FireCat! The Legend of Amazon Sage©

Sage is a quirky girl who always loved wild animals, funny people, adventure and indigenous music. She still does.

What no one knows is that every night in her dreams, Sage

transforms into a woman of power and wisdom, called

Amazon Sage.

Unlimited by the confines of newtonian physics, she is fierce and full of compassion, traveling where ever she is needed to help relieve suffering in the world.

Only problem is,

Amazon Sage© only lives while Sage is dreaming.

Once Sage awakens, Amazon Sage © disappears. These blogs are written by Sage, telling what happens in this most secret life...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

amazon sage©: “Sage Memories from 9-11-01”

amazon sage©: “Sage Memories from 9-11-01”: Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to a different time... It was 2001, a cool September 11, morning as one Flori...

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to...

“Sage Memories from 9-11-01”

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to a different time... It was 2001, a cool September 11, morning as one Florida college professor prepared for the day’s classes. A call interrupted her reverie as a young man inquired if she’d like to refinance her home at a lower rate. Those were the days when mortgages were affordable and property was valuable so she started to respond. That's when she heard the young man gasp.

“What?” she asked. “Are you okay?” The young man’s voice quivered, his attention riveted elsewhere. In a voice more automaton than human he replied “They’ve flown into the World Trade Center. It’s on TV.” He hung up.

The television scenes were surreal. Billows of smoke and debris, falling bodies, people screaming; the words “terror attack”, Flight 93, the Pentagon, second tower; all crowded the screen for attention. Any one of them could easily have filled up the 24/7 news for weeks. By the time a second plane flew into New York’s other monolithic building, the professor, I’ll call her Professor Sage, sprang into action.

Having grown up during the cold war when school children were regularly practiced in how to “take cover and tuck”, she feared the worst. Immediately, she emailed each of her grown children, instructing them to fill up their bathtubs with water, gather batteries for their electronics, and stay inside “until we know more about what is happening.” A more contemporary version of “Take cover and tuck”.

Then she sat down to decide what to do about her classes. That day was already cancelled, but what about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow? How long would we stay in hiding and at what cost to the psyches of our most vulnerable citizens, our students? As a psychology professor she was well acquainted with the personal stories of many of hers.

One young woman, here from Japan and living alone, had no one to turn to for comfort in these terrifying times. Other students, on their own for the first time, wanted to be brave but would need the company of others to keep them strong. Then there were the descendants of southern rebels; still angry that the old South lost the war; ready to take up arms at a moment’s notice. “...and this time, we will not lose!” They had heard that some of the terrorists  trained to fly at a Florida flight school so they knew where they wanted to go. Yet, if any of these young people decided to take matters into their own hands, not only would they hurt innocents and spread panic, they would ruin their own lives, as well.

The decision wasn’t easy but it was clear; classes would continue as scheduled unless or until we were unable to do so any more. Emailing her students to stay safe today and tomorrow, “come to class if you choose, with no penalty if you choose not to”,  Professor Sage prepared a very different lesson plan.

The next day, when she arrived on campus, it was eerily empty. Brave custodians who made the classrooms available were nowhere to be seen.  Professor Sage wondered if she had made a mistake asking her students to attend. She rounded the corner next to the entrance to her class room, noticing all was deathly quiet. Suspecting that her invitation to attend class and discuss the events of yesterday was indeed premature, she sadly entered the room wondering how long she should wait before making the long drive home. To her amazement, everyone of her students was sitting there... as quiet as prayer.

In the three hours that followed, students shared all manner of concerns. All listened to each other and reached out when anyone felt overwhelmed by sadness or despair. They also reached through anger, to those who wanted revenge, who wanted to revert to the tactics of their forefathers, don white sheets and issue fiery messages. With absolute respect for the feelings of fury, students encouraged non violence as a way they could be of real assistance to the families who lost so much.

By the end of the three hour class, a transformation had occurred that not even Professor Sage expected. Some might call it a miracle. Gone was the innocence of those fresh-faced students who arrived only a few weeks before, caring only about grades and social intrigue. These courageous students had battled their worst nightmares and entered the ranks of maturity by letting go of preconceived notions of payback and embracing a new reality: A world where every person’s voice is important and where reaching out is the true path to peace.

That night as Amazon Sage left the side of her professor friend, they shared a smile in the cool light of a new world. As it turns out, today is a good day to live.

Monday, August 22, 2011

08/22/11 “Gathering in the Face of Instability: A Parable for our Time” 
Last night’s dreams were filled with awakenings, both physical and perceptual.  The physical ones were easily remedied with another pillow or a trip to the loo. The perceptual ones were less easily ignored. One dream caught my attention as I, in my dream persona of Amazon Sage, found myself transported to a small cafe in anytown USA. 
There, young adults gather to talk, text, and jumpstart their day with a cup of java.  The scene is reminiscent of a much earlier time (I’ve heard tales),  when people who worked downtown gathered at a central square or farmers’ market before surrendering to the day’s work. In fact, this cafe sits directly across from some of those very same buildings where earlier city dwellers discussed the state of their lives. Only the facades have changed.
As I gaze at nearby tables, I see young hikers, apparently rock climbers, freshly arrived from parts unknown. As they push back disheveled hair and tighten efficient backpacks one quietly speaks with the team about their day’s events. Nodding toward a structure, directly across the street, all smile mischievously. My gaze follows their own and I am taken in by the beauty of an old building standing not more than 30 feet away.  In the early light of day, she stands tall, an elegant lady of by-gone years, still quite beautiful in her twilight years.

I know she has recently been given a facelift of multi-shaped bricks, because they are more colorful than those originally stacked. I suppose it was in an attempt to enhance her natural beauty, and ironically, to make her look more historic. I wonder why the renovators of this wonderful old structure didn’t simply peel off the worn out stucco that, since the 1960s,  has so rudely blotted out her original grandeur. As I ponder this question, I am startled by the climbers. Almost magically, they are now standing directly in front of that grande dame, preparing to scale her heights! 

A few climbers are already digging their fingers into the fresh sutures of her recent facelift. Others are hoisting heavy ropes across her shoulders and around her neck. Immediately, I am filled with consternation. Do these climbers not know of her delicate condition? Do they not even care that her true strength lies buried behind these seductive layers of false fronts? Before I have time to warn them, the climbers are 30, then 40 feet in the air.
The grand lady, so long ignored behind the facade of other men’s opinions has finally had enough. First, one brick, then another, she begins throwing off these new additions that have attracted the young skalywags. This seductive packaging has not made her stronger, it only serves to hide what is truly worth keeping. Along with the bricks, the young climbers begin to fall. Head over heels they fall, losing everything in an instant.What they did not know is that behind all the fancy packaging lives a soul of grace and honor. That is where the real strength lies. The outside glitz of others’ imaginations is only for show and profit, eventually toppling from the weight of its own lies. 

Suddenly, I awake and wonder, “Is this what is happening in our society at large? To our financial institutions, to political parties, and to our ability to get things done in our government? Have we become so enamored with what is new and fast and easy, that we have forsaken the foundation on which this country was once built? Hmmm. Time to wake up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

“Lost Souls of the Virtual World”

Good morning, friends.
After writing “The Case of the Disappearing Minds,” I decided to travel deeper into the virtual world of social networking in search of other lost souls. I  discovered more than a few… people living in semi darkened rooms, faces virtually glued to a bright screen, losing sight and losing touch with their own humanity.  I asked Amazon Sage if she might dream travel to the homes of some of these good people to see what creats such angst.
From Australia, to Russia, Western Africa, to the Americas, Amazon Sage appeared where ever people were suffering. She visited the homes of tsunami survivors, homeless folks, working stiffs, and the disabled. She even peeked into the sweat lodges of a few Indigenous people, the bedrooms of the depressed, the cubicles of customer service reps, and the bathroom stalls of... (Uh, on this blog, I won’t go there.) What she discovered may surprise the uninitiated. 
Paradoxically, she found that those who had been most devastated by Tsunami, tornado, and war, were most fully engaged in living life… outside the machine. Fighting daily to survive, they had no time for what many referred to as the “the giant time suck”. That is because so many of these courageous people continue to experience their own personal tsunami long after the news reporters leave. Most have no time for the frivolity or dramas of unknown others. With a smile, Amazon Sage left them to their good works.
Next, Amazon Sage dream traveled to the alleyways, cars, and cheap hotels that have become home to the homeless. When possible, some of these folks valiantly try to get online, through their local library or shelter, to find jobs or reconnect with relatives. However, most are so confronted by their tragic plight, that simply existing from one day to the next takes up all their energies. These folks must daily hunker down and focus on getting out of extreme weather and finding enough to eat.
People who were gainfully employed, especially if they had families to care for, were another group unlikely to get caught in the web of virtuality for endless hours each day. When asked about their life online, most looked blankly, as if to say “And when am I supposed to do that?” Uh, okay… But it was also  here, that Amazon Sage managed to pick up the trail of other secret groups of net dwellers. For example, some of these working people are not put off by the necessity of regularly checking what FB friends are saying or Twitter followers are tweeting. These are people who regularly forego precious hours of sleep or vital communion with family and friends, in favor of the virtual world. Wow. 

As the old childhood game used to say, “We’re getting warm… and where there’s warmth, there’s likely to be a fire somewhere out there.” So, one might ask, who does spend the most time chatting, farming, complaining, or championing. Amazon Sage sniffed the air and it wasn’t long before the fire found its way to her site. 

Almost without warning, she entered places where some of the hottest sites flamed… and when I say hot, I don’t mean as in physically attractive. Some of these sites appear to transcend all other life circumstances as they gather forces -- for good, and in some cases,  for evil. Some sites use code or other strange ways to avoid detection by the powers that be.  Others speak outright with outrage and fierce courage. All call out to a world of seeming complacency to do something. In most cases the person who yells the most forcefully is the one who internally, believes he or she suffers most. That is a place where Amazon Sage stopped for awhile since many lost souls of the internet seem to live there.

Another place of suffering was found in sites encouraging spirituality. While many of these people work hard and struggle valiantly to transcend their limitations, reaching out in today’s world; others continue to fight for a return to a time that never was… where everyone gets along and no one insults their neighbor.  Good luck with that, my friends.
Perhaps the saddest sites were the ones where the people who congregated, have been disabled by the vagaries of life. Trying to understand their plight, they cry “Why me?”  To that I simply respond, “Why not?” 
For it matters not how one defines one’s spirituality (or lack thereof), life happens to us all. With seeming reckless abandon, some good people are hit with death, others with disease, some suffer divorce, while others suffer rejection. Just ask the people who recently suffered some of the worst natural disasters in modern history. Being human, subjects every one of us to life’s contingencies. 

It is the belief of those most wise that is not what happens to us that matters so much as how we choose to perceive it and then how we choose to live with it.  Yes, we choose how we want to live by inviting in hope and joy or by embracing despair and dread. It is our conscious choices that make the difference between whether we continue needless suffering or begin to heal. 

Those among us who are least likely to experience healing are the “Why me?” group.  Indeed, most major teachings and spiritual traditions tell us that it is our ability to travel beyond the hopelessness and helplessness of the moment that determines our future. Beyond the confines of our feelings of betrayal and hurt, we must reach out in hope and we will be blessed. Today, I want to say to all of my brothers and sisters, I send you hope and the belief that together we can create peace in our hearts. Aho.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

amazon sage©: Last night, as I slept, Amazon Sage took me to a p...

amazon sage©: Last night, as I slept, Amazon Sage took me to a p...: "Last night, as I slept, Amazon Sage took me to a place that could have been any town. It was a public area where others were sitting, too. A..."

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to...
Last night, as I slept, Amazon Sage took me to a place that could have been any town. It was a public area where others were sitting, too. A tough looking boy came up and demanded my money. I had a small string purse that contained only enough for me to get home so I refused to turn it over. I held onto it even as the boy tried to take it from me. He was only about 14 so I figured it was a fair fight. I know, it could have been the last thing I ever did. Then something miraculous occurred.
For some reason, I began to look at this boy as if he were my own brother or friend. With as much respect and caring as I could muster I spoke to him, not from a place of fear, but from a place of genuine concern for him. You see, as I peered into his face, I noticed that his teeth were rotted. His clothes were also in need of cleaning and his hair had probably not been washed for quite awhile. Too young to be living on his own, there was little doubt that he was. This boy was stealing because he was in pure survival mode.
What came out of my mouth surprised even me. I spoke in an even voice, from a place of genuine caring and said, “You may have my purse. Please let me give it to you; not because you are demanding it. I want to give it to you because you need it more than I do.” 
The boy hesitated. Clearly, he was not familiar with this type of response. He was prepared to deny whatever I requested, but the last thing in his mind was that he might agree with me. In these seconds of reflection, his grip on my purse loosened. I had a choice, I could pull it from his grip or.… With a soft smile, I offered it to him, freely. Hesitating briefly he took it, although I could see that he felt embarrassed. Neither of us needed to say more, but as he started to turn before sprinting off, I quietly spoke. 
“Please listen to your heart, my friend. Do not allow this to be who you become in life.”  Almost invisibly, the boy nodded his head and the hint of a smile escaped his lips before he disappeared into the crowd. 
My focus had been so completely on this boy that after he was gone and I looked around, I saw others staring at me. I didn’t know whether they were going to yell at me or shake their heads in bewilderment.
Much to my surprise, after a moment of unknowing (not unlike the boy’s when I freely offered him my purse), one old man began to clap. Then a woman placed her hands together and another man. Before long, all around me people were applauding my spontaneous gesture of grace. When all was again quiet and people were on their way, the old man came up to me and said something I’ll never forget.
“Young lady, I don’t know who you are or how you are here at this moment, but if it wasn’t for you, 60 years ago, I would not be here today. You see, when I confronted a similar young lady a very long time ago, she too changed my life.”
I listened not knowing whether to run or laugh. He continued.
“For the first time, I felt ‘known’ by another and that was worth more than all the money I could have stolen in a lifetime. Then when she said those very words, ‘Please listen to your heart, my friend. Do not allow this to be who you become only who you are in life’,” I knew she was sent by God.”
Feeling tears well up in my eyes, I briefly looked away. When I returned my gaze to respond to the old man, he was gone; disappeared into thin air. It was then I knew, he was my father. 

Happy Fathers’ Day.

PS: Fathers were sons once. How are we treating our nations’ future fathers? Are we encouraging them to honor the mothers of their children by becoming an integral part of the family? Are we ignoring their lapses in judgement with phrases like “boys will be boys?” Are we treating the boys we do not know as if they are always suspect, when what they really need to learn is how to earn our trust? When was the last time you sat down and talked with a boy about how he will protect his family and the world...?

Monday, May 16, 2011

“Flooded by Fear”

Good morning, friends.
In light of all of the increased natural disasters, I asked Amazon Sage “What makes one person develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while another who has experienced the same event, does not?” As I asked, I was thinking of people who experienced devastating earthquakes, fires, and tsunami in Japan and massive tornadoes and flooding in the Mississippi Delta, here in the USA. Will one group of people fare better than the other, even though both may have lost homes, livelihoods, and lives?
Amazon Sage travelled to the home of one lonely survivor in Japan to see how he fared. In his entire close-knit community, he was the only one whose house was spared. Yet, like every other survivor, he too had to sleep outside to improve his chances of awakening unscathed. In the destruction, he too was faced with the sounds, sights, and smells of death, not knowing from one moment to the next if his life would be taken next.
To speak with him, a person with an untrained ear might not pick up the profound sense of loss and fear that permeated his every fibre, since he courageously spoke of the importance of continuing to work and the need to help his neighbors. Does this man have PTSD?  To answer that question it is important to know that PTSD is not simply a strong fear, such as the fears and phobias that make our lives more restricted but do not necessarily continue to  traumatize us on a continuing basis. It is a complex of conditions and circumstances that coincide to cause chronic and severe stress.
For instance, PTSD requires that a person experience a direct threat of death or great bodily harm, to self or to someone close to her or him. Clearly, that occurs in wars. As a result we have large numbers of our military returning from prolonged war experiences suffering from PTSD. It is also a frequent experience in cases of rape or other personal assault and accounts for significant changes in the survivor’s life and livelihood.
Another element of PTSD is the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of the traumatic event or extreme loss. This may be the most important indicator of whether similarly “attacked” people get through the experience  intact or whether they develop PTSD. A person who has developed PTSD may begin to experience recurring nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic event, sometimes “triggered” by unknown events.  To try to prevent this, in boot camp, what appears to be dehumanizing training is actually aimed at desensitizing the soldier so that he or she will act automatically and not be taken by surprise (and feel that sense of  helplessness) in the face of almost certain trauma. In the 1950s, the “duck and cover” practices of school children were aimed at the same as a nuclear attack loomed.
Another potential reaction to extreme trauma is avoidance. In an avoidance reaction, the person will do almost anything to avoid talking about, revisiting, or re-experiencing the devastating feelings once again. For these people, attempts to control their environments (and the people in them) becomes a stress management tool. Unfortunately, these same controlling behaviors invariably result in broken marriages and a host of other mental and physical problems. Without strong family or therapeutic support (and I don’t mean medication!), people with PTSD continue to suffer, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Think about the number of Vietnam Vets who still nightly wrestle with demons, alone in the woods or on the streets of our cities.
So, who is most likely to develop PTSD from the floods, fires, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, personal assaults and wars? Those people who believed that they or someone close to them would be imminently killed or suffer great bodily harm; AND who felt helpless to do anything about it in that moment; AND who have little or no community and family support; AND who have no access to (or  refuse) psychotherapeutic assistance. As a person who has experienced, up close and personal, assault, killings, and loss of almost everything important in her life, Amazon Sage has also known PTSD. That is why she encourages each person who recognizes themselves here, to get help from someone specifically trained to treat PTSD. For those of you who haven’t developed it, now is the time to prepare yourself, psychologically and emotionally for whatever is next. For all our sakes, we must stop abusing our mother earth; reduce greenhouse gasses, stop our obsessive purchasing, ride a bike. Our planet is angry and will not stop spewing wind, fire, and water until we stop hurting her.... Aho, my friends, thank you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"The Case of the Disappearing Minds..."

Last night while I was dreaming, I sensed something was wrong with Amazon Sage. When I asked, she told me that she had just returned from a little cafe in Seattle where something really weird just happened. It’s like she couldn’t quite make sense of it herself. This is what the barista at the cafe told her.

“Sure, I’ll tell you about it. Ray was sitting there talking on his cell and working on his computer one minute, then the next, he was gone... disappeared. In his place was this big old doll sitting there. It wasn’t any kind of doll that I recognized. It certainly wasn’t anything that a kid would want to buy. It looked, well... lifeless. Yeah, I was creeped out and for some reason, I had the feeling that he’d been snatched. That’s when I saw it; this dark, shadowy figure sitting near by.... almost flickering... kind of like a fire. Soon, it went out too.”

Amazon Sage shuddered as she relayed to me her conversation with the barista. Not one to lose her cool, this was testing her resolve to remain dispassionate. Continuing, she said:

“That’s when the barista told me, and I know this sounds crazy, ‘To tell you the truth, I think he finally melded into the electromagnetic field that he created around himself, from so many years of online presence. Even his mom left him last month, because of his addiction to the machine. After years of trying to get him to find a job,  she finally ran off to Miami with their gardner.  That's why I was staying there. He couldn't even fix food anymore..."

I know my mouth must have already been hanging open but what Amazon Sage said next, was something I never thought I’d hear... outside of a science fiction movie. Sage said, “Then the Barista told me, ‘The problem is, that was the fifth time this week somebody disappeared like that’.”

Hmmm. Wake up everybody. If you’re addicted to your machines, get a life. If you can't admit you have a problem but others tell you that you do, get help...before it’s too late. Bye, bye...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

“On preposterous assumptions about the habits of the poor...”

Dear friends, recently, as I switched TV channels, I heard a quote that captured my attention. Immediately, I went on-line to make sure I heard correctly. This is the quote:
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms that are made on the habits of the poor [than those made] by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” (Herman Melville)
As I pondered what this means, I came to realize that it is precisely on days of celebration that it is so important to share our well-being with those who may need a helping hand.  Immediately, I imagined people saying,  “But, I already gave” or “I tithe” or even “I always donate and recycle.” 

As the imagined chorus of self defenders faded, I too faded into sleep.  In my slumber, Amazon Sage dream-travelled to a home where a family hadn’t consumed such a nice holiday meal. The home was in a small town in South Dakota, although it could have been anywhere. There, a little boy plays amidst the refuse of broken promises and unmet dreams. He hopes that someday he might own a computer... like those of his friends at school. His mother wishes she had something simpler; a hen to roast and some vegetables to serve for her family’s special day. 
Perhaps we cannot offer those things to all the families who need them or perhaps we are already giving as much as we are able. But maybe, just maybe, we can discourage those whose “preposterous criticisms are made on the habits of the poor” when they say things like “they just don’t want to work” or “people get what they deserve.” Remember, there are still those hard working folks (as well as those who work hard to find work), who have no Holiday dressings on this day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

“Change your personal world”

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to the center of our brain... But first, let me tell you how it started. It began when I saw an incredible video of a mother otter teaching her young pup how to swim*.  She did so firmly yet with genuine caring for the safety of the pup. When the pup tried to cut the lesson short by climbing out of the pool, the mom insisted they continue and hugged her pup when her instructions were followed. There was no punishing, yelling, or violence. Amazing!
What if all of us took a lesson from the mother otter on how to most effectively change, or encourage our loved ones to change. She did not cave in or back off because the pup felt uncomfortable. Learning a new skill is always uncomfortable until we learn it and there’s a biological reason. Freshly back from the brain, Amazon Sage explains.
In our bodies and brains, we have about three billion nerve cells, called neurons. When we decide to do something new, certain neurons are activated to make it happen by turning on electrical impulses that shoot through each neuron. Until then, each neuron has the potential to act (eg. the action potential), but must await the brain’s instruction before starting. When the brain gives the signal, each neuron is activated, and likewise activates the next neuron and so on. Each neuron continues its action until the the behavior goal is accomplished, aborted, or rerouted.
To make this easier to understand, imagine your house. In danger of being flooded, you’ve asked all of your friends to come over to help. You have a pile of sandbags next to the street but everyone has different ideas of how best to use them.  After a (brain) storm, you decide to line up your friends, from the street to your house. The person nearest the sandbags starts by passing one sand bag to the person next to her. As soon as the first sand bag leaves her hands, she picks up another one, ready to pass it as soon as the person next to her is ready. The person she just passed a bag to, likewise passes on each sandbag to the person next to him so that he is ready for the next one too. Each person receives one bag at a time and quickly passes it on to await the next one... until all of the sandbags reach the house. 
This is similar to what happens with neurons. The information (or sandbag) that is passed from one neuron to another may get a rough start because one of the neurons cannot carry the load (or insists on doing things a different way). If so, then another neuron must pick up the sandbag in order to continue the action in the most efficient way. If the plan is followed, regardless of occasional blips, the motion eventually smoothes out. Then  the next time that the friends are called on to help, the people/neurons will be able to accomplish the task much more efficiently.
That’s how it is with a new behavior. At first it may seem uncomfortable since the necessary neurons have not lined up and created a smooth pathway to follow. This is when we mess up. However, once the neurons learn to line up with each other and get it done enough times, the action proceeds in a smooth, efficient way. It helps if there is motivation. In terms of the sandbags, protecting one’s house from flood waters, is a great motivation. Stopping a friend from using drugs is a bit more complicated since the drug saturates the neurons with unhealthy impulses and distorts the brain's ability to think clearly. Now, back to the mother otter...
Like a person on drugs, the pup does not know that swimming will allow him or her to survive and thrive as an otter. So the motivation must come from the loved one. The mom knows that if she lets her pup climb out of the pool because this new activity of swimming feels awkward or uncomfortable, she teaches him to fail and helps him feel inadequate. When a person truly cares about another, he or she does what must be done to help the pup change (not to avoid change). This is what eventually leads to success in life. 

Whew! Clearly, it’s not always easy to be a good mother, or father, or friend, is it? ...especially, when the person you love is engaging in destructive behaviors, like drugs, unprotected sex, or even over-eating. 
So how do you help? As I said, we can take a lesson from the mother otter and refuse to nag, yell, use violence, or shame. Instead, set your own boundaries and stick with them, whether it's with yourself or with a loved one. Each time they/you mess up, get back in the water, even if they try to crawl out of the pool. They still haven't learned to swim. After all, if they’re going to swim with you, they must learn how to do it in a way that you do not always fear they will drown. Use positive reenforcement ("good job", hugs) for even the smallest steps, just don't overdo it. Never give positives for doing nothing; neither do you need to insult them or yourself. 

In the case of an otter, the mother’s role is straight forward. In the case of a friend or loved one, your role may be trickier; like learning to say no to being in a relationship  unless and until they go through what they must in order to reroute those pesky neuronal pathways (aka, change their behavior). Something to think about, one neuron at a time...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

“In these rare times, we may need to let go of habit for what works”

Good morning, friends. With so much suffering in the world, finding workable solutions is more important than ever. Yet, if what we’ve always done is not working, why not try something else? Whether we’re talking about fixing a relationship, fixing a nuclear power plant or healing the world’s people, it’s time to rethink what we are doing. Catherine cajoles her husband in Native Land: Lost in the Mystery of Time (Vaughan 2009), when she questions him about using a circa 1950s map, to find their way out of a technological jungle. 
Perhaps, instead of using force and manipulation to try to correct the course of power plants (and people), we might search for something far more ancient than our grandfather’s old maps.
As I fell asleep thinking about all of this, Amazon Sage knew right where to go and dream-traveled to a place in time, where linear thinking is simply a failed experiment in governance. Wow, I felt that get a rise from some of our male members... Don’t worry guys, I’m not suggesting we get rid of you. Most of you are terrific. What we can do away with is that time worn notion that  “In order to effect this change, we must follow these steps.” Yawn... Oh, excuse me. Even Amazon Sage almost fell asleep with that one.
Okay, you might ask “If we don’t follow conventional wisdom, then what, chaos?” Really? Do you really think the only alternative to linear, tired thinking, (which isn’t working, by the way), is chaos? If so, you’ve been in charge way too long. That something I referred to up above (no pun intended), is what every human being is capable of; spiritedness. Some people prefer to call it spirituality. You choose. 
I absolutely believe that if we humans starting putting as much energy into transferring our best wishes, even love, to all beings on the earth, our earth would begin to heal. Many people, including some of our better clergy, have been talking and writing about this for ever. Some contemporaries who also speak to this include Deepak Chopra, Masaru Emoto, and yes, even me... Think about it. If we surrendered our ego-fueled will to what is, and applied love and compassion, what a wonderful world this could be (to borrow a phrase). In ending, I quote Emota’s radical statement of love: 
“Offering prayers to the water around Japan has the power to transform the structure of water. Perhaps we could all pull together and eliminate radioactivity through the power of the mind!” Hey, if it might work, why not give it a try?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old dogs and young panthers...

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage brought back to me a story, following her dream-travels last night. I apologize to the author of the quote since I do not know your name. The story is about an old dog and a young panther. Since I feel a great affection for both, this was even more meaningful. Enjoy!
“One day an old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.
The old German Shepherd thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in serious trouble now!"
Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. As the panther prepares to leap, the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly,
‘Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder, if there are any more around here?’
Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. ‘Whew!,’ says the panther, ‘That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!’
Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he goes. The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.
The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, ‘Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!’
Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, ‘What am I going to do now?’ but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old German Shepherd says...
‘Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!’
Moral of this story...  Don't mess with the old dogs... Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! Brilliance only comes with age and experience.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

“Slaves to Chocolate... Really?”

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to the Ivory Coast to find out about the dark side of chocolate. That's because just when I thought it was safe to eat the drippy, gooey, good stuff again... Ach! It turns out that slave traders are stealing children to work in the cocoa harvest fields! 

I found out about it after CNN’s Richard Quest, talked with filmmaker U. Roberto Romano, about his documentary, “The Dark Side of Chocolate.” In the latter, he said that each time he visits these farms, he sees children who are not part of the farmers’ families and do not speak the local language.

Not being one to give up on something that is both delicious and showing signs of having health benefits, once I hit the sack, Amazon Sage dream-travelled to Africa’s Ivory Coast to see for herself. There, she saw small children, some looking no more than seven or eight years of age, swinging huge machetes as they hacked into tough bark. After hours of this kind of toil, even the strongest of men might feel weary. For these children, calling them weary is akin to describing a tsunami as a little wave. I  see open sores on their legs and arms and wonder “Where are their parents? Does no one care for these children?”
That’s the real shocker. Apparently, the parents of these little ones sold them to the farm owners. What’s even more startling is that the price paid for a precious child is only about $150.00, the price of a meal for many wealthy Americans. Amazon Sage wonders aloud what we can do to stop this trade and is told, in no uncertain terms, that “we” are the customers who keep these slave owners in business. I hear people say “But I had no idea... I would never...” Neither would I, knowingly, but now that we know, what are we going to do about it?  
That is where we can learn from the coffee growers. Ever hear of something called “fair trade” coffee? Bottom line is it means that the producers of said coffee are paid a high enough wage that they need not enslave children or be forced to feed their own families on starvation wages. The good news is the same can arrangement can be made for chocolate. Romano suggests that we find out where our chocolate is made and then “Buy either a fair trade chocolate or a direct trade chocolate... As a consumer, you can vote responsibly for better treatment of these farmers.” 
As my Daddy used to say, “I’ll bite.” Have a dreamy day, my friends.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

“Are you a friend from hell? or One hell of a good friend...?”

Good morning, friends. Recently I blogged about an aspect of friendship that I promised to follow up on. Here’s what I said: “Imagine if we chose to apply humor or even compassion to our friend’s tendency to (fill in the blanks). How might our actions change the eventual outcome of our friendships?”  Think about that for a moment, remembering that it’s infinitely easier to look at what the other did “to” us (or to simply shoot ourselves down) than it is to examine what's really happened. Sometimes, the culprit is neither them, nor us, nor any person. Rather it’s something much more hidden. It has to do with our perceptions, how we see the world. That is what we will focus on today.  
When asked, “What is the nature of friendship?” many people will simply reply “Everybody knows what friendship is.” But do they? How do we learn this valuable information? Was it at home? at school? All the above? In truth, our definition of what it means to be a friend is based upon perceptions that stretch all the way back to childhood. It is because our perceptions are so integral to who we are that we find it so difficult to separate them out. Yet, a primary way people negatively impact their friendships is to underestimate the importance of how they see things (a look, a word, even a kiss). Needless to say, perception is an aspect of friendship that one rarely thinks about. So in sorting this out, it is important to ask yourself, “What is your perception of friendship? How do you personally define what a friend is?”
To assist us in this, Amazon Sage time-travelled to the childhood of a few people to see how they learned about being a friend. She started with Jake, a guy who once accused a caring woman of not caring about him. The amazing thing is that she considered him a good friend and cared for him more than he knew; right up to the time he cut off contact and went to fight a war somewhere, as a mercenary soldier. As Amazon Sage arrives, a 12 year old Jake is in the middle of a discussion with his father and older brother. Both are members of paramilitary groups.
Jake’s father, John, Sr., sternly stares at his two sons as he instructs them in the ways of the world: “Boys, you know you can never trust anybody. There’s no such thing as loyalty unless it’s your own blood relative; especially with women. Your own mother was nothing but a liar and a cheat. Always remember, the sweeter she is, the more likely she’ll rip your heart out. So if a woman shows interest in you, know she’s only interested in one thing; to be taken care of... and I don’t mean sex. So if that’s what you want, then take her, but remember this; she’ll stab you in the back first chance she gets.”  
Amazon Sage was glad to leave there and arrived at the home of Sue Ellen, where this young girl was engaged in a different kind of conversation. It appears that her mom is on psychotropic drugs or has have been drinking and Sue Ellen is trying with all her might to get her to stop crying. There is no one else, no father, no brothers or sisters, so Sue Ellen knows that she is all her mother has. Finally, Sue Ellen’s mom screams out, “Child, if you weren’t so dang clumsy, I wouldn’t be so miserable all the time!” Sue Ellen fights back tears and tries even harder to do everything perfectly. That's something she continues to this day. Unfortunately, it makes everyone around her uncomfortable since they feel like they can never live up to her standards.
Lastly, as Amazon Sage enters the quiet room at the funeral parlour, Chris is sitting, head down, but not alone in sorrow. Chris’s Grandmother sits nearby and speaks softly. “It is not your fault that this tragedy happened. Your parents did their best to provide you a good home so that's why you are now with me. Know that I am always here for you, no matter what and I will never, ever leave you.” Two months later, Chris’s grandmother died.
So, dear readers, consider how each of these three friends might react if you told them “I will always be here for you!” Would Jake believe you? Would Sue Ellen like that? How about Chris?  What if instead, you added some humor and with a soft chuckle said “...that is, if I’m not dying with the flu or have a bad case of ‘montezuma’s revenge; because I'm sure not perfect.” When in doubt, remember my favorite quote from Anais Nin?  “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Good morning, friends. Last night, Amazon Sage dream travelled to the set of "Native Land Lost in the Mystery of Time" where they were making a Trailer (a preview) in order to attract investors in the movie.... 

“Wow! Can that man act!” was what I kept hearing, as Buffalo Child moved (and moved us, emotionally), from the depths of despair to the heights of desire.  Film crew members could be seen smiling at the richness of the material unfolding before their eyes, while even the young ones, our fire tenders, stood transfixed. However, no one was more appreciative of the experience than the author of the words that Buffalo spoke with such eloquence.
The day began with a circle around the fire. Everyone associated with the making of the movie trailer, was there. Buffalo offered a Cree prayer in his Native tongue, encouraging healing energy for all. Later, several people reported how their lost items were mysteriously found and hurt feelings miraculously healed. “Wow, again...” 

Late into the night we continued learning about ourselves and each other through dinner and beyond. I know Amazon Sage was listening carefully to stories of healing because later she dream-travelled to some other places that clearly need healing. Her first stop was Fukushima. 

There, as people became more aware of the possible long-term effects of the nuclear radiation, as it slowly seeps into our earth’s environment, Amazon Sage asked what it is like to know this. At least one person quoted a man called John Vidal (, who, on Friday, April first, wrote: 

“I prefer the words of Alexey Yablokov, a member of the Russian academy of sciences and adviser to President Gorbachev at the time of Chernobyl: "When you hear 'no immediate danger' [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can." Yet, the people in Japan are not running. They, like the Cree, and others who have found their homelands in danger of destruction, stand tall and keep working to find solutions. 

The sacred words that Buffalo spoke in prayer felt hauntingly true, not only for those few around that small fire, but for all of humanity. It is so important that all beings learn to drop hatred and fear of others, let go of resentments, and surround ourselves with healing in order to create the world we seek. In other words, we should not do what that man in Gainesville Florida did when he burned the sacred words of another religion. By showing such disrespect, he endangered our soldiers and countrymen who serve in the countries whose beliefs were maligned.

As I awoke this morning, the thoughts I had during the night, were still with me and for some reason, I felt an overwhelming urge to shout out “People, stop warring with others. We are all brothers and sisters!" Instead, I quietly whispered, "Let us all be the fire tenders for each other. It is time.”

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let's make a Movie!!!

Good morning, friends. Today, I want to tell you something that is happening in my daytime life! For a number of months, I've been working with some incredible people, pulling together a crew to make a movie. However, before the movie could be made we needed a trailer. So yesterday, filming for the "Native Land" trailer began!  The film shoot was  surrounded by perfect Amelia Island weather (an island recently listed by CNN as one of the ten most beautiful in the world!), and an abundantly talented crew. 

Some scenes required sludging through the mud along Amelia's wild greenway. There, Landon, our production assistant whom we recruited right out of high school, led our multi-talented crew, including esteemed Soundman, Dave D'Ardenne and excellent DP, Gonzo Gagliardi, into the mud, where they brought to life the best in film magic. 

Buffalo Child
The magic didn't stop there. Our craft services crew (Brenda and Wanda), kept everybody happy and well fed, while Assistant Director, Rick Pullem kept us on task. He even helped dig a pit for an upcoming scene. Newcomers to the crew, Don and student award winning videographer, Nick Rua, arrived early and were immediately put to work, while  our makeup artist checked out the wardrobe department. Ann Fontaine, our production photographer, shot beautiful stills and offered the hospitality of her home, while Han Ramakers continues to offer his strong support through his website "Search Amelia".

Fred Guess, our Native America "Creek" tribal consultant also ended up wearing many hats, doubling for a Klansman intent on killing our heroine. "I NEVER thought I'd play that role!" he laughed. After shooting ended for the day over a relaxing dinner,  Rick Traum, our Executive Producer smiled a lot; especially when dessert was topped off by the arrival of our "Talent" (that means actors)  for the next day's shoot. Veteran Native American actor, Buffalo Child's credits include "Dances with Wolves" and he is a perfect match for our elegant "Pearl" (Natalie Schafer). Their love affair becomes the heart of the movie as Buffalo portrays Joseph, a man who lost everything but found his soul...

As for me? I'm the Director (which means I'm chief bottle washer!). All I can say is this is what life is all about! Doing what you love; loving what you do; and doing it surrounded by good and talented people. After a wonderful (and much needed) sleep, in which Amazon Sage took a break, we're off for today's adventures in film land!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

“Three Cheers for Chocolate!”

Good morning, friends.  Okay! This got my attention: According to a recent Nutrition Research study, “Candy and chocolate lovers tend to weigh less, have lower body mass indices (BMI) and waist circumferences, and have decreased levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome.”  Okay, I’ll buy that! With all the other bad stuff going on in the world, it’s nice to know there’s still one guilty pleasure that we don’t need to feel guilty about. Then I hear you ask, “ Can this really be true?”
Amazon Sage can’t wait for me to fall asleep so she can check this one out in her dream-travels. What she finds is yummy. Just teasing.  What I mean to say is; what she finds is that for decades, women have known the emotional benefits of eating chocolate, especially during “that time of the month” to use a phrase from the stone age.  Then about a dozen or so years ago, it was discovered that chocolate actually stimulates the same part of the brain as marijuana. Hmmm, a quick high without the legal ramifications. 
“But wait,” you say, “What about that old drawback called weight gain?” This is the good news; This new research  tells us that eating candy and chocolate is less likely to pack on the pounds than say, a big Mac (and I don’t mean the computer).  Perhaps it's because we watch how much candy we eat a lot closer than how many fast foods we ingest. Whatever the reason, I think that calls for a celebration! I’ve got a box of chocolates; care to join me? Who cares that it’s not Valentine’s Day....  

Yikes, now I’m hearing giggling and someone whispering “You mean I can eat the whole box?” and stuff like that.  So... because I’m your friend, I will suggest that you keep in mind the old adage “Moderation is...” 
Oh, what the heck! Go for it all my pretty ones and handsome devils. Let's all join in saying “Three cheers for  chocolate!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll"

Hello my friends. Ordinarily I do not write about people’s failings and today is no exception, so when I mention a few people’s names, I ask that you please see this posting as one of curiosity rather than of judgement. With that disclaimer, I begin with this question: “What do Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen have in common?” (Hint: It’s not what you may think). 
One’s mind could wander the gamut on this one; drugs, sex, music, entertainment... But how about education? I propose that the primary function of all the negative exposure these folks have garnered, based upon their varied legal and illegal exploits, is to teach obedient kids what not to so and to teach rebellious kids how to do it. 
For sure, if these stars were not so famous, their stories would hardly merit  a mention on the last page of the local rag, but because they are famous, they become unwitting role models. That’s right, role models; for children and young people whose own parents “never have time” to sit down and talk with them. You know the kind of conversations I’m talking about, sex, drugs, and all those things that make most parents squeamish. What a sad state of affairs (no pun intended), when young people must turn to the internet, magazines, and television for their information on how to act in relationships.  You might ask, “But has it really changed from a few decades ago?” Amazon Sage takes us back to the era of “Leave it to Beaver” to find out.
Back in the living rooms of the June and Ward Cleavers of the world, parents were often even more uncomfortable describing these tough subjects to their kids. It was fortunate for everybody that there was so much less destructive information readily available. Most kids made it through their ignorance phases with their lives and careers fairly intact because when parents did talk sexuality to their adolescents, it wasn’t much help. They described these talks as learning about “the birds and the bees.”  How cute. That’s because parents who were too embarrassed to speak more explicitly simply referred to the handiest models available, hoping their youngsters would learn from what was going on  right outside their windows.  It went something like this: 
“Peggy Sue, I noticed you’ve been walking home with that Jimmy fellow the past few weeks and I guess it’s time for you to learn about the birds and the bees.” Peggy Sue is silent, hoping beyond hope that she will hear something useful; secretly afraid that her mom saw her and Jimmy sneak behind the bleachers after the game Friday night. Her father continues, “So I want you to watch those birds around spring time and watch those bees too, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Any questions?” Peggy Sue is thinking, “Yeah, how about where can I get some condoms?” She says nothing and within a month, she’s pregnant. Okay, so back then there was not enough information, but today there’s overload.
Now, you get it streaming over the web, everyday and it’s not just about the birds and bees. Kids no longer need to look out the window to find out how animals procreate. Every species, every way, every size is now represented in living color. Some people would like to say “too much information” but their voices would barely register over the porn influenced ads and shows that flood out screens. In a few short years, we have become a nation of people who live in a sex-saturated society. Is it any wonder that kids turn to celebrities for some modicum of learning? After all, at least Britney, Lindsey, and Charlie are real people, albeit occasionally highly troubled, role models. BTW, if there are any parents out there, you really can make a difference, but you have to talk with -- not at -- your kids. Hoping your day is educational in a good way, I remain, your friend.