Super Disappointment…10 Commercials that I (kinda) Liked…#Superbowl

Standard

One day a year…

One day a year, I watch professional football. One day a year, I stop fighting back against consumer culture. One day a year, I become part of a collective American whole. On Super Bowl Sunday, millions of people gather in living rooms, bars and in the streets; cheering and jeering collectively…laughing together…sharing opinions…It really is one of my favorite aspects of modern American culture.

This year was disappointing, to say the least. Although I picked correctly (deciding that the Seahawks would win because I like birds better than horses), the game was a big dull dud. Probably the most exciting part of the entire game was the second play snap that was missed…oh the look on the player who missed it’s face…priceless.

Well, at least we still have the commercials, right? Super bowl commercials never let us down…they’re always epic (iconic, even). Yes, the commercials are the biggest reason why I watch the Super Bowl every year because I found out when I was very young that missing out on the Super Bowl commercials in America was like missing a shoe during a marathon. So, I continued to watch…although the game provided literally no action or excitement. Again, I found myself very disappointed.

Where were all the big budget, side-splitting, innovative advertisements? Although the usual suspects (Doritos, Pepsi, BUDWEISER) were almost MIA, there were a few commercials that I really liked. So, I’m compiling a Top 10 list (even though it’s more like an “only 10” list).

#1Hulk Hogan, California Raisins, Alf….OH MY!

I’m not sure that my reasons for liking this commercial are even needed. It gets my top spot, very easily, because I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Most epic part for me? Chucky cutting the carpet…too funny. And you can’t argue with the clever use of the tagline, “The 80’s called, they want their store back”.

#2 Ellen Red Riding Hood

Ellen is cute as a button in this commercial…and the bear family? Hilarious. Ellen dancing with the bear family…nuff said!

# 3 Muppet Ride Along

Terry Crews crushing grapes with Muppets…”No room for boring” song…awesome! Favorite line: “There were singing vegetables…and chickens!” Seriously lol funny…

#4 Giants

The artistic value of this commercial is noteworthy. This commercial is a beautiful analogy for the power o the “little people”. I know they’re trying to sell me a car but it speaks directly to how I feel in the social and political culture of America, today…great marketing tactic…and a really memorable commercial.

#5 America Is Beautiful

This commercial seemed to rub people the wrong way but I thought it was a beautiful celebration of diversity in America. Reading the Youtube and Twitter comments, has a different effect, though. So, unless you want a right good lesson in American idiocracy, I would suggest you just watch the commercial and enjoy…don’t listen to what people are actually saying about it.

#6 Pistachihead

Apparently, Stephen Colbert’s brain is a Pistachio…well, that explains a lot. I think the premise of the commercial is pretty funny because every time I see a Pistachio commercial, I ask myself: “How do you brand a nut?”

#7 Make Love. Not War

I love the build up of this commercial and the ending message: “Make Love. Not War”. I don’t really care that it doesn’t have the usual “look and feel” of an Axe commercial. It’s really cute. Now, if only there really was a spray that could create world peace….*sigh*….maybe one day.

#8 Dober-what?

The Dobawawa is seriously creepy! I almost dismissed this commercial but then there was Sara Mclachlan and I was like “yes!”…and then the kid on the big wheel…lol…The tagline was awesome. “Compromise scares us, too”…that becomes apparent if you read the comments about the Coca Cola commercial!

#9 Greek Cock Block

Little, tiny laughs…because a full-houseesque reunion is ALWAYS funny. I feel like this would have been more exciting if I hadn’t seen the boys united on Jimmy Fallon earlier in the week. Still, it’s kind of funny.

#10 Cowboy Kid

This commercial is the only one from the usual Super Bowl favorites to make the list AND it only made the list because my 4 year old son’s reaction to it. He now wants a dog like that so he can be a cowboy and tie up his sisters. 😀

Bonus: Scientology

This commercial only aired in certain markets (mine was not one). I decided to add it, not because it was particularly epic but because a lot of people are talking about it. I, personally, don’t mind a Scientology commercial, anymore than I mind a Church of Latter Day Saints commercial. Still, some people have their panties in a wad about it and so I thought it to be worth a share. I, seriously, wish it would have aired in my area because my dad’s reaction to it would have been awesome!

 

A little disappointed by this list? Yeah, me too. I didn’t really have much to work with. At least Bruno Mars’ halftime show provided some entertainment. I know that some people disagree but Bruno Mars on stage is ALWAYS entertaining…and the segway into The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance was really gratifying. I do have to say that I was a little let down, in general, by the overall performance of the Chili Peppers. It doesn’t matter, they’re still legends in my mind.

Spark of Creativity…

Standard

imbolc

Imbolc is coming, soon. It’s my favorite of the fire sabbats. Last year, we made Brigit’s crosses, lit candles in every room and did a home cleansing, and I shared a lovely story with the kids about keeping the heart fire burning. This year is different.

I’m different. 

For those of you who are not familiar with Imbolc, it is a festival in preparation of the coming Spring and Summer. The legends tell us that the mother is nurturing the child of light and bringing him forth, creating hope for the coming seasons. The traditions of the holiday center around making preparations for the light. So, we clean (think of Spring Cleaning), organize, cleanse and sing songs of hope and light. To think of it scientifically, it is a celebration of the sun growing in strength (in the Northern Hemisphere).

I find myself, this year, going through the process mentally more so than I did in years past. I’m finding the urge to organize, not only my physical surroundings, but my work environment and thoughts as well.

As a writer, I’m more inclined to make lists and schedules. I find myself energized with creativity and vigor toward the projects I’m working on. I look outside and count the days when I can set outside and write while the kids enjoy the warmth of the Spring sun. I feel the hope in the possibility that the book I’m writing on will be the one…the one that gets noticed.

Then again, it could be because we always tend to think that (why else would we be putting so much time and energy into it)?

I find myself shedding away the darkness of the winter, the darkness of my separation, and the darkness of my thoughts. I allow myself to step into the mindset that everything in my life is getting brighter…everything is getting better.

Perhaps this is why spirituality and tradition are important (no matter which way you choose to acknowledge it). Maybe we simply need a reminder to slow down and listen to the turning of the seasons; the turning of the wheel of life. Maybe we need a reason to feel hope…a reason to slow down and reorganize and re energize ourselves.

After all, there has to be a reason that the legends and traditions of our ancestors remained, long after they faded away. I always find it interesting when I learn that someone who has no connection with Paganism takes part in traditions which were spawned from the faith (such as Spring Cleaning, or “broom standing”). It reminds me just how similar we all are, despite our differences. It reminds me that, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all beat to the tune of the same drum. It reminds me that the foundation of faith really is science, even if that’s an unpopular opinion.

Maybe we take it too seriously. Sometimes we get caught up in the myth and legend that we forget the purpose of it all. Sometimes we get tied up in dogma and judgement and we lose sight of the connections we share. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me the names and faces as much as it does the meaning behind the actions.

This sentiment is expressed by the Order of Bards and Druids regarding Imbolc. The website reads:

 

 This Feast is known by many names to many people, for the Truth is reflected from many mirrors. It has been celebrated as Februa and Candlemas. Our ancestors called it by names long forgotten, and our children will call it by names as yet unconceived.

It doesn’t matter if you believe or not, Spring is coming. Light will return and we will move forward in our lives. As for me, I take this time to organize my life and give thanks for the return of light (both within and without). I use this time to spark my creativity and drive me forward…knowing this is the year…this is MY year.

The Benefits of a Segregated Society…#MLK

Standard

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King Jr….perhaps one of the most celebrated revolutionaries in our time; perhaps even in the history of man. Today is the day we remember…we remember the spirit of a man who had the strength to stand up and fight for his people…the man who fought for freedom and was instrumental in ending one of the darkest blots on American History: segregation.

I’m glad I was born after the era of segregation…after the speeches made by King…after the riots in the streets. I’m glad, because I can’t wrap my brain around separating a society based on physical characteristics or heritage…because I would never be able to see a difference between “this group” and “that group”. I’m thankful for my own freedoms…my freedom to love whomever I want…to be friends with whomever I want…and to live in a society where “all men are created equal.”

But do I? Do I live in a world where “all men are created equal”? The idealistic part of my brain wants to believe it’s true. I want to do what I’m supposed to do on this day, which is remember. Then again, I’m thankful for the end of segregation every day. I don’t need a holiday to tell me that there is no difference between black and white…I don’t need a “reminder” to pay homage to Martin Luther King, Jr’s message. Still, as I read the words to his infamous “I have a dream” speech, it seems that King still has a message to share.

As much as we like to think that the end of segregation created an equal society, sometimes I’m afraid that isn’t true. There is still plenty of division in this world. I’m going to talk a little about that division and this is going to be a rather lengthy post. I will try to make it as brief as possible but I have a lot to say about this. Please read the entire post…you won’t understand where I’m going with this whole thing unless you do…and please give me your feedback.

Racial Division

Why does racial division still exist? Is it because white people are racist? Maybe. I’m white and I’m not racist…but I know plenty of white people who are less than accepting of other races. On the same token, I know a lot more who are perfectly accepting of other races. Is it because black people are racist? Perhaps. That seems to be the chief complaint from the 1% of white people that have a “problem” with black people….(to quote one of them)…”They’re more racist than we are”.

When I hear things like that, I know that something is still wrong here. Why are we still grouping people by a them and us system? When I say we, I’m generally referring to the whole of humanity. If I’m being specific, it’s because I’m referring to my immediate family or a group of people (such as a class or my group of friends). I don’t quite grasp the concept of one race of people being a them and another group being an us. How can we, 50 years passed the end of segregation, still segregate people in our minds?

It’s true…white people aren’t the only ones who are guilty of racism. I just recently allowed myself to believe this. During a trip to WalMart, I was in the self-checkout. I was with my husband and I was trying to buy a Duck Dynasty item. Now, you can say what you want about the men of Duck Dynasty but I don’t know them personally so I try to reserve judgement. Sure, there are some things they say that I don’t agree with but it’s not up to me to judge them (or to let their ideals become my own). Anyway, my mother loves the show and I was trying to buy the item for her.

It was a situation where we needed a price check and my husband went to hunt the price while I stood with the attendant. We struck up a conversation and after a while she looked down at the item in her hand (with the faces of the Robertson boys) and says “Isn’t these guys racist?” This confounded me but if it was based on fact, I would be interested to know. I said back to her, “I don’t know. I don’t know them for real but my mom likes the show.” She admitted that she had never watched the show but she insisted that they just “looked mean”. I couldn’t wrap my brain around this and I did what I always do…I spoke my mind. My speech to her went a little like this:

“How can you say that somebody is racists based on the way they look? I don’t judge people based on the way they look. I would never label any of these men as racist unless I personally heard something from their mouth that made me think they were. It’s just not right to be like that toward people.”

She didn’t buy it. She insisted that they look “mean” and “they must be racist”, although she couldn’t tell me exactly why. By the time my husband had gotten back from checking the price, I had noticed that people around us (of all races) had stopped to watch the exchange. He couldn’t find the price for the item and we walked out of the store without the item. I don’t know if the checkout lady thought about the exchange afterward but I did. I thought about it, a lot.

First, I had to reconcile the factors in my head. The checkout lady was black…I am white. I am certain that she wasn’t labeling me as a racist because she was comfortable enough to talk to me about it. So, I can assume that it isn’t the Robertson’s white skin that made her think they are racist. After all, I have white skin too and she was completely fine with me. So, what’s the difference between me and the guys of Duck Dynasty? Well, I was wearing jeans, a rastafarian shirt and a Bob Marley jacket…the Robertson boys look like what they are: rednecks.

I can assume that some interaction with this “group” of people (rednecks) has planted the seed that the entire group is racist. My experience has been different. I grew up in the country and I was surrounded by a mixed bag in this department. Some of the people from this culture that I encountered were racist…others weren’t. I can’t get from that point to the point where I believe that all members of the group ascribe to a set of universal principles. I still can’t categorize.

I also think that the  media has something to do with this. I know that along with the “gay bashing” hype, there was a story where Phil Robertson had said something about the time of segregation that made a lot of people think he was racist. I don’t know if he is, or not, because my experience with the media helps me to understand that things can be taken out of context. I still refuse to judge somebody until I have met that person, myself.

Whether it’s a seed planted by personal experience or by the media, it has become apparent to me that the strands which led to segregation still exist. In order to truly overcome separation, we have to keep from categorizing people and ascribing those categories with universal properties. We have to allow ourselves to make up our mind on an individual basis. We have to truly give one another a chance and never accept that we can’t love someone else just because they come from a different group or place.

Sexual Division and Moral Division

This doesn’t only apply to racial division but it also applies to sexual division and moral division. Some days, I think the days of men typecasting and discriminating against women is over…some days I do not. Still, I know that 90% of the women that I know are more than strong enough to handle it when someone tries to put her down, simply, because she has a vagina. I really don’t see feminism as a problem in our society, except for the ones I have met along the way who use being a woman to bend the world to their own will. THAT I have a problem with. How is it that women have fought so long for a freedom, simply so that women of today can use their vaginas like a “get out of jail free” card.

But I digress, because women’s rights really isn’t a pertinent issue in today’s time. I mean, it is but not as big as the issues that are facing people who identify with an “alternative” sexual orientation. When I see the fight for gay rights unfolding, it reminds me how unaccepting people can be when it counteracts their own moral compass. I guess I understand this. For instance, I don’t believe in murder. So, when someone commits murder, I admittedly don’t like that person. I identify that person as “bad”. However, I just don’t see what’s “bad” about loving someone of the same sex or identifying with a gender that is not your birth gender.

Love is always a good thing, no matter how it’s expressed (amongst consenting adults) and the ability to accept oneself for the inside matter rather than the outside is a beautiful thing. What I find, however, is that some people who have decided (for whatever reason), that these things are morally wrong don’t want any ties or connection to people who engage in this type of lifestyle. It’s not that I can say that’s wrong but I can say that it certainly creates division. When two groups of people refuse interaction it creates a “me” and “us” mentality. On one side, you have the straight people of the world and, in our minds (and through the law), we have separated them from the people who are not straight.

I straddle the line, here. I am both straight and gay (you can disagree if you like but this is my reality). I am also a morally righteous person…so where does that put me? What group do I stand in when the “roll is called up yonder”. Here’s my answer to that question: and you’re not going to like it…WHO CARES?

Surely, you’re not going to be standing in the line to heaven/paradise, looking around and gossiping about the people who didn’t make it? If you think you are, you might want to re-think that because the Christian Bible groups that kind of catty behavior right along with homosexuality. It is literally IN THE SAME verse as the one which is often used to speak against laying with someone of the same sex…Still, there are plenty of morally righteous people who talk about gay people behind their back and in secret corners…who talk about the neighbors and the pastor’s wife and anybody who does anything they don’t like…but that is never met with the same condemnation as homosexuality. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Division of Faith

The previous rant brings me to this one. Perhaps the most I have ever felt discriminated against is because of my faith. I was once Christian…I hold the Christian faith in high regard. Now, I’m Pagan (Druid, specifically) and I hold the Pagan faith in high regard as well. I don’t really see a lot of difference between them. I mean, of course, in practice they are very different. However, they are both systems which help people find a deeper connection in life…they are both systems which (hopefully) create a moral backbone for the individual which will foster love and compassion in this world.

So, how is this so often translated that this love and compassion is only directed toward groups which the individual deems “worthy” of it? There is not a god, goddess, prophet, son of god, seer or mystic who ever said “Love everyone except ____.” I don’t care what religion (or non-religion) you are, if you have the capacity to love and be compassionate, I hold you in the same high regard as anybody else.

I will say this: coming out of the broom closet taught me a thing or two about how discrimination works. After I had been discriminated against, over and over, I began to see a wall forming. I began to see my own mind thinking, “all Christians hate me”.  That, in and of itself, is a discriminatory thought and it is something I had to fight back against. What I learned is to accept the fact that people will naturally have certain preconceived notions about what the symbol around my neck (a pentacle), means. After accepting that,  I had to decide what to do about it.

What I learned is that it doesn’t take very long, in talking with someone of a different faith, to come to common ground. After all, some believe that all faith systems drink from the same well and although we may not agree on everything, people of different faiths share something in common. The topics that are “hot button”, I try to stay away from. I focus on the similarities and delight in learning something from someone who shares a different point of view. To this day, I have not met a person of a different faith that, after a little conversation, does not have the ability to be accepting of my “Pagan ways”. All I have to do is give a little accepting, first.

Social Division and Separation of Class

Perhaps the fastest growing type of division is the social division and separation of class. It’s not new but it’s definitely rearing its head with ferocity, lately. I’m not going to get into the different categories of class or anything like that because I can write another 4,000 words on that thought alone. I will simply break the division down into a group of “haves” and “have-nots” (thank you, Tyler Perry).

In our nation, the “haves” look down on the “have nots” as morally corrupt and lazy beings; basically, not worthy of the time of day (or a fair wage). On the other hand, the “have nots” see the “haves” as morally corrupt and spoiled beings; taking advantage of the lifestyle afforded by their daily work. It becomes an endless cycle of blame when, in fact, the economy of our society depends on a perfect balance of the two.

Conclusion: The Benefits of a Segregated Society. 

I feel like before the end of segregation, there was a brick wall in between the different groups in our society. Martin Luther King Jr, and other revolutionary soldiers, broke down these brick walls. There are still glass walls in their place, and new types of division starting up every day. We still have boundaries…as much as I would like to assume that we don’t, I can’t. What I can do is try to pinpoint the reasons why these divisions still exist.

I think I’ve done a good job of doing that throughout. I know that categorization, moral righteousness and misunderstanding are (often) not proponents of breaking the walls that divide us. However, I think it’s good to look at the antecedent factors. What is good about a segregated society and who actually WANTS us to remain divided?

People who are divided don’t fight wars together…they fight wars against one another. So, while we’re trying to solve the mysteries of the universe…(like which skin color is supreme, how to “define” love, who’s going to heaven and who is not, there is a war being waged against our individual liberties. One by one, the reigns of justice are being tightened against our necks and we’re too busy worrying about what people are doing in their own bedrooms to care. Why is it that we don’t believe that a united front is the best attack against tyranny, when our founding fathers did?

I can’t answer the “who” part of the question…I don’t know exactly who is waging the war on our freedom. I do know that it’s often not the person who everyone blames (in this case, Obama). I don’t know what Obama’s motivations in office are or even if what he is doing is right or wrong. I don’t know because it’s impossible to know the truth about what goes on in our government. Is the entirety of government to blame? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s only one or two…perhaps it’s not the government at all. The government is too large and transparency is too far gone to truly make that determination. In fact, it almost seems like a slight of hand trick, meant to misdirect our anger and frustration.

All I know is this: the Middle Class is getting too close to the lower class and the lower class is falling away, to a point where we are about to see a lot more women and children dying in the street. The American Dream is dying and somebody who is born on the bottom better start resigning to staying there their entire lives. I do know that the type of hopelessness and resentment that is growing in our society is very dangerous. In the end, the controlling factors (the unknown antecedent to our separations) will be the only ones segregated from the damage that is done.

 

Standard

My son has never been a man of words. He’s four now and after a notable delay with his speech, a few speech therapists and many notable arguments about the matter, he’s finally coming into his own. Now, he’s a non-stop talker…his speech patterns are much more grown up, and we have gotten past the point where I’m constantly translating his language for others.

See, I’ve always understood my son. The first thing that you need to understand is that he’s highly intelligent. I know all mothers probably say this about their kids but when it comes to Rymi, it’s true. I watch him, everyday, and this is what he does. He sits back and watches the world, allowing his brain to focus on what it is that he wants to learn and he picks things up incredibly fast.

He has picked up numbers and letters with minimal exposure. He has superior reasoning skills and puts ideas together at a level which I have never seen in a child his age. He does have a fantastical imagination but he understands the bounds of reality, too and when I suggest an idea which is outlandish, he’s quick to let me know that it just wont work!

Once he makes up his mind on something, he’s dedicated to it and he will see it through. While most 4  year olds want to be a prince or dragon slayer…policeman or fireman, my son wants to be a makeup artist (for special effects). He calls it monster makeup and for nearly a year, he has been unwavering in his answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Yes, he’s an amazing child and since his speech has flourished, he’s settled into a pattern of picking up a certain phrase and carrying it around for a while. For about a month, it was “I don’t think so”. That was his answer for everything…

ME: “Rymi, are you ready to go to the store.”

RYMI: “I don’t think so”

Me: “Rymi, do you want ketchup”

RYMI: “I don’t think so.” (He HATES ketchup)

ME: “Rymi, do you want to fly to the moon”

RYMI: *giggles* “I don’t think so”.

It’s adoring to hear him speak in this manner.  Right now, his favorite phrase is, “That’s strange”. He just came up to me and upon discovering my cartilage piercing (which I almost never wear these days), he says “That’s strange…Mommy, do you have a hole in your ear?”  I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to reconcile this in his brain. That’s my boy, always looking for reason.

Just for the record, he has been tested for autism and no, he’s not. Even if he was, I would never put that limitation on him. I love the way he see’s the world…the way he connects with it. He has a beautifully rational yet creative brain and one day, it will serve him well. Right now, he’ll have to settle for being misunderstood by the majority and loved by his momma.

I’m not sure what this has to do with anything but I’m still battling with the beast (writer’s block) and so I’m trying to bat away at the cobwebs a bit…you know, get the juices flowing.

A Little More Distraction…#GoldenGlobes

Standard

On the heels of the Golden Globe Awards, my social media pages are blowing up with lists of the best and worst dressed, shocking moments, and award recaps. I’m both excited and repelled by this.

I am excited because I’m American and I love celebrities. I read People Magazine, follow my favorite’s updates on Twitter; the whole nine yards. Everytime I watch an episode of New Girl, I walk the line between wishing I was Zooey Deschanel and wishing I could marry her (oh, come on…she’s gorgeous, smart and talented!).

I once milled over the idea that today’s celebrities are held in the same regard that the Greeks and Romans held their gods and goddesses. In fact, it’s possible that the archeologists of the future might just discover a collection of People Magazine, restore them and mistake our celebrities for gods and goddesses. I chuckled at the thought of our future selves constructing an image of our society from our “holy books”. It was a fun idea to ponder, for a while but then I spit it out as quickly as I conceived it. It seemed like such an unpopular opinion…it seemed so wrong.

Still, I can’t help thinking it. It lurks like a shadow in the back of my brain and whenever I’m undulated with Celebrity news, it jumps back into the forefront. The idea waves it’s hands in my face and begs for acknowledgement. So, today, I gave it just that.

Let’s face it…Celebrities are our gods and goddesses.

We read their fables and parables in the tabloids; using it as an example for our children. I can hear parents all over the world exclaiming: Look at the Miley Cyrus…doing The Twerk all over the place…that Miley, she’s in trouble…Becky, you don’t want to be like that…No guy will ever take that Miley Cyrus seriously…

We applaud their successes; awarding them with awards made of gold (all that’s missing is the frankincense and myrrh)

We fashion our lives after them; gobbling up any piece of clothing or breakfast cereal that emulates them or is endorsed by them.

We ignore their mortality…to us, they are not normal, average people. They are demigods and we are redeemed somehow when given the chance to meet them…we scream for the opportunity to just touch the hem of their garments.

When we are faced with their mortality, we sob collectively and hold candlelight services in their honor, just like they were old friends.

What’s wrong with this? We aren’t the first society to create our own deities. We may not even be the first to create them out of real people. Of course, there is a lacking moral component but in 21st Century America, who questions that, anymore?

I guess my real problem with it is the pay-grade. Maybe it’s because I’m hopelessly poor myself; maybe it’s because I loathe materialism; or maybe it’s because I hold things like food, safety and freedom in such high regard but I have a real problem with the Hollywood actor’s salary, as compared to that of a farmer, policeman, or a soldier. We are taught, through the process of capitalism, that the higher a good or service’s value, the higher the price for it is…so why are celebrities some of the highest paid in our society?

For the purposes of the argument, I’m going to compare celebrities against soldiers (because it’s the one that hits closer to home for me). The fact is that you can interchange any occupation that supports our society in the place of “soldier” and my logic will make sense. 

So I ask myself this question: What is it about the services provided by celebrities that makes it more valuable than the services provided by a soldier? Do we value entertainment more than safety and security; more than freedom? 

No, certainly not. That would be indulgent and ungrateful…there must be some other reason for the pay discrepancies. I ponder this for a while, as I browse pages and pages of breaking news and Hollywood gossip. Then, it dawns on me.

It is not the entertainment that we hold in such high regard, is it? It’s the ability to set in a darkened movie theatre or our living rooms for 30 minutes to 3 hours and just shut everything off. It’s watching the young teen actress spiraling into a dark hole that allows us to dissociate from our own problems. It’s about breaking down with grief when we have lost a celebrity because we just need an excuse to cry…or because we feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves.

Maybe we have lost a part of ourselves.

What does it say about us that we would pay more for a little distraction that we’re willing to pay for our own freedom?

How broken is our society that we need constant distraction and discourse just to navigate everyday life?

And how do we dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in when our heads are buried in the sand? 

I’m just a single mother and aspiring author with a blog; I do not claim to be a visionary or seer (although I would like to be). I do not claim to have all the answers to these questions. I mean, I have my own answers to these questions but it’s not the answer that’s important; it’s the ability to stand up and ask them that really matters. At the end of the day, each and every one of us will have to answer these questions for ourselves before we can even begin to heal as a whole.

Who is Indie Ashley? A story of Independence…#FreeThought

Standard

I just updated my about page. I think this better sums up “who” I am and what my mission for my blog is so I wanted to post it as well… 😀

“Independent Author…Independent Thinker….Independent Believer….Independent Parent…and a celebrator of Independence in general!”

When I was a child, I told stories to my imaginary friends. As I grew, my plots thickened and my imaginary friends faded into characters. This is how I became upon a writer. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my children, gave up working and moved from east coast to the south (and back again a few times), that it occurred to me that I could be more than a writer…that I could be an author…a published author. So, I wrote a novel and set out trying to figure out how to get published.

Buried in webpages for literary agents and publishers; my head swirling around how I was going to write a synopsis and query letter, I wondered how long I would have to wait or if my dream of becoming a published author would ever come true. By the time I came across information about self-publishing, my head was aching and I was beginning to feel a familiar ache of anxiety about the whole “author” business.

I’m not good with strict institutions or following rules when it comes to my art. I’m not good with allowing someone else to monitor my thoughts…I’m not good with waiting or rejection. I’m not good with allowing someone else to set my prices and take out their “share” from my work.

So, I became an Independent author. Shortly after, I became single again. Ending my marriage, which had become more overbearing and full of discourse, than a marriage should be, gave me another taste of independence that I had been craving.

The one thing I have always been sure of about myself is my independence. I am an independent thinker. I never subscribed to the “popular” schools of thought prevalent in the small town where I grew up. I have always stepped back, rationalized and made up my own mind about things. This is how I came to travel an “independent” faith path (Druidry). This is how I have learned all that I know about philosophy, psychology, sociology; ect without a college degree…because I’m an independent studier.

So, the title “Indie Ashley” sums all this up. While this blog is mostly about my journey (and that of others) into the world of independent publishing, it is more easily classified as a celebration of independence in general. I want this to be a divergence for all the other “indies” out there…a place where independent thought, belief, and art can be expressed.

I Didn’t Do It Out of Hate…

Standard

Some people have misconceptions about divorce and separation. I guess it’s something that you don’t quite understand until you go through it. The first question to tackle is “why”? Why did I leave my husband? Why are we living in separate homes and learning how to raise our children in two homes? Why does our marriage not work?

In some ways, these answers are easy. It’s easy to see that constant discord in a relationship is not healthy. The fact that we couldn’t agree on anything and we had begun sleeping in different rooms means that there was a distance between us that we could not reconcile. It’s easy to react to the constant negativity surrounding the relationship and the effects this had on our children.

It’s easy to throw your hands up in the air when things are going wrong. It’s easy to walk away and it’s easy to hate. Especially when society tells me I should be bitter. I’m supposed to be angry and I’m supposed to seek revenge. I’m supposed to conspire in corners against him, fight him in the court system, and spread nasty rumors about him. All these things are being done but not by me. I just can’t bring myself to that point.

Because I didn’t do it out of hate. 

I never let myself get to that point. My husband is father of my children and the only man who will will ever have the privilege to do so. He is my best friend and has been my companion through some of the hardest times in my life. How could I allow myself to hate him?

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for me to hate him. I know that eventually, it would have come to that. If I put all the fights and insults into a bucket; if I let them weigh on me, I could find myself in a place where I hate him. If I held on until every bit of love had drained away and I had lost all dignity and self respect, I could drive away into the dust with my middle finger held high and profanities blaring in his direction. I could find it within myself to trash his vehicle and withhold his children from him…I could do divorce “the American way”.

No, I didn’t leave him out of hate. I  left him because it was the only way to save the bits of love that still reside between us.

What we had lost in our marriage was hope. There was no hope for us to learn to communicate…no hope for us to learn to get along. We are too different; too headstrong to make our marriage work. We’ve tried but when I step back and look, I realize that the foundation of our relationship was built on the wrong things.

Once the parties and drugs gave way to children and responsibility, we lost that common ground that really bound us together. The focus shifted to raising our children and we forgot about ourselves…and eachother. We drifted apart and understanding gave way to discourse. It became too easy to play the “blame game” and we got to the point that we didn’t even sleep in the same bed.

My husband disagrees with my line of logic. He either still sees hope or he wants to bleed our marriage dry…I’m not sure which one it is because the days are gone that I am able to read his thoughts. I don’t even really know who he is anymore…I don’t really know who I am anymore. I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have exhausted every resource I have for making the marriage work. I’m empty now; almost hollow and I have nothing else to give. So, I know I’m not giving up too soon. Rather, I’m giving up just in time.

Now you may judge me (plenty of others have) because I’m walking away from the sacred vows of my marriage but if you’re going to do so, please look at the entire picture. We were together for nearly 6 years, gave birth to 3 children, moved 5 times and through it all, the only harmonious part was the first 6 months. That’s 5 and a half years of constant fighting and negativity…5 and a half years of not being able to compromise. No matter what the future looks like, the past becomes a beast which has torn our marriage apart.

I will always remember the light in the darkness…bringing our children into the world. However, these memories (the light ones) are always tainted with the darkness that grew out of our discord. For every good memory that I can pull up in my mind has a complimentary bad one…because things have never been “good” for us. When I look into the future, I have no reason to believe that this cycle will somehow change with the passage of time.

So, my rational brain yells at me. It tells me that I’m foolish for walking the same roads over and over. If I look at my marriage in terms of statistics, it’s easy to see that the chance of things being just the same (or maybe even worse) is extremely likely. The only thing left, now, is our children.

Children learn about love from their parents so I find myself asking the question, what do I want my children to learn about love? My husband wants them to learn to never give up on love, no matter what but I don’t really think that’s healthy. I mean, it sounds nice but do I really want my children in mine or my husband’s shoes? Do I want them to loose themselves in a relationship that is toxic, just for the sake of “sticking it out”? Do I want them to learn that yelling and insults are somehow synonymous with love?

No, I do not. What I want for them to do is to be rational enough to push aside their feelings of love and assess the situation. I want my children to approach marriage with more thought and consideration that I did. It’s hard when you’re a sentimental fool, not to fall without this line of rational thought. I know now, that if I had applied rational thinking before I got pregnant with my son that I would have realized at that point that a long term commitment was not sustainable. The signs were there, even then.

…and if they find themselves in a relationship that is broken beyond repair…a relationship with nearly an 80% fail rate (like mine and their father’s), that they don’t allow it to drag them under. I hope that, if this happens, they will walk away before it’s too late…before things go too far.

There are things that I have lost during the past 6 years that I can never get back…I never want them to loose those things. There are things I have said in the past 6 years that I can never take back…I never want them to say those things. There are things that have been said to me in the past 6 years that have created long scars on my heart….I never want them to feel that pain. I want better for them, and so I choose divorce.

I know this is kind of random and scattered but it’s something that I had to write…something I had to get off my chest. So, this is me, being too personal and candid but doing the only thing I know how to do when things get rough: write.

ADD and the Writing Process…#HappyNewYear

Standard

Sometimes I wish my mind was a steady stream, rather than a blazing fire…

…yet I burst into flames, because I like the burn.

Sometimes I wish I could wrangle my thoughts and quiet my mind…

…but I feel at home within the chaos and clutter.

Sometimes I wish that I could see things lightly; feel things lightly…

…instead, I write to lighten the load. 

I am a seer, 

I am a feeler, 

I am a visionary and

I am a dreamer. 

I am a writer; 

And a damn good one at that. 

Words ease the pain and isolation, 

Of my frantic brain. 

My attempt at poetry. I used to fashion myself a poet but it was a ruse. I put it on and wore it around for a while, like a petticoat that didn’t quite fit. I’m not a poet…the verses are too short and my writing tends to be lengthy. My thoughts are too disconnected; too scrambled for the subtle flow of poetry. No, I’m not a poet at all; I’m an empath.

Sometimes, I still write poetry but most of it is not good. I do it because the emotions rise within me and clog my brain. I do it because poetry is power and writing is better than exploding. Actually, a lot of my work spawns from half-written poems. I find it helps to expel the emotion before writing. Then, the logical parts of my brain can take over and I can communicate in clarity.

This particular poem has come about because I’ve been frustrated lately. This is how it happened: I published a book. The release of that book was exciting. Excitement for me, always leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to frustration. Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s just me. My emotions are a strong and pointed cascade which have ruled me for most of my life…so I have to learn to control them.

My mind is strong but scattered. I am an extremely adept learner and inherently curious. Knowledge is a drug for me and I yearn for it, when things around me become quiet. However, thoughts do not flow through my mind in an endless stream. The world comes at me in flashes; random and incomplete flashes. Writing, for me, is more like quilting.

I think this is why “The Writing Process” does not work for me. By the time I set down to put something on paper, it is usually already written in my head but it is scattered and stored along with little pieces of emotion. My job, as a writer, becomes retrieving each piece and sewing them together; so that they flow logically.

Sometimes, my writing doesn’t flow…sometimes it’s not logical…that’s just one of the prices I pay for having a mind like this. It is a great mind but it’s wild. I’m sure if I wasn’t so good at dodging teachers, principals and counselors, they would have diagnosed me with ADD…but my mom wouldn’t let them.

She’s too smart. She understands that brains don’t come in a “one size fits” all format and she has always seen the beauty of my mind. I’m glad for this everyday because it never gave them the chance to break me….

I hate when I do this…when I use terms like “them”. I hate feeling like “the system” is against me; like it wants me to conform and curses me when I don’t. It’s not the system’s fault…I think that it tries hard to “fix” people like me but medication and heavy scolding only leave the creative mind broken and tattered.

I see the fire within my children. I’m just waiting for the day; after the phone calls home for their “behavior” pile up and the teachers have deemed them ‘uncontrolable’ that the school system will try to tell me that there is something wrong with them. They will try to convince me that their outbursts in class are disruptive and that their thoughts are too big. They will try to get me to make them conform…but I wont.

Because they are beautiful. They are strange and wild and full of life. For a long time, they will probably not ‘fit in’ but then they will realize that fitting in is overrated and then their souls will soar. At least I can teach them; help them direct their minds and control their emotions. I can help them flourish but I will never tell them that there is something wrong with them. I will never tell them that the way their brain works is “wrong”…

…There, I go, I’ve trailed off again…

The purpose for me writing this was to talk about the ADD mind and the writing process. Because it is both a New Year and a New Moon, it is to lay aside my anxieties about marketing and sales and focus my mind on writing. It is to dig beneath the clutter and find the strand which will unravel my newest novel.

It is also to say that writing, in all forms, is as unique as the mind. We don’t all think the same way and so we don’t all write the same way. The differences between us are not meant to set us apart but to bind us together as a whole; to make us stronger. This is true for the writing community and this is true for society, as well.

Inventive Blog Award!

Standard
The Inventive Blogger Award!

I received this award from SassyMikee at Pray.Love.Live.Laugh. I’m super excited to receive (and bestow) this award! My blogging has come a long way this year and its exciting to be acknowledged by my peers.

Section 1: Directions for you to accept the The Inventive Blogger Award

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the The Inventive Blogger Award.

2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3. Include in your blog post *FIVE* things that you enjoy about blogging.

4. Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them- (please don’t alter the instructions or the badge!)

5. Come over and say hello to the originator of the “The Inventive Blogger Award” via this link:http://DonCharisma.org/2013/12/24/christmas-awards-the-inventive-blogger-award

6. And as a winner of the award- please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award, and then proudly display the award on your blog.

Section 2: FIVE things I enjoy about blogging.

1. The first thing that I enjoy about blogging is the transference of ideas between like and unlike minds. There is more than one blog for ‘every kind of person’ in the world and it feels inclusive…like we can put our differences aside and debate; if only for the sake of blogging.

2. Networking, of course. I like that I can read articles about writing and share them just the same. I like that I can find book review blogs and work with them or ask other indie authors for advice.

3. Getting my ideas out of my head. Well, I could do this on a notebook or in Scrivener (which I often do) but having a blog to spurt my random thoughts and ideas is a much better option. I like the idea that people get to see the “unedited” or “raw” version of AC Willis because every other piece of writing that I release into the world will be screened, edited and formed into something new by the time that it is published.

4. Reading blogs is better than reading a newspaper. Bloggers are opinionated and passionate (at least I know I am) so this doesn’t bode well for ‘fair and equal’ reporting but it is definitely more entertaining! I like when bloggers write fiery and pointed posts about current events (and I like to do it myself) because its a better portrayal of societies interpretation of the events.

5. The last (and most weighted) reason why I love to blog is simply because I love to write. I write in notebooks, on napkins, on toilet paper in the bathroom (tmi? Oh, well)…Writing is life and so Blogging becomes life…I’m okay with that!

Section 3: The Badge

doncharisma-org-the-inventive-blogger-award

Section 4: I’m awarding this “The Inventive Blogger Award” to :

1. http://storiessippedsinceslumber.wordpress.com/

2. http://octopusdance.wordpress.com/

3. http://sarecover.wordpress.com/

I award this award to all three of these blogs for various reasons…they are all very different. The one thing they have in common is their individual abilities to craft with words. These blogs have some of the most well written and interesting topics of all the blogs I follow.

 

 

Blog of the Year Award!

Standard

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

SassyMikee from Pray.Love.Live.Laugh has nominated me for the 2013 Blog of the Year Award! It is an honor for my little blog and this is my first nomination. 

2013 was a great year for my blog, as well as my personal life! It is an honor to be considered one of the best blogs of last year and I accept it with pride. 

I present this award to:

1. http://fictionfanaticandromance.wordpress.com/

2. http://aopinionatedman.com/

3. http://jodiellewellyn.wordpress.com/

4. http://hocuspocus13.wordpress.com/page/2/

Rules for Nominees

1-      Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog of The Year 2013 Award.

 2-      Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

 3-      Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them. (Please, don’t alter the instructions or the badges!).

 4-      Come over and say hello to the originator of the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award via this link:http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/blog-awards-2-/blog-of-the-year-2013-award/

 5-      You can now also join the Blog Of The Year Award Facebook Page Click the link here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/BlogoftheYear

 6-      And as a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award – and proudly display the award on your blog – and start collecting stars!

stars

stars

So you now have one from me, if you have one or two, three, four, whatever, already, Google for the image with the stars for the Awards you have.

Yes-That’s right-There are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once-this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ’1 star’ award- and every time you are given the award by another blog- you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favorite blogs- and even if they have already been given the award by someone else- you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum of 6 stars! You can either ‘swop’ your badge for the next one each time you are given the award- or even proudly display all six badges if you are lucky enough to be presented with the award 6 times!

You can find all the badges and banners and information you need via this link: ‘Blog of The Year 2013′ Award Badges.

Congratulations to everyone who received this award.