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...

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!