Righteous Surrender

I offered my heart, I offered my soul

You said thanks, but no. 

So I gave it to you anyway without even trying

I only wanted to show I wasn’t lying. 

 

In return I asked for nothing

Yet found you gave something.

It danced on a sparkle and twisted on a smile

Every time I noticed, I would grin like a child

 

Then one day you came with sapphires wide

I could see there had been a shift in the tide.

Now you gave the warmth of a kiss

The passion far from amiss. 

 

We placed in each a part

It’s called, a portion of the heart

It glowed with the light 

And for a moment all was right

 

Then in life’s furried haste

I watched as things began to waste

I tried to nurture what I helped create

But soon realized it was already too late

 

So I chose to be thankful for what we had to share

I did what I did because I care

I smiled and said you’ve always been free

And watched as you flew with glee

 

Away you went until I could see no more

But I found I felt far from poor. 

I was so happy I could hardly bear.

Grateful for the gift you chose to share.

 

 

“Our survival as a species depends on our ability to recognize that our well-being and the well-being of others are in fact one in the same” ~Dr. Marshall Rosenberg (Founder of nonviolent communication)

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Soap Box Truth: A Hasty Retreat, Avoidance, Dismissal, and Shunning

Current world events are staging to redirect the entire populace of this beautiful planet towards the vulgar, grotesque, repugnant, cringeworthy, abominable, nauseating, and insufferable disgust that is war. Don’t plan on being informed of this by your local news outlet, e.g., newspaper, journalist, news station, or any other form of controlled, artificial news. These types and forms of news are designed to distract and persuade to the point of control. It is their “job” to drive how the populace thinks. Check for yourself. All one needs to do is tune into a news station and try to find a story that is beyond, or far removed from, sensationalism. Find a story promoting a coming together of nations, a unifying of people, or a conflict solution through synergy created by collaboration. All very tough finds.

Truth is a kleptocratic governing body will steal more than just your wealth. They will also rob you of your free will and oppress you to the utmost while increasing privation all the more frequent. This governing body is made up of more than politicians. It includes news anchors, journalist, police officers, military personnel, teachers, supervisors, managers, sales representatives, and any other position that places morality on the back burner for purposes of economics and blind obedience. These perfidious parasites spew their mendacious venom in all directions and play biase to their income generator. In doing so they divide humanity, incite riots of race, spark violence as a solution, and educate for conformity. So how do we help change this course of self destruction?

Simple, we change ourself. When we do this and operate within a construct of moral, righteous behaviour we inspire our self; however, that inspiration isn’t limited to our self. It touches others as well. This wouldn’t be a bad thing to perpetuate. Yet how many will take up the call for the betterment of humanity? How many will be courageous enough to follow their true, inner self?

As unpleasant as the truth is it is still no less than truth. I would encourage all, myself included, to stop and consider the moral implications of what we each do in our day to day lives. Consider as well: One does not have to follow an order because it is demanded of them. Fear oppresses freedom, obedience oppresses free will, and oppressed liberty is slavery’s welcome.

“If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.” ~John F Kennedy~

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Transient Pleasures

As one directs efforts and attentions towards goals they may find inspiration leading them in a different direction. It may sprout, like a spring flower, slow and after the appropriate circumstances have developed. Then again, it may develop, like a supercell thunderstorm, fast and furious over a rather short period. Regardless of how it came to be, the creation is so strong it changes the entire course and direction of their life. Welcome to our current situation.

As we worked and applied efforts toward our Alaska adventure we couldn’t help but feel the pull of a familiar nature. Like a fish toying with the fisherman’s bait it would tug and then release, tug and release. What was this intermittent tugging and why was it reaching for us? Neither of us could define the answer or cause, yet we couldn’t help but listen. We knew, just as a fisherman does, we will eventually catch the fish or miss it altogether, but an attempt to catch success would be made.  Then, one night, while working in Santa Cruz, it happened. The fish was hooked!

It happened as Monique and I were sitting at the dinner table. I made, audibly, the observation that it seemed neither of our hearts were in the venture we were planning. Yes, we both enjoyed the thought of traveling to Alaska, the numerous opportunities it would present, the wonderful people we would meet along the way, and the freedom, but the enthusiasm was lacking. Not just from her, but me as well. There was something else we both wanted. I asked, “what do YOU want to do? What resonates within that aches to be released? Her response, “finish the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)”. As the last words left her lips I felt my internal vibration jingle a jangle that is the voice of truth. This same desire had been weighing on me. It is one of the two incompletes in my life.

It took all of ten seconds for us to decide that this is what we wanted to do, but not just the two of us. We want Lyla to accompany us. She can already outpace me on all our day hikes. Within moments of this decision we were already planning. We had, within an hour, a gear list for Lyla and a timeline plan. However, the most beautiful reward of this is seeing the sparkling oceans of Azure that belong to Monique. 

 

“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” ~GANDHI~

Classy, Employable Homeless

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Securing work is an extensive and arduous undertaking. There are many hours of travel required, countless numbers of estimates wanted, a constant attempt at networking, job cancelations at the last minute, and maintaining a positive, never give up attitude all the while can be daunting. These are a just some of the obstacles we have faced throughout this venture. Nevertheless, we remain steadfast and determined to achieve our goal of procuring enough financial security to travel, via van, to Alaska.

 

Neither of us mind the travel aspect of our jobs. It’s a requirement actually. We are continuously driving thirty to seventy miles, in one direction, to find a suitable gig. We have had to do this for a week straight before finally landing a job. This is an expense, gas, that we must make; however, we have no guarantee we will regain the financial expenditure. It’s a fickle beast, economics. Spending the majority of our time traveling does allow us to see much of the countryside and get to meet many delightful individuals along the way. It also gives us a unique perspective of the climate, geology, and population density of the area while venturing to, sometimes, remote locations for an estimate.

 

One warm Friday morning Monique and I found ourselves in the middle of a Redwood forest looking for a potential clients home. It was a beautiful location, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life in and around San Francisco. As we drove up the quarter mile winding drive, discussing what the estimate was to entail, we checked our schedule to determine an appropriate start date if we were chosen for the work. When we arrived we were greeted, as usual, with smiling faces and welcoming gazes. We were then shown the rooms to be painted and then asked if we had any other areas of trade. I confessed I had drywall experience, but wasn’t up to any job in that area. I also informed them I had practiced roofing roughly 12 years ago and enjoyed it. (I must mention that many times we go to these estimates there is more than painting being wanted. Yes, they advertise as a paint only job, but then want someone who can paint, do drywall, and build a couple shelves all for one low cost. I guess they’re trying to bundle like a cable company to save money. Sometimes we get passed up because we aren’t skilled in multiple trades. I was hoping this estimate wouldn’t be the same as many prior ones.) After looking at the roof, taking measurements, and discussing the entire project we arrived at a conclusion: the roof needed replaced, there was drywall work that needed to be accomplished, some insulation needed replaced due to water damage, exterior and interior paint was required, and a general, overall cleaning was required. All this from a painting ad. Nonetheless, we gave our best attempt and are waiting to hear back.  

 

Along with these estimates we constantly network, talking to locals and people we meet along the way hoping to get a lead. E.g., today Monique met a gentleman at the dog park who is a plasterer. They talked for some time, his dog and our dog playing enthusiastically with each other like cosmic friends who haven’t seen each other in eons, discussing what each did for employment and enjoyment. He shared pictures as the discussion became more friendly and personal to better understand the character of the other. After some time, the gentleman who we shall call Emerald, asked for Moniques number and offered to send us some business if he heard of anyone who needed some painting done. This is our most favorable way to network, nonchalant conversation. Although we do, occasionally, get opportunities this way it also comes with cancellations.

 

On more than one occurrence we have arrived at a job site to only hear it has been canceled. I can recall one job where we finished three quarters of the home only to hear the financial backing had fallen through and the job was no more. We both, Monique and I, enjoy seeing things through to completion so it was disappointing not to be able to finish. We understand this was beyond our control and derived from nothing we had done, but we still felt awkward leaving the job uncomplete. Another time we showed up to the job site the morning of only to receive a call telling us they had chosen to go another route. This being after we made the 35 mile drive, one way, to the defined location. Still on another occasion we were informed, during our walkthrough and estimate, that multiple days would be required and the workload was sufficient enough to involve three complete days. Unfortunately when we arrived they changed plans and only had one day worth of work. This not only plays havoc on scheduling but also on the amount of work we do. These obstacles make it difficult to maintain an upbeat attitude.

 

I found myself, especially in these circumstances, feeling completely alone. Abandoned at the helm of a ship whos controls and understanding are foreign. I stood upon this deck, shirtless and battered by howling sleet as evolutions fury unfolded. Hopeless, everlasting privation gnawing at my insides, muttering words of vicious discouragement. It is in these times that I actually grew an understanding of myself and who I truly am; even if only in the slightest of degrees. As I sulked in my dismay a couple things occured to me. I realized I wasn’t alone. Monique was here, supporting me with encouraging words of optimal positivity and providing a different perspective. I also became aware that my thoughts were influencing me in a negative manner. These unwelcome circumstances are all a part of the life I am living. How I react and adjust to these situations will directly influence my well being and influence those around me. Having a bad attitude or resentment towards another will not provide propitious avenues.

 

Yes we are essentially homeless and do not have a permanent residence, but we are honest, good hearted people who are no less than employable. Our lifestyle is one of a counterculture nature and a path that we find rewarding. It may seem weird and inappropriate to the untrained mind, but in reality our business practices are much more rewarding psychologically, emotionally, and financially for all parties involved. It’s a success when no one feels the black hand, dripping with iniquity, giving a vice like hand shake at the conclusion of a partnership.

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“Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor” ~James Baldwin 

Equitable Barter

It’s a joy to see, in the actions of another, altruistic love. Especially when that love is directed toward you. It has a way of building upon itself, creating a foundation ever strengthening. If both parties are aware of the transaction it can amplify the reward too! I had this experience recently. Now that I think about it, it was multiple times in the same day.

 

Monique and I are making our way towards Santa Cruz, traveling south on the coastal highway towards a potential job. There’s a boat load of estimating that accompanies any form of construction or remodeling work and that’s what we are on are way to accomplish. We decided, since we had a couple days without work and couldn’t find anything small to fit into the availability slot, to go ahead and head towards the estimate a few days early. This would allow us to take our time and have a nice little weekend experience. Turned out to be a most rewarding choice.

 

As we traveled the coast we stopped at a couple beaches to allow Lyla some play time and us a little time to stretch our legs. We aren’t fans of “marathon driving” and find, for us, it’s rather taxing. Instead we chose to take a little longer and enjoy the surroundings we travel through. We stopped at a cliff side parking lot, i.e., a rut and pothole infested dirtch patch roughly two hundred feet long and fifty feet wide.

At first glance I couldn’t see the appeal. The view isn’t very nice and I don’t see any way down that doesn’t live on an angle less than forty five degrees. After about fifty feet of walking between waist high brush a wonderful view opens up and I see the way down. I’ve been here before. It’s a concoction of climbing rope intertwined around a large drainage pipe with hand holds every ten feet. I also notice that I could throw this cobra, it’s lylas frisbee, and have a chance it will stay out of the surf, but it also might go to far and be swallowed by the simple looking waves. I weigh the options and consider them worth it. With that I throw the frisbee and watch Monique look in disbelief. We are at an elevated position so it looks like it flys for a rather long distance. The disc itself flies in perfect form, standing up and then fading with a decent glide at the end, but landed at the surfs edge. I can’t let the ocean eat Lylas disc so I grab the top of the rope in my hand and take two steps down, quickly realizing that although fashionable, sandals aren’t the best footwear for climbing. I couldn’t go back and change shoes, but I must fulfill a quest. I push through the obstacle in egos fashion and run down the final twenty feet of pitch to the sands edge. I retrieve Lylas frisbee just in time too. For the next forty minutes we walk the beach throwing the frisbee for Lyla. Enjoying our time together with each stride. As we did this Monique suggested we stop and see a friend of hers in Pescadero.

 

After returning to the van and heading south again we find ourself arriving at Pescadero beach around five in the evening. It’ll be dark soon and we both agree, waiting until the following day would be a better time to make an introduction with Monique’s friend, Sapphire. We opt to make a zucchini and grilled strip steak salad as a main dish with an accompaniment of Lebanese lemon parsley bean salad. We work in unison, chopping vegetables, herbs, and beef to eliminate the prep work in a flash. As I cook up the steak Monique is mixing the salad and in no time we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. As I savor the unique flavors of a zucchini strip salad I notice the vibrancy of the sky. I’m witnessing a sunset that intensifies with every beat of the wind. I stare, meditatively at this magic, then glance over at the angel on my left. No, I’m not talking of Lyla either. My heart leaps with anticipated excitement at this opportunity. I am thankful to be sharing this moment with one who loves me for me; in all my fallible glory. I continue gazing until she looks at me with sparkling hues of sky. Smiling, she simply says I love you and pulls me within her wings. I relish in the warmth of a loves touch.

 

We wrap up dinner and work together to eliminate the dishes. As we are doing this I note to Monique that the sun is down and the park is now closed. For those of you who have not traveled I shall let you in on a secret. Park officers are some of the nicest people I have met; however, they do not allow you to stay past park hours or sleep overnight in their parking lots. They aren’t unfriendly about it and most the time provide alternate avenues to help solve your dilemma, e.g., providing information where you may park, overnight, without a fee or being woken by a uniformed officer. If you’re unsure or made a mistake regarding regulations they usually inform you of the error and explain how it was made. I have yet to meet a ranger of unfriendly character. Tonight was no different.

 

Shortly after sunset a white SUV parks behind us, turns on the flashing strobes, and asks how we are doing. We inform him we are aware the park has closed and will be removing ourselves as soon as we complete our dishes. I notice he glances at the pot I’m drying in my hand and then the skillet Monique is washing, politely replying “Have a nice evening”. He then moves to the vehicle beside us and wakes the occupant. They have a short conversation, and seeming satisfied, the officer leaves. Shortly thereafter, the individual he awoke leaves as well. Don’t fret, Monique and I were to follow his lead five minutes later. We drive one hundred feet away from the parking lot to the other side of the street, literally, and park for the night. Here we are allowed to overnight. I spend the rest of the evening listening to Monique play the banjo until I retire for the evening.

 

As I awake the following day I notice the sun hasn’t began it’s transitionary migration across the baby blue ceiling. There is light on the horizon, but the sky has yet to show it’s iridescent awakening. Monique and Lyla are both still dreaming of whatever they may be dreaming of so I decide a walk with seagulls sounds rewarding. I walk across the street and arrive at the coastline in two minutes. Maybe even less. I notice the tide is receding, but only recently. I decide to walk North as the route south is impassible. I absorb the salty sound of nature’s touch and chant a mantra: nam myoho renge kyo. This form of meditation lasts for around fifteen minutes before I have to regain control of my thoughts. Sometimes, even when meditating, I can’t always control my thoughts. It’s something I’m continuously working to improve. After a short time more I conclude my session and rest, peacefully gazing at the ocean and listening to its siren song. Before I realize the sun has shone itself and I can feel it kissing the back of my neck. I acknowledge the gentleness, ever thankful it lives. I should return to see if Monique is awake and I can start breakfast.

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When I return I find Lyla eager to make her exit of the van. Monique is still buried under the sleeping bag, but awakening. I kiss her good morning, thankful for having her to share such a beautiful journey with, and inform her I will go ahead and take Lyla for a jaunt. I grab Lylas frisbee and make my return to the beach. I provide a mixture of playful wrestling, frisbee throwing, and frisbee rolling. Yes, you can roll a frisbee. After almost an hour I return to the van to find Coffee and breakfast bagels. Woo Hoo! That’s a nice reward for enjoying the companionship of a K9 friend.

 

We each spend the remainder of the morning, and shortly into the afternoon, enjoying the our personal pleasures and the sea. I practice Irish Washerwoman on the ukulele, enjoying the distinct challenge to my coordination. I also practiced my photography skills. No, I don’t have a fancy DSLR, but I do have my cell phone. I am unable to change settings, but it does the job and allows me to focus on my rule of thirds and angles. Monique used this time to color in one of her drawings, a mandala she drew the previous days. She also listened to an audio book. If I recall correctly it was a recommendation I provided: Lewis and Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. I found it rewarding and I hope Monique will too. When I next look at the time I notice it is one in the afternoon. I inquire if contact with Sapphire was still sought; being a yes we pack up and head that way.

 

We make the short drive of 5-10 Minutes to outskirts of Pescadero. We turn down a small, pothole covered road and drive roughly a quarter of mile before arriving at a small farm. We park the van along the road. The drive beyond the fence is littered with ruts and gouges that I don’t believe the van can handle. I notice there are two gentlemen in the field working as the sprinkler system provides a much needed drink to natures lunch box. Assuming one must be Sapphire I ask Monique if he is the one with the hat. She informs me it is difficult to discern from the distance we are at. We will simply have to let ourselves in and discover first hand. The logical idea sounded reasonable enough to pursue so, opening the gate and closing it behind us, we make our entry.

 

As we walk toward the hatted gentleman a white and black dog appears, wagging its tail with the speed that would impress an aircraft pilot. Lyla instantly shares in the excitement and displays her own drum beat. Within seconds they are acting like two lifelong friends who haven’t seen each other for years. They will spend the next few hours reconnecting and catching up. Monique lets me know the dogs name is Olive and belongs to Sapphire. We walk 100 feet further and Monique says hello, with a smile and sparkle, to her friend. He smiles with altruistic love, sharing his sparkle as she does, and welcomes her openly. I watch all this unfold while feeling fortunate. Fortunate I’m able to see the reality of what transpires within the unsaid, fortunate I am able to be a part of the experience, fortunate that Monique has such good friendship in her life, and fortunate I may build the same. After a quick introduction we ask if we may purchase some produce while we are here, or work for it; this is my prefered method as it will all me to become acquainted with Sapphire. A bonus being I can learn a good deal about organic farming, soil conditions, weather cycles, and insect prevention to give some examples. We’re in luck. Sapphire refuses our money, but does allow us to help him on the farm.

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Sapphire says he doesn’t have much to do, but we can help him unload his van and then pick out the produce we desire. Being from a farming community in rural ohio I know all to well a farmer hasn’t completed his day until the sun is no longer visible, unless it’s harvest or planting season when they work many hours after and before sunset. My mind refuses to accept the unloading of the van, consisting of few items, as equitable for both parties. I also know Monique isn’t going to find contentment in Sapphires current definition of sufficient. So we do what anyone with logical, common sense would do. We continued to negotiate until we reached an accord requiring us to unload the van, help harvest some produce for the market he is attending tomorrow, and enjoy the beauty that is altruism.

 

As the three of us walk towards the row of red cabbage we will be cutting I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I’m holding a sickle, cutting market ready cabbage with a hand held tool, and sharing sparkling conversation with two beautiful Beings; bargained and accepted by all parties. Sapphire, Monique, and I spend the next three hours sharing the tales of our memories, discovering the philosophy of another, and passing around knowledge and wisdom where we can. Sapphires enormous generosity, which he promotes through his actions, is inspirational and deserves no less than emulation. By the time we finish up it’s approaching evening. We need to get going and Sapphire has already been scheduled for the remainder of the night. Someone, in my opinion, was a lucky and fortunate recipient. With our pockets full, procured through barter, we bid our goodbye.

 

The following morning Monique and I awake within minutes of each other. I offer to cook Breakfast and provide coffee if she would like to give Lyla some attention. She has accepted before I finished the offer and was scampering across nature’s playground before I could retrieve the stove. With that settled I got to work and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors. It was getting close to lunch and we had an estimate to be at in about an hour so we decided to head that way. Before we departed Monique, ever worrying if I have eaten enough, asks what I have to snack on for the ride. I replied that I had just ate breakfast and would be fine. I just needed to use the facilities before we left.

 

When I returned from the bathroom break I got in the wagon and began the journey south. As I’m driving I notice something is making a crunching noise. I’m slightly confused as to what it could be because I had just rearranged the wagon and knew there was no trash or paper any place; upon further inspection I found the culprit. It was a bag of blue corn flour tortilla chips that Monique placed in the passenger seat while I was using the restroom. I smiled all the while eating them, knowing she loves me true. The reward of seeing, understanding, and receiving altruistic love is a welcomed reward. By the time I finish the bag we are moments away from arriving at our estimate. I wash down the chips with a swig of water as we pull in the driveway.

 

Wish us luck, friends!

 

“You have done something that will inspire the youth of our continent” Nelson Mandela, (Madiba)