Hybrid Vigor — an Amazed and Astounded Me

In the eighties I took all my earlier, darker attempts of visually documenting my life-discoveries to the dump, where I watched the scavengers come and take my “old” works. These people, poor and without any outside semblance of artistic taste, looked like pack rats scurrying off with leftover crumbs. The crumbs that were paintings made by my own blood, sweat, and tears.

That day at the dump in East Hampton, New York, symbolized the day I was ready to say “No” to the old, useless, no-longer needed part of me, and to say hello and “Yes” to the new, improved, better version of myself.

When I committed to living a sober life I wanted to start all over. A fresh start. It took awhile, but finally I was ready to do it. I loaded my car with all my pre-sober art — feeble attempts (some of them astounding really, and because I’ve always kept photographic records of my art work, none are forever lost) — to the public dump in the fancy East Hampton where I was living at the time. I hid behind some big bulging objects and watched as the gray-faced human scavengers came, and grabbed my brightly colored, weirdly surreal depictions of … dare I say … fear trying to beat up trust. What an exciting subject, eh? Not! If I had to describe what the theme of my “old, pre-sober” work was, it depicted the inner battle between me and my demons. For a subject. boring; but art work astounds without having to benefit the viewer. Nonetheless, I never regretted throwing the crap away, not for a minute.

That day, a new “me” was born: that part of myself I like to call my own Hybrid Vigor. Back when I was a botanical illustrator and assisting with Phd studies, my friend Tim Plowman — then the world’s most renowned authority on coca, the plant from which cocaine was made and the subject of the US Federa; study Harvard was involved in at the time — taught me what a hybrid vigor is, in biological terms.

“If you take two plants of a species which exhibit far superior qualities than any others, and breed them — their offspring is a new, better, vastly improved version of what their parents were. This new plant, a unique sub-species, is a hybrid vigor.”

That day at the dump — getting rid of what didn’t work for me any more, things I didn’t need — I felt reborn. My commitment to living according to a higher code of ethics became my reality. No longer would I abuse myself, nor would I allow anyone else to. I sealed that new reality by sending all my “babies,” my old art, representing years of hard work, learning, experimenting, yet unfortunately also delving in the dimensions of fear and despair, but beautifully, I’d like to think — sent it all far far away from me. By “dumping” these old works I let myself be free, be reborn. Ironically, East Hampton’s dump happens to be in one of the most affluent and fashionable towns in America, so you might be seeing some of these early works on mine as an anonymous collector’s “find” one day.

By ridding myself of what I didn’t need (about my own work, part of my own being) I willed myself to become a hybrid version of myself. I did this without having to physically die and be reborn, to my great good fortune!

I know, I know, this all sounds very fantastical, but this is the way I prefer to see life, as magical, and ever-changing. All things possible, and all that. Technicalities aside, I did become a better, improved version of myself that day.

And so I put to each and every person I can communicate with: you too can become a hybrid vigor version of your old former, no longer needed self, and give birth to your new Self, just by wanting to

When the day arrived, in 1984, when I was ready to get real, get honest, and put down the two decades of trying to self-annihilate the innate sense of connectedness I’d had since childhood (and which I’m sure all children are born with, before losing it due to life’s outside circumstances) — the time had arrived, two years before the dump episode, when I finally decided to get sober. It took that long for me to get clear enough, in my mind, that letting go of old stuff was what I needed to do. Finally, when I took my old “babies” to the dump and gave them to perfect strangers, that’s when I really started living for my true life’s purpose. This what I mean by the “hybrid vigor” version of myself. Not the old, blaming, shamed, victim-one I’d been for thirty-six years previously.

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Something similar as what happened to me goes on all the time with the rest of the world. Demons abound. In people and in governments, but like my own former demons (the subjects of my old work), they’re all illusions.

When stress or crisis strikes, we humans have to let our fears out. We have to watch ourselves scream, demand change, prepare to battle the demons, and make known to everyone that evil does not deserve to reside on earth without a damn good fight. We who have conquered our own demons must help others to not hide theirs within their hearts.  Or blame others for what every person alive has the power to change within themselves.

My hybrid vigor self says this: Express the fear, speak about it, share with others. And in that the Light of consciousness will dissipate whatever demon you have, whatever mask fear wears, simply by no longer allowing it to be hidden within your stony, hopeless heart.

Do not pretend fear doesn’t exist. Let our society, our trusted leaders and elected officials know that each and every one of us is responsible for the state our social climate has sunk to. If we see, hear, or feel someone to be mentally in a fragile, dangerous state of murderous rage, it’s our responsibility to get involved. To ask that person who’s in distress if they want help, then go for help. Hybrid vigors speak our fears aloud, because then, because they are not real, the ugly demons inside us run and hide and disappear from the Light of awareness being pointed at them by our own inner Light.

Our job as human beans is not to be paranoid, or worse, pretend fear doesn’t happen. Our job as hybrid vigors is to celebrate great and glorious things, yes! but also to face the evil shadow that lurks beneath the fabric of everyday life and call it what it is — demonic. And then prepare to do battle to slay the demons, one by one, until they are all gone.

I sometimes like to think of we awakened hybrid vigors as “the Army of Love” and I’m one of its active lieutenants. This images makes me smile. So I’ll keep working with that idea.

When more of us (the Army of Love increasing every day with the awakening of humankind happening in vast numbers) can all admit that yes, there is a shadow of hatred in some hearts, we can lovingly help each other heal from this breach, this tear in the fabric of our toxic, fear-filled world. With each unfortunate, next violent senseless action, another rip happens in the fabric of our human civilization, as if our Oneness is a gigantic weaving of humanity. We are all One. We can help each other heal, re-build trust, mend our brokenness, but only when we’re able to admit that fear must be spoken about, in order to eradicate it. Only then we’ll come to trust that love is much much stronger than hate.

Fear remains in our hearts when we haven’t owned how we are all responsible for helping each other to climb higher, let go of mistrust and embrace a higher way of living. Hybrid vigors helping others to peel off their lesser shells, and step out into the Light of their new, better, higher Selves.

Together, we will get over our individual and collective fears. As hybrid vigors we will all thrive on the same level of awareness — of openness to our highest potential. We must trust that Universal Love, also called Compassion, and Oneness. Love in its most expansive, inclusive form is bringing us together for a reason.

We must never pretend that all is well when it’s so obvious that our society is sick. Every bit of energy we spend to help heal our human condition is worth the endeavor.

First, we must firmly believe our world, its environment, humankind’s fear-based structures, are completely heal-able. This fact of our toxicity is proven each times a person, or a leader, goes off, gets unkind, does scarry and unreasonable things with others’ trust. When life’s evil and darkness is revealed, like it is during a mass shooting, or a bizarre politic event as have occurred in recent time, we must trust that the worst, most depraved individual can be mended. And if one person can change themself into a hybrid vigor, so can all of us.

Every person who has ever put down a negative, addictive way of thinking, for instance, is proof of that.

When the world comes together by means of our combined, positively-focused minds, focused on fostering healing energies instead of endless manifestations of fear — our world will take the giant leap to our next step in spiritual evolution.

Send healing wherever it’s needed. Even to the most deranged, hopeless individual. Even to a scary leader whose volatile nature nobody trusts.

The group is much greater than any individual. We are all connected.

We can heal anything. We can spread the balm of love as surely as some try to deny its existence.

How can I say these things?

Because it is my reality. It is how I have chosen to see life. After experiencing the other side, I have the authority to speak like this. I no longer care what others think of me. Fear leads nowhere but to self-destruction and I no longer choose that. People kill other people because they want the ultimate control over whether they live or die. Control and and Kindness are antithetical. If a controller can’t control others by simpler means, they sometimes do simply because they don’t have the courage to end their own lives, the ultimate control one has over themselves: taking themselves out. Suicide.

We can heal any darkness by focusing on the Light. Speak uplifting, kind words to one another. Spread joy and hope; say no to fear, blame, and anger. It takes practice, but changing fear into trust is the way I have sworn to live. There is no other choice for me. And I’m willing to take whatever consequences may arise, as a result of my being so sure that allowing ourselves to become a hybrid vigor, right in this lifetime, is the saving grace, the future of humankind’s survival.

Call me crazy, but I’d rather be crazy within infinitely expanding love than frozen with constricting fear. That former life of mine sucked.

It’s about Time!

I Stand Naked Before You ... with My Book!

I Stand Naked Before You … with my books!

When I”m involved in a serious edit of a book I find it challenging to get sidetracked and don’t do much multi-tasking like writing a blog post, posting on social media, submitting my previous books to appropriate venues so people can find them. While in the writing-mode I do what I can, and let go of what I can’t comfortably take on. I have to make “space and time” in my daily work to write a random thought, as I indulge in here.

But … so many times I’ve WISHED I could have time to share here. What are some of the ideas I’ve had that didn’t get written about, just because of time limitations on my part? I’m going to list a few here, and we’ll see how much time I can spare to explore them.

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Time Flies when ….

  • Time, of itself, is an interesting topic with many aspects

There are only so many hours in each day, week, month, year, and in our lifetime. Every minute counts for me these days, because I have certain goals that are time-oriented. My consort Carter and I, for instance, want to travel a lot now that he’s retired, and plan on taking off for extended periods of time, so I have to finish these TWO BOOKS that I’m working on; one at a time, don’t worry!

I heard a spiritual teacher talk about “Time” the other day. It was a very deep, very esoteric approach to, what essentially the teacher claimed, was the falsehood of time. I couldn’t disagree more! (Some spiritual teachers are so FULL of themselves! Really!)

Simply put, I believe time is a “tool” by which we can measure ourselves (and others, other things), our progress, our growth, and our civilization’s, the multiverse’s own evolution.

I used to wonder why I was born into such a strange, user-unfriendly-to-me family as I found myself in. But as I grew more awake and aware, I realized this so-strange family of mine was actually a very good “tool” by which I could see how far I was advancing along the path of higher understanding. I stopped judging them, in other words, and saw “their worth” in terms of time and space. With that view (using my family as a metaphysical “yardstick”) I could more easily accept my “weird family” and even be thankful for having been born into that particular one. By this method, I could see, at last, how fortunate I was to be born to them, and stopped comparing myself to them. Time-measuring like this helped me realize I’d come a long way. It helped me feel more accepting of them, and me, just the way we all are.

T.I.M.E. — in my recovery from negative addictions, this acronym was taught to me, right at the beginning of my journey to sobriety, to mean: T.his I. M.ust E.arn. To have “time” in spiritual recovery means, simply, a measurement of how long we haven’t put any mood-altering substances in our body. Period. A simple, easy, good “tool” by which a person like myself (formerly addicted to self-loathing) can start to feel good about ourselves, by beginning to accrue “time” in recovery. Today I have 34 years.

Another measurement of time that pleases me, helps my self-esteem grow exponentially, are the 27 years we’re celebrating next week, in which I’ve been blessed to be married to my beloved husband, Carter Lord. Together, we raised his two small children who today are healthy and happy and well-balanced adults of 31 and 34.

If it wasn’t for me having learned to use time more wisely, I’d not be where I am today. I’ve published two books already in the last two years, and I have two more in the works. Without setting goals, using time periods as aids in which to achieve these important goals, I’d never have been able to do what I’ve done. It’s hard work to put a book together!

I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to me, having learned to “prioritize” my time. I often feel overwhelmed, as I’m sure many of you do, too. But what helps me eliminate this feeling of can’t do it all! is to write out what I have on my plate, whether for that day, week, month, or year — and then make a clear list prioritizing those items, as many times as it takes to get ’em all done. For me there’s a big difference between wanting to and needing to do something. That’s been my biggest help, in learning how to use my time well. What do I really need to do? The “wants” can wait, unless of course it’s that bit of chocolate I’m willing to do a few more rounds of hot yoga to work off the extra calories!

With all the demands of an author (after all, who’s going to market the work if the author doesn’t?) I’ve had to prioritize that writing the next book means more to me than making more sales with the previous two. My plan in this area, is to take an entire year to learn how, and then do the marketing side of authorship … AFTER the next two books are published. Arriving at this clear goal of mine meant I had to be clear about what my priorities are, as an artist/author. I’m more interested in creating really great books than in who knows about them; that can come organically … in time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to be a super marketing person, when I get to that part of my years-ahead plan.

Here’s the next topic that’s been on my mind:

Guardian of the Sky, mixed media, 27“x60”

People love to kevetch!

  • The Uproar over Kavanaugh

I hesitate to make any comment on LordFlea that might be interpreted as political, because I’m a nonpartisan, independent person who didn’t vote for a thousand years, and have only come back into the voting-American tribe since marrying and becoming a righteous-acting stepmother. I thought being responsible for raising someone else’s kids (the bio-mom’s I mean, who had very restricted parenting rights) warranted having an opinion about how our government ought to be. So yes, I do vote, but no, I don’t engage in controversy. Everyone ought to vote, but after elections it’s important in my mind, mostly spiritually important, to accept whatever candidate got voted in. I’m not saying “the majority voted” because as we all know, the presidential-vote political system in the USA does not rely on that method but rather the “electoral college.” If you don’t know what that is I urge you to google it or watch a YouTube explanation. It’s fascinating. And I heartily agree with its constitutional use, for the official record.

So, how do I feel about Judge Brett Kavanaugh? Supposedly the vote is being called by the Senate either today, or tomorrow. Notwithstanding, I’m going to state anyway, right now, how I feel, without putting any bet on whether he’s going to be or not granted this high privilege of serving as a Supreme Court Justice in the United States of America.

What I am going to affirm is this: we in America are all innocent until we’re proven guilty. I speak as a person who once was thrown into jail (yes, little ol’ me) in a country that did not operate by those standards, a country in which a person is guilty until proven innocent. This happened in the Dominican Republic, folks, part of my unusually rambunctious past. To be called guilty when one knows otherwise, is a horrible thing.

But … I must be perfectly honest, as a recovering alcoholic, who was also a teenage imbiber of great measure (as Kavanaugh supposedly was) I can attest to the fact that anything, repeat anything! can happen when a true alcoholic drinks to excess. We suffer blackouts, most of us alchies do. It’s considered one of the “official symptoms” or “signs” of a true alchie as opposed to someone who “just likes to drink a lot.” I was a teenage blackout drinker, starting from fifteen on. Whatever Kavanaugh was accused of, I can easily believe really happened. But, I can also see how he might not remember, truly. If a person once suffered blackout(s) they actually don’t know what happened during that time-warp (an alcohol-soaked brain going on the blink) blackout unless someone either tells them, or shows them a video tape or they hear a recording (which happened to me, and led to my getting help, finally, in my mid-thirties).

Another time aspect of Kavanaugh’s situation is the huge time and energy wasted on people being so unforgiving, so pissy, so viciously uptight, so mean, so cruel, and other un-compassionate un-spiritual ways they’ve been over this teenage knuckleheadedness (guilty! I am, too!) that I’ve been sickened by the whole time-consuming lion-roaring circus. Of course the showman sensationalism surrounding the Supreme Court vacant seat-fiasco taking place in the Senate goes hand-in-hand with this challenging time of bizarre carnival-esque behavior emanating from the highest office of our glorious land. I easily understand this is a time in our American society of people feeling mixed, betrayed, confused and so let down … that I’m left with feeling for both sides of the fight.

All I know is that I’ve doubled up on my prayers, directing my spiritual energies toward  the peaceful, harmonious sorting-out of all chaotic strings and strands of these hard times we’re living through.We are being tested, all of humankind, in many realms.

Together, as a family of humans, all I know to be True is this: Our humanity will see us through anything. We will get through these times. The tests that our current challenging times bring, will be met, one by one, event by event, crisis by crisis. We will survive, we will grow, we will all become better people … once we’re through the hard times.

We are evolving. Our entire race is transforming as a result of all the many challenges we’ve been through. This simple statement is true, and has been so since the beginning of recorded history. True for our species, true for each individual’s life as well. These times we’re going through now are no different than earlier times in human evolution. People want to control each other. Nothing’s changed. But we as a family of humankind, are changing. Yes we are! We are learning from our mistakes. We are growing, getting better as human beings, because we’re learning to choose better. We are becoming better spiritual beings in our human incarnations. One crisis at a time, one person’s heart and mind is opening, one of us at a time.

This, by the way, happens to be the subject of the current book I’ve been working on, to which I’ve been devoting my creative time for these past months, and why you’ve not seen a blog post from LordFlea lately. Today I’m taking a break from the end of my 3rd major edit, and … as soon as I press “publish” for this post I’m jumping back into the next stage of writing. I hope to get this new book out (it’s about Love in all its many forms, that’s all I’m saying about my latest book for now) … in the next few months.

Wish me well! As I send wishes of harmony, peace, and happy times to all of you!

Your pal who loves you, LordFlea, aka teZa Lord

 

 

Evil Exists, so BEWARE!

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Alas, I’m once again compelled to share my views about a difficult subject: how I “see” or “understand” evil’s existence, or role, in this beautiful  world of ours. To me, and to all conscious folks, everything exists for a reason. There is no “mistake” because there is “evil.” Just as there is no “mistake” when there is “goodness.” Both goodness and evil exist, and anyone who doesn’t think so needs to re-think how this thing called “life” works. Once something has been recognized as “evil” though, this means that one should safeguard one’s own life … and act accordingly. In other words, if I wanted to not get killed unnecessarily, I would NOT go open-heartedly into a dangerous territory known to harbor dangerous beasts (or persons) who would just as soon kill me as spit on the ground, and would do so in a heartbeat if they were given the chance.

Such a tragedy has occurred recently, and has prompted me to write, once again, about the necessity of recognizing that so-called “bad things” are a manifestation of consciousness just as are so-called “good things.” Consciousness appears in all forms. To put good/bad labels on things, whether people, groups of people, human actions (or lack of), or acts of nature — is to limit our thinking of what consciousness encompasses. Consciousness is non-conforming, unlimited, undefinable, and to try to put labels on it such as “good” or “bad” only implies that someone has not yet opened their mind up to the greater possibilities of what the consciousness that is at the basis of life is all about.

The two people I’m honoring by writing about this subject today, were beautiful souls, no doubt. But their thinking was incomplete. They got themselves killed as a result, so sadly, of their limited view about how the world “is.” This post is about their short-lived lives, cut off too soon by not believing in evil’s existence.

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bicycling across dangerous Isis-loyal territory

Two carefree yet world-naive Americans wanted to travel the world on their bicycles. And successfully they did so, for over a year before July 29, 2018, the sad day when they were tragically killed, mowed down along with two others from their small cycling group as they traversed a lonely stretch of a dangerous barren rough road high in the Tajikistan mountains. Unafraid, completely without fear or precaution, Lauren and Jay’s lives were snuffed short simply because they refused to, or somehow couldn’t bring themselves to believe that such a thing as evil could possibly exist in this beautiful world of ours.

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world bicyclists, following their dream

The newspaper report said a pickup truck had passed them on the isolated stretch of roadway, then quickly made a U-turn, and mercilessly plowed into the cycling group, killing the American couple, both 29 years old. Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, the Americans, had been cycling for over a year already, determined to prove to themselves and others by their global trek, that goodness reigns in the human heart. The two others killed that miserable day a few weeks ago were Europeans, their deaths certainly not any less tragic than the loss of my fellow country-persons. The senseless death of these four individuals prompted me to think again about a solemn subject that needs to be talked about here on LordFlea, as much as I talk about other things, like uplifting ourselves to a more elevated, expansive consciousness, the many ways of practicing meditation, or how to tune into your breath, the bridge of a stilled mind that puts us in touch with our highest potential.

Jay and Lauren kept a blog and uploaded photos to Instagram, so I felt closer to them, knew them more than the two others who were killed, as a result of their Americans’ public sharing. Quickly after the heinous act that the Tajikistan government publicly announced “deplorable!” there appeared on the internet a video with five young men sitting on what looked like a picnic blanket, with an idyllic lake seen in the mountainous background. They spoke in Arabic, that they had pledged their loyalty to the Islamic State, which then promptly claimed responsibility for the young fellows’ cowardly act of violence. In the video the young men calmly, quietly proclaimed their hatred for any “nonbelievers” and their unwavering allegiance to Isis, the violent finger of radical Islam.

I’m not sure what action the government of Tajikistan took, but I believe at least several of these misguided young men were captured, and I heard, killed. But I’m not here to talk about them.

For me, it was not hard to imagine that this terrible act had occurred. It was not unthinkable that Jay and Lauren ended up dead, going where they chose to go. After more than a year of documenting their escape from their ten years of working in government offices in the Washington, D.C. area, the couple were determined to “enjoy their lives” beyond the walls of their 9 to 5 jobs, while they “still had youth and good health.” They miscalculated the danger of this particular country, deep in Islamic State territory. Could they have known that they’d pay with their lives to experience such freedom on the road, that they couldn’t by-pass potentially death-defying dangerous spots? I’d like to think they weren’t that naive. But … they are dead now, so we’ll never know what they really knew, or chose not to believe. Truth is hard for some people to accept.

Jay and Lauren, in their social media posts, wanted to share how loving, kind, compassionate and open every living person on Earth was, wherever they went. Perhaps they had to defy danger, as well, to prove humankind’s basic goodness to themselves, and to the world at large, evidenced by their frequent posts on their blog and on Instagram (@simplycycling). In none of their posts do they deny, or suggest that people are anything but good, wherever they went in their widely diverse travels through Europe, through Africa, through the eastern parts of the Middle East.

I remember feeling the same way as Lauren and Jay. Before I’d had my own lesson that proved that some people are definitely not what anyone could call “good.” For me, I found out in a much less threatening manner than a violent confrontation, that there are some people who harbor evil in their hearts.

Yes, there are countless good hearts in our worldwide blended family of humankind. But I know with all certainty that there are, indeed, enough people who have evil in theirs, and I mean even right here in my own American hometown, not just in Isis-dangerous Middle East — so that today I try to always remember to protect myself and others from the danger that evil presents to us all. I do not want to end up killed, or even emotionally damaged by any other person’s self-righteousness (another word, among many, for evil) if I can possibly avoid that.

Never in a million years would I ever have chosen to visit such a dangerous place as any Isis-leaning territory in the Middle East, and most definitely not on a vulnerable, hard-to-escape two-wheeled bike, Never! Doing such a thing is definitely taking a haphazard roulette turn on the game of suicidal chance. It’d be highly likely one would run into evil Itself in such an already well known danger spot on Earth as Isis-friendly lands.

Hell, most times I don’t even go swimming in the sea by myself because I know sharks (which I don’t by a long shot consider “evil” but a necessary “danger”) are less likely to attack when there are numbers of my species around. Yet … upon occasion I do swim by myself close to shore, but never close to a fishing pier, and never at “feeding time for sharks” which is closer to dusk or dawn than other hours of the day. And I never swim at night. Anyone who saw the opening sequence of Jaws knows why.

The things we run into in our life make us more, or less, aware of the dangers of evil. or not. Regarding sharks, I’m hyper aware of their threat, having once worked (as an artist, set person) on Jaws. Also because, as a Caribbean sailor, I once witnessed a deadly shark attack, the aftermath of one at least, when my boat happened to be anchored in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two young teenage boys had just been killed by a shark attack earlier that morning, while they innocently dove for lobster.

Life's BIG OUCH!

Life is filled with great dangers!

Okay, sharks are dangerous: yet I still swim, cautiously, in the sea knowing this, don’t I? Some may call them evil, but I don’t. They are part of life: good and bad, benevolent and evil, black and white. This world is filled with paradoxes and opposites, to keep things in balance.

And yes, we all should know by know that places where Isis is known to thrive, even secretly, are more dangerous than other, Isis-free territories, right? So why would these two Americans, Lauren and Jay, choose to challenge the fact that evil might not show its nasty, ugly, deadly face to them on their trek through such known radical-Islam-leaning hinterlands as the Muslim country they were biking in? Were these two so eager to prove that the world is only filled with goodness, that they’d cycle in such known-to-be life-threatening (to westerners) spots of the globe, sure that their vulnerability would be “protected by — what? — their own invincible shield of goodness? Could they have been so naive to think their own obviously wide-opened, good hearts could cancel out any others’ ill-will, the danger of evil, wherever the two smiling bikers went, representing love and trust?

As they explained so eloquently and now so sadly, posthumously on their blog, they’d met only good hearted folks in the many other locales they’d traversed, Iceland, Europe, Africa, and all the many countries in-between before they hit that lonely patch of road in Tajikistan, where their journey so abruptly ended that had begun more than a year before.

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this is the lonely road they were on when Lauren and Jay were mowed down

I wish I had met Jay and Lauren before they decided to bike through such dangerous parts of the world. I wish I could have shared with them what I’m sharing with you here, today. How I, too, was once such an idealist as they, believing in only goodness that I, too, got myself repeatedly in deep trouble, way too dangerous for any sane person to have gotten herself into, for far too many times. Got myself landed in a third-world jail, in fact, in an unsafe, deadbeat, bad-rep slime-bucket country that I hope to never set foot in again. Almost got myself killed upon other occasions as well, before I learned to take precautions against the odds that I could run into evil face-to-face again. I learned to prepare against evil. And here I am … alive, a little older, and I hope, a whole lot wiser now.

Here’s what I would have said to Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan if I had met them before they set out on their dream trek.

Years ago I read the book written by M. Scott Peck: People of the Lie … an in-depth study that, upon reading, almost blew the top of my head right off my neck, so shocked was I! My reaction to Dr. Peck’s (a psychotherapist) sharing — how there IS, indeed, unabashedly, no-excuse evil that sometimes lurks mysteriously in some particular human souls. This reality, this truth I’d never accepted before contradicted everything I had thought up to that time, about the basic goodness within all human souls.

After reading People of the Lie, I immediately wrote a letter to author Peck, addressing it to his publisher. Weeks later I received a reply, from his secretary, telling me that “Dr. Peck was ill and wished to tell you that he received your letter.” No other response was offered for the forlorn plea I had written Peck, asking “How can you be so sure?” So naturally I was sorely disappointed I had no reply from the author himself. But I figured, like all who think deeply and care enough to write such a superb book as The Road Less Traveled is, Peck’s first book, Peck wanted me to sort this human dilemma out for myself.

The letter I had written to him, back in 1994 when the book first came out, contained this quandary of mine:

“How can you, Dr. Peck, the author of the majestic call to higher thinking that is so clearly stated in The Road Less Traveled, have written in your latest book, People of the Lie, an account of certain individuals who represent the complete opposite? I’m so confused! How can I believe that the family of humankind is equally eligible to attain these higher-consciousness possibilities you presented for us, and so many of us aspire to for our choice of how to experience our life — when the reality of evil people is such a real threat, as you say they are?”

In his People of the Lie, which followed The Road Less Travelled‘s wildly successful (10 years on all the major bestseller lists! a real phenomenon!), Scott detailed cases of people with whom he’d personally tried to help, as their therapist. I can’t remember any of his individual patient’s story in detail, other than to say that each person was, in his or her own fashion, an extraordinarily idiosyncratic version of an anti-social, and in some cases, degenerate lowlife, and that Scott himself ended up labeling them, each of his cases, with the designation of “evil that lurks in the human soul” as the sole reason for such destructive, repulsive behavior as theirs was. People of the Lie presents one example after another of unseemly, purely evil human behavior. Men and women, children even, all demonstrating that, unfortunately (especially for me, who was blindly idealist up to this moment) — that yes, evil is a common part of our everyday reality here on planet Earth.

fires, bombs, suffering--AMBUSHED!

fires, bombs, suffering — addictive self-destruction — humanity can be AMBUSHED by evil!

Years went by, and I learned to watch myself better, managing to not get entangled in others’ webs of hatred, evil, or negative thinking, all thanks to having read Peck’s book.

So when I heard that these two young people had been so heartlessly run down (some reports stated that the Isis-rogue band of 5 young men in the truck might have stabbed or shot the bicyclists after first mowing them over) I remembered with cold shivers down my back, the shock I had upon first reading People of the Lie. Sadly, I knew that Jay and Lauren never believed that evil could really exist, otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t have been where they were that cold hard day on Tajikistan earth.

There is, and always will be, elements of evil that we, as good and kind and compassionate people, have to always be on the lookout for. To protect ourselves from, and to help our brothers and sisters stay safe from harm’s way. In order to survive we have to recognize that evil, like poisonous snakes, industrial contamination, killer sharks and deadly storms, all have a place in the spectrum of our earthly experience here. Each cause presents an effect. Each evil forces us to take action, either ourselves personally, or as a global amily of the human species. But we must always remember to give evil a wide berth when we know it’s around, avoiding evil whenever, wherever we can. To have a quick getaway plan if we are forced to deal with it face-to-face.

For those of you who’d like to know more about M. Scott Peck’s exploration of human evil and his opinions on it, with his tips about watching for and guarding against being victimized by evil — here’s an Amazon link to the book that opened my eyes to the veracity of evil’s very existence.

People of the Lie.

To my mind, it is far better to know that evil exists so we can be prepared for whenever it may rear its nasty head, than to not know. Just as when we walk in a deep forest, we must always be on watch for poisonous plants, snakes, biting insects, dangerous cliffs, etc. that if we’re not watching out for, may be the cause of our own sorrow, or demise.

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Be safe, Lauren and Jay! Today we honor your bravery, forever!

My friend, I wish you all a safe and pure-heart experience, wherever you are, today and everyday, but guard against evil, always. Remember — I love each and every one of you!

Your pal, LordFlea, aka teZa Lord

author of “We Are One and “In the I”

 

 

 

 

Following Our Bliss

What motivates us? What makes us get out of bed each day, and feel excited to be alive?

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Fred says: you got my attention NOW!

For each of us, this answer is different. I can only speak for myself. I appreciate all the different ways that each person connects to whatever compels them to live a life as fully as they can. Thank goddess we all have different passions! what a boring world it would be if everyone of us thought the same things worthy of our undivided attention.

Take this next photo as a for instance. These are the bedsheets of our daughter’s after she awoke some years ago. Nobody in our family noticed — and the key word here is NOTICE — how the blanket and sheets has somehow, pertenaturally, magically, arranged themselves in exactly the exact shape, size, and curled-up manner as our recently (then) deceased family dachshund, Fred! Until I happened to “notice.” Then — everyone saw them! Saw Fred in the bedclothes. This is not a joke. The sheets were untouched, and only Fonya, our daughter, had slept in this bed. It was she who was perhaps most close to Fred when he was alive, although our son Cully might dispute that fact. Here’s the photo, untouched except for a filter that unfortunately, made the sheets appeared yellowed.

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Fred came to visit our daughter, see? Do you notice?

Since a kid, I’ve always been fascinated and pulled by knowing as much as I can about what I came to call “the Secret of Life.” For lack of any better word or phrase, this is the feeling of knowing about things that make my eyes pop out, or take my breath away — or give me a sense of “ahhh, I thought so!” in my heart region, a felling of expansive warmth in my belly — these are the things that have always made me want to know more.

The first focus of this chest-thumping curiosity I noticed within me, was with Nature. Everywhere I looked, when I was outside, I felt connected! I felt part of! Being outside, with Nature made me feel I was surrounded by an extension of myself! Not like how I felt inside, either in a structure, a car, even in a tent. I had to be out in the Wild.

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Even in my dreams … I am in the WILD, witnessing the actions of myself and others

My first memory of exploring Nature was escaping from my childhood home to find the quietest, most secret, most away-from-inside place I could find. This usually was up in a tree, when I began my explorations; and then later, away from my yard, my neighborhood, down a forbidden street, into a taboo shaded grove, anywhere! seeking an open field, a mysterious woods, an unpopulated corner of the world where noise and people were not.

Eventually, I guess I must have been around six or seven, I did find a “secret” place, that to me, was all mine. It was some sort of abandoned well, or at least in my grownup memory it seems to be some kind of colonial type water-getting stone place, circular. I can picture seeing a round formation of stones, well filled-in by the time I found it, of course. Old wells have notoriously always been extremely dangerous for people to fall into. But I can vividly picture this “secret sanctuary” of mine still, to this day, as a hidden away, deeply forested place, seemingly forgotten about by everyone else, but discovered by me in my everyday quest of endlessly exploring. I was always getting into “trouble” for being too far from the homestead. I’m the first one to admit being guilty of having an irresistible urge to “runaway” as early as I can remember. Perhaps it was my natural instinct to explore, more than anything, not to “escape” from any unpleasantness going on in my home. My folks were happy, healthy, interested-in-life type folks. It’s just that my natural proclivities to know more exceeded even theirs, at most times, even in my earliest childhood.

As I grew I discovered the unlimited world of creativity as the next, logical realm to explore. I started off copying everything and anything I could! Wrecking book after book, unfortunately, but I learned to be an expert draftsman at a very young age in this manner. When I found out, with few swipes of a pencil, a crayon, a brush, that I could create something no one had ever seen, or even imagined before — well, let me tell you I was absolutely blown over by the POWER I had last tapped into, found right within my very own self!

there's always hope

toddlers, children, teens, adults — we all need to BE creative!

Throughout my life’s continuing exploring of exciting things worth knowing more about, creativity has always been the focus of my energies. So many different ways a person can express themself creatively! Science, music, even business and sales and keeping the economic flow in a creative upward wave. Virtually everything can be done creatively. Keeping house. Cleaning. Paying the bills.

That’s why I totally get-it about social media-ing these days. I’m not a naysayer like a lot of others in my generation (yes, I’m a boomer!). I love the so-called narcissistic trend, especially of young people and spreaders of positive-thinking (I’m guilty of this last category, I readily confess) of documenting their lives via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other picture-taking sharing platforms. Everyone gets to be, at least feel, creative with a smartphone in our hand.

What better way to express yourself creatively, than to capture what interests, you, what turns you on (or off!), and share it with the world? I’m all for the abundance of creative explorers this new wave of sharing every minutiae of life, via the many types of SM. Facebook is out, Insta’s in: what’s next? Whether we choose to dive into every aspect of sharing on social media that’s presented, well, that’s another story. Mostly, what I do, is flip through the variety of life’s experiences (an intentional simile to William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experiences,” a groundbreaking work of early 20th Century consciousness exploration, documenting the inner journey by a Harvard professor of psychology) — and only “dive in” when someone else’s passion coincides with one of mine.

What’s your passion? I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for sharing. Here’s an easy way to do it. Sending you my Love, your pal LordFlea, aka teZa Lord

Putting My Heart Where My Mouth Is

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I stand before you today, unmasked … from my heart to yours!

Recently I made an experiment. For the first time ever I posted what I thought was just an obviously funny, but true-for-me, comment about the recent “symbolic” meeting between Pres. T and that guy from North Korea. Usually my offerings on social media are designed to either be upbeat, arty hearty, offbeat, or inspiring, but always intended to counterbalance the flow of negatives I see so prevalent everywhere these days, especially in the media. I guess I hadn’t figured on how many people’s sense of how things are, in general, is so pained these days. As a self-proclaimed spiritual activist I focus on inspiring others. My mission as an artist/writer/activist is to help uplift my fellows human beans, so our joined experiences on planet Earth is for each of us to know life’s unlimited possibilities (to help outstretch the wings of our spiritually awakened selves). I believe each of us can unfold our wings  more easily, more freely, more … joyfully, if we help each other!

Well, was I in for a shock about this particular, first-time political post of mine! A deed never to ever be repeated, let me say right here.

The negative response to my (to me at least) funny and provocative but inspiring  post (funny photo with provocative hashtags and uplifting comments) stunned me. Innocently, I’d been prompted to post this particular photo by the ridiculously inappropriate gesture that Donald Trump is giving his smiling companion, Kim Jong Un, a man who, to all appearances, has been portrayed as the biggest threat to the free world — the most dangerous of America’s longtime Communist enemies due to his father’s and grandfather’s regimes’ previous refusals to embrace the world’s demands for nuclear disarmament.

All I meant by posting this comical (to me) scenario, was to show the ludicrous, game-playing, insincere nature of politics. But, amazingly!, people thought I was seriously supporting Trump, just by the mere fact that I didn’t criticize, judge, or label this post in any negative manner. Astounding, how I was called out by one person for being judgemental when I mentioned I thought another’s response was “pessimistic” … as if it’s a bad thing to call attention to others’ name-calling (in this case, “calling Kim Jong Un a child murderer”). And thus, I was called judgemental.

Instead of people seeing that I was sharing an (again, to my mind) upbeat, positive viewpoint of what to others is obviously a very negative, very scary threat — I was spoken to as if I didn’t care. As if I were ignorant of the facts. As if others knew but I didn’t. Culminating with one person accusing me of “being in an bubble of optimism.” Instead of defending myself, getting engaged in prolonged and public argument (what some mistakenly call “a discussion”) … I announced the conversation “ended” after the insults got too weird, too nasty, too mean.

I’m not going to re-post that Trump/ Jong Un image here. If you wish to look for it and the lengthy discourse on my Facebook feed, that’s up to you. Suffice to say it drew more wrath than I’d ever dreamed possible, from my original intention. But I’m not regretting having posted it. Everything we do, everything that happens, leads us up to this present moment. Even the pain of knowing I was misunderstood, even maligned, earned me a much-needed lesson, dear friend, one I’d apparently missed in my sexy-ten years here on planet Earth.

And that is: Even if it’s a flippant post on social media, when I say something, I must always be willing to die for it! Or else don’t say it. Or do it.

Yes, I am willing to die for my beliefs. I feel that strongly about what I say with my words, and with my art. Are you willing to die for your beliefs?

Heal Psychic Wounds

Being Vulnerable, that’s ME!

I first felt this sensation of being tested — “Lay your life down” for exercising my right to the Freedom of Speech — right after September 11, 2001.

I was in a small space with many others, listening to my spiritual teacher via a satellite satsang. The talk was about the responsibility of each and every one of us to live within our own hearts, to always come from a place of love, and to remain focused on our own inner connection to the Divine … especially in a time such as then when everyone’s fears and anxieties had intensified a million-fold, and all we wanted to do was blame, or strike out, or focus on something else besides our own inner, and for me, hard-earned “bubble of optimism.”

As I close my eyes today, I can feel that sensation once again. Knowing that Yes, I am willing to die for expressing my belief that each and every person, regardless of their race, religion, or culture, has the right to know freedom. Because freedom is what we, as spiritual beings here in human form, have within our very own selves, our hearts, our own inner experience. No matter who we are, where we’re from, whom is doing what to us, or under what horrific hardship we happen to be subjected to — it is our life’s basic right to experience the unlimited freedom of Self Love.

As my heart fills with the knowledge of this fact, that I am willing to die to speak my truth, that I would take a bullet, or be incarcerated forever, or be chastised by others — to help spread the truth of who and what we are, spiritual beings in human form — ever speaking this truth, shouting it, whispering, writing, or arting about it wherever however I can, not letting naysayers shout me out or put me down. My role here, as spiritual activist, is to raise high the hope that we, all of us, will experience the Divine within our hearts on a moment to moment basis, even if we’re tortured, treated badly, thrown into prison, or are refugees, or haven’t got any food, home, or loved ones, shunned by fellow humans for whatever reason.

I knew that day, back in 2001, just as I know today — that Love is the only thing worth living for. And it’s worth dying for, too.

Love is another word for God. God has many other names to many other people. Some have a religion or a book to help them define this relationship between their humanity and the Divine spark within us all. I honor all people, all religions, all expressions of the Divine.

Yet I didn’t figure how angry people are, that day I decided to post the silly picture of Trump, with his weird grin and even weirder thumbs-up at such a weighty meeting as his and Kim Jong Un’s was in Singapore that week. That meeting came right after yet another political stink-bomb T threw at the Group of 7, a sore spot politicos were still smarting over right alongside the disturbing news of harsh treatment, unforgivable, and immoral and inhumane, about the ongoing refugee crisis, this time about children being separated from their parents. It’s only natural that people are disturbed about political events. I meant well, but I had forgotten that just because I don’t subscribe to the overall importance of politics, in comparison to developing a strong spiritual reality, that most people do. And the media only adds fuel to the fire of misinformation and sensationalism when it comes to political events, especially anything surrounding Trump’s administration.

Maybe I don’t get so disturbed by the next-and-next-yet political horror because I used to. When I was in my twenties I left America because I used to be so angry during the Vietnam crisis. I spent the entire seventies living in the most remote spot, far-from-war place I could find — the idyllic Caribbean islands. Where, surprise surprise, I found myself, ironically some might say, victim of a real dictator. Not just a fake-news one, or an imagined one, or a puppet one that a disgruntled political party is making claim to in wake of their losing the heated, close battle for America’s highest office of the land.

Maybe it’s because my life, back then, had been really terrorized, by grass-skirted young black men on this island I lived on — who had somehow decided that all white people should be killed … for no other reason than they were white and, in those misinformed young black West Indian men’s minds, all white people treated black people like wild animals. When my stateside friends thought I was crazy to stay on this island where so many whites had already been killed, I told them:

“I’m not worried. I treat each and every person equally, fairly, honorably. People can see this in the way I act, the words I use with them, and how I treat them and all others. Those people who were hacked by machetes in their homes had, reports say, treated the islanders condescendingly. It was told to me, in fact, by islanders I know personally, that they were mostly Canadian retirees who’d come to the ‘cheap and exotic Caribbean island’ to enjoy their golden years. Apparently, rumors said, the retired whites, living in their fancy homes, didn’t know how to treat a humbly born person other than as a personal slave.”

I was on this island in the Antilles working to help organize the peasant-style agriculturists (I use this word on purpose, to dignify their occupation of small-plot farmers). My business partner and I knew there was a terrible dictator at the time, one who didn’t want the farmers to be organized into regional co-ops, who didn’t insist on young children getting proper schooling, a shameful tragedy especially in light of the fact that this dictator named Patrick John, had himself once been a schoolteacher before he discovered the monetary rewards of “being the boss of the country.” He never enforced truancy, and when it came time for Dominica’s sham elections he’d pass out free, mind-altering white rum in every remote village and town street corner, getting the entire island-country as drunk as possible on the eve of the election. Thus he ensured his sweeping, ridiculously one-sided, brain-washed (with rum) win over the opposition party.

Eventually, it was the leader of this opposition party who, after two decades of steadfastly plotting the dictator’s downfall, took over the island’s political leadership, Miss Eugenia Charles, a neighbor of mine, and a business associate (her family’s estate grew lovely citrus and avocados and mangoes, as most land-owners on Dominica do) became internationally famous for several reasons:

  1. After dedicating her legal career to politically save her fellow citizens, returning to the Caribbean after earning a law school in London, she became the first democratically elected official of Dominica, after generations of depressing hardships and downtrodden conditions there: first as a neglected colony of the U.K.; then, decades of Patrick John’s iron rule.
  2. She was rumored to have been aware of the plot to overthrow her country’s newly elected winning party by mercenaries, hired by the ousted dictator Patrick John. The paid would-be invaders were apprehended by U.S. officials as they boarded a loaded-with-ammunition boat in New Orleans. Patrick John was convicted of heading the conspiracy, but saved from mandatory hanging (for treason) by Miss Charles, and jailed for years, in the same country where he once ruled with no regard for anyone else’s freedom.
  3. Most famously, Miss Eugenia was the woman standing by U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s side, seen on every American’s television when the announcement was made that U.S. Army troops had been forced to invade Grenada to suppress a Communist uprising after Miss Charles personally had made the trip to White House to inform Reagan about that island’s dire situation.
  4.  Lastly, and in my book, most importantly, she was one of the world’s first woman leaders of a democratically elected government. Having known Miss Charles personally, having shared cups of homegrown coffee with her and her elderly father on the outdoor porch of their neighboring estate to the one I rented while living in Dominica — I can attest to the fact that she too, like I am, was willing to die for what she believed in. And that was that every single human being has the right to live in freedom, no matter what their circumstances are.
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Don’t put yourself in a box … break FREE!!!

I feel blessed that my life has brought me the teachers, the experiences, the lessons that I have had. And now, with this latest lesson resulting from some unpleasant words, back-and-forthing on a dumbass FB post, getting some criticisms even from friends, some from acquaintances, it’s taken a perfect stranger’s intelligent question put forth to me that has prompted this LordFlea post about how it feels being called out about … “put your money where your mouth is.”

This Facebook “friend,” a stranger, a man whom, like many on my personal page, became connected through one of the various interests I have — meditation, Eastern mysticism, Vedic scriptural study, disciplines of yoga, documenting the Divine in art and literature, sharing inner and outer adventures, connecting with independent book authors, filmmakers, activists of all sorts — all of whom are people like myself. In order to reach out and find my “audience” for the work I do (including this blog! and now my two currently published books, with two more in the works for near-future publication) I must have, and appreciate the responsibility surrounding a public persona. My role as spiritual activist makes it absolutely necessary to have a social media presence.

This complete stranger (but as a FB friend, he’s a “friend” as well, and as a person, he’s of course my spiritual brother) asked me in this discussion: “But are you willing to give your life for what you believe and stand up for the rights of others who are not so fortunate as a white privileged person who lives in a bubble of optimism far from the pain and suffering of those not so fortunate?”

Perhaps this unknown friend does not think me worthy of posting my personal opinions about politics, without me offering some credentials. I have nothing personal against him. I think anybody would want to know “By What Authority Do You Have the Right to Speak?” … BUT … really … don’t we ALL have “the authority” to just speak what’s in our hearts? Without having to justify who we are, what we do, what color we are?

I wonder what you think about this? I’d love to hear your reaction to what I’ve shared today. I consider each and every person’s remark a worthy offering to this most important of discussions. Not about politics in specific, or even exercising the right of free speech, but …

WHAT AM I WILLING TO DIE FOR?

For me, I’ve known since that day so long ago, sitting listening to my spiritual teacher right after the attacks of 9/11, that Yes, I am willing to die to help my fellow beings, of all species, be free to experience the kingdom of God within their own heart. Even if they are in prison, even if they are unfortunately in a refugee camp, or worse, subject to an oppressive government at this very moment. Even if they are trapped within a narcissistic ego’s limited human existence. Even if they are experiencing a privileged white girl’s life in a what others might call “a bubble of optimism.”

I send my love and prayers of a fulfilled moment to each and every person who reads this. Please click on this link if you’d like to read my latest book, about girls in prison who learn to feel as free as a bird, right within their heavily guarded prison walls: “In the I: easing through Life-Storms.” is available as ebook, paperback, or audible (narrated by Yours Truly).

I love you! We are ONE!

teZa aka LordFlea

My Secret Sharer

CAFE6354-9268-4177-812B-D34F36AD17E9This is the true story of my best friend, teZa, aka LordFlea. She can’t write of such things, not yet. Maybe some day when all persons concerned are dead and gone, she’s that sensitive to hurting others. But I told her, “Your story must be told, teZa!” And she relented, hesitantly.

We officially met when she finally decided to get real (sober in AA), although before that time I kept my intimate closeness to her quite secret, expecting her to make that discovery on her own, as we prefer. At that time, in ’84, she was advised (not in AA) to search for her “inner guardian” or “personal protecting angel” … then began our love story, hers and mine.

She wanted me to give her a name, but I simply couldn’t supply her one until she asked me directly. Before she named me she jokingly called me her “secret sharer,” after a Conrad short story. In my realm, you see—here where there is no barrier whatsoever, neither time nor space nor objects nor dimensions—names are meaningless.

That’s how she decided to start calling me “Noname.” After we introduced ourselves (it was some “get healed-type workshop, using the body’s own energy to counterbalance the off-setting effects of the complex lives you humans lead) … she and I became inseparable. We’d always been. But before that day, in that “Heal YourSelf Workshop” led by a dear heart named Alma—teZa had never before aware of my constant presence, as well as all the other Unseens all around on Earth, guiding, protecting, hinting, cajoling—trying to get their assigned entity’s attention if need be.

A lot of other things teZa wasn’t aware of, before we finally met.

But from that first meeting we communicated whenever we needed to. If I noticed her contemplating doing something foolish I would knock on her solar plexus, until she listened to me and stopped thinking so stupidly. If she wanted to ask me a question, which she did by the score, at first, I only had to whisper in her ear, “Use your keyboard.” And she did.

She sat in front of her computer and asked her question, then waited. When she felt the urge to answer, that’s when she started typing. Not knowing what was going to be the answer, but letting me take over her speedy typing so I could directly communicate with her. Proof, later on, that she wasn’t crazy. When she could reread my responses to her questions, she knew.

He really is me, and I am whatever he is. We’re one and the same, she thought.

Noname. I kind of like it, actually. Right off, it reminded me of the bar she used to drink at (heavily, when someone else was picking up the tab) in Sausalito. Of course there are famous Noname places, bars, restaurants, social clubs all over the world, and so they should. Names can be misleading. Just think if she’d chosen to name me after another of her neighborhood hangouts, this one another renowned dive in Manhattan. Noname is a heck of a better name than being called after that other hole-in-the-wall, Ear Inn.

By the time she arrived in New York City in the early eighties, she’s had enough. Enough of trying to kill herself, enough change, enough of what she thought was “love” … but as she soon saw, wasn’t. Some people don’t realize that there’s many different ways to kill your own spirit. teZa was one who, for years, up until she was in her mid-thirties, didn’t realize that even love, or what she thought was love—could kill her.

When it came time for her to write our story, she asked me to write it for her. Perhaps she was, er, hesitant, or shy, or not confident enough to honestly say what needed to be said. For whatever reason, she asked me to fill in for her. I’ve done the best I can.

Regards from teZa’s Secret Sharer,

Noname

Checking In

Hello dear Ones,

So much going on in life! But … when it comes down to it, really, every moment is a blessing, isn’t it?

Recently I’ve lost a dear ol’ pal of mine to a freaky disease. That really makes one sit up straight, take a deep gut-punch breath, and look at how precious life is. Every minute of it. This morning I awoke and, first thing, as always, is the communion of attune-ment I’ve always relied on to get me centered. In my case, it’s a mantra I’ve trained my mind to “wrap around” so that I don’t have superfluous, unnecessary daydreams. Which I used to have tons of. So years ago, I decided that was a waste of time. And pretty scary sometimes, too. When I discovered the power of mantra repetition, called “Japa” in Sanskrit, I was instantaneously transported to another planet called … “Relief!”

After I checked in with my Sanskrit mantra (Om Namah Shivaya, for those of you interested…loosely translated as “I honor the Divine within All) I stopped off to look outside one of our sliding-glass doors on my way to get a cup of tea (oolong, with chai spices, yummm). I took a full minute to gaze out upon this gorgeous view … all of which I’ve created, with the help of my darling consort, Carter.

What a blissful thing it is, to look out upon such an accomplishment!–my “yard.”

Especially when it so resembles Nature in all Her glory. Seriously. Check it out for yourself. This is the view we see outside our living-room-window door

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Our home’s Old Hamii bamboos, seventy feet high! Other species, in background. This is a lot in suburbia, folks!

When we moved here, almost eleven years ago, this place was just an ordinary American house in a crowded residential neighborhood, just outside town but within minutes of everything. It had a lawn that needed mowing, and a few trees needing nothing. Lots of potential — especially for a person like me who likes things natural natural natural. But before we moved in … I had a plan.

First thing I did was get rid of the lawn. Zap! Zip! Killed the grass and raked up the roots. Xeriscape was on my mind, as natural and self-sustaining as can be. With LOTS of mulch (delivered for free from tree services, gladly saving them a trip to the dump). Natural is neither a lawn to mow, nor water to waste, nor any other way but to mimic the biosphere, this gorgeous Earth and its wonderful creations. In this case, I wanted to create a bamboo haven. I’ve spent a lot of time in the tropics so bamboos hold a special place in my heart. Because I now live in an area that doesn’t have such severe winters, North Florida, I knew a bamboo grove could be done. With a plan. The red bay trees, by the way, all died out from a blight shortly after we moved in. A disease caused by a beetle.

I’d prepared for my planned magical tropical grove ahead of time, before moving here, by going to a bamboo farm and purchasing species I knew were cold hardy. Sometimes we get a light freeze here, so I looked for species that were safe up to 27 degrees F. Clumpers, my friends, not runners! For those of you who don’t know about growing bamboo, these two terms spell the difference between comfort and torture, and I’m not exaggerating.

a temple of nature---everywhere!

Our place, a temple of Nature—everywhere!

Clumpers grow in tight spirals, the shoots always staying within a close circle and working outwardly. They are easily controlled. Any shoot that starts where it’s not wanted, with one blow of a heavy sledgehammer, that particular shoot is gone forever. With this method, clumping bamboos can be easily shaped to fit tight spaces. Runners, oppositely, grow by their nasty, impetuous root shoots, going out every which way underground, ten, twenty, thirty feet away in all directions from the parent root ball. Unless you have a hundred acres, you never want to plant runners. Never.

The only way to know which kind of bamboo you have before planting, is to know the species’ name, and look it up. If you happen to go to Home Depot or Lowes and just buy “bamboo” you’d be a fool unless you knew exactly which species it is, and know it’s a clumper. Never ever plant a runner. Period. Unless you’re planting in a large, strong container. Or … live on a tropical mountaintop.

That said, bamboos are the most lovely things to live with (besides a loving mate, as I’m blessed to have). One of my favorite things is to lie in bed, either at night, early in the morning, or anytime during the day, and listen to the melodic clank-clank-clunk percussive sound of these gentle giants knocking against each other, in a soft breeze. And when we have hurricane force winds, which we’ve had for the past two summers (and pray we don’t have such fierce storms this year!) the bamboos are extremely flexible, bending in the wind most times. Only a few culms snapped off in the high winds of 70-80 mph. that were clocked in my neighborhood for hurricanes Matthew (’16) and Irma (’17).

A bamboo’s culm is equivalent to a “stalk” of grass, because, you do know, don’t you? that bamboos are giant grass? Here’s how my side “yard” looks. The blue building is my Santosha (contentment) Shack where I do my daily yoga practice. Sometimes Carter joins me. He’s a great yogi!

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Who would have thought? I love the potential of making this beautiful world of ours even more meaningful, adapted to my sensibilities, by designing naturally, complementing Nature, not insulting her. To me, lawns are rude.

This next photo is my goddess of the garden. I found her at a property I was renovating many years ago. She’s very special to me also (as all things I live closely with are). Would you believe, she was once a giant lamp? Can you find the blue bulb? Kinda kitch, right! I’ve always thought of her as Isis, though, the goddess of ancient Egypt, not the Las Vegas size lamp someone once had in their hallway, Liberace-style. And Isis, for those who don’t know, is much more than the bad-ass Islamic militants. I say hello to this Isis, sometimes called “the goddess of magic”, everyday. Now you can too. You do believe in magic, right? To create something beautiful from … well, even suburbia? Well, why not?

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Blessings to each and every one of you, my friend!

LordFlea aka teZa Lord

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