2010 in review…or not


It started a few weeks ago, back in the beginning of December. Slow at first, only a few articles or blurbs here and there, gaining in momentum as the month wore on. It’s tough to compete with Christmas and all its consumeristic glory and brouhaha, but now, this last week of the month, it has taken over. You’ll even find apologies for it here and there, using the lack of other news as the excuse. Neither here nor there, it’s a trend, it’s a given, it fills the holes left by the incessant Christmas carols and rants about how much people are spending. Yes, it’s Year In Review time, and nothing is going to rock that boat, no matter what. So, what the heck, I’ll submit to the trend of the day. And, why not? It’s an easy topic to tackle:

2010 in review: it was great and it sucked.

Boy, did it ever suck. The year flicked me around at the end of its whipping tail until it finally flung me loose with a major splat.

Boy, was it ever great. Eyes wide open, I rode that wild and wooly tale into its final chapter and met that brick wall head on.

That’s it in a nutshell. The result is so complete that there ain’t no sense in looking back at all the particulars of the year. No, that would just be a bunch of hot air with little meaning. And it seems that chronicling it all would cement all the bad and dilute all the good.  The lessons were learned while they happened; and if not, then I’m sure Karma will serve it all up again for another try. The stream of time lacks an end-of-year marker, we just choose to lift our leg and mark the spot ourselves, so the pendulum continues to swing uninterrupted.

So, I choose to continue riding the upward swing. Let 2011 come, bring it on, ‘cause I’m on a roll.


Can you hear me now?

On the surface, that is an easy question to answer. We all talk. And talk, and talk. Sometimes, we actually have conversations, and other times, whatever we say falls on deaf ears. On a deeper level, what results from being unheard or misunderstood are feelings of devaluation, our self-esteem and confidence fall, we lose trust, and while we're licking our wounds, we are also then guilty of not listening.

good conversation with listening is priceless. Heard, you feel valued, empowered, confident, and able to see new possibilities and potential. How far does the imagination have to stretch to envision a life where you listen and are listened to?

Listening is a skill. It is something that can be learned. And, as you go around listening to others, they start listening back. It spreads! You'll also find you do a good bit of the "do" list and not so much of the "don't" list already. A little bit of focus and monitoring and listening will become natural.


Home for the Holidays

There are times when I love so much that it hurts to breathe. More often are the times I want to give that love, to sing it out, to shout it out. Christmas seems like the perfect time to give it all, to release the pent up love without constraint, to bring a smile to a worry-creased brow and a light to a dulled and tired eye.

But, retreat is what I do. It's a melancholic, pensive sadness that I feel as I experience the various emotions that others unknowingly radiate and project. Too often, what touches me is far more instances of loneliness, sorrow and fear than joy and happiness. It's a heavy weight, and I retreat further so that what I feel doesn't add to what others may feel.

There are many alone in their loneliness. The elderly, the single, the orphaned, the bereaved. The lines are long at food banks and for free meals. Cupboards are bare and homes colder, teeth chatter and stomachs growl. Hope is thinning. Hope for tomorrow may be all that's left.

My retreat is temporary. It's not right to deny giving, sharing, being there for others. No bright colored wrapping, no bows or glitter; just me. All of me.

There is a peaceful calm that comes from returning naked to the true nature of giving. May you share your love in the same way.

Welcome home.

*Image: "Maitreya 2" by Nicholas Roerich.


I gotta learn how to cook and hope I get better as I go!


You may not be old enough to remember, but there used to be a time when there were more real restaurants than there were fast food joints. When someone decided to open a restaurant, it was because they really could cook. There was no doubt that the food you were served, hot and fresh, was going to be great and perhaps better than what you could make for yourself at home. Sadly, those days are long gone. Around here, there are no “real” restaurants. There are restaurant chains galore and more than a few of each fast food place in each town. Neither are very appealing.

I don’t care if it’s fast food or a chain restaurant, it seems that as soon as they are no longer “new,” the quality starts declining, and it sinks fast. I’ve long ago stopped hoping for something tasty to come out of a McDonald’s or Burger King or Taco Bell. Two or three times at Red Lobster or Olive Garden and you know that it wasn’t just an off day for the kitchen. Count your blessings if what the servers placed in front of you was actually edible, because that is the rarity. You pay the big bucks, and you still end up with junk food.


I’m not quite “checking in” yet


“Geolocation” is 2010’s buzzword. It’s taking off. It’ll change everything. It’s the thing to do.

Well, I know very little about this geolocation thing. From what I can tell, you go places and “check in” with your cell phone, a smart phone. While you’re there, you can make a comment about the place, a public comment, that others can read should they happen to be into “checking in” and reading others’ comments about where they are.

I imagine the whole thing is loaded with danger. It seems the biggest concern is advertising the fact that your home is open for burglary. For me, that’s not much of an issue – I have dogs. The big danger for me would be walking around while messing with my iPhone trying to get “checked in” and typing out a comment. I can see myself walking into people left and right, bumping into racks of clothes, knocking displays over or walking into walls while I struggle to get my ol’ iPhone to pinpoint just where on earth I am.


Remembering Straight from the Heart


Straight from the Heart, playing at Bronco’s, Saturday, June 12, 1993. It was a big night for us. We were booked in “the club” in Binghamton, NY, we had both of our drummers playing that night, Chris Adams and Mike Ricciardi, and we had a photographer and someone taking video. From beginning to end, it was a great night of playing.

From the beginning, which began days beforehand, it was exciting. This was “it” as far as I had experienced in my music career. I had the perfect band, the best players in town, and the music we created was beyond compare. I bought a brand new, expensive pair of cowboy boots for the occasion.


They are OUR fallen heroes. Remember that.

Arkansas Fallen Heroes Memorial Flag Field, Searcy, Arkansas, December 12, 2010.

It began with one man struck with a tragedy most of us will never experience: His son was killed in action in Iraq. Not settling for just a name on a list as the only memorial to a life lived in honor and cut short by war, he set out to bring to life the sacrifices made by all Arkansas Soldiers. You see, those Soldiers lost their lives fighting for our freedoms, our way of life; not just for their own families, but for everyone that calls the United States home.

As anyone who has lost an important person in their lives know, a death is extremely personal and it comes with a pain unlike any other pain life can deal out. How someone handles loss is personal, unique and individual. There are no set rules laid down by society when it comes to feeling the emotions brought on by death. Sure, we have rituals and ceremonies and expectations of outward behavior, but those mores don’t touch the emotional pain felt deeper than anything else. Perhaps it’s this extreme pain that causes us to build fortified walls around our hearts. Not only do we distance ourselves from loss, but we run from it. We resist with all our might in order not to come close to feeling what we can only imagine. It is a nightmare none of us wish to experience.


The storm will pass quickly for some, but not others

arkansas, gusty winds, power outages, artic cold front, homeless

The roars of wind gusts sound far away, yet threatening in their unpredictability. The little valley is protective, a place to hunker down in a sense of semi safety. Still, the gusts roar, muted though they may be by the house’s walls and the valley’s shell of distance. The force, unseen and terrible, is hidden further by the dark of night. What flies in front of street lamps is so fleeting that the roar becomes the only hint of what nature is up to.

The weatherman sends out a challenge. The gusts are so strong, he said, that huge tree branches can snap and take out power lines in the process. If you dare, and if it’s safe, snap some photos and send them in. And, don’t forget; with the winds so high, the humidity is low, so spreading fire is a particular danger. Since the gusts are bringing an arctic blast with them, a fire would be warming relief. But, who would be out there, in the middle of the night, in this kind of weather?

I hear the roaring gusts from within the walls of my house, my dogs nestled against me, in the warmth of a few extra layers of clothing and another blanket thrown on the bed. The safety is relative and at the whim of nature’s forces. A window could be shattered or the roof peeled off. Frightening thoughts, calmed only by remembering that it’s possible, but not probable. My mind can only begin to imagine just how bad this storm might get, but once the storm passes, it will be over.

For me, this storm will pass. For me, once the gusts become still, once the arctic chill moves on, the extra layers will be peeled off and the spare blanket folded on its shelf. The power will be restored, and the fallen branches, put out to the curb will be picked up and discarded by the city. For me, the storm will become just a blip, barely remembered a few days later.

Yes, for me, the storm will pass and life will go on as usual. I am not homeless.


Acing the passion part of fruity

passion, depression, joy, fun, life as a nut, losing it

Step right up, folks. It’s the roller coaster ride of the year. Test your mettle, challenge your might, but keep the end in sight. It’s the Mobius Strip of perpetual twists and turns, guaranteed to keep one foot here, the other in the bathroom…

That’s what I come up with when I ask myself if I’m nuts or not. I don’t have to ask anyone else what they think, ‘cause I already know the answer.


Passion is a good thing. No doubt about it. It’s one hell of a powerful driving force and a major boot to the ass of motivation. What would we be without it? Why, we’d be kin to that rock half buried in the mud, hiding away nine-tenths of ourselves like icebergs.

I could wax poetic for days about it, but think about it: What would life be like if we didn’t feel, if we didn’t feel strongly about things?


Observing monstrosities on a daily basis


I’m an observer.

When it comes to politics, it seems that, as an observer, I am viewing a monstrosity. It is so huge that there is no way to back away far enough to get the whole animal in sight at one time. This makes it particularly difficult because if I don’t get The Big Picture, none of the pieces fit together. In other words, I have a fundamentally flawed concept of what, exactly, politics is.

Pare that down, which I need to do in self-defense, I look at government. It’s also another monstrosity, convoluted and diluted beyond the reaches of fathom, and the only conclusion I can draw from it all is that it is a massive number of hands, none of which have a clue about what the other hands in the pile are doing.

Well, ok, I’m not getting anywhere in my efforts to find solid ground to stand on to begin to understand. So, it’s down to picking out pieces. We have a president, the commander in chief, the one elected to be the man sitting on top of the monstrosity. Likened to this huge redwood, he’s sitting someplace “way up there,” out of sight, out of reach and out of touch with his roots and the ground those roots root through for sustenance.