Money Signifies Worth; How much we Earn Defines our Value

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“Celebration” 20 x 16 Acrylic on Gesso Board

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in third grade. My first short story was written on a script tablet I used to learn cursive. By the time I reached high school, I won an award and was featured in our school’s “Whispering Pines” literary magazine. I loved the written word and the power it held over my heart.

It was only natural that I continued to write even after I got married and began raising my six children. Hidden moments were stolen during nap times, and ideas generated while ironing, serving as a chauffeur, cleaning and even bathing. There wasn‘t a time that I wasn’t imagining, phrasing, or constructing in my head.

When I finally started writing things down and actually creating, I had already started selling a few of my wares. I had read so many stories to my children as they grew up that I figured I could write a few of my own. Finally I was receiving validation for my hours of work. Until that time, my efforts were considered a waste of time by my family and friends who were ultra conservative and devoted to saving themselves by their own efforts and working in their church and community.

There is something to be said for volunteering and doing things for free. I was able to hone my skills by crafting stories, plays and scripts for local church and community groups until I developed my talents enough to write for profit.

Great things can come from the giving of your time and talents for a good cause. What can happen?

  • Recognition; people become familiar with your face, your name, and your reputation for excellency and dependability.
  • Opportunity; if someone is looking for a writer or an artist, they may think of you through past experiences together.
  • Connections; exchanging of personal information, business cards, and shared work sticks in people’s minds. They will refer you to someone else when a job is needed.
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“Bella Bellissimo” 16 x 20 Acrylic on canvas

I met a photographer at my church that saw my creativity firsthand at one of my events. He asked me to meet with him and that opportunity led to my writing of many, many scripts that were used in children’s education. Our divorce series (four films) won the New York Film Festival for “Best Series” that year. The photographer I worked with also introduced me to “The Learning Exchange” where I wrote some fun economic scripts for children on the history of barter and exchange.

Through another connection (that started when I was doing things for free), I was able to move into adult training and education scripts for a large insurance company; writing on subjects like “Structured Settlements” and “Claims Training.” By the time I finished these projects, I was getting referrals from other entities: major airline companies, and many school districts that were promoting education and safety.

By this time I had taken up drawing, illustrating and painting. My goal was to illustrate some of my own work. Getting paid had turned my so-called “waste of time activities” into making a real contribution to the family budget and becoming totally independent for my own sustenance.

It’s too bad that we allow our own self doubts, the  criticism of others or money to define us: “You’re not good enough, experienced enough, or talented enough to get paid for your efforts.” In the beginning, most of us must work for free. But don’t give up! Your generous heart will eventually be rewarded.

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“Peaches ‘n Cream” 12 x 16 Acrylic on Gesso Board

Control – Oh, the Power it Wields!

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Two paintings from my “With These Hands” series: “Hope” on the left, and “Wonder” on the right. Oil on acrylic underpainting (mixed media)

Human nature is embarrassingly obvious. Whoever possesses the power is in control. Politicians seize it in the guise of helping the electorate; but instead, they vote themselves better health care, bigger raises, and huge pensions for retirement income.

They change the laws to suit their contributors. They vote out term limits so they can keep getting re-elected using the same lies they did when they first got elected. If the people in the states they represent feel like they’re getting the benefits, they grant them power for another term.

Today the establishment elite are afraid of losing that power. In their efforts to gain control, they are using lies and corruption to create a climate for take-over. Will the people allow it? In this “government of the people” are the elites once again trying to deceive in order to regain what for them is almost lost?

The whole affair makes me sick to my stomach. Because I support Trump, I’m tired of being told I’m not smart, I’m stupid, I’m a “far right loon” or worse. And this does not come from the democrats, but from the party I have supported not only with my votes, but with my money.

Many are backing off because they shun the labels the media and the establishment sling at them. So rather than be called an ignoramus for following Trump “the clown,” they fall in line behind the establishment candidates. Cowards! If we cease to stand for what we believe and blindly follow behind the demagogues who are beholden to their lobbyists and donors and not to “we the people,” America is lost.

If Donald Trump wins the delegate votes, isn’t it unconstitutional to try to take them away from him after the people have spoken? Romney thinks he has the power to take them away. If he is the shadow candidate, he not only won’t win, Hillary will get the nomination.

The “Rhinos” don’t care who wins as long as they can keep feeding at the trough courtesy of John Q. Public. But surprise! The more they sling mud at the Trump campaign, the more followers he obtains and this has the establishment in an angry frenzy of desperation. Poor little Marco thinks he has a shot at being President, but he’s only a pawn in the game to push Romney to the head of the pack.

The same power struggle happens in marriage. The one who has financial control, usually holds the winning hand. Sometimes money is withheld in order to manipulate or hurt. At other times the power may be used in the bedroom to withhold sex or affection. Power is often used to intimidate, embarrass, or belittle. Weak people are more likely to use this power to hurt others. The perpetrators may be male or female.

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The third in the “With These Hands” series: “Love” all available at http://carol-allen-anfinsen.pixels.com

Greed and selfishness are at the center of all power disputes. Facts are distorted. Reputations are sullied. Self-respect and self-esteem are both destroyed. There are no winners. But in this election year, it is not a game. It’s a matter of life and death. Our country is so saddled by debt it is already on the verge of collapse. Our Constitution is in shreds. Our precious rights and liberties are being eroded to the point of no return and both parties are guilty of their destruction.

You can’t afford to be ignorant when you vote. Study the issues. Read both sides of an argument and determine the facts. If you don’t really care then please don’t vote. The right to vote was earned by someone else’s blood and tears. Some even lost their lives in preserving freedom. At this critical juncture in American history you can’t afford to sit this one out. Remember the saying: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We must keep the power with the people.

First Daffodil

“First Daffodil” the hope of Spring.

Does your body language say: “Come and get me?” or “I can take care of myself.”

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"Belly Dancer" 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

“Belly Dancer” 11 x 14 acrylic on panel

You are a walking advertisement. What are you selling? Young women often “strut their stuff” searching for a date or a mate. But what are they really saying with the way they dress or act? Probably that they’re looking for sex. If you’re dressed like a hooker, don’t be surprised if that’s the only kind of invitations you’re going to get.

What kind of friends do you want to attract? Are you casual and athletic, or are you more the theater and stage kind of person? Do you love to read and are up on current events, or do you just slide by and prefer small talk and gossip?

"Reggae Night" acrylic on canvas

“Reggae Night” acrylic on canvas

Every time you go out in public, you send a message about yourself. Are you confident and poised, or insecure and “needy?” Are you pushy and demanding or are you courteous and thoughtful of those around you. Some people are afraid to show their soft side for fear that they’ll be taken advantage of, and there is some truth to this feeling. But if you act confident and sure, you are more likely to be ignored by someone who is looking for a “soft touch.”

The bad guys study your non-verbal clues. They know who’s an easy mark and those who may put up a fight. Of course, if there’s more than one attacker, it’s best to give them what they want, unless you have a concealed weapon of your own that is.

As people debate this issue, just imagine yourself in the above situation either on the street or in your home. Are you just going to surrender to mutilation, rape, or robbery, or are you going to scare the hell out of your assailants and send them on their way?

"Broken" 11x14 mixed media (SOLD); prints available.

“Broken” 11×14 mixed media (SOLD); prints available.

It seems our whole country is being overrun by gangs and weirdos who are able to purchase weapons illegally, and use them against us. Why should law-abiding citizens be denied the right to defend themselves against the lawless who don’t mind skirting the law? Since the 2nd Amendment is very specific about this freedom, the discussion should be over.

Did you know that the government is buying up ammunition hand over fist? They figure if they can’t confiscate all the guns, they can at least keep the guns from firing. This unconstitutional act should be challenged if it isn’t already.

History tells us that in every dictatorship that has come to power, one of their first acts is to confiscate all the guns. As a free people we should not allow this. Statistically the odds for getting killed by a gun are slim to none.

Self-defense is an important tool. In Fort Myers, several elementary school girls have escaped the stalking and invitations of would-be rapists simply by screaming at the top of their lungs and running away.

Unfortunately, one young woman was grabbed by a man who stuffed her into his trunk so fast, she didn’t have time to react. Learning the techniques of self-awareness, environmental awareness, and some simple methods to disarm or disable an attacker has saved more than one person’s life.

Your job is to be as prepared as possible in the event something like this should happen to you. The very young and the feeble old are assaulted in greater numbers because they are weak and often defenseless. Paying for lessons for you and your children on self-defense to build up your knowledge and skills is well worth the money.

Integrity and Respect are Two Sides of the Same Coin

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"Twitters and Twigs" 11x14 oil on canvas

“Twitters and Twigs” 11×14 oil on canvas

On NBC Nightly News they reported on a Neurologist who was treating five different women for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Each had had expensive tests, including an MRI and had been prescribed meds that were costing upwards of several hundred to thousands of dollars per month. In their efforts to get financial relief, the women obtained second opinions that revealed they did not have MS.

The reporter said “The doctor was nothing more than a ‘con’ man. “He got away with it because he was a well-known and respected doctor. He was charming. He had charisma and a friendly persona.”

The downfall of a once successful man can usually be blamed not only on dishonesty, but lack of integrity. The doctor knew what he was doing was wrong, but he thought he could get away with it. He didn’t really care that his actions were criminal or that it would cause others pain. He only thought of himself and the money that would end up in his own pocket. Now he has been revealed for what he really is on the inside: a thief, a liar, and a selfish greedy scum bag. The man is an “empty suit.”

Turkey Buzzards circling for a feast

Turkey Buzzards circling for a feast

They are around us everywhere, even on the elevated floors of congress and in the highest halls of academia. The rules that others play by, they simply ignore: “Put your money where your mouth is; you talk a good game, can you play a good game?” Actions always speak louder than words.

If you “live by the sword,” you will usually die by the sword. “What goes around comes around.” If your poison tongue spews venom outward to deceive others, eventually your words and acts will come back to haunt you or destroy you. In the past, people shook hands in agreement; their word was as good as a signed contract. When did words come to mean so little?

Speaking of words, do people trust that you will do what you say?” Are you reliable? When your name comes up in private conversations will the discussion be positive? Is your character praiseworthy?

Reputations are built one step at a time through the accumulation of successful interactions with others. Integrity strengthens those negotiations. Integrity once earned, cannot be taken from you. It is a priceless quality that is valued and appreciated by many, but cannot be purchased, stolen or copied.

"Fish Market" 24x18 acrylic on canvas

“Fish Market” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

Integrity is that part of your being that is deeply enmeshed with fiber, tissue, heart and soul. It is intrinsic to a person’s character and reputation. You can only increase its value through practice and consistent behavior that builds trust.

Without integrity there is no respect in the true sense. This kind of standing enhances love and diminishes fear. Integrity is eternal. It will cover your nakedness when you pass from mortal to eternal life and become your crown of righteousness when you stand before Almighty God.

Would Tides by any other Name Smell so Stinky?

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What is coarse, toxic, sweeps up marine life in its wake and kills? If you guessed a broom, we’re done here. If you answered pollution, you’re close. If you said red tides, you’re dead on. Never heard of this menacing algae? Let me introduce you.

Every summer at the height of tourist season, a tangle of brownish algae and dead fish cascades onto the Gulf Coast’s pristine beaches; the stink is overwhelming. My mother used to say “That’s enough to gag a maggot.” What makes these algae such a menace? They produce one of the deadliest toxins known to man.

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“Beach Buddies” 16×20 mixed media on canvas

These harmful algal blooms or HABS wreak havoc on local fishing industries to the tune of $82 million each year. The toxins effect the central nervous system of fish, killing them in vast numbers; limiting the quantities of fresh fish that fisheries depend on. Toxins also may poison shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels, and make the humans who eat them sick.

The red tide masses effect marine ecosystems in a number of ways. Dense blooms can block sunlight that benefit good algae and sea grasses needed for food. Wildlife and marine mammals like seabirds, manatees, turtles and dolphins may get sick or even die. Humans may suffer severe respiratory or skin ailments. In addition to that, red tides are downright unsightly.

My first reaction to walking on the beach after a red tide wash up was repulsion. Hundreds of stinky dead fish trapped in strange-looking seaweed covered the white sand driving me and many other tourists back to our hotels. Like them, I wanted to know what this stuff was, what it did, and how we could stop it.

Sea Swirls

“Sea Swirls” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

Red tides are composed of microscopic algae known as dinoflagellates; their scientific name: karenia brevis. The algal cells are asexual. They produce simply by dividing. To complicate matters, each cell is capable of movement via two flagella that propels them through the water. There is no brainwork involved in this confluence or joining of forces. They drift with the water’s ebb and flow, bumping together to form large clumps or “blooms” as their numbers increase.

What makes dinoflagellates different from other microscopic algae? At least two things: their rapid growth and their toxicity both of which raise more questions than answers. Why do these organisms suddenly explode into a massive growing binge? What triggers this growth and why does it produce toxins in some algae and not in others?

Biologists and scientists believe pollution of our waterways may be the leading factor. Pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals are washed into surrounding rivers and lakes and eventually find their way into the sea. At the mouth of these inlets and tributaries, red tides get their first burst of growth which certainly points to pollution as the cause.

But there’s a catch: red tides are not a new phenomenon. Fish kills from deadly algae were recorded in 1840 and as long ago as the Spanish explorers who wrote about them in their logs. After years of red tides research, there is still no conclusive evidence or link to pollution. Like many quirks of nature, the trigger may be from natural causes or a series of events that are little understood.

Sea Nymph

“Sea Nymph” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in Florida conducts Red Tide Reports on a regular basis during critical growing periods. Using satellite imagery, high levels of chlorophyll are monitored for possible resurgence of red tides. With the help of modern technology, experts record the size, rate of growth, and location of these HABS.

FWRI works in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA’s goal is to “provide the tools to prevent, control, or mitigate the occurrence of HABS.” Because red algae can be found in almost any waterway, research labs are positioned worldwide.

If you would like information about red tides in your own locale, go to   noaa.gov.

What is the missing component that explains why red tides grow faster and wilder during certain times of the year? Is pollution the cause as some suggest? Or is it increased water temperature that naturally encourages the growth of most algae? Until the mystery is solved, Gulf residents and vacationers around the globe must continue to endure the irritation, the blight and the stink of red tides.

A Life Well Lived brings Joy to Others

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Jo Ann Albright, A dear friend and fellow artist passed away last weekend (back row, stage left). She originated our Art Group, Gateway Artists; and encouraged and inspired us in many many ways. She will be missed.

Jo Ann will be remembered for her “big sky” watercolor paintings inspired by her home in Iowa. Her tropical paintings were created at her second home in Florida. Jo Ann was also a member of the Fort Myer’s Beach Art Association and many others during her lifetime as a Snow Bird in the Fort Myers area.

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Life not only goes by quickly, but it’s filled with unexpected sometimes life-threatening occurrences. We are usually unaware of the undercurrents that swirl beneath the surface. Nothing can be taken for granted, not good health, a secure job, or unexpected consequences that come as a result of the many choices we make each day.

Clearly, as the poets have said for centuries: “Life is fleeting;” and from our human perspective random.  That life could be part of a divine plan rather than simply happenstance is denied by many.

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My friend, Jo Ann, had no fear of death. She had an aneurism in an artery that she knew could give out at anytime. She walked by faith and enjoyed the goodness that life offered her. She knew that her life upon the earth was just a matter of time. She lived as though she had all the time in the world.

As someone once said, we all have our death date stamped on our heel the moment we’re born. Life is only temporary, but some people act as if it weren’t. In fact, they abuse their bodies with poor nutrition, junk food, drugs, narcotics, and risky behavior which only hastens their death.

Here and now is a sparkling opportunity not only to thrive, but to enjoy your life. I’m not talking about self-gratification and pleasure. I’m talking about making the most of your time here upon the earth by using your talents and gifts to enrich the world, and by reaching out to help others not to destroy or impede their personal journey.

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We should provide stepping stones not stumbling stones to those around us. Our gifts and talents should be a light to guide other’s way. Unfortunately, our world seems to be succumbing to hatred and selfishness. Would that we could all be light and peace in this dark world as Jo Ann was. Rest in peace dear friend.

We’re being Sold a Bill of Goods

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"Reggae Night" acrylic on canvas

“Reggae Night” acrylic on canvas

Did you ever wonder why styles change – and so often?  Believe you me, it’s all about money!  You think men’s suits are tailored tight to show off their muscles? Wrong! Less material is required which translates into prices the consumer can afford and more profits for the manufacturer.

Some men definitely look good in the slim cut, but most do not. Masculine shoulders may appear smaller and midriffs larger. The overall impression is one of looking at a young man who has outgrown last year’s suit. The manufacturer can charge the same price as a regular cut garment and it costs him less or at least the same. This is one way to beat rising costs.

Women’s clothing is being handled in much the same way. The fashion world has convinced us that tight is sexy. The more cling a fabric has, the better. Some women would be better off not revealing so much. No longer can we cover love handles and inappropriate bulges on backs or thighs. Yet, we’ve been convinced that this is the ultimate in fashion.

Using skimpy foreign fabrics that seldom last as long as materials from previous years, the manufacturers are outsmarting us for higher profits. The consumer continues to pay inflated prices each year for less wear and minimal quality.

"Release" Panel 1 Tropical Parrot

“Release” Panel 1 Tropical Parrot

I have used Bali products for panties, girdles and bras for years. When I discovered that I could no longer get the same quality, I was angry. Their excuse for a girdle now is a flimsy synthetic fabric that is hot and makes you sweat. No longer can you find the substantial materials of yesteryear, and the prices are astronomical.

Whatever happened to that wave of hatred for polyester? Now that’s all they use. We’ve lost our love for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool and silk. They’ve all been replaced with synthetics because they supposedly “never need ironing.” But that’s a crock, because they almost always do.

"Dainty Diva" mixed media on canvas (SOLD) (synthetic fabric)

“Dainty Diva” mixed media on canvas (SOLD) (synthetic fabric)

Synthetics are hot. In Florida the newer fabrics stick to your bottom, and make you feel like you’re having hot flashes even when you’re not. The feminine fabrics are beautiful and irresistible, but most of them are sheer and require buying either a slip or lining and a tank top unless you’re willing to look like a hooker on Saturday night. Having to buy extra accessories means more sales, more profits.

The young don’t care about cost or comfort. I remember wearing stilettos when I was in my twenties. They were excruciatingly painful after wearing them for only a few hours, but we wore them anyway. I blame them for the arthritis I have in my feet today. Youth will sacrifice ease for beauty any day of the week, and the manufacturers are all too eager to make that happen.