When Lines Blur between Reality and Fiction

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“With these Hands — Wonder” http://carol-allen-anfinsen.pixels.com 

Most People seek the truth. They want to believe in what is real; what is factual. But the media has long given up on gathering facts and are now focused on distortion and white lies. They’ve become promoters of their own personal ideology and political bias, and are focused on manipulating truth. Many participants take words out of context and turn conviction into lies. They prevent their audiences from getting an objective viewpoint or in hearing both sides.

Now unabashedly the FBI and the Justice Department have begun to skirt the law. Even the Supreme Court is ignoring their allegiance to the Constitution and the people dishonoring their positions and personal honor in order to promote an agenda that is underhandedly dark and holds serious repercussions for the future of this nation.

Remember when a handshake was not only respected in a contract or agreement, but engraved in stone because people considered their word sacrosanct and lawful? Now we can no longer trust our leaders who we thought were held to a higher standard. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t trust anyone. We’re afraid of a sales call, of identity theft, of scammers that assault us day and night.

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(Front yard blooms)

Those elected to power are mainly concerned with their own careers. In their personal view and thinking “the ends justify the means.” Their allegiance to the electorate whom they serve no longer matters. How did we sink so low? What has caused this fall of national character into the murky abyss of slime where right and wrong have been muddied in a grab for power?

Prior to her husband’s election as President of the United State, Michelle Obama said “I’m ashamed of my Country.”  After almost eight years of Obama leadership, I can say in return “I’m not only ashamed of my country, I fear for its future.”

We have become a Godless people more concerned with our personal pleasures than in our own honesty and integrity. The decline in American values is evident. We have turned honorable men and women into puppets of the state. Our greed for power has tainted our judgment. Our leaders have become dictators, and our loyal servants have become dishonest politicians grubbing for position and control.

The heart of America is rotting from the core. There are a few glimmers of hope. When a crisis emerges, we still stand together. When people die, we are there to give compassion and support. But even in the midst of this, we are divided. We ignore crime and the law in favor of prejudice and popular opinion. Many segments of the population have become a mob mentality. It doesn’t matter what the laws say, they break it. If they don’t like the outcome, they stand against the enforcers who have pledged to keep us safe. In turn, lawbreakers are shielded by their leaders and mob violence is often encouraged and allowed.

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(These young armadillos visited us early one morning.)

Both political correctness and designated “hate speech” are becoming a law unto themselves setting a dangerous precedent in overruling existing Constitutional law. As a result, people are becoming afraid of spontaneous speech or of expressing an opinion. Free speech is being set on its ear by self-appointed enforcers who label someone’s opinion as prejudiced or hateful. Recently some university students uttered “I hate the first amendment. We don’t want these people (those with opposing views) on our campus.”

These students are too young to remember Hitler and his brutal regime when hate speech was lauded and opposing opinions were stifled. Our Founding Fathers must be quaking in their boots in fear that all they worked so hard to achieve is being destroyed.

We have one of the most important elections in our time coming up in November. Will we disregard what history can teach us? Will we put our personal stamp, our thumb print, in support of lawlessness, dishonesty and Godlessness? Or will we uphold the principles that made America great for all people and not just the few in power?

This division we now feel in our country did not come from the ground up, but from the top down. Good leaders inspire the best in their followers. They lead by example and truth. The chaos in our country and the world has been allowed to happen. The Middle East has been blown apart by incompetence and falsehoods.

Socialism and totalitarianism are not the answer. You just have to examine their roots and results to understand their automatic downfall. Freedom isn’t lawlessness or pitting one group of people against another. Class warfare is a communist tactic. Morally it is bribery with the intent of getting what you want.

Freedom isn’t free just because you want it to be so. Freedom is the result of sacrifice, honor, and hard work. If you’re not up to it, someone else may be and the result is your neck under the boot of oppression. Please friends, vote judiciously and prayerfully.

 

Ruts Vs. Routines and the “Smarts” to know the Difference

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A Beechnut seed brought home from Arizona three years ago. I still have it! Nature refreshes and inspires me. Connecting weekly with the great outdoors  is important to me.

I love routines. I always have and I always will. Routines give me security. Routine makes me feel safe and helps me develop habits that keep me on track. Staying on task helps me accomplish what I set out to do.

Routines are delightful because you do them without thinking. They become automatic. I know that at a certain hour of the day, I will paint. I will write. I will carry out my dreams come “hell or high water!”

My husband knows never to interrupt me when I’m painting. He knows I never answer phone calls when my hands and elbows are dripping in acrylic paint. If friends call, they go into voice mail. The world literally goes on hold when I’m at canvas working with fast-drying acrylics.

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“Florida Panther” made from a Palm frond; wall hanging.

If my husband chooses to converse with me, he may get a growl in return. If my agenda changes either by crook or necessity, I’m not a happy camper. I may even have a temper tantrum of disproportionate proportions. My day becomes lopsided. The monster within comes out. I feel betrayed, cheated, and forlorn; oh, woe is me and a pox on everyone’s house.

If you’ve stayed with me to the end of this tirade, you now know the difference between routines and ruts. Routines are good “if” they help you stick to your goals and enable you to get your work done. Routines become “ruts” when they hold you prisoner and don’t allow you to be flexible. Without flexibility you can kiss creativity and family goodbye.

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The Martins came in March. Their babies will soon be big enough to fly and they will be gone for another year.

Ruts can entrap you, hold you , and make your life miserable.

The first time I went cross-country skiing it was late in the season. Hard, icy tracks were molded on the pathways.  As long as you stayed within their boundaries, it was smooth sailing. Get out of the grooves and you went sailing into the trees. That is exactly what I did when I came to my first turn. The ruts were so deep that you had to literally jump and twist to make the turn. Not something a novice like me could do.

Ruts stifle creativity. Spontaneity is also a critical component. Awareness and objectivity need to be in control 24/7. Creative thinkers must be good observers. They must be willing to adjust when opportunity knocks. Inspiration is a product not of time or mind, but of heart and soul. The door must always be open. The spirit must always be prepared to receive.

Go ahead and plan your schedules and routines. Set your goals and work toward them; but leave yourself an opening for the unexpected, the priceless moments with loved ones and family, and the sudden impulses that may flutter suddenly on your window sill or whisper in your ear in a moment of reverie.

Here are a few tips:

  • Routines guide your way.
  • Ruts holdy our feet to the fire.
  • Routines allow movement and growth.
  • Ruts exhaust you  and make you feel like a slave.
  • Routines involve familiar tasks and a safe place to explore ideas.
  • Ruts become rigid trails that lead you nowhere.
  • Routines let you experiment without criticism.
  • Ruts are monotonous black holes that go nowhere.
  • Routines ground you while your mind soars.
  • Ruts create anxiety and worry.

Figure out when you’re happiest and keep those routines. Eliminate the ruts that stifle growth and you’ll feel a whole lot better.

A Flawed Foundation Weakens the Structure

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“The Perfect Ending” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

As I enter the back entrance to my complex, I see cars backed up on both sides of the intersection to the elementary school. Turn signals blink for left on one side and right on the other.  I squeeze past, not with irritation, but empathy. Bus drivers in our area have been negligent putting children at risk and in harm’s way. Parents are simply protecting their prized possessions and trying to keep them safe.

When my own children were spread out between elementary, middle school and high school, I never worried that they would arrive at their destination or return home in the evening. Their bus drivers were long-standing employees that almost everyone knew. I rode the bus myself on field trips and extracurricular activities. The school system and the transportation were institutions we knew that we could depend upon.

“Beach Buddies” oil on 20 x 16 canvas

A whole lot has happened since then. Another school shooting blares across my T.V. screen. A small college town in Oregon this time. What has happened to our once safe nation? Why are the things we have trusted and relied on for ages now vulnerable and exposed to this treacherous form of evil?

I think back to my own upbringing in a similar small college town humorously called “happy valley,” where nothing serious ever went wrong and people seldom locked their doors. It wasn’t because we were “gun free” I can tell you that! We were a Western community, living in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains. Almost every family owned guns.

In fall and winter there was deer hunting. Families depended on the hunt for food to put in their freezers. Hunting was not simply a sport, it was a necessity. My father and my uncle managed to stock our freezer with pheasant, deer, fish, and other game. My aunt and her husband supplied us with chicken which ran freely in their yard.

In spite of the fact that people owned guns, there was never any violence. Accidental shootings were rare. Sometimes a hunter who forgot to wear a red shirt may have been glazed on the first day of hunting season. What has changed since that long ago time?

  • We have more people in our country, a larger population.
  • Many of them come from foreign countries where this kind of violence is normal.
  • We no longer confine people who may put others at risk.
  • Mental health is ignored and safeguards are not in place.
  • We no longer value human life.
  • Moral depravity has become accepted.
  • Honesty is for “other people.”
  • Deviant behavior is no longer frowned upon.
  • Anti-gun lobbyists try to keep the lawful from owning guns.
  • Criminals manage to skirt the law and obtain them anyway.

One of the first things Hitler did when he came to power was to confiscate all guns. They were needed for the “Resistance” and to protect Germany. When some people complained about what Hitler was doing in their country, they were arrested and jailed. They had no means of escape or protection.

“With these Hands — Wonder” oil on 20 x 16 canvas

The Second Amendment to our Constitution protects this kind of obfuscation for this very reason. Should tyranny come to power, the people would have no means to defend themselves or to preserve their freedom.

Governments, businesses, corporations work carefully to build a solid infrastructure to support their entities through the highs and lows of success or in downturns. Like solid blocks, this foundation provides a strong footing from which to build.

Some would say America’s ground is crumbling; yet, they seem surprised? Have we not ignored the very values that made this country strong in the first place? We’ve pushed the envelope perhaps beyond the point of no return. Once freedom is gone, it is gone forever. Unless we can remember and restore what made America great in the first place, we will never get it back.

Life and Death Struggles Hit Everyone

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All around the world, individuals are in life and death battles against formidable enemies that threaten their existence. The danger often comes by being born in a certain region or conforming to a specific religion. Vulnerability may come simply because of skin color or ethnicity.

Most of us don’t take unnecessary risks if we can help it. We try to avoid confrontation if at all possible. When we find ourselves between the crosshairs of someone’s hatred, we may pray for the very first time. Few of us can understand the animosity that propels this anger. Sometimes we may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Coincidence? Stupidity? We call it many things.

There are other threats that surround us each day. Disease, accident, emotional or physical turmoil may be waiting for us at the end of the day: in an intersection, at the office, within our own homes, stalking us as a lion ready to pounce. None of us are exempt. No one is above the human experience.

“Namesake” acrylic on canvas

The target changes with the fickle whims of fate and popular opinion. Today if you’re a police officer your life is at risk, not only from the threats of occupation, but from misaligned angst from perceived injustices. Facts are ignored in this wave of emotion.

The supposed victims of police brutality are usually in the process of breaking the law. Officers attempt to stop the perpetrator and make an arrest. They resist. They may even pull out a gun or attempt to physically pummel the officer. The “perp” resents being stopped from continuing to break the law. They see the officer or officers as the enemy intruding into their life and freedom to do what they please. They attempt to flee and are stopped either by a Taser or a bullet.

The assailant’s family grieves not only with sadness but with shouts of “police brutality.” And a new cycle of violence and hatred continues.

Self-examination is difficult. We sometimes see ourselves as victims in a random world where everyone is “out to get us.” Why is it so difficult to take responsibility for our own actions?

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When my children were still in school, I told their teachers at conference time that I believed in allowing my children to “suffer the consequences of their actions.” I wanted them to relate “outcome” with their negative actions. Of course, there were some teachers who were not to be trusted with this precious authority. Not everyone has a sense of fair play and justice.

How else can people learn the difference between right and wrong in a civilized society if not through suffering the consequences of their own actions?

It is delusion to blame policemen for brutality when you resist arrest for committing a crime. Period! A mature reasoning adult accepts responsibility for their choices. Savages do not. The outrage that follows when we do not is the result of exploitation and a failure of government. Lashing out to burn and destroy your own communities only hurts you and those you love.

When will the violence end? Only when the government and leaders cease to feed the fires of envy and hatred. Only when law abiding citizens in those communities rise up and stop the madness.

The Food we eat — The Risks we take

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A valley between crests of the Wasatch Mountains

A valley between crests of the Wasatch Mountains

We were on vacation. A family camping trip with cousins and relatives we hadn’t seen in years. The children were ecstatic. The majestic Wasatch Mountains overshadowed our camp and sheltered us from harm. Stalwart pines kept watch and whispered windswept secrets in our ears. Their natural scent recalled holidays past and surrounded us with rustic earthy pleasure.

The morning before we broke camp, we dined on scrambled eggs and bacon, topped off with fresh squeezed orange juice. We were bloated with pioneer spirit. Our family, eastern city dwellers, had weathered the ruggedness as well as our western “rellies,” or so we thought. In less than 24 hours, all five of us had plunged into the depths of despair.

Our family was laid flat by what we thought was influenza. We were barfing and “trotting” and there was blood showing up in both. Eventually we discovered that we had been poisoned by Salmonella. The orange juice had encouraged the bacteria’s swift growth and surge through our bodies.

Apparently the farm families were used to eating cracked eggs that were not well refrigerated. Not one of them had gotten sick. It was we “city folk” who had fallen prey. That experience has made me an even greater waster than I was before. Now if something looks dry, has an odd color or smell – out it goes! No ifs, ands, or buts.

My watercolor version of that Wasatch Mountain valley

Watercolor on silk; my version of that Wasatch Mountain valley

Food is a basic necessity. We should not only work to keep it clean and safe, but we should ensure that it is always under our control.

What happens when governments gain too much power? They obtain a strangle hold over goods and natural resources. When governments control the food supply, they can choke off rebellion and use the people as puppets and slaves to do their bidding. On the pretext that they’re here to protect the consumer, the citizenry, they take over more and more industries and services in their grab for dominance

Some third world countries and old regimes have already done this increasing the turmoil and unrest that already existed. Citizens are forced into bread lines with other desperate people fighting for their basic necessities only to find that the food is gone by the time they get to the head of the queue.

Once, they could have stopped this savagery, but they didn’t. When they still had the power as citizens and voters, they shrugged their shoulders and let it happen. Helplessness set in. Compliance became submission. Now instead of the government serving the people, the people are property of the state. Their privacy rights were swallowed up first by the greedy and powerful. Next came freedom of expression followed by freedom of choice.

"Broken" mixed media on canvas; SOLD, but prints available.

“Broken” mixed media on canvas; SOLD, but prints available.

Even in our own country the government is trying to enforce guidelines for eating because Americans are too fat and can’t do it themselves. The government, already the largest landowner, is now buying up businesses that compete with their own purposes and agendas. Regulations are responsible for spiking food prices and sending the cost of other commodities soaring.

We don’t need the government to be our “Big Brother,” or father or mother. The job of politicians is to govern not parent. We still hear our own parents whispering in our ears: “Did you brush your teeth? Have you said your prayers? What did you eat for breakfast?”  Why would we want a powerful group of strangers in the White House to repeat these same old refrains?

Of course, none of us want salmonella or E. coli. With our tax dollars, governments do a pretty good job of keeping our foods clean and safe. But when they start dictating what foods we should eat and forcing us to conform to unlegislated regulations, we have the makings of a tyranny.

Every responsibility we forsake as a family, community or state ends up under government control. So next time you sink your teeth into that luscious hamburger, ask yourself: “Do I want to allow the government to choose whether I have a pickle on my hamburger or ketchup or mayonnaise? Do I want the government to tell me how much food I’m allowed to buy at the grocery store and then define for me what I can purchase?”

"Fish Market" acrylic on canvas

“Fish Market” acrylic on canvas

Trust should be Earned not Given Away!

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Who do you Trust and Why? Do you give your trust away to just anybody because they have a nice smile or they seem sincere?

I used to think that I could trust the FDA or their acclaimed messengers who tell us what not to eat, what to drink, and what to wear. You know, the messengers of doom and gloom. Well not anymore!

Remember when eggs were bad for you? They were supposed to increase cholesterol and add bad fats into your bloodstream. Some people still believe that yarn. They refuse to eat eggs and continue to eat egg substitutes that are not as healthy for you.

Then the truth came out. Eggs are actually good for you. Since part of the brain is made up of cholesterol, the vitamins and fats in eggs are healthy and needed (as long as you eat only one a day). Oh, how the food police love to control what you eat and how much!

I may not have the proper jargon, and I’m not a nutritionist, but I recognize the red flag for “regulation” when I see it. If the government can regulate it, they can tax it.

Take the latest fear mongering episode: “antibacterial gels may be bad for your health and may not eliminate all bacteria.” If that’s not enough to put the fear of death and disease into every mother’s heart, I don’t know what is.

Like a true believer, I examined my bottles of germ exterminator for the sinister “t” ingredients. Then it occurred to me that this was just another contrived ploy. J.Q. Public was being manipulated, once again, into ignoring and perhaps celebrating the new regulation that is sure to eliminate these evil “t’s.”

So what if the price goes up and the government adds to its coffers as long as my children are protected? We’re either scared into or shamed into compliance. The problem is the frequency of the scare tactics are beginning to sound a lot like the firing of a machine gun. The repetition is grating and sounds hollow, and the message content is starting to smell, too.

Instead of helping society solve problems, people are beginning to shut down and ignore the numerous warnings. I for one don’t listen to their advice (their meaning the government, the advertisers, and the regulators). I know if I wait another few months, the threat will either go away or it will change. What was bad for us last year, or even yesterday, is now good for us. If we are patient enough, the problem will just disappear.

This is not the way to get people to wake up and listen! Remember the color-coded threat levels after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? When the threat level went from orange to red, did you change your behavior? Did your life style morph into one of submission and fear, or did you continue your daily routines without interruption?

We all reach a boiling point; an irreversible mindset that simply cannot take any more. People are becoming shell-shocked. We’re getting a barrage of conflicting information and we’re on overload. It seems that the regulators, the government, and the panic police have cried “wolf” once too often. It’s time to revolt, people! We either stand up for the freedom that our forefather’s fought for, or we cower in the dust and let our fears overtake us.

The majority used to rule; now a vocal minority has taken over the airways and is demanding to make our decisions for us. Through bombastic pronouncements, they are taking away free speech (except for themselves), personal freedoms and the right to worship. They have pushed political correctness into ridiculous realms and attacked the very values and principles that made this country strong.

The bad medicine they prescribe for us should not to be taken. Instead, we must take up pen, and voice, and our power at the voting booth (perhaps even in the streets) until we prevail.