Category Archives: about the world

CONSUMERISM has cost us PERSPECTIVE

We watched Interstellar again this last weekend, and although I don’t think it was a great movie, it wasn’t bad either. It did have a few really great moments, and one of them is stuck in my head today. I guess because it has been an issue with me for years; the idea of our planet dying or being sick really resonates with me, which is after all why I wrote the Irrevocable Series.

The exact scene I am referring to has the grandfather sitting on the porch with Cooper, the main character, and they are talking about how we are a world of consumers. Companies come out with new products every day; new gadgets and devices that make our lives easier or better, or at least claim to. And of course, our role is to buy up and use all of this new technology; to dedicate ourselves to working harder to earn more money to buy more stuff. But what if we stopped doing our part? What if we simply stopped trying to have it all?

Sitting at a stoplight on the way to work this morning, that’s exactly what I was thinking about. We get caught up in the whole cycle, and once we are accustomed to having something, we can’t seem to live without it. We have existed as a species for thousands of years without cellphones, but now that we have them, they are glued to our hands. Leaving home without it is a catastrophe, and a person not owning one means that something must be wrong with them.

So, what would happen if we simply stopped filling our lives with all the junk that is being offered to us? Could we get by with only one television in the house again? What if we only had one phone, and it was attached to the wall in our kitchen, where it belongs, instead of following us around everywhere we go?

I’m working at a junior high for a few more days (I’ve been here five weeks) and I see these kids and how they are severely limited in inter-personal skills. They have a hard time talking to one another and interacting appropriately, and I can’t help thinking about what it was like growing up in a small house with pretty much only one of everything. We had one phone, one bathroom, one television, and we had to share. It taught us perspective, and that everything, every resource, is limited.

I think something has been lost in that; something major. Every one of these kids has their OWN cellphone. They have a television in their rooms. Heck, many of them have their own bathroom at home. They don’t have to share anything in their private lives, and therefore have no idea how to compromise or what the rules for such a need would be. They are clueless what to do when they don’t get their own of whatever it is that they want or need.

Furthermore, they don’t see the value in anything. Cellphones are expensive, yet they throw them down the hall, or across the patio, as if they were a Frisbee. Ninety percent of them have screens that are cracked or broken from ill treatment. And we wonder why we have to replace broken desks, and why they can’t take care of them, when they can’t even take care of something that BELONGS to them. Why would they care about something that isn’t theirs?

I’m shaking my head while I think about it. I truly believe that less is more, and that some of the most valuable things we learn while living at home with our parents and siblings do NOT come from what we get; they come from what we don’t get, and how we handle earning those things. How do we learn to appreciate anything when it can be or will be replaced without consequence? It’s simple; we don’t.

You want to teach your kids about living a long and happy life, stop giving them everything. Let them learn some people skills and what it’s like to be a part of a group with limited resources. That’s what this planet needs – that’s what our society needs. Less is more, money can’t buy happiness, and learning to deal with people is a skill technology will never help to improve or be able to teach.

Reflecting on NOLA – Oh My God… I’m a Hippy!!!

Actually, I say that jokingly, as I already knew that I fall into the ‘tree-hugger’ category, and have for many years. What makes it so evident to me is that while visiting the Big Easy, the place I chose to visit FIRST under my limited amount of time to sight-see, was in fact… the Swamp. I have to say that it was about three or four hours well spent, and I loved almost everything about it. So, let me tell you a bit about this incredible nature walk far different from my home in the desert of west Texas.

First, we rode on a bus, and our very knowledgeable driver shared with us a bit about the local history and recent events. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and I recall vividly when that devastating event took place. The mix between the newly rebuilt portions and the gutted structures that have yet to be restored is astounding. The destructive forces of nature are beyond words, but in the end, it was our (man’s) failed attempt at controlling it that led to the flooding there. If the levee had held, Katrina would have been just another storm; and oh, how things have changed because of it.

I found the bus ride to be particularly exciting, and in a way comforting, in light of my recent releases in the Irrevocable Series. I included many references and aspects in that story that were driven home for me on the tour, seeing it all first hand. On that note, I will say that I stand behind everything I said in my ‘fictitious’ story, which is as real as it gets without ever actually happening (yet), and the tour felt very reaffirming in that respect.

On we go – and the second thing that happened on the tour was our arrival at the small tour center, where literally hundreds of people are bused in and dropped off each day to take part in the tour. I had experienced this type of setup last year while vising Las Vegas and taking a bus tour to the Grande Canyon. Here I want to insert some praise, because this is a fabulous way to enable MANY people to go and experience what could be a once in a lifetime activity. The outhouses / bathrooms were hot and muggy, and the store small and quaint for such a large number of customers, but they were well organized and I applaud them at the over all ease and convenience of the entire experience – loved it!

Now for the exciting part – Johnny took us out in a large flat-bottomed boat and the first thing we saw was a HUGE grasshopper that had landed on our canopy. No, it was really called something else, but like I’m going to remember what. He caught it for us and passed it around. Then, a few minutes later, we were farther back into the marsh, and ALLIGATORS started coming right up to the boat. Our guide had joked earlier about having marshmallows and hotdogs in the back, and at this point he pulled them out and began spearing pieces with a long stick.  I was flabbergasted, and in my best My Cousin Vinny voice, I could hear myself say, “You were serious about that?”

Oh, he was very serious, and used his treats to lure numerous animals up for us to see (pics posted at the bottom), including raccoons and wild pigs. The snake we picked up from another boat, and also passed it around. Believe me, these animals are well trained, and react to the sound of the boat, and many even come when called (yup, they even have names). It was an amazing experience, as he slowed down and stopped often to share and show, including a few awesome giant spiders that use their legs to fish for minnows (holy crap!). Over all, I loved the tour and would not trade the chance to see those huge old trees and all the wildlife for anything.

But, there is a catch. I really hated to see them using Marshmallows for this, and felt a little sad at the whole circus feel of how things went. Sugar isn’t good for us, and it’s certainly not good for animals, and they have introduced it into their diet. I found it amusing to see that some of the gators liked the hot dogs, while others preferred the white sugary goodness, but again, it really shouldn’t be done, and I would have felt better if all their offerings had been more ‘natural’. I can see why they did it, and appreciate that we were able to enjoy the experience, even with this one dark blot upon it.

Overall, a fantastic adventure. I learned so many things and was thrilled to be there. I love the world, love seeing new and wondrous places, and can’t wait to visit my next destination that will be new and exciting – I am taking my son to Washington, DC, before we hit the signing in Pittsburgh, PA next March, and I cannot wait to get there!

giant bugaligator temtingaligator treatpigsraccoonspidertiny snake

Can’t say it enough

I NEED A MOMENT… I am nearly in tears this morning…
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Things are so hectic right now, with everything I am working on… so many GOOD THINGS going on around me, and it is hard for us sometimes to accept those things at face value.
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What I would really like to do is to say thank you.
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THANK YOU to every person who has left a review for one of my books – whether they are short, and direct, or they are long and drawn out.. even the typos and the inaccuracies from the story (even a few character names are wrong, and I seriously lmao at that!!!)
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I love them all and I appreciate every single one, because you read my stories and you took the time to post a word about them…
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~ ~ ~ REVIEW COUNT TODAY ~ ~ ~
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5 stars – 94 <<< holy sh*t!!!!
4 stars – 38
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132 total 4&5 stars out of 141 total reviews!!!
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THAT IS 94%!!!!
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I am completely blown away… so happy right now, you cannot imagine… happy because I have shared something of myself with you… and you love it as much as I do…. thank you so much… I am so glad that you understand.
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❤ Sam

Facebook Blues

I’m not sure how many of you use Facebook, but I have been on it daily ever since I set up my author page. Previous to that, I never used it, and didn’t see what the big deal was, or why people would want to put so much of their personal lives out there for the whole world to see.

 

After I published my first book, I started looking for ways to market it, and that’s when I got hooked. That’s right, I’m an addict. I have spent countless hours clicking around, sharing posts and checking out other peoples pages. And since I have only been a user for 7 or 8 months, I don’t really know what it was like before that. I do know that the changes that they have recently made… suck.

 

And I say suck in the nicest way possible. I mean, lets face it, I totally understand why they did it. Most people don’t use a conventional computer any more. Most people use a tablet or some other device, so the streamlined feeds for every page makes sense. I still hate them.

 

Used to, when you came to my page it was amazing. I mean it, I loved my page. I put stuff on it that was informative about my books, some advertisements, reviews, and upcoming events, but I also put stuff that was fun. I love puzzles and interesting food for thought items, and my page was plastered with them.

 

I also kept my page clean. Everything had a visual appeal, down to the way the little boxes fit together on my screen. I loved pinning a post and providing an experience when you visited my page, would make sure it was all current, and would remove or hide things if they didn’t fit in with what I had in mind. It was perfect. And… it’s gone. Sigh.

 

So today, I have realized that I don’t spend near as much time on good old Facebook as I once did. I guess it’s because I’m depressed that my page doesn’t look as appealing to me. Or maybe it’s the resentment I still feel that even though I have almost 6000 likes and followers, my posts don’t make it to more than a few 100 people… unless they are of a cat or I pay to ‘sponsor’ them. I have noticed that one guy sponsors his daily pic, with his cup of coffee and a cute little saying to think about. That’s ok, I’ll pass. I have better things to do with my money.

 

I will just go, suffer through my withdrawals… and continue to look for another social media place that I can mess around with and call home. Any suggestions?

 

 

Clouds with Silver Linings – Have you found your word yet?

Every day I drive to and from work, allowing my mind to run in all directions. During that time, I come up with dozens of things I need to do or want to write about, both in my books, and here on my blog. The other day, for example, I posted about not feeling well and how that ties to the winter season, and made a challenge to myself and my readers to spread a little love to those around them. Because of this, I later realized that even though I was feeling the down swing at that moment, many of my clouds do in fact have silver linings.

In the evenings, I always feel so busy, and work on my computer, often eating in front of it, and not getting away from it until time for bed. So, I took my own advice, and spent the next two evenings after my post just hanging out with my family. The first night, we watched The Lone Ranger, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I heard from other people it wasn’t that great, but we really liked picking out the parts and sharing where we had seen them before. It turned out to be a great evening and I felt much better the next morning. The second night we had dinner again and watched After Earth, which I could not convince my significant other to go see in the theater due to poor reviews. This time, I wish I had insisted, because my son and I LOVED IT! I didn’t pick it apart, which is usually my problem as a science teacher and those types of movies. I see things and just can’t take them as plausible. I enjoyed the story and it was overall one that I am glad to own. I didn’t spend all of last night with them, and did work some. However, I made an hour escape to go see my new grandbaby, and I have to say, she is the most beautiful baby girl ever.

Another thing that had been wearing on me was being tied to my job, besides the fact that it takes up such a large amount of my time, far beyond the amount I spend at the school. This is one cloud that seemed to grow darker as the new semester began – they changed my schedule and at first it looks horrid with a straight 7 hours or so of classes with only 1/2 hour lunch. This really sucks, by the way, as you don’t even have time to go to the bathroom between each class (you are a hall monitor in between classes), and have no time to rest or regroup anywhere in your day.. But now there is a silver lining, as I have a later start in the mornings and can go to the gym without alot of issues trying to make it after school. I made it to the gym Wednesday morning, which I have not been able to do regularly in months due to my schedule starting early and running late. I am going again this morning, and am looking forward to returning this activity to my regular routine. So score one for me and admins who schedule teachers six straight classes and give them a half hour lunch. It was a dumb move on their part, but I will take it and make the best of it.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I have also realized I had found my word. If you have not heard of this, I picked up on it through a post by Lucy Pireel. I joined her blog because, lets face it, I wanted her to write about my books. However, I read her blog because she often has interesting things I like to read about and ponder, and this was one of them. In a recent post she talked about not making new years resolutions. Instead, she suggested finding the one word that you want to focus on for the year, and hers was Time. I had been thinking about this ever since, and after making that semi-gloomy post and the events that followed, I realized that I had found mine.

My word is Sunshine. As I said in my previous post, this is not the light that lands on our plant every day. In essence, this is all of the good things we have that come into and radiate out of us and our lives. Me and my life. My sons are sunshine. My new granddaughter is too. I have lots of sunshine in the people that surround me, and even returning to the gym I was greeted by people who knew me and were eager to catch up on what had been going on in our lives since we saw each other last. I loved it.

So that is the thought I am leaving off with today, two fold really. First, as the old saying goes, find the silver linings in the clouds. They are there, if we just take the time to look for them. And finally, my word is Sunshine, and I plan to use it like a mantra, pulling me away from the dark things that have the potential to absorb and waste so much energy and time; that trap where every potentially bad thing that happens just weighs more heavily than it should. I am curious, too, how many people even read that last post and if they shared in my challenge that day. If they did, how did it go, and have they found their word yet?

Mid-Winter Blues – Looking for the Sunshine

I woke up with a headache today. Same as yesterday. And the day before that. It happens to me every year in January, so you think I would be used to it by now.

I wonder how many other people get this cold weather funk. I read one time that it is caused by lack of sunshine, but I don’t normally spend a great deal of time outside anyways, so I really find that hard to believe.

I think it’s the cold. It is cold outside, so you can’t go anywhere without having it smacking you in the face. It’s enough to put anyone into a bad mood I think, either being bundled up in the clumsy restrictive coats and scarves or the having to wait for the car to warm up so the heater will work nonsense.

Even if you stay in doors, you can’t get away from it. The heater puts out recycled warmed air, lowering the humidity and drying everything out, including the vital parts of your anatomy that bring on those headaches. And of course the places you can’t get warm. Like my work – “cheap bastards” is all you can think when the highest point your thermostat hits is 68, and that is at noon, the peek from 60 when you arrived and on its way back down because it turns off at lunch every day. Thanks to technology you can’t even adjust the thermostat in your own space because it is all controlled at a central location. You know how many times I have changed jobs in February? Too many…

What I am really looking for right now is sunshine. And I don’t mean that giant chariot of fire that blazes across the sky every day. I am talking about the laughter and the good times. I think that could be part of this murky business as well.

Last month it was Christmas. Good times, good friends, good family. Like the month long party that goes on between Thanksgiving and Christmas. People wishing each other happy days and merry evenings. And then… its gone. All that is left is that empty wind that is now blowing snowdrifts outside so many windows.

So now I have an epiphany. We don’t love each other enough the rest of the year. That’s what brings the sunshine. The caring and sharing that all those things bring out in us – the hugs and the how are yous. We were surrounded by it just a few short weeks ago, and now that we need it most.. its just not there.Like its in the wrong place and should have been at the end of February or March instead of December so we could see each other through the darkest part of the year.

So this is my challenge to all of you – and myself for that matter. Fight those mid-winter blues and pass out a little sunshine today. Something you wouldn’t normally do or have done. Something extra to let the people around you know that you care about them, and that the winter will only last so long. Besides, it will be alot warmer when we are all handing out sunshine.

Christmas Holiday

I hope that everyone out there has been enjoying their Christmas Holiday. I know that we have. In addition to getting a new baby (WOOT), my sister was able to make it in for a visit. She lives about 400 miles away, so we only get to see her once a year, or less, depending how things go.

In reality, there is only one thing I don’t like about this time of year – it’s freaking cold!!! I tell myself every winter that I need to move further south. I mean, I live in the desert of West Texas, so if it gets below 50 we all have our heavy coats on. So when we start seeing the 30’s, its almost unbearable.

Of course, I say that and I know alot of you are thinking I am nuts. I know this because I have friends all over the world, and some of them live in places where the 30’s would be considered warm. To all of you, I am truly in awe that you are able to endure it.

Anyways, since I am off for another week for the winter break, I will be making a few more posts, and thinking about getting back to those writing styles and questions that I have been rolling around in my head. Until then, MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone and may you all have a great NEW YEAR!!!

 

Reflecting Upon the Past

I woke up early again today – just before 4 am. I have been sick, and still not really feeling myself. Unsure of what I wanted to write about today, I just scrolled through my blog and read my posts, reflecting on what they said. Then, I realized what I want to say most today.

Reflection is something I don’t think we spend enough time doing in our busy world today. I know for myself, I do reflect about things, or obsess about events, but that worry over how things should have gone or what should have happened isn’t really reflection. It reminds me of JFK, where the “who and the what” are just for show, and keeps us from getting to the important part… the “why” of things.

True reflection is an honest evaluation of some event, why it was what it was. For example, when planning a lesson, a teacher goes through several stages, from gathering materials and planning, to implementing and instructing, and finally reflecting. That last piece is often left out, but is necessary if he or she is going to objectively look at the effectiveness of the lesson and carry that on to the next one.

So how does this apply to everyone else? Well, for starters, it reminds me so much of Dr. Phil, and his “and how’s that working out for you?” I have had a few people say this to me over the years, and to be honest it was a real eye opener. For example, it is far more effective than a lecture could ever be, as it requires self reflection and honesty from within. I have adopted it for myself, and try to use it when ever I can to get the people who are complaining about some aspect of their lives or some turn of events that seems to be recurrent in their lives to think about why this is actually happening rather than focusing on the events themselves.

There is that old saying, something about those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them. We can’t learn if we don’t take the time to reflect, and with so much activity going on around us, who has time for that? I guess that is one reason I have learned to be an early riser, normally getting up at 5 am and not waking anyone else in the house until 6 am. I do this so that I have that first full hour to be calm and gather my energy for the day. It also makes me see more clearly, having the quiet without interruptions to impede my train of thought.

Specifically, I am loving this blog. More than I thought that I would, and looking back at my first few posts I can see and am reminded of how unsure I was about putting so much out for other people to read. However, I am now grateful that those posts are out there, and that I can look back over this whole process and… reflect. I can now see why journals are so effective for people who are wanting to grow and change, and I definitely recommend doing some type of blogging or journaling to anyone and everyone pretty much. You never know what you are going to learn about yourself when you have it in writing to go back and read.

Where in the world is Tori Farrell?

Haha, couldn’t resist. And those of you who get the reference know what I am talking about…

Ok, so I have been working on promoting my book, trying to get ready for the second one to release etc. Speaking of which, I sent in the final paperwork this morning, so as soon as Life of Doubt clears the final content evaluation, it will go to press YIPEE!!! But I digress…

So, in the midst of all this heavy promoting business, I have been working with numerous blogs and reviews who are giving away copies of my first book, Life of Recovery. I have learned how to gift ebooks and have given away quite a few of those, but I also have been sending out paperback copies, signed mind you, as well.

I love giving things away, call it a weakness. So I honestly have been having a field day with this, and make a trip to the post office several times a week to mail out these books (I am working on my second set now). My son, my baby, the last one in the house, is eleven. He has been helping me out so to speak, little buddy that he is, and today we were mailing a book to Europe. He has been keeping track and knows that we have sent them to Ireland and Mexico as well. Of course this is an ADULT novel, so he has no idea what the book is about, but he knows that it is important to me, and therefore important to him as he is still mama’s boy.

Of course, being that young, he still does not have a strong grasp on world geography and where these places actually are on the globe, and so we hit upon a teachable moment. Those of you who are educators and parents know exactly what I am talking about – that moment when the desire to know something or some other crazy thing happens where a person just has an epiphany about some… thing. And I got this idea…

I love my fans and I love sending out these books to them, especially to these far away places. So, we are going to get a world map to hang on the wall here in the office – kind of like a situation room where someone is investigating a crime or tracking something globally, and mark all of the places that we mail one of my books. Isn’t that great? Well, we think that it is, and I know it is going to be special to both of us as we go through this fun and exciting process.

So, I have about 12 more books on my shelf that are set to be given away on blogs here in the next few weeks. If you keep an eye on the front page here, I have devoted that space to letting you guys know where the hot spots are for give-aways. And of course, I have another box of books coming in about 2 weeks and will be lining those up for give-aways as well. Your job will be to keep spreading the word about my stories and signing up to win so that my son and I can continue to play our little game and see just how far out into the world our favorite heroine will go.

New Catagory – About the World

So I woke up this morning with thoughts pouring out of my brain. I know, big shocker right? I realized that I have things that I want to talk about that are not really about me and they are not really about my book. I need a new category.

I am going to call this new category About the World, because I have little pieces I want to share that have to do with the world as a whole. For example, as a teacher, I have some thoughts and ideas about the world of education, and society as a whole, that I just need to get off my chest.

So let me share this little piece of new broader insight that I want to put out there. If you got something for free, does it really have value to you? I realize that if you won a prize, say a free car, that would have value. You could look it up and say it was worth how much ever the car would cost you.

Furthermore, you could sell the car and then you would have some monetary amount. That would have value. But what if you were given something you couldn’t see? Would it have value? Would you care whether or not you got it?

This is how I am seeing the classroom right now – full of students who are getting something for ‘free’. Of course it isn’t free. Education is very expensive in the big scheme of things. The problem is, it is free to the kids. It doesn’t cost them anything. The law says they have to go, they have to take it. The issue with that is, they don’t see any value in it, or at least many of them don’t.

Rather than go in wanting to learn what they can, a segment of the school population is just waiting to turn old enough to quit, or just getting by until they are done. So what are they doing while they wait? Buying and selling drugs, damaging school property, fighting and or harassing other students, giving teachers grief, sleeping, having sex on campus, you name it.

The point is, how do we give our kids the understanding of what value this time in their life really has? I know there are many issues feeding into this – MANY issues, and I will talk about some of them at a later time, no worries. For now I want to let this idea percolate for a bit… how do we give something we can’t see or touch value when it didn’t ‘cost’ us anything?

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