The Chaos and Fury of a Tweeting Fox

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A Time for New Beginnings

MOUNTAIN MEDITATION published in The Moubrain Times

DECEMBER 28, 2017
A time for new beginnings

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”—Henry David Thoreau

The Winter Solstice and the New Year are especially auspicious times to conceive and set life goals and intentions. “Solstice” in Latin means “sun set still” and refers to the darkness before light returns. The Winter Solstice ushers us through the longest, darkest night of the year. It’s a time of reflection and setting objectives that will incubate as the darkness yields to the new cycle of the sun. This magical era gives us hope as rays of light warm fallow ground. Seeds awaken and unfold as fragile sprouts that grow vibrant and strong.

A simple way to begin to examine our values, dreams, and intentions is by gathering pictures, words, and ideas to create a collage: a vision board. How do you want to live your life, with intention and joy as your aim? What matters to you most of all? Family, career, growth, or friends? What is your purpose? What do you love most to do whenever you can? What would your ideal life look like? Consider where you’d most like to live. How do you wish to spend your days? Are you committed to improving your health? Setting fitness goals and an exercise routine, even if it’s solely isometric, can help determine your body’s future, delaying or avoiding that slippery slope.

In “The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting,” Michael Hyatt offers five principles:

l. Five to seven goals are sufficient. You can memorize them and they won’t overwhelm.

2. Set “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. S: Be as specific as you can. M: Goals must be measurable to quantify their results. A: Start each goal with an action verb (like to “build” or “write”). R: Make goals realistic but also a challenge and a bit of a stretch. T: Goals should always be time-bound.

3. Write your goals down to set intention and kickstart them into motion.

4. Michael suggests reviewing goals often and asking, “What’s the next step that I need to take to move closer toward this goal?”

5. Once you’ve determined just what your goals are, keep them to yourself or share them selectively with someone else who’s committed to helping you achieve them.

The tradition of setting Winter Solstice or New Year’s intentions gains power by putting them in writing. Did you know that writing a detailed account of one’s goals increases the likelihood that they’ll be attained by 48 percent? Setting the intention, once again, by lighting a candle or saying a prayer, keeping the paper in a special container and placing it in a place of power, gives the intentions yet more momentum. In feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, the location for goals is in the back center of each room and dwelling, straight ahead and directly across from the door to the room or the home’s front entranceway. A living plant in the goal area is another way to enhance feng shui. It’s often surprising to reread intentions after a year has passed, but some folks are certain reading goals often gives them more power to manifest.

Success.com gives us “5 Ways to Become the Person You Aspire to Be.” 1. We must be honest with ourselves about our passions and who we really are. 2. Having a vision of our dreams gives us the blueprint to our future. 3. Persevere and never give up when setbacks and challenges arise. 4. Avoid naysayers and self-doubt purveyors. Overcome your own self-limiting beliefs. 5. Believe in yourself and your power to manifest your goal, your intention, your dream.

I confess, I’m a procrastinator, and I’m darned good at it. But procrastination is not a helpful trait. It diminishes happiness and fulfillment in life. When we work toward our goals and make progress, a cycle of progress called subjective wellbeing, or SWB, is produced. Our positive feelings motivate the behaviors that help us advance and stay on task.

In “Goal Progress and Happiness” in Psychologytoday.com, Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D, recommends beginning the day with the toughest tasks because “priming the pump” helps him get started, then the momentum is easier to build up. If the task isn’t something we want to do, we drag our feet, but need to claim it. Recognizing its value in some way makes it easier to get it done. Then we can proceed to the goal-related tasks that enhance our SWB and joie de vivre.

I learned about Jon Butcher’s system of creating a “Lifebook” through the Mindvalley Academy, “the Ultimate Personal Growth University.” A Lifebook is a detailed vision of what one values and wants in life: the beliefs, outcomes and steps to make one’s dreams and intentions come true. The categories of one’s life to investigate and explore are: physical, intellectual, emotional, character, spirituality, romance, parenting, social, career, finances, quality of life, and life vision. Through decades of study and feedback, Butcher determined that the best measure of “success” is determined by those who curate and plan their own lives according to their values and desires. Instead of defining success by wealth or progress in one’s career, it’s important to consider happiness and fulfillment, relationships, health, and other aspects of our lives.

In “The 3 Key Ideas from Aristotle That Will Help You Flourish” by Charlie Gilkey, I discovered that our questions are nothing new under the sun. “What does it mean to be happy and to live a good life? How do we focus on what matters most and live up to our own potential? Why do some people succeed while others barely get by?” Aristotle and other philosophers, religious leaders, and spiritual teachers throughout the millennia also pondered these questions.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” To better our lives and manifest our dreams, we identify our deepest values and develop the character traits that best reflect them.

What virtues do you choose to exemplify? Which actions will you change into habits to help you realize your life goals? What are your aspirations, and how do you wish to transform yourself?

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

 

 

Extreme Self Care in Extreme Times

Mountain Meditation from “The Mountain Times”

DECEMBER 15, 2017
Extreme self care in extreme times

By Marguerite Jill Dye

“Not what we have, but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance.” – Epicurus

Extreme self care is called for in extreme times, and these times are most certainly extreme. I learned this lesson when I returned home from Argentina after living under the military dictatorship. Feeling powerless to help a friend in the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (whose children and grandchildren had disappeared), and working with abandoned women and children in the “villas miserias” (shanty towns), I was diagnosed with clinical depression. A counselor told me to do what I loved, so I bought myself some watercolor supplies and took a plein air landscape class at the Virginia Museum. All over Richmond, I sat myself down in gardens and parks to commune with flowers. Surrounded by beauty, I found inspiration, and rediscovered the healing power of nature that I’d discovered as a child while building our ski house in Killington. Creating in nature helped me to center myself as I painted the trauma away. But being in Vermont, you already know the powerful effect nature has on yourself!

Some may think that extreme self-care is only available to millionaires in luxurious spas where masseuses and beauticians provide treatments, but I know that’s not true. While some of the best things in life are free, others cost little but offer a lot. So I thought I’d share my favorite ideas that are free or budget-friendly to tickle your fancy, help you care for yourself, and spread more joy upon our earth.

Are you overly tired or all stressed out? I have the perfect solution: a steaming hot lavender Epsom salts bath – aromatherapy to soothe and relax. Since 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, the mineral seeps right through the skin, relaxing muscles and nourishing them. By lighting a candle and closing the door, a peaceful sanctuary pops up. If you don’t have a tub, a towel on your tummy that’s soaked in warm Epsom salts does the trick.

The Brits have long lauded the soothing effects of a hot cup of tea, at the tea hour. The Chinese assure us that green tea’s the best to promote health and longevity. Whatever your preference, brew a pot or a cup then sit down, relax, and put your feet up. Read a good book, or a poem about nature, or just sip your tea and complete a thought. Visualize yourself in your favorite spot, inhale the fragrance, and think good thoughts. Recall a memory that warms your heart, then pass on that feeling of love and warmth.

List the things that you’re grateful for, then add a new blessing to it each day: abilities, feelings, animals and people. Gratitude’s the first step towards being happy. Mend a friendship with a call or a letter remembering what brought you two together. Make a card for a loved one who’s ill and describe what you’ve always loved about them. Visit a neighbor who lives alone or in a local retirement home. Don’t put it off.

You don’t want to regret something you never got around to.

Give away something you cherish. Include a special hand-written message. You never know when the words you write or say may change another’s life.

Some little ones need a special friend to talk with and who listens to them. Bake some cookies and offer them to your workmen, handyman, mailcarrier. Let the folks who serve you know that you appreciate their work and attitude.

Try to see the very best in someone you’ve had differences with. We all have shortcomings. It’s the truth. But it’s better to look for attributes.
Say a prayer for those in need, the poor, the sick, and refugees. Pray for our soldiers who risk their lives, and for our nation and world peace.

Think about what you love in your life and what you’d prefer to eliminate. It’s up to you to decide what you want to include or exclude from daily life. So write down the changes you’d like to make and what you want to manifest. Writing desires down on paper gives them ever so much more power. Start each goal with a baby step, then see how much closer you get.

Clean up messes, clear out clutter so there’s room in your life for all that’s better. Clutter creates stagnant energy which limits our health and vitality. “Clear out the attic,” Feng shui masters exclaim, “to reach higher aspirations and dreams.” Exercise both your body and brain, since “move it or lose it” includes the head.

Don’t ignore a new health concern that might be an early warning sign. Although it may turn out to be nothing, it’s safer to check in case it’s something. Spend time in the sunshine for vitamin D. Increase your endorphins through exercise and by putting a big smile on your face.
Make friends. Talk with people. Spend time with pets. And each day be sure to give thanks. For regardless of our trials and pains, no matter how bleak the future may seem, there’s always a beam of light above to lead us towards our highest good.

Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Gulf Coast of Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solutions for Hope, Not Despair

70-Mountain Meditation In “The Mountain Times” by Marguerite Jill Dye

“Making the world’s available resources serve 100% of an exploding population. . . is a task for radical technical innovators, not political voodoo-men.”
Buckminster Fuller, 1970

The wealthy used to feel a social responsibility and live up to a code of ethics. Now noblesse oblige is a thing of the past, except for a few like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Now it’s all about increasing their wealth and decreasing their taxes, but the opposite is true for the workers, the poor, and the middle class. Profit over people is the game, without concern for humans or planet earth.

The racist, narcissist, white nationalist capitalist in our Oval Office proclaims “America first,” but the desired result is “the rich first.” His supporters were duped by his populist tactics, baseball cap, and apprentice celebrity. I wonder when they’ll realize it’s too late to undo his undoing. With a series of crises brought to a head by insults, dares, and tweets, we’d be better off if he stayed on the golf course instead of destructuring our government agencies. He and his cronies have zero intention of saving our planet or humanity. Their sole interest is padding their overseas bank accounts through the average Americans’ sacrifice and “generosity” and the mega loans from the Chinese government.

My French friend Colette sent me an insightful but distressing column from “Le Cercle” about a surprising phenomena occurring in only one developed nation: the U.S. “Since the millennium, life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased, mainly among white, middle aged, working class men with a high school education.” An article by Case and Deaton links the rising mortality rate and lower life expectancy to the continuing progression of income inequality. The authors also explained how, in post industrial societies, globalization and the high tech world have changed social and professional attitudes between generations. They call it “death by despair” from suicide, alcoholism, drug overdose, drug addiction (to opioids for chronic pain and depression), and heart attack. The authors believe this contributed to the development of Trump’s populist movement. “He succeeded in convincing a large part of the working class that he’d return manufacturing jobs to the States, although,” they say, “this will certainly not happen.”

What I have concluded is that most all Americans who aren’t among the top 2% are victims, whether white working class male workers battling death by despair, women and girls who’ve been abused by men or are prey to sexual predators, minorities fighting discrimination, Dreamers trying to follow their dreams, students buried in debt, or homeless ones with nowhere to go,. We are all victims in a society that has much work to be done to create the justice, equality, and equal opportunity that our nation was founded upon. We are victims of the new American oligarchy.

Anthropologist Jason Hickel warns that “our addiction to economic growth is killing us. . . We can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. . . GDP is a crude measure of progress” because it ignores environmental and social costs. Rich countries use more than three times their fair share of the earth’s resources. We need an economic model that promotes human flourishing, not economic growth. How can this be achieved? Through planned de-growth to increase human well-being and happiness, and by cutting excess consumption. We need to encourage creativity and innovation “to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or just advantage to anyone.” That was the mission of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, the “Last American Transcendentalist.”
(brainyquote.com)

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody,” R. Buckminster Fuller predicted. “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons. . . We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims,” the American visionary, futurist, and teacher proclaimed.

Buckminster Fuller was also a practical philosopher, architect, designer, and inventor with 25 patents of “artifacts” like the geodesic dome, three wheeled, blimp shaped Dimaxion car, reinforced concrete buildings, and prefabricated 4D Dimaxion houses in response to the post war housing crisis. Recognized as “one of the greatest minds of our times,” he’s considered to have been the Leonardo Divinci of the 20th Century. Buckminster Fuller was a global thinker who envisioned “a one-town world” and traveled around the globe engaging youth in social activism. He authored nearly 30 books including No More Secondhand God (1963), Operating Manual for the Spaceship Earth (1969), and Earth, Inc. (1973). “In reality, the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon are nothing else than a most fantastically well-designed and space-programmed team of vehicles. All of us are, always have been, and so long as we exist, always will be-nothing else but-astronauts.”
(PBS.org/net/americanmasters/r-buckminster-fuller/599/)

Born in 1895 in Milton, MA, (died in 1983), Buckminster Fuller was the grand nephew of Margaret Fuller, American Transcendentalist. He devoted his life to helping to solve global problems for all of humanity. 102 countries participated in the 10th Annual Fuller Challenge (first launched in 2007) for individuals, organizations, and groups that present whole-systems strategies to solve humanities’ most challenging social and environmental issues including farming, conservation, energy, architecture, art, communication, design, economics, healthcare, and urban planning. The Fuller Challenge is known as “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award.” R. Buckminster Fuller defined a designer as “an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.”

Wouldn’t it be thrilling to design a solution to one of the world’s challenges? Reading about The Fuller Challenge whet my appetite to explore a few ways to help provide shelter, potable water, to bring a community together, or end world hunger. Fuller created the geodesic dome and I’ve wondered if a form of it could be collapsed then unfolded to create moveable, temporary housing for the homeless and victims of natural disasters. I’ve imagined an inexpensive, portable, perpetual kitchen sprout farm where a variety of seeds and beans (that create new seeds) could be grown in a box anywhere, under any circumstances, with limited water and light. Sprouts grow quickly, within a few days, and are highly nutritious. Perhaps such mini-crops could help feed the hungry. Every time I find a tick or see flies in an animal’s eyes or wounds, I would like to discover inexpensive formulas from indigenous plants (such as mint, marigolds, thyme, tea tree, or lavender, I.e.) that would repel, kill, and/or sterilize ticks, flies, fleas, and mosquitos and protect humans, pets, and wildlife from the diseases and infections they spread.

Trimtab is the monthly digital newsletter of the Buckminster Fuller Institute and has more information on The Fuller Challenge. Of the 460 plus applicants for the 2017 Fuller Challenge from 102 nations, the winner is the “Bhungroo,” (straw or hollow pipe), a simple, low tech, ingenious invention by the co-founders of the Sustainable Green Initiative Forum in Gujarat State, India. Under just one square meter of land, it filters, injects, and stores excess rain water from the monsoons in the water table (to a depth of 300 meters), and retrieves the precious water for drinking and irrigation during droughts. “This deceptively simple but revolutionary approach, which allows smallholder farmers to survive and thrive in the face of drought, monsoon flooding, and ever more erratic precipitation patterns, simultaneously empowers women and the poorest of the poor. It is truly a “trimtab,” to use Fuller’s term, that can improve life for millions of the world’s most disenfranchised people.” (bfi.org) Let’s use our God-given brains to replace misery through innovation.

“We are coming to an era the likes of which we’ve never seen before, we’re in the white waters of human history. We don’t know what lies ahead. Bucky Fuller’s ideas on design are at the corner of any set of solutions that will take us to calmer waters.” David Orr

“If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

MargueriteJill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between theGreen Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.