Tag Archives: Love

Brain Games

Well the old brain is clicking along today. Somewhat dazed, but the ramblings in my head don’t go away – except maybe when I meditate.

It’s funny we go through life trying to find meaning, to discover an identity for ourselves, and yet try as we might, we, as beings, are kind of hard to define.  And if we can’t even define ourselves, then how can we elucidate a purpose for this existence.

As I was listening to a song this morning the lyrics kind of hit home when I heard, “I don’t even need a name anymore, when no one calls it out, it kind of vanishes away.”

Continue reading Brain Games

A Worthy Trade

We all misplace things from time-to-time.  Car keys, your cell phone, a pair of glasses, a pen.  Perhaps a favorite shirt.  Of course, there is also the void.   A vortex.  That place where a single sock or the lids to our plastic containers seem to just vanish.  To be swallowed up.  Leaving behind the sad, unmatched partner, only to be discarded at a future date.

Their usefulness now lost . . .

And sometimes I think the spirits are messing with me.  Because I search and search, retrace my steps, look in the same place multiple times, and there it is, my quarry, sitting in one of the same spots I’ve searched three times over.  Only now it’s so obvious I can’t miss it if I tried.

I wonder ???

Over the years, I’ve tried to keep a copy of everything I’ve had published.  It’s nice to have an electronic copy, but even better to have a hard copy.  Something tangible.  Something I can hold in my hands.  Feel the texture of the paper.  Smell the ink.  Visualize the word placement.  Hear the words as I read through them.

There’s something about the whole sensory experience that makes it more magical.

Continue reading A Worthy Trade

Our Greatest Opponent

goose island - glacier national + opponent

Photo: Most people who have visited Glacier National Park in Montana have probably captured this very photo as you are coming in from the east entrance to the park along the Going To The Sun Road. The tiny island is Wild Goose Island sitting in the middle of St. Mary Lake.

The mountain peaks on the south side of the lake (left in photo) include Red Eagle Mountain, Mahtotopa Mountain, Little Chief Mountain, Dusty Star Mountain and Citadel Mountain.  Gunsight Mountain and Fusillade Mountain are at the far end of the lake.  And on the north side, (to the right) not really captured in the photo are Goat Mountain and Going-to-The-Sun Mountain.

Not much further down this road was where I had my first encounter with Grizzly Bears.  A pair strolling along up on one of the mountain slopes.  It was an amazing sight to behold.  A gift.

I chose this pick for the quote, because it’s when we overcome our doubts and fears that we will experience the greatest adventures, encounter the greatest beauty, replace our ignorance with knowledge, and have our ego put in its place, having seen what a tiny speck we are in such an infinite Universe.

***

My Granddad’s Watch – Finis

My grandfather, who I was named after, was born in Indiana in 1896.  After fighting in the “Great War,” he returned to Indiana where he ran several businesses and raised his family.  Rumors were that he had two families.

The clan had its share of characters back in the day.

At some point along his journey he acquired a watch.  An Elgin pocket watch.  A railroad watch.  No one seems to know the exact story surrounding of how he came by this watch.  He could have bought it or he could have taken it in trade for some of the many cigars he sold in his “City Club.”

Although it was gold-filled, it wasn’t one of those fancy watches used to mark social status.  The ornate ones with jewels that weren’t part of the mechanism.  No special engraving.  No hand-painted or enamel designs.  No animated scenes or characters turning in coordination with the hands.

No, this watch was used to tell time.

When my dad graduated high school, granddad sat my father down and explained that dad had reached a point in his life where he earned some recognition.   He was now old enough and responsible enough to receive a precious gift.  A timepiece to mark a rite of passage.

And so the watch was passed on to its first successor guardian.

Continue reading My Granddad’s Watch – Finis

My Granddad’s Watch

It was a colder winter than usual in northern Arizona back in ‘78.  When my brother and I pulled into Flagstaff there was no way to make a left-hand turn.  Some three feet of snow had been plowed into the middle of the roads to be trucked away later.  A crystalline white bulwark separating the oncoming traffic.

We had a few more miles to go to find a campsite among the Ponderosa Pines.  Once there, I eased the ‘70 Plymouth Satellite off the park road where the snow was the lightest and drove deeper into the forest.  The snow being an incredible insulator, as soon as I shut the engine off it was dead quiet.

The beauty surrounding us was as breathtaking as the air was frigid.

In the distance, the towering San Francisco Peaks were covered in clouds.  It looked like they were tethered to the mountains with the surrounding sky perfectly clear and blue.  When those clouds cleared there would be an additional layer of snow on those holy Peaks.

Respect Mother Earth and the native traditions and you’ll live longer in this wilderness.

Continue reading My Granddad’s Watch

May You Soar High In the New Year

Sandhill Cranes Plus Text

So yesterday I stumbled on this quote and I thought Wow!  What a great thought.  Not that I wish to take anything away from the celebration of New Year’s Eve, but I like the lofty idea of changing the world.

And then I thought, not the world in the “global” sense, although that too is a great aspiration.  I thought, our own “worlds.”  Yes, let’s celebrate all of those amazing and positive changes we bring into our own lives.

I wish you all many blessing for the New Year !

***

Photo:  Some Sandhill Cranes take flight! I had the fortune to follow these guys on their migratory path in 2017.  I first saw them in Michigan and then later in southern Arizona.  It wasn’t my intention to follow them, but there they were, and I was totally blessed with being able to experience them.

To Soar: The definition of soaring implies more than just flying.  It is to reach new heights!  To feel the wind below your wings!  Joy ! Exhilaration ! Beauty !

Give Yourself Permission

As I rose from my slumbers a couple of days ago, I began my usual prodding of myself. “What are you going to do today?”  “What will you accomplish?”

I think we’ve all been conditioned to get in this frame of mindlessness.  We have to do something “constructive” in order to feel like we have any self-worth.

But who is this “judge” sitting in the back of our minds and where do all of these self-created pressures come from?  Why do we have to “accomplish” something and what makes that something “constructive” or “meaningful?”

I decided to give myself permission to take the day off.

Not in the sense of doing nothing, although arguably, there is value in that too sometimes.  But I gave myself permission to get off my own back.  To kill that self-judging voice in the back of my head.

What happened?

Well, I spent a good part of the day reading, relaxing, enjoying the freedom I gave myself not to attach my entire worth as a person on completing some task.  And it felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

So, I carried this state of mind over into a second day.  I read, meditated, had coffee with my daughter, took a long hot bath, built a nice fire in the woodstove.  And I cranked up the music and danced around the living room 🙂

It was absolutely liberating.

You see, by giving myself permission to quit judging myself, I actually accomplished much more in terms of gaining some peace of mind.  Of freeing my spirit.  Of capturing some happiness.  Of living in the moment.

Happy Holidays to everyone and give yourself permission to be joyous and free!

Crank up the music and dance!

***

Photo:  Somewhere in Oregon.  Open and free.  Rolling grasses.  Azure blue lakes.  Snow-capped mountain peaks.  Weightless beauty.  Liberation.

No Word for Art

Montana with Monture Quote - Ctn Divide - Logan Pass

Photo:  At the Continental Divide in Montana.

**This was a little tougher to put together than I imaged.  I had narrowed it down to three possible pics of mine – all beautiful, but I ultimately decided on this one.  Since WP cannot format it larger, I’ll repeat the quote here:

It is not surprising that Native American languages have no word for art, because beauty exists as an element of nature and everyday existence.  The very fiber of life begins with an understanding of natural gifts, an appreciation of the irrepressible forces of nature, creation, and expression.

Joel Monture – Mohawk

Community

Yesterday was an interesting day for me because I actually had visitors at my place.  You see, my community, those people in my immediate physical sphere, as opposed to the cyber world, has shrunk over the years.

Our communities always shift and change.  We had a different group of people we hung out with during school that pretty much split up and went their separate directions.  Then we link up with significant others and that can bring their friends into our circles, but it can also begin to thin the numbers of friends that we have regular contact with as life takes over.

Time passes.  People become busy.  People raise families.  People become involved in other things.  People move.

A surprising number of people I’ve known have passed away.

Continue reading Community

Unfolding

Picture yourself unfolding some paper.  Perhaps opening a letter you just received from a great friend.  Or maybe it was scribblings from a time past that you crumpled up, cast aside, and you had forgotten what you had written.  Or maybe you’re opening a package.  It is Christmas time after all.

You’re not sure what you’ll find.

Now use that as a metaphor for today.  You are just beginning to discover what’s on the page of what will become another chapter in your memory.  You might think you have a plan for today, or for your life for that matter, but you don’t really know what you’re going to discover or what will really happen.

It’s unfolding.  In its own time and its own way.

That’s the way my day is starting.  Really, that’s the way all days start.  But I am truly amazed at how what appears to be a scattering of random things or events seems to coalesce into something that seems fateful.  Like something that was supposed to happen.  Set in motion by the Universe some time before, it keeps building into something more.  Something of real value.  A chain of events comes to fruition.  Physically or mentally or spiritually.

Insight.  Wisdom.  Compassion.  Forgiveness.  Love.

Continue reading Unfolding

If My Memory Serves Me

“White Crane Spreads Its Wings.”  “Repulsing the Monkey.”  “Grasping the Bird’s Tale.”

These phrases, in isolation, might give you a laugh, but if you’re familiar with Tai Chi, you’ll recognize these names right off as they refer to particular forms or moments that can be part of several different Tai Chi routines.  The words help construct an image of the movement that is not only descriptive but that helps you to memorize the parts of the form for practice.

In a multi-form routine, these word images help my poor brain remember what it’s supposed to do, and after a while, since this memory involves movement it can be incorporated into what’s called “non-declarative memory,” which requires no conscious awareness.

And thus, we have moving meditation 🙂

***

So, I’m back to studying about how our brains work and this time I’m reading about short-term memory.  Memory is kind of important for without it we might have died off as a species.

We learned that fire was great for preventing us from freezing to death and wonderful for cooking our food, but not so great if directly applied to our bodies.  We learned which berries were and weren’t poisonous, and how to hunt bison and mammoths without getting killed – probably by watching someone else die.  But then we remembered, passed the information on, and managed to propagate the species.

Although we might wonder a bit about the new wave of “flat-earthers.”

And I know the scientific community goes a little overboard with dissecting and labeling everything but here goes.

It seems we have two types of short-term memory, declarative, like being able to regurgitate specific facts like “sharks swim in the ocean,” and non-declarative, which is like the motor skills we use to ride a bike.  Declarative memory involves “effortful processing” or a lot of repetition.  Non-declarative memory does not require conscious awareness and is sort of automatic.  If we were asked, we probably wouldn’t list out every detailed step that goes along with riding a bike.   We just go through those motions once the brain locks on and our feet are on the pedals, and we use a simple phrase to embody all of those movements.

There are four steps involved in short term memory.  Encoding, storage, retrieval, and forgetting.  Encoding is defined as the conversion of external sources of energy into electrical patterns the brain can understand.  There are three types of encoding:

Semantic encoding – definitions,

Phonemic encoding – comparison of sounds – rhyming, and

Structural encoding – visual inspection of shapes.

The myriad of signals we receive from different sensory sources are registered in separate brain areas.  It’s a fragmented experience, called the “blender effect.”  There is no central storage or hard drive.  Parts of a single event are scattered and stored all over the cerebral cortex.  And a memory trace will lead you to the same parts of the brain where we originally processed the information.

The total number of brain changes to record an event or information is called an engram, and then comes the “binding problem” – how do we bring all of that sensory data back together from the various spots on the cerebral cortex where they were stashed to compose a complete memory?

While it’s counter-intuitive, it turns out, the more elaborately we encode, the more details and complexity surrounding the event, the better our retrieval of that memory.

Retrieval is also enhanced if we replicate the conditions where we experienced the event or came upon the data.  So, if I learned that sharks swim in the ocean while I’m swimming in the ocean, I will remember this bit of information best when I’m back swimming in the ocean.  How convenient.

It also seems that regardless of the setting where we encounter information, the majority of our forgetting will occur within the fist couple of hours that follows.  People usually forget 90% of what they’ve learned within 30 days of the learning experience.  Apparently, we discard what we don’t use quite quickly.

I know, I’ve forgotten much more over the years than I know right now 🙂

Spaced learning is more effective than massed learning and the more repetition cycles we have, the greater chance we’ll convert something to long-term memory.   Tai Chi again provides a great example because we are taught each form separately and then add that to the entire routine, which we then repeat and continually refine.

And something I mentioned before in the post Boring, teaching is more effective if it includes meaningful examples and experiences and emotion.  Real world situations familiar to the learner.  The more personal the example, the better the encoding because we are adapted to “pattern matching” the new information with what we’ve learned before.

So why am I writing about this today?  Because of the fascinating way we’re able to communicate and tell stories, of course.  When I tell a story I want to transmit my memory to you, the reader.  I use as many descriptive terms as I can think of to relay an experience – what I saw and heard, how something smelled, felt and tasted.  How objects sat in space in relation to where I stood or traveled.

We’re able to communicate because of that pattern matching principle.  I relate an experience to you and hope you’ve had enough similar experiences and gathered enough sensory data to “get it.”

Such is the challenge and art of writing.  If we can paint an image that others can see, detail the scent of a flower that the reader can smell, have someone salivating over a recipe or bracing for an explosive sound, or transmit the feel of the smooth, silky skin of another as we describe caressing their face, then we’ve succeeded.

A lofty goal.

And hopefully the experiences we relate will be as memorable to our readers as they were to us.

***

Photo: This is one of my daughter’s dogs, Harper.  He was over for a visit when I snapped this pic.  I etched out the bare patterns with the photo editor creating what I call the “Ghost Dog.”  Its an image descriptive of short-term memories.  We can hold onto basic concepts and sensations, but over time they may fade into the less distinct and more nebulous 🙂

Source: I used the book Brain Rules by John Medina as my source for this post.  Other posts of mine discussing the workings of our brains include:

Move Your Body, Move Your Mind

Writing to Survive

Wired

Boring

and,

Bailer’s Point

 

Like

I have to say, I really appreciate the WordPress community.  I learned about WordPress when I was looking at job postings for writers and started noticing that a number of them required WordPress experience.  So, I Googled it to find out what it was.

Then I met Laleh Chini on Twitter and was introduced to her blog, “A Voice from Iran.”

After checking out a few more blogs and seeing their beautiful formats, I decided to take the plunge.

One of the things that really amazes me it that we can meet people from all over the world.  And even if their blogs are written in different languages, it’s not much trouble to copy and paste something into Google Translate and read it.

I like looking at other languages and seeing how others compose their ideas.  I think the text is beautiful and I am awed about the whole concept of learning a language.  How do we master such a thing?  Other languages look so foreign to me, it’s hard for me to imagine how children in those countries grow up learning them.  And multilingual people fascinate me even more.

It is such a human trait.  Language.  It’s taken for granted.  And just look how much communication has evolved and the technology that we use now to share our stories all over the world.

I know we all love it when others in our community like our posts.  So here are a few examples of beautiful language from around the world from some of my blogging friends just using the word “like.”

Indonesian                           DisuKai

Turkish                                  Begendi

Italian                                     Mi piace

Norwegian                           Liker

Romanian                             Apreciaza

German                                Gefällt mir

Spanish                                 Me Gusta

Russian                                  нравится

Hindi                                       पसंद

Swedish                                Tycka om

French                                   J’aime

Irish                                        Cosúil

Japanese                               好き

Pakistan (Urdu)                  کی طرح

Nigeria (Yoruba)                 Bi

Phillipines (Filipino)         Katulad

Finnish                                     Kuten

Azerbaijani                            Bəyən

Portuguese                            Curtir

I’m sure you can all add to this list.

Another reason I like it when my blogging friends like my posts is that it reminds me to go check out their pages.  It’s hard to keep up with all of the good writing out there so that serves as a nice prompt.

Looking forward to liking more of your posts 🙂

***

Photo: A closeup of a cactus in bloom at a botanical garden in the southwest.  The feature image zooming-in is sort of other-worldly.  A friend described it as looking like an underwater organism – a sea creature.  An it does sort of look like a Sea Anemone.  The full view is below.  Amazing to see that flower with such exploding beauty thriving in desert conditions.  This is my analogy to the beauty of language in all it’s forms, unexpectedly breathtaking 🙂

Tohono Chul with Heather 4+C2

200th !!!

Back in June, I hit my 100th post.  And yesterday, with the posting of “Deployment Day,” I’ve made my 200th!  I think I’ll make a tradition of marking these milestones.  It’s good to take a few moments to reflect.

I enjoy writing about multiple topics but probably enjoy storytelling the most – telling stories of life.  And I’m happy to be getting some of these down on paper, well digitally.  You know what I mean.  Although they might seem rather random or scattered because they will involve both current and past experiences.  My mind constantly bounces around.   Nothing chronologically sequenced here.

I hope my daughter will be reading them and learning more about me too.  That was one of my regrets when my father passed away.  I would have liked to have heard more of his stories.  The ones he did share were quite amazing and I learned so much from him.

As you can see, on my Home page, I have a number of “pinned” articles at the top.  I rotate these periodically, usually highlighting articles that are the most popular.  Ones that received the most hits or most likes.  But that becomes sort of self-fulfilling.  By having them pinned to the opening page, they continue to get more reads.  So, I think I’ll start rotating other articles more frequently.  After all, we keep picking up followers and new followers might not have seen our earlier posts.

Writing is always fun and a challenge.  It’s kind of like a mental workout.  Like going to the gym.  The more you write, the stronger your writing becomes.  And over time, you start learning what your audience likes too.  It’s an experimental process.

I also find it challenging to pick photos for my stories.  I try to choose images that relate to the story itself.  A story within the story.  A symbolic representation.

There are things I’ve written that I think are ok, and others that I’m really happy with.  I’ll highlight some of my own favs  🙂

A big thank you to all of my followers.  I appreciate your visits and your insights.  I also appreciate your writing and continually enjoy discovering your wonderful posts.

I hope you all have a wonderful and peaceful day.

***

Photo: So I was struggling today to come up with an image representative of “200.”  Have to say I was at a bit of a loss.  Must be having a low creative energy day.  I settled on this crazy pic of a wine bottle label that I took at a rather unique shop in Oregon.  Sort of goes with the idea of something “vintage” or “aged.”  I didn’t sample the “Wild Squirrel Wine” while I was there, though 🙂

Squirrel Wine Label

Updates:  I do update articles occasionally, but I don’t think that necessarily pops them up in the WordPress Reader again so that anyone would know about them.  I last updated the article Balance on August 19th, but I just added an update to A Return to Tribalism today 🙂