The Road to 65, Mile 112: Spring Affirmations and Goals

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March 20, 2015,, Goodyear, AZ-  So, as I headed down to this western suburb of Phoenix, for a reunion with old friends, on the occasion of our Nineteen-Day Fast’s conclusion, the March Equinox brought Spring to the North and Autumn to the South.  The evening was mostly convivial, and I got to know someone, who had once been off-putting, a bit better.

The occasion of Naw-Ruz, the ancient Persian celebration of the Vernal Equinox as New Year, has been adopted by the Baha’i Faith as our New Year.  More about this, in my next post.

I used today as a time to formulate short-term affirmations and goals, for the season of Spring itself.  These are in the categories of personal, community and extended community.

Personal- I will adhere to waking at 5:30 AM, each day.

I have eliminated sources of frivolity from my daily routine.

I will continue the regimen of daily health checks, morning devotions and exercise.

I will add evening devotions to that daily regimen. (This being one activity that lacked consistency in my life).

I will walk at least a half-hour after dinner, wherever I happen to be, every evening.

Hikes will continue to be a regular part of my weekly regimen.

I will continue with random, and intentional, acts of kindness, each day, wherever I happen to be.

Community- I will remain actively involved with my Baha’i community, with the Red Cross, with Angels of Prescott, and with Slow-Food Prescott.

I will serve out the remaining months of my term with the American Legion Post, though continuing as its Chaplain is a matter on which I am undecided, at this point.

Extended community-  I will continue to expand on the size of this.

I will visit with friends both locally and farther afield.

I will offer daily  messages and acts of support to those in my world.

I will continue to share and educate people, regarding  Essential Oils.

I will make a journey, in late May and the month of June, to the Pacific Northwest and  to Southeast Alaska.

Knowing these affirmations and goals will resonate with some, and viewed askance by others, I will honour them anyway.

The Road to 65, Mile 111: Waldorf

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March 19, 2015, Prescott-  I had the first of two interviews, and a tour, on a visit to Mountain Oak School, on the near north side of town, this morning.  Mountain Oak is a Waldorf School, meaning the stress is on integrated learning, with music, art and kinesthetics built into the curriculum.

I have dabbled in holistic learning, at various points in my career.  It has always made the most sense to me, engaging the whole child, and in a manner that eases the child into the day of learning.  At M.O., the first two hours are spent in structured, challenging, yet engaging activities.

While touring, I watched as students co-operated with one another in cleaning up a mess, while  continuing to sing a lesson.  It has been well-established that musical presentations of lessons help integrate the two sides of the brain, working together.  Fifth graders were doing an integration-oriented activity in cross-body coordination. Grade 7 was on a walk in the campus wood.  Eighth grade seemed a bit more traditional, but I could see they were preparing for a Socratic Seminar, which even the public middle schools are bringing into the fore.

I would imagine that the average Mountain Oak student will come away from a nine-year experience here with a far more complete picture of the way he or she fits in the world, than will those whose comparable experience is rooted in textbooks and paperwork.

I have a second interview next week, and the complete scope of how I would fit in here, as a substitute teacher and social sciences/language arts contributor, will be made clearer.  I can’t help feeling that this experience will also awaken parts of my own psyche that have been asleep for some time.  It’s not only my outer frontiers that are expanding; the inner worlds are, as well.

The Road to 65, Mile 110: A Million Miles

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March 18, 2015, Prescott-  Donald Miller, in “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, essentially outlines a game plan for moving away from the blame game, by which people simultaneously sabotage their personal and professional lives and cast all blame for their situations on anyone but themselves.

I spent  twelve years of my life, 1998-2010, in this sort of tailspin.  Jeff Olson, in “The Slight Edge”, points out that energy can either work FOR or AGAINST a person, depending on how the individual chooses to set course.  Seeing what damage I did to myself, and what a confusing example I set for my son, by blaming “the politicians”, “the enemies of the people” and “my ill-wishers” for my own lack of delivery, both personally and professionally.  The fact is, I knew HOW to deliver on my promises, but the WHY was inconsistent.  One must have a “WHY”, in order to bring about what one’s words say will happen.  Then, the “HOW” must be put into consistent practice.

I spent today delivering- establishing solid contact with the leaders of two alternative charter schools in our area, both of which have proven track records, and talking this evening with a person who would be regarded among East Coast business professionals as a “High Marker”, a successful businessman here in Prescott, who expressed interest in my Essential Oils endeavours.  Of course, these are baby steps, and someone like Donald Miller, Jeff Olson or Franklin Covey would admonish not to get distracted or giddy with excitement.  The next steps must always be anticipated, and taken in a state of awareness.

So, this wondrous Wednesday, at a time in March that has so often been tiresome and challenging in years past, now brings the aura of progress.

The Road to 65, Mile 109: St. Patrick’s Day, Then and Now

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March 17, 2015, Prescott-  The wearing of the green, on this day four years ago, found me putting on a day-appropriate t-shirt and taking a grinning selfie, with which I’ll not trouble you.  My face looked contorted, in more of a grimace than a smile. I had at least three chins, to boot. Penny had passed on just twelve days earlier,so as one might guess, the whole thing was to somehow trick myself into thinking that standing alone, in our now-empty Phoenix house, would break the din of sorrow.  Our son had the good sense to be off with friends that evening, and I’ve never been one to cling to anyone in despair.

Each year since, St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone.  I’ve been in Prescott for each of the past three, and generally have opted for either a home-cooked corned beef and cabbage or, as last year, go off with friends to one of the few spots that doesn’t operate on alcohol sales and cover charges.   It’s been a while since I was a twenty-something, so the cover charge is a relic, to me.

Tonight, the occasion was quietly observed at Prescott Junction, which used to be a JB’s, and is now a more imaginative Mom & Pop, albeit with the same owners.  It was, I must say, one of the more ample, and well-spiced, plates of corned beef I’ve had, since leaving my parents’ house, in 1973.  Mom always observed the special days in traditional style, and hers was succulent corned beef.

The meal aside, I get inspiration from the Tall Tale of St. Patrick having smitten the snakes of Ireland.  Here in Arizona, he’d be doing a land office business.  Triumphing over adversity is a step-by-step affair, and when one considers that those we view as evil, often see themselves as on a noble quest, the snake analogy is apropos.  Serpents, after all, control the rodent populace.  I have a very hard time, though, seeing the likes of Islamic State and Boko Haram as anything decent or good.  Relegating strong, intelligent women to the pantry, or the bedroom, is a death blow to any society that is going to advance. Restricting our God-given free will freezes the souls of those who are enslaved by ideology.  We are SUPPOSED TO make choices for ourselves.  Otherwise, no one learns, or advances spiritually.

So, in a few days, my Baha’i Fast will end, winter will gradually give way to Spring, and I will adhere to a normal schedule of activity.  In a few more years, 2021 to be specific, the Baha’i Fast will find me focusing on its spiritual dimension, while not adhering to its physical aspect-as by then, I’ll be 70.  Life, in each of its stages, brings new challenges and blessings.  Erin go bragh!

The Road to 65, Mile 108: Soar High, Dive Deep

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March 16, 2015, Prescott- When I watched “Birdman” recently, I started out expecting a variation on one of David Mamet’s plays.  Well, there was profanity and conflict, throughout and these were well-presented.  The difference was, there was an underlying theme of transcendence.  Michael Keaton’s character gets to fly, in New York’s Theater District.  Emma Stone, as his daughter, gives new meaning to “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number”.  Two jilted women find happiness, with one another.  The rest is left for you to discover, should you choose to see the film.

There is a Shakespearean element to the scenes:  It is, after all, a play within a play.  Scenes which seem extraneous to the plot, end up enhancing it.  I basically have no issue with this film being “Best Motion Picture” for 2015.

March is typically a time for me to assess myself, in terms of spiritual well-being, much as November is a time for me to assess a year’s worth of accomplishments, or lack thereof.  So far, I find I am drawing clearer, tighter boundaries:  I am more protective of my time and money, with a view towards both being more useful and living longer, and better.  I am more appreciative of the genuine helpers and friends in my life, both familial and amiable.  The users around me, though, get minimal contact.

This has been a time for stretching the comfort zone. I am involved in promoting wellness, not so much for participating in the “truncated pyramid” aspects of the business, as for developing the more practical side of myself that has been put on the shelf for so many years.  I believe in the efficacy of the products, because I see the good effects they have had on my health.

I am also going to do more with tent camping, being determined to put up the tent in such a way that it does not blow down in the middle of the night.  Confidence has often been my weak suit, especially in areas where I have found myself being shoved aside, so that “someone who knows what he’s doing” can just take over, and get it done.  The days of skimming the tops of trees, and of treading water, are at an end.

The Road to 65, Mile 107: E-Motion

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March 15, 2015, Prescott-  I found myself in three friendly environments today.  I spent an hour or so with a kindred soul, catching up  with her considerable efforts at staying solvent.  She has done far better, historically, than I have, in terms of financial management.  I’m far better in that regard than I once was, yet I find her ability amazing.  She gave me a link to a film,

articles.mercola.com
More about this, in a bit.
I went to pay my respects, in mid-afternoon, to the members of our American Legion Post who had passed on, since last March.  Each year, we have a Post Everlasting ceremony.  “Post Everlasting” is the Legion’s name for eternity.
After this brief, but heartfelt, ceremony, I got in some fresh air and exercise, at Granite Basin Lake, a reservoir at the foot of Granite Mountain, northwest of Prescott.  Here are some photos of the wilderness that is emerging from winter.
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Not all parts of the forest made it through winter unscathed.

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The granite endures, though.

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In spite of the purveyors of doom, water is a bit more plentiful this year.SAM_4599

As always, there is at least one heart to greet me.

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The stuffed rock wall reminded me of the one in Marfa, TX.

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A small waterfall spilled over the barrier.

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Further up the road, a glorious sunset awaited.

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This was not just any outing, but a chance to get a shut-in out to the lake he loves so much.  That’s always time well-spent.

Back to E-Motion. I watched the film, this evening.  It has presented me with several confirmations of what I have known for some time.  It also corroborates the observations of Dr. MonaLisa Schulze, in “Awakening Intuition”, that our emotions remain stored in various parts of our bodies.  Replacing negative stuffed emotions with positive is an essential component of reversing a negative mindset/lifestyle.  I have offered the link here, so that anyone wanting to get a handle on migraines, lack of sleep, stomach aches, and even many forms of cancer, may commence the healing process.  There is also a cute love story at the end.

The Road to 65, Mile 106: For Profit

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March 14, 2015, Prescott– I spent much of today organizing my photos on my Flickr account (https://www.flickr.com/photos/86298326@N07/).  Those who wish to check the various albums out, are welcome.  Further progress occurred in settling my de facto client, into a positive living situation.  He feels welcome there, and has secured a niche.  I gained more insight into the depth of his personal suffering, so the healing is taking root.

My focus for this evening, here, is the mercantile nature of just about everything, these days.  Some in government believe it is their agencies’ duty to support the economic aspects of their particular area of purview.  Mental health agencies, and some hospitals, place the profits of insurance companies and of their umbrella agencies above the well-being of individual clients, patients, participants- or whatever the nom de jour of their clientele happens to be.

While having dinner this evening, in a local restaurant, I overheard the people at the table in front of me noting, with some disdain, just how mercenary the government, and multinational companies have become, about everything from water to one’s last rites.  I know that Nestle has tried to take over drinking water supplies in some small communities and has sued the people, to force them to give up their water supply to its bottling arm.  I haven’t heard anything on that matter lately, so maybe Swiss rationality has drawn the conclusion that this is overreach.  Monsanto has sent its legal eagles after other small communities, and small farmers, to force its seeds and farming practices on them- with the ever-present threat of a lawsuit, or an unwanted visit from Bill Nye the Science Guy, to intimidate and dominate.

I have heard, more than once, that the mission of the US Food and Drug Administration is to protect the economic aspects of  our nation’s food and pharmaceutical supplies.  This, naturally, means protection of large industrial concerns, in those areas.  Here, it is a wave of contributions to re-election campaigns, rather than attorneys threatening to bankrupt the little guys, that does the trick.  I don’t make any distinction here between the Koch Brothers and George Soros.  Both camps are quite capable of pushing their own agendas on the political class.

My dining neighbours questioned everything from bottled water to 401K’s.  I tend to agree, more and more, with the idea that one can make do with relative simplicity.  Having spent my last night on the road in a campground, in perfect contentment, I will be glad to expand on that more, in weekend jaunts later this Spring.  Having become quite good at stretching my meals, while still achieving satiety and maintaining health, I am confident this regimen will continue. My IRA will stay healthy, with or without the scaredy cats on Wall Street.

The coming months and years will see a re-working of the term “For Profit”.  Real profit is a tide that lifts all boats.

The Road to 65, Mile 105: Bullies

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March 13, 2015, Chino Valley-  When I was growing up, there were two kinds of bullies in  my life, neither of them overly prominent.  The first type were those of low self-esteem, who sought to spread their misery among scrawny, unathletic kids like me.  The second were Type A’s, kids, and a few adults, whose intentions were honest- to “help me reach my potential”.  They were overbearing, though, when more patient encouragement would have worked better.

I thought of them this evening, as eight adults and a child were having a dinner time conversation on the general topic of bullying.  The little girl said she didn’t get bullied much, but she stood her ground when she was and defended others, when they were being harassed.  Several of us pointed out that criticism is a life-time thing, as each of us has different perspectives on any given topic and each of us has areas of insecurity.

I would occasionally find myself wandering into bullying territory, but each time it felt awful and I pulled back.  The whole tender-heart thing won, in the end.  Once, I even had a dream, when I was about 19 or so, of having the opportunity to kill a brutish tyrant.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it and offered him mercy, instead.  The surprised brute limped away and didn’t seem to be in any mood to bother anyone after that.

I know many will read the above and think, “Yeah, sure.  A leopard does not change its spots.”  We’ve seen how that works- Saddam, after the First Gulf War; various dictators, after assassination attempts gone awry.  I have also seen bullies’ hearts change, usually after their own insecurities get mended.  In fact, I can’t think of one of my tormentors who, having grown up and taken on a wider view of things, still harbours anger and a twisted desire to inflict pain.  In real world terms, I guess I am more exception than rule, but people do outgrow their misanthropy.

Bottom line, for now:  Human hearts can change.  It most often takes patience, and the example of understanding, mixed with firmness of resolve, to turn a tormentor into a friend.

The Road to 65, Mile 104: Stubborness

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March 12, 2015, Prescott-  I got a good rest today, it being still Spring Break until Monday.  Having a base to  which I may return is always a comfort.  I will likely be free from a short-term obligation, after tomorrow, and will be able to take on more work, until summer comes around.  That will make me a familiar face in the local charter schools, as well as the public institutions.

I am, by nature, a flexible soul.  There are certain things about which I won’t budge, but all in all, I believe, as I said earlier, in going with the flow.  I am finding a few people, one of whom would like to depend on me, to a large extent, to be quite stubborn,when it comes to avoiding responsibility for their own lives and making necessary changes.

I suppose that’s human nature.  We get comfortable and expect things to stay the same, in perpetuity.  To me, though, not monitoring a situation and adjusting, as needed, is the lowest form of selfishness.  No one can live, fully, as if others don’t have a right to their own lives and dreams.  This selfishness comes out, of course, in everything from theft to road rage.

No one is entitled, pure and simple, to anything that belongs to someone else, be it possessions, dreams, or, in the case of someone outside the family, time.

The Road to 65, Mile 103: Glo’s Asteroids

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March 11, 2015, Palm Desert-  After a restful night under the stars at Oak Grove Campground, near Aguanga, CA, I made the drive back up to Palomar Mountain, and the Caltech Observatory.  The story of this first great West Coast astronomical site is the story of George Hale, its first chief astronomer;

SAM_4567 of Kurt Zwicky and Maarten Schmidt, who developed telescopes and focused on far-flung galaxies;

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“Glo”, as she was endearingly called by her co-workers at Palomar, had an intense focus on asteroids.  Her Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project resulted in the discovery of 872 asteroids, including # 3267, which was named Glo, in her honour.  Because of her work, which ended only with her passing in 2009, NASA has summoned enough interest within its ranks to have sent probes to the Kuyper Belt, and has found such orbs as an asteroid with its own moon, a find which surely must delight “Glo”, in the Spirit Realm.  She deserves to be in the ranks of all those women who inspire girls to pursue their dreams, regardless of the heights those dreams seek to reach.

I spent about ninety minutes walking and reading in the Observatory Museum (Here is the original 1930 telescope, made by Bernhardt Schmidt).SAM_4561 and the Gallery, on the first two floors of the Observatory itself, then took in the surroundings.

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Here is the Hale Telescope’s home.SAM_4565

This small telescope, off-limits to the public, is ancillary to the Hale Telescope’s work.

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I spent a few minutes afterward,  checking out the base of a California Live Oak, and observing woodpeckers at their craft, in the picnic area.

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On the way down the mountain, there is a memorial to a firefighter from Picuris, NM, who was one of those killed in the 1999  La Jolla Fire, so-named for its devastation of the nearby La Jolla Reservation, of the Luiseno people.

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An overlook near the memorial shows the outline of the Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains, which comprise San Diego’s highest peaks.SAM_4577

Near the area leading east to the Colorado Desert, lies Lake Henshaw, a reservoir behind an earthen dam, that draws birds and sportsmen alike.

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The desert emerged, about an hour or so later, after I navigated a seven-mile series of switchbacks, through the San Jacinto Wilderness.

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At the San Jacinto Visitor Center, I was greeted by a pleasant-looking jackrabbit.

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Creosote and primrose are blossoming.

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The smoke trees, though, do not.

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With the Visitor Center closed, due to illness, I headed the rest of the way back to Prescott- and 2 1/2 months or so of working to replenish my resources.