Cast aside all crippling fear. Believe in yourself. Be free.

 

free

All that rest and relaxation did me a world of good… gave me some perspective.

I’ll start the week with a quote from the founder of Buddhism

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.

Never fear what will become of you.

Depend on no one.

Only the moment you reject all help, are you freed.”

— Hindu Prince Gautauma Siddhartha (Founder of Buddhism, 563-483 BC)

Whether real or imagined, fear is what keeps us from making rational decisions.  When we shed our fears, we break free from the emotional and psychological shackles that keep us from doing what we need to do… from being who we need to be.

I have actually made this my own personal mantra.

 

 

Why should writers write?

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Why do writers write?

More importantly, why should writers write?

American author Charles Bukowski  (b. 1920 – d. 1994) tells it like it is:

So You Want to Be a Writer
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Never on a Sunday

Melina

Greek Actress, Melina Mercouri (Movie “Never on a Sunday“)

 “Relax. Refresh. Renew. Play. Sing. Laugh. Enjoy. Forgive. Dance. Love. Hug. Share. Kiss. Create. Explore. Hope. Listen. Dare. Trust. Dream. Learn. TODAY!”

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Kudos to the Non-profit Organizations and Volunteers Who Fight the Fight… to alleviate hunger, poverty and homelessness

Earth fragile future

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

 

I have always viewed volunteer workers and non-profit organizations – such as (but not limited to) The World Food Programme, Feeding America and Action Against Hunger/Action Contre La Faim – with deep and profound respect.

It is a difficult and thankless job.

Ahhh, but many of these dedicated men and women don’t view it as a “job”…  nor do they expect a pat on the back, let alone an actual “Thank You.”

Imagine, for a moment, what it must feel like to see hardship, hunger, poverty and sickness… day in and day out. Yet, these volunteers press on… hoping, no, praying that they are somehow making a difference, making a dent in this world epidemic that is Hunger.

Imagine what it must feel like to try to recruit people to help… to contribute their time and yes, their money, to a problem that – like it or not – affects us all.  So many people (too many) prefer to turn a blind eye.  Until it happens to them. And for those raising their eyebrow: it can happen to them. And to you. And to me.  It is never wise to be complacent. As we’ve seen with disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, it can happen in a flash.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

So today marks the last day of my 3½-week Help Fight Hunger book promotion.

To say that I am “disappointed” is a huge understatement, but it will not deter me from continuing to contribute my time and writing to helping others, to raise awareness on important issues that ultimately affect us all, and to hope that someone – anyone – will listen and perhaps even join the effort to help those who need our help.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the family members, friends, and colleagues who have been kindly “spreading the word” on behalf of my Help Fight Hunger campaign. Most importantly, I’d like to express my deep love and gratitude to my husband for putting up with all the intensity. 

I hope that I’ve provided you with some informative, thought-provoking blogs on a subject that is discomfiting, but nevertheless very current and critical. 

Thanks for reading.

― Heather

HFH2

Image (t the very top) via erikarachel.com.

Quid pro quo

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Business transactions have always been based on the principle of “quid pro quo” (something for something). Individuals and organizations barter their goods/services in exchange for other goods/services or for monetary compensation.

When there is a fair and equal exchange of give and take, all parties walk away satisfied and happy. However, when the exchange is uneven and unfair, this will inevitably result in dissention and conflict.

This translates to human interaction and relationships ― between spouses, families, friends, and communities. When the “give and take” is unbalanced, problems ensue.

Taking the concept of “quid pro quo” and placing it in the context of philanthropic work, what do philanthropists, non-profits, and community volunteers receive – in exchange for their good work?

First and perhaps most importantly, they get a sense of well-being from knowing that they have helped ease the suffering of another human being. That is, in my opinion, the highest form of quid pro quo.

Additionally, they receive visibility (for themselves and for their cause), potential business opportunities, and additional funding (to further their cause; to sustain their philanthropic efforts).

By reducing and, ideally, eliminating hunger, homelessness, and poverty, we help to make a nation prosper and thrive ― as a whole. We are stronger (as a nation) when we no longer need to allocate funds for assistance. Imagine a country devoid of poverty and hunger…  what a wonderful triumph that would be!

The flip side to quid pro quo is when organizations offer the poor and hungry an opportunity to pay it forward or to work, in exchange for food and board.

Thus, they finally have access to one of the most basic rights of all: the right to human dignity.

And if that isn’t quid pro quo, I don’t know what is.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

 

Image (t the very top) via bubblews.com.

Want a dose of wisdom? Talk to a taxi driver.

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Over the years, I’ve had some highly entertaining and very informative conversations with taxi drivers. If you ever want a spot-on gage (or gauge) of current socio-economic issues and seer-like accurate predictions of future events, speak to a taxi driver. These guys (although there are female cab drivers, it is still a male-dominated field of work) will always tell it like it is, without frills or any long-winded speeches. 

In an election year, forget what the polls say.  Ask a cabbie, and he’ll tell you who will win. He will usually be right.

Want to know how bad (or good) the economy really is?  Speak to a taxi driver.  He will filter out all the marketing rhetoric that the political pundits are espousing.  He will refute many economists (particularly the ones who back up the politicians) as they predict current and future economic trends.

Taxi driver wisdom is not unique to the United States.  Take a cab in any city or suburb in Canada, in Europe, or indeed anywhere in the world… and you will be a captive audience of one – a student in the University of Reality.

Before you laugh and shake your head in disbelief, I tell you that what I say is true.  I’ve “attended” many such “class lectures” – from Dublin and London to Paris and Berlin, from Vancouver (British Columbia) to Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), and in at least 35 states right here, in America.

I will tell you the latest “word on the street.”  Recently, I phoned my favorite taxi driver (Martin), to wish him a happy birthday (he and I were born in the same year).  I’ve known Martin for 15 years and he has become a dear friend.  After all the birthday wishes and catching up on each other’s news, I asked him the million-dollar question:

“So what do you think, Martin… are we in an economic recovery…  as we’ve been told?”

He laughed mirthlessly and said:

“Are you kidding me? Maybe the country club folks think that this is a recovery. They are not feeling the  pinch.  The middle class is. People are still struggling to make ends meet. Even my regular corporate customers are traveling minimally, taking no more than one or two business trips each quarter.”

I asked one last question:

“Is there an economic recovery in sight, perhaps in 2014?”

With a sigh, he said:

“Yes, probably towards the middle or end of 2014…. but it won’t be the recovery that we’ve all been praying for.  It will be a weak recovery. But, at least it will be a little better than it is now.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Martin.

So, there you have it. Taxi driver wisdom.

We’ll see how everything pans out.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

A Coffee Shop is Not Just a Coffee Shop

 working-in-a-coffee-shop

In cities across America, coffee shops have become a mecca for professionals to gather in one place and share experiences, intel, advice and networking opportunities.  Most of those guys and gals sitting at the corner table, intently working on their computer while nursing a cup of coffee for three+ hours…  are  educated people just trying to do their work or drum up some lucrative business in an economic market that has been challenging at best.  The real estate development folks refer to these coffee shops as “third places,” an extension to one’s living room.

It’s true, a coffee shop is not just a coffee shop anymore.  Many an interesting character can be seen frequenting these “offices” …   a lot of wisdom, gathered in one room.

Coffee Shop Jive

“It took him only fifteen minutes to walk to the coffee shop. It was hot and humid, but he was used to it.  The Panama hat that he wore shielded him from the sun, which was a good thing. He opened the door and was greeted by a blast of frosty air. “The staff always keeps the air conditioning on way too high,” he muttered to himself.  His favorite seat by the window was thankfully empty, so he strode over and placed his computer bag down.

Looking around, he noticed all the regulars. There were students, architects, retailers, some mellow reggae musicians, a poet and a few homeless veterans who had a lot of interesting stories to tell. Everyone usually stayed there for at least three or four hours, nursing their one cup of coffee and nibbling on a pastry. Money was still very tight for most people. The coffee shop was over-priced, but the customers enjoyed the music. The ambiance was nice.

He remarked to himself that he hadn’t seen some of his old buddies and colleagues for a long, long time.  2013 sure looked and felt a hell of a lot different from 2006.  A lifetime ago. Back then, they were all starting to feel the pinch of a tanking economy. One by one, his friends dropped out of the consulting scene. A few went bankrupt. Some divorced. Others had left the state and even the country. A few had died. There were several guys who seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. He decided to check his LinkedIn, to see if they had made any status updates.

He fired up his computer and, after an annoying few minutes, was able to sign on to his LinkedIn.  “The Wi-Fi is really slow in this coffee shop,” he mumbled. He clicked on some of his connections and what he read made him throw his head back and laugh out loud. One of his engineering friends wrote, under “Current Job:” … “Something Entirely Different.” 

As he scrolled down, he noticed that most of them were doing something entirely different. And he was no exception. That’s the nature of the beast. When the economy tanks and stays tanked for such a long time, you either sink or swim. You hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  It’s called Plan B. The interesting thing is that sometimes “Plan B” turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

He started moving his leg to the music. It was an old reggae song by Frighty & Colonel Mite.  The title, Life (Is What You Make It).”š

(PS: Seriously, this was truly the actual song that was playing!) 

Excerpt/vignette “Coffee Shop Jive” (pp. 104-105) from Casualties of the (Recession) Depression. Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.

HFHFrom Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Image (at very top) via visagemobile.com.

Plan B. Why we should always have one handy.

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“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

Of course, in reality it’s not always that simple.

When we shrug our shoulders and “let the chips fall where they may” – without any forethought or plan – we can’t really control the consequences. This is reactive thinking. And, nine out of ten times, we always regret not having planned ahead.

We are human. We make mistakes. We play the odds and miscalculate the results. Sometimes, our innate optimism clouds our thinking and we realize it only too late. And then the unimaginable suddenly becomes very imaginable, very real.

This happened to many middle-class men and women who were unprepared for such a severe and prolonged economic downturn. Jobs were downsized or eliminated. Savings dwindled. Credit card debt soared. Health insurance policies were suspended. Homes foreclosed. Food became a luxury.

In hindsight, what could we have done to prevent this from happening?

None of us expected this economic crisis to last so long, but it did.  That was out of our control.

We did, however, have control over how much we spent, how much we consumed, and whether or not we chose to live within our means. Many of us who were not proactive are now chanting “mea culpa, mea culpa.”

Let’s look at each of the problem areas:

(1) Jobs.  No job (full-time, part-time, or consultant) is secure. Even a loyal employee, working 25 years in the same company, can get a pink slip…. just like that. It’s important to keep skills honed, stay educated, and cultivate multiple optional career paths/opportunities. When we have back-up options, we are able to counteract the fallout from job loss.

(2) Savings. We must try not to succumb to the mentality of “immediate gratification.” This is a common problem in today’s society. The generation of men and women who lived through the Great Depression would probably be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at us. We should take our cue from them and exercise a little frugality and self-discipline. Save a portion of each check and don’t touch it unless absolutely necessary. Make sound investments. “Get Rich Quick” schemes are just that: schemes. As my mother used to tell me, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

(3) Credit Cards.  Ideally, we should only use debit cards. Credit cards should be used only on the condition that we pay them off (in full) each month. If we can’t do that, we are buying trouble by digging ourselves into debt. Stay in the black, not the red.

(4) A Roof Over Our Head. Here’s the unsettling reality: if we have a mortgage, we don’t own our home.  The bank does. If we can’t pay the mortgage, the bank will take “our home” away from us. We own our home only when we’ve paid the entire loan off.  This usually tales years, even decades. The good news is that eventually, we do own our home outright… if we play our cards right. Here’s the caveat: if we choose to get a second mortgage or an equity loan because we want to add a room or renovate a kitchen, then we drive ourselves deeper into debt… making that dream of full home ownership a more distant reality.

(5) Food. Eat wisely. Don’t waste.  Be sustainable. Buy fruit trees and grow vegetables… then there will always be food – even when money is scarce. 

Remember the adage: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” 

If we follow this simple advice, we may not overcome all of our problems, but we will definitely be on a stronger footing.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Perseverance and Hope

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since launching this Help Fight Hunger book promotion, I have been posting blogs in an effort  to raise awareness on the hunger crisis that is not only afflicting the very poor, but also the middle class ― a class that is steadily descending below the poverty line, as a direct consequence of this serious, prolonged economic downturn. I’ve illustrated how this crisis has no geographic boundaries.  Its force and devastation is reaching communities around the world. I’ve shown you statistics, possible solutions, and highlighted some of the wonderful work and philanthropic efforts that individuals, communities, and non-profit organizations have been doing to help alleviate hunger. I’ve also posted some excerpts from my book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, to give you a snapshot in words of some of the challenges that people face. The vignettes are not fiction. They are real stories, featuring real people.

I am sad to report that my Help Fight Hunger book promotion has been a dismal failure thus far. Not one direct sale.

That said, I will continue the effort.

In this last week of my book promotion, my posts will focus on a powerful force which provides essential spiritual “fuel” to many of these men and women:  Hope.  

Hope is that source of renewable energy which helps us to wake up each morning, ready to face and battle the daunting challenges head-on.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I’ll say it again and again: There is always hope.

This, I know for sure.

Tomorrow’s post:  “Plan B.”

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.  As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third-party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.