiliation to physical abuse, overcrowding, dirty quarters or simply lack of a good night's sleep (for fear of attack or death), as well as unhealthy maggot-filled food or other forms of starvation to name a few. When we determine who has failed in their jobs, they should be removed with no chance of working in that system again, however high or low their position and power.

Supreme Court of the United States.

Take a moment to close your eyes, quiet your mind, and seek your higher self of LOVE. We all struggle with dark desires to judge and often a worse desire to make others suffer from a false notion that we are not simply more wise than the incarcerated but MOST WISE.

Forgiveness is a good start but we must then raise others up by reaching down and offering a bit of charity in the form of a helping hand to those less fortunate.

Every person deserves a certain amount of respect.

We should not profit off of, make destitute, or make our citizens feel crime is the only answer. If a person has no money, they should be helped through the WHOLE process including their attempt to start over.

Our goal should be to realize we are in this together, one tribe. When we help another, we all benefit. So don't suck them dry of what little they have with probation-related issues such as court fees, drug test fees, and inflexible times to meet those demands. Holding a job and paying bills is hard enough. Take that money away and make them miss work and you are guilty of pointing them back towards that life of crime, no matter how much, deep down in their soul, that divine spark in EVERYONE desires something better.

Find ways to foster their spirit and encourage positive change. As an example, the Angola prison in Louisiana mentioned in "">Preying on the Poor" seems to doing a lot of humane things and seeing positive results.

Here are organizations that can help you do more: "Stop Prison Abuse", "Southern Center For Human Rights", "Equal Justice Initiative", and "Southern Poverty Law Center".

I watch a show on Netflix called Orange is the New Black. It tries to inject humor into a very non-humorous situation. It reminds me how easily any of us could wind up in jail. I also identify with Crazy Eyes who you might be surprised to see when not incarcerated. My point being, I imagine that is what being behind bars would do to any of us, even myself, in the best of conditions. And I know it is much worse in certain situations.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Palm Oil - You're not going to like it...

I recently went looking for Palm Oil in an effort to try my hand at making soap from scratch (instead of spending $4 to $5 for specialty bars). Short of going to hobby stores (a hot topic on its own!), I hadn't found a reasonable source yet. In the meantime, I got the Birmingham Zoo's "Animal Tracks" which contained an article and links about Palm Oil.

I'd read about it before at the Orangutan exhibit but since it had popped up again, I figured it was time to look a little closer.

There are two island countries, Borneo and Sumatra (below China and above Australia). My geography isn't good so I thought I'd give more well known land masses for others like myself.

I have to admit, I hadn't realized that Orangutan's habitats existed ONLY on these two island nations! They are also considered to be some of the smartest of the ape family.

So the issue is that corporations are more interested in destroying their homes to make way for highly-profitable Palm Tree plantations and Americans are the largest consumer of this product.

The picture above is from one of the adults (the mother, I believe) in the Orangutan exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo. Look closely at the picture. I'm not sure the solution to destroying their habitat is to put them in a cave with mostly artificial trees. Granted, our zoo did finally provide a skylight but for arboreal (living mostly in trees) animals, a cave without a single living tree seems more cruel than death. Just look at the picture, an adult ape clinging to a blanket, sleeping and ignoring it's child, and turned away from the glass and it's obvious it's not just unhappy, it's depressed.

If we weren't using so much Palm Oil, they might still be in the wild. Until we can provide a better artificial habitat, we should try to buy products from companies that are members of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Here's a list and you can get an app to determine if a product contains palm oil.

For me, finding other alternatives are a lot easier. At least until we've lost the battle, put all the apes in caves, and done away with that annoying "natural habitat" all together. Yeah, I'm a cynic. A realistic one. Capitalism and corporations rule even "so-called" democracies nowadays. Does the natural world really have a chance anymore?