The Absurdity Of It All

Life is simply absurd.

Our bad choices make great stories.

Sometimes we don’t look like a 300 likes kind of person.

7.5 billion people on the planet and I have two good friends.

When nothing goes right, we should just go to sleep.

Sometimes all you need is a billion dollars.

We worry because we feel unprepared to face the future.

It starts with tuning in. The trick is first realizing what is happening. Awareness is a powerful tool that many times we forget we have. We make our way through our day reacting to whatever is put in front of us, without realizing we actually have the power to choose our perspective and our thoughts in any situation.

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Featured Artist

@rouge_de_honte/

 

We Are Never Alone, We Are Always Loved

I am not alone. God is in me and with me, wherever I go. By Madeline Johnson

Monday morning epiphany. An epiphany – an experience of a sudden and striking realization.

I am not alone. God is in me and with me, wherever I go.

He is all around me in everything.

I give him my life today.  I ask him to manage all of my problems. He will help me to unravel my mistakes and bring peace and serenity to my heart and mind.

He will do all the heavy lifting today.

This, as I  free up my mind and my time to work on the important, with right minded intent and action.

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I am radiating the regenerative life force energy –

that makes me irresistible  to love in all forms.

Love is rising up to greet me.

 

Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a girl down or polishes her up, depends on the stuff she is made of.

Josh Billings

 

Featured Artist

Norman Duenas

 

Controlling Your Own Climate

Better to learn how to adapt and overcome and to face ordeals head on, while watching carefully, what conditions shape your heart.  Madeline Johnson

Warning, this is not another conspiracy theory on climate control. This is about navigating the storms that can soak your soul with sorrow, harden your heart in a hailstorm of hatred and parch your mind until it’s baked and fried.

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What interests me here is understanding what we can control in ourselves as we face our daily struggles. Like the weather, we can control some things.

Nothing new, cloud seeding is the process of adding particles to clouds to force them to rain or snow.  The goal is to increase precipitation in places with water shortages. Snow to pack the slopes of Colorado, rain to grow the crops in Texas and water to fill the damns of Idaho. While a helpful advancement, cloud seeding doesn’t give us the ability to control all weather.

The Weather (like life) is Unpredictable

Most days, the winter weather conditions here in Delray Beach are really unpredictable. Visitors think Southeast Florida is always warm and sunny. Not the case, the weather is also quite localized.  Depending on where you are change can come on quite suddenly.  All in a single day – one can experience strong, blustery gusts of wind, then momentary clear, blue skies. Within minutes a sudden warm sun shower followed by a soft breeze and puffy passing clouds, until. . .thunderheads in the distance – a threat of a down pour.

Now, life normally doesn’t move along this quickly, but just like the weather life is always changing. The conditions, whether good or bad, come and go.

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Life brings on all types of conditions. Some we can control like cloud seeding and some we might have predicted if we paid closer attention. Then, there are the conditions that take us completely by surprise.

Life. Half the time we spend time doing stuff and the other half cleaning up our own messes. Sometimes we create our own storms. 

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I wake up sometimes wondering- what kind of dramatic weather will I be subjected to today? How will I be prepared to prevail -to move forward in the face of anything?

Who knows what today might bring?

There’s no such thing as being completely ready for whatever life throws you. You are never going to feel that you’ve got everything sorted and all figured out. If you get to the place where you’re just a little bit more excited than afraid, that’s when you go for it. That’s when you go all in. To hell with playing safe.

Better to learn how to adapt and overcome and to face ordeals head on, while watching carefully, what conditions shape your heart. 

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Read

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Featured Artist

David Altmejd

 

 

Flowing Not Forcing

Slow down and let your breath anchor you into this moment, where you remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.  By Madeline Johnson

Today is the day I let go.  I let go and for damn good reason. I let go of attaching myself to what I think I need and want. This is true freedom.

I have no control over when my last breath will be, so if I cannot control something as essential as my breath, which keeps me alive, who is to say I can control anything else.

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The only thing between me and death is my breath. I don’t want to catch my breath, I want to slow it down and let it anchor me into this moment, where I remain at peace and with the pace of this universe.

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Recommended Reading

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao–the Way, the guiding light, the very source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning “the old master”), the Tao is found where we would least expect it–not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in “not-doing.”

Poems by Cristen Rodgers 

“Once I made it through the darkest and most difficult parts of my personal adventure, I came to realize that this magic key wasn’t meant just for me – it could be a gift to others as well.  I could use my pen to throw the doors wide open and allow the truths that had so profoundly improved my life to find their way to others who are stepping upon the path that I walked myself.”

Featured Artist

@miles_art on Instagram

Miles Johnston  was born in the UK in 1993. He spent the first few years of his early childhood living in Brunei, Borneo, something that he is sure had a major effect on him. The totally different environment gave him the intuition early on that there is no true ‘normal’.

The Messy Process of Loving Yourself

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. By Madeline Johnson

Learning to love and respect yourself isn’t something that you decide to do one day. It’s a daily practice. Self-acceptance requires patience and practice and maybe even managing those great expectations you have for yourself while holding onto your standards.

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Expectations can sometimes get in the way of lessons and joy found in unexpected experiences.

-George Leonard, Poet/Philosopher and the granddaddy of the consciousness movement.

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To be unaware of our irrationality and

derangement of our own thoughts

is what keeps us stuck.

Read More: The Three Levels of Self-Awareness by Mark Manson

An argument for loving and accepting yourself . . .

When we refuse to accept ourselves as we are, then we return to the constant need for numbing and distraction. And we will similarly be unable to accept others the way they are, so we will look for ways to manipulate them, change them, or convince them to be a person they are not. Our relationships will become transactional, conditional, and ultimately toxic and fail.

Go deeper into learning about how to better handle adversity in your life. Read his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

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Featured Art

Leif is an artist and Creative Director. His work explores themes of connectedness, the relevance of nature and the psychedelic experience. By utilizing these subjects he attempts to inspire the viewer into a realignment with themselves and their surroundings.

What are we free for?

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. By Madeline Johnson

You are free to discover the talents that are built with in you. To explore the inner workings of your mind. You are free to take creative risks with your life. Free to experiment and do more with your day.  Free to build what you can’t find but you know you need. Free to have an original thought and express that thought elegantly.

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Why then do we so often choose to waste this freedom? Why are we so careless with the free time we have? Why do we waste our weekends, our evenings, any free time we have in idol pursuits? Surfing the internet, watching bad Netflix series and trolling through Instagram?

I argue, like Colin Wilson that to be truly happy most human beings need a certain amount of stimulus during their free time or they will grow dull, lethargic and perhaps for some, even depressed. This is not a motivational rant about having a positive attitude or being grateful.  This is about doing more with our minds and our lives. This is about using the free time we have to create something new and original.

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Playing it Safe is The Riskiest Thing You Can Do

Many people will account their lives to be successful if they get through them with only minimal pain.  Few aim to rise above a plodding existence. And this, not-withstanding that they often have within them the ability to do something that which perhaps no other human being has done before.

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Merely to do what others have done is often safe and comfortable; but to do something truly original, and do it well, whether appreciated by others or not – that is what being human is really all about and it is alone that what justifies the self-love that is pride. 

From Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride.

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Occupy your day with interesting tasks, challenges and problems to solve.

Strive to spend the majority of your free time creating, exploring, learning, doing.

Challenge your capacities and improve your talents.

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Creative risk taking requires perseverance, struggle and the short term sacrifice of pleasures and comfort, to explore and cultivate the gifts within us, and thus to enjoy the fruits of genuine pride.

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The goal: to attain personal excellence of the kind that sets you apart from others.

Read Richard Taylor’s Restoring Pride

Watch Why Passivity Breeds Mediocrity 

Featured Artist

Afarin Sajedi was born in 1979 in Shiraz. She came to Tehran to study at the Azad University of Tehran where she got her degree in Graphic Design. Sajedi’s creativity, technique and powerful presentation are sure to ensure her an elevated position in the world of Iranian art. She has several motifs she enjoys portraying. However, whether she is depicting her Japanese people, her clowns or her theatrical personages she only portrays women. In all her works her women’s faces are highly made up be it in pain or joy to show how she visualizes women when they leave the security of their homes to enter the world outside. “Women have often told me how much they enjoy using make up because it allows them another face,” Sajedi exclaims in despair. She confesses that she has been highly influenced by Heinrich Boll’s Clown and by Gustav Klimt. She uses Klimt’s depth of color to vivify the pain of the modern woman in any role she decides to thrust herself into. Red plays an important role in the works of this painter. “It’s an aggressive color,” Sajedi says, “and I love aggressive colors.” Sajedi has participated in four group and four solo exhibitions. She is presently living and working in Tehran.

 

 

To Be Real

Seeking wisdom and being true and real to oneself. Madeline Johnson

To be absolutely real with ourselves. Stop playing it so safe. How freeing. What a release. What a relief.  True to you. No more disjappointmenting yourself because you put your needs on the back burner.  You said yes, but you meant no. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you over promised. You took that project for the money.

When we are not true to ourselves, we starve ourselves of care and respect. Integrity begins with honoring our hearts. It’s not selfish. It’s healthy and it helps us all.

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Stripped of all of our masks and desire to be needed.  To understand ourselves fully, to know more about our own existence.

Why I am seeking wisdom. 

  • Lie to myself, no more!
  • Life is tricky. People are strange. I contradict myself. Why?
  • Decisions are difficult. Which are the best ones?
  • Worry is constant. I shall remain calm.
  • This wisdom helps with clarity. Clarity is freedom.
  • I know I don’t have all the answers. We are here together for a reason. I learn from you.
  • Life moves too fast. My strong desire to slow down. Savor. Relish.

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Why I seek wisdom.

  • To be more emotionally and intellectually intelligent about myself and others.
  • Because I am realistically insecure and my experience will only take me so far. What can I learn from your experience?
  • I want to accomplish more of what is important. What is important to you might inspire me.

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Featured Artwork

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest RoomThe Truth About CometsEine Kleine NachtmusikInterior with Sudden JoyInsomniasPalaestraTamerlaneFar From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  CousinsDon Juan’s BreakfastFetishRainy Day CanapéTragic TableVerbXmasEmmaRevelation or the End of the MonthHôtel du Pavot Room 202.

Riding Shotgun in The Sky

We are limitless. Eternity. Capable of imagining anything. By Madeline Johnson

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Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

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By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
  • Written by Joni Mitchell

 

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FEATURED ART BY EDWARD FAIRBURN

Origin of Riding Shotgun

Riding shotgun was used to describe the guard who rode alongside a stagecoach driver, ready to use his shotgun to ward off bandits or hostile Native Americans. In modern use, it refers to the practice of sitting alongside the driver in a moving vehicle.

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On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

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This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

Madeline Johnson discussing the benefits of listening to your inner critic to help you grow.

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
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Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
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When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
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The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
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Art by @brookeshaden