Tag Archives: Self Help

Yet another Adjustment

There is a beginning to these things and this beginning is a type of back story or an ethic if you prefer.   At its heart it the idea of a great quest.  A Great Quest is a concept one might encounter in a common novel of the fantasy variety.  I an sure that it occurs in other places as well but I have no examples that stand out in the front of my mind.

A great quest can be as simple as a journey through dangerous country or saving the princesses from a band of highwaymen and it can be very complicated like building an empire, discovering some long lost artifact or rediscovering some bit of knowledge that has been long lost. All of these are similar themes that run through many a story but the idea itself is not that foreign to our daily lives in a non fantastic context.  It is important to note that the Great Quest is not limited to fiction.  There are Great Quests that happen here and now in our shared reality, maybe not as glamorous as rescuing the princess but great none the less.

For instance, going for a higher education beyond a Bachelors for the sole purpose of gaining insight into a thing that is otherwise incomprehensible to you.  This could take a life time and odds are their isn’t a weekly paycheck in it for you, not that you can’t turn that knowledge into cold hard cash its just that the process is different.  A cashless journey to a far distant land and staying for a year, a life time or somewhere in between, even raising a family and keeping said family together is a Great Quest.  For myself the Great quest was knowledge, it was the world I wanted to understand, the human condition and why reality was the way that it was.  This great quest had two lines of attack, one the hard sciences and the second, the occult and mysticism.

Now that I think of it that probably should have been my first warning there that odd combination of seemingly incompatible fields of study.  To me though it made perfect sense as I had extrapolated them from a quote attributed to Carl Gustave Jung, “Psychology and physics are facets of the same concept.”  To me it seemed only natural to infer that Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, the Occult and Mysticism were all facets of the same concept, in this case human consciousness or humanity itself if you like.  Of course there will be time management issues but I felt as I slept very little that I should be able to manage.  I had contingency plans if something got derailed or if funding dried up or even if I needed to transfer schools in mid stream.  What I didn’t have contingency plans for was failure.

It has been said, by my Action Theory Professor that one cannot plan to fail.  One might argue that a contingency plan is a way of dealing with failure but I think these plans are for foreseeable obstacles and away of planning to succeed.  The Great quest is very much like a horse pulling a load.  Horses in this case often wear blinders.  These are used to keep the horse from being spooked by the various happenings around he or she.  People on the great quest also wear blinders in this case allowing them to concentrate full energy on the goal before them.  The down side to this is that when an event comes out of left field you don’t see it until just a fraction of a second before it makes contact.  This spells disaster and that disaster, in my case, was a mental breakdown.

I distinctly remember the sensation that all of that knowledge in Calculus, Wave Mechanics, Differential equations and Organic Chemistry stood like a house of cards built on shifting sands and when it collapsed it took a great deal more with it.  I was aware that I wasn’t going to be able to proceed into the Masters program right away, that I would need experience so that I might reinforce and strengthen the shaky knowledge I already had but at no point did I think I was crazy.  The thought never crossed my mind.  I entered the work force with out my degree thinking that in time I could go back and finish, the thought of collapse still hadn’t crossed my mind.  The hardest thing was the realization that the goal I had been working on since the age of 12 was now unobtainable.  That all that time and effort had made little or no difference and that not all problems could be overcome or goals achieved through nothing more than hard work.  Reaching this realization though would take some years.  I just couldn’t keep from continuing the act of pounding my head against the wall.  I think it was those blinders that kept me from grasping the reality of the situation more quickly.  In a weird way it was like suddenly finding yourself in prison, through no fault of your own and in this case the bars of the prison were your own mind.

What to do?

Everything had changed.

Rage was beginning to build.

I could plop down in front of a television and booze it up until I died.  Lots of people do that or something a kin to this each year in these days of late.  This is not new, people have been drinking themselves to death forever it seems, now its prescription drugs.  The difference is just the age.  I had to redefine myself.  I had to give up the great quest and turn it it into a hobby of sorts, something of a passing fancy I could dip into on rare occasion.  But that was only part of the solution, I also had to find something to do with myself, something I enjoyed.  This was very difficult.

In reality it comes down to how we define ourselves.  Many of us define our self by the Great Quest, or possibly a job description and even that we are a parent or wife or husband, when we lose this key definition, an idea so deeply entrenched in our minds and for so long that we aren’t even aware it is there.  It is a large part of who we are.  When this is gone it puts us at a loss.  We have a definition of ourselves that has been removed from our existence.  Finding a new direction is practically impossible without first realizing that underlying definition.

I can’t tell anyone how to do this, I don’t think there is an expert out there that can.  This is one of those instances where our individuality is most apparent.  We are peculiar beings.  In the end all I can do is point out that it needs to be done but I have no idea where the guideposts are or what they say.

To anyone going through something like this all I can do is wish you God Speed.  The only advice is introspection and perseverance.  The only wish…

Have a better than average day.

Comments Inspired by the Last Post

Art is about the process, they say.

I suppose that this is true.

When I mess around with visual art.  Old fashion Art which is mixed media on board or paper, generally, the idea of the process seems obvious, to me.  It is a struggle to get a image, a thing, from my mind’s eye onto paper.  It is a struggle between the mind which can be crisp and clear to the hand which, in my case, is far less certain.  What comes out at the end, whether I like it or not, is the result of this process or struggle.  Sometimes I surprise myself, not to say that I am particularly good at it, just to say that the end product is both pleasing to my mind’s eye and it comes with a sense of accomplishment.

Growing up and through into my late twenties I also had a love affair with the written word.  In this case reading it for leisure or escape.  I was always interested in the act of writing.  It was a thing that I was passionate about.  Well as passionate as I can be.  I was just never very good at it.  It seems that English wasn’t my strongest suit so when I wrote it was simply for the love of the act, the process.  I think that it is this love that keeps me working on a thing in which I fully realize I lack real talent.  In the case of writing, skill counts as well, but skill takes time.  It has been a serious education.

Here is the strange thing.

After I washed out of college and the work force I found that I had nothing but time.  I certainly didn’t want to spend my days sitting in front of a television set or later a computer monitor.  So I continued messing around with drawing, mixed media and writing.  From my experience, for what ever that is worth, schizophrenia, I think, is an ailment that in part effects that way one thinks.  We like terms like chemical imbalance or genetic defect and we avoid idea about states of consciousness and the power of world view.  World view in this case being about how thoughts are ordered, logic and the underlying assumptions that structure that logic.  I used to like and think that being schizophrenic was like having a waking dream.

It took time to get my head together well enough after breakdown to begin to tinker with words again.  I think it took several years before I started to put pen to paper with any regularity.  It was a challenge that I enjoyed and over time I could see my words and their use improve.  The better my writing became the clearer my thoughts grew.  I don’t want to undervalue medication in my case, but medication alone is not enough.  Meds aside, the decades that I have been working on writing whatever thoughts I may have on my mind, mostly fiction, have led to a certain state of clarity.  Not to say that I am as clear as a person free of Schizophrenia, simply that I am far clearer than when this whole hootenanny started.  I have reached a point where all of the people I knew personally with this diagnosis are now passed, the last being Meta’s sister.  That makes me the last person standing.  This leaves me with a weird feeling.

I can’t say that this path will work for anyone else.  My conclusions are drawn from purely anecdotal evidence.  Instead I forced to admit that I am lucky.  This is so because of my interests, studies, experiences and college course work before my breakdown and my relationship with Meta after Breakdown.  Change any one thing in that mix and I may not have survived to 30 much less 50 something.

It is times like these that leave me wide eyed with wonder at the staggering complexity of any individual life.  That every life has something nearly unique about its existence.  This is not a question of God or not God, but rather the wonder we each should struggle to maintain so that we may get the most out of each life.  It is a way for baffling the mundane, the bad days, the less than adequate work, short comings and failures we are all confronted by.

I hope you have a better than average day.

Aide for the Constipated

Feeling bound up?  Moving a little slow?  In need of a good purge?

Try Lay’s Potato Chips.

Before I go any further I would like to make two statements.

The first is that Lays Potato Chips did, in no way, sponsor this content.  Secondly, I have yet to try this remedy myself, but my brother swears by it.

So if it has been a few too many days since you have taken a proper dump and you find that you are moving just a bit to slow.  And you don’t care for commercial chemical stool softeners or laxatives.  Try a half of a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips.  That’s the Lay’s Classic thin chips in the yellow family sized bag.  Don’t let the size of the bag freak you out as they are no where near as big as they use to be.  You need to consume about a half of the contents of said bag.  This should be done earlier in the day and it probably should be a day that you’ll be staying in your home.

Brother states that with in eight hours or so you should experience a sudden and complete evacuation of the contents of not only your colon but a large percentage of the large intestine as well.  He states that it never fails.

As I said earlier, I have never tried this remedy myself and neither has Meta.

Happy pooping.

Have a better than average day.

Meta’s Sleep Workings

While writing out my 60s jokes for this blog, because it had been so many years since telling them last, I just couldn’t remember the second stanza of the elephant trilogy.  I asked others and then scanned their lists of elephant jokes on the internet to no avail.

Finally I thought of my memory aids.  The first ones that I had learned in a memory course that I took during the 70s.  As I cozied into my bed for the night I thought about what I wanted to remember then let myself forget it and relax into sleep.

Sure enough, still in bed the following morning it came to me without bidding.  If you are puzzling over a project or choice think over the problem – forget it- sleep – the answer will occur to you shortly after waking.

If you have things on your mind that you want to accomplish the next day that are keeping you awake try writing them down.  Afterwards forget about them as you cuddle back onto your pillow.  Rest soon follows.

Another technique to bring rest – picture yourself lying in the sand on a warm beach with sea breezes keeping you totally comfortable – feel your body grow heavy – sinking into the nice warm sand.  You will soon fall asleep.

My grand mother taught me that if I concentrated on the time I wanted to wake – then glanced at the clock – I could wake at the time I wanted with out the use of the alarm.

These sleep workings have rarely failed me – nor Iba after I taught him.

Mid Summer Vegetable Soup

Come August, around the beginning of the Month although sometimes we must wait until mid month, Meta and I make a special trip to the local farmers market for our first real fresh from the farm purchase.  It gives us an opportunity to gorge on local produce and local farms provide most of the ingredients we need for a large pot full of vegetable soup.

Generally by now in Ohio the tomatoes should be well established and even seconds will be available which are perfect for soups and sauces.  I am a scratch cook so for me its just a question of throwing whatever we find into a large stock put and cooking the shit out of it.  When I first started the category of Kitchen Witchery I had intended it to include recipes.  The problem for me is the odd fact that I don’t measure anything.  It has been a stumbling block of sorts.  So I am going to take a shot at getting this recipe down for your perusal using approximate measures and guesstimates.

So here goes…

16 quart stock pot

1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds of beef chuck (Optional)

1/2 peck of tomatos

4 yellow of light green peppers (sweet)

4 – 5 green peppers (sweet)

3-5 small or 2-3 medium zuchinni

a couple hand fulls of green snap beans

a couple hand fulls of wax beans

6 small or 4 large turnips

3 – 5 medium potatoes

two hand fulls of white mushrooms

one cup of pearl barley

clean veggies, chop or slice and skin when necessary (turnips) and throw in pot, don’t expect all the veggies to fit comfortably int the pot so save some, Potatoes especially for later in the cook.  Taters can cook to nothing so chop one for later in the boil into very small of thing pieces.

Tip 1:  Potatoes can be used to thicken the broth.  I myself don’t really care for thin broth

Tip 2:  Soup is at least 50% water.


4 and 1/2 table spoons of Thyme

3 Tablespoons of Marjoam

3 Tablespoons of Sweet Basil

! tablespoon of Savory

1 tablespoon of Rosemary

1 teaspoon of oregano

half of a teaspoon of black pepper

3 – 6 Bay leaves

3 – 6 cloves of garlic

Salt  (Don’t be shy)

Chuck the the chopped meat (optional), chopped veggies and Potatoes (Holding one tater the pearl barley back for a couple of hours, once the veggies begin to melt then these last two plus any other left overs can be added.)

Ideally the contents of the stock pot should fill said pot to a couple or three inches from the top.  Once this level has been established it should be maintained through out the cook.

Once a soft boil has been reached it should be maintained.  The heat can be high until boil is reached then the batch should be cooked over lower or low heat until finished.  As a rule of thumb the contents shouldn’t boil hard, if you get splatter from the inside of the pot onto your stove then the heat is too high.  I like to maintain a patch of bubbles maybe number six or eight or so near the middle of the pot.  Cook uncovered, add water as needed.  Stir frequently but not constantly.

If you want a neat amount of time on this mess I can’t give it to you.  Generally it takes about six hours once on the heat.  sometimes a bit more.  It is one of those dishes that takes most of the day to get right.  Taste it once it is well under way, and again after about four hours and you should have a pretty good ideas how the taste will develop.  Also use Thyme, Marjoam, Basil and Oregano along with Salt to finish.  Don’t be afraid of the salt as the ingredients are fresh.  Tasting as it cooks can give one the taste as it changes and develop strong anticipation of what it needs to finish. Whenever a person cooks from scratch and uses fresh ingredients it takes extra special effort to screw it up.  Meta and I will be putting this together later this very day assuming that nothing out of the ordinary happens.

If you want to try something a little different add a quarter cup of millet to the batch at the same time you add the pearl barley.

This has become our traditional (Twenty years now) Lamas meal and we usually party some once it has started cooking.  Even though this won’t be happening on the holiday proper I don’t think that really matters.

This is recipe is NOT intended for novice cooks.  But if you are a novice and have a sense of adventure don’t let this warning stop you.

Best of luck and happy eating.

Have a better then average day.

The Power of Hesitation

It is easy, I have found, to get caught up in the moment.  The mob is both frightening and enticing.  Once caught in its grasp there is this shifting of responsibility away from the individual  to the seething throbbing whole.  In this surrender of free will one find’s themselves trapped without feeling trapped,  Now if you are into this sort of thing then you can feel free to stop reading,  This is a piece about exercising free will and its not for everyone.

Any given individual is either a part of an event, acting with in their own sense of agency or in a neutral, observer state.  Rephrase, we are reacting, acting or hesitating.  The professor who taught the Action Theory class I suffered through back in college, one Doctor Robins, might have referred to this as a folk analysis or a folk understanding.  Well everybody has to start somewhere.   We do not just live in a world of events, we also live in a world of agents.  This is why an understanding, in an individual sense, is so important.  This debate, in my limited experience, breaks down between Predestiny (Determinism) verses Free Will (Action Theory).  Determinism is the idea that whatever choice you make today, at this second is based on all of the previous events, experiences and choices that you have made in the past.  Action Theory is dependent on the idea of Agency.

Agency means that some entities are actors and that they possess a thing or an ability that allows them to act that is known as Will.  There is an intellectual tendency to choose a camp but I prefer the quantum equivalent.   That any given individual exists in two states simultaneously.   The predestined state and the free will state coexist and that our resting state is the predestined state.  In the Predestined state we are simply reacting to the events taking place around us.  There is no exercise of free will.  Think of it like breathing.  You do it with out thought, it requires no exercise of will, it simply is.  A person simply breaths because their body demands it.

On the other hand there is Agency.  We are all born with this ability, we are all made to be Free Agents and we all have Free Will.  The choice, though, is like a muscle, it has to be exercised.  There is where the problem lies.  How can any individual tell the difference between a reaction and a choice, choice in this case requiring the exercise of Free Will?

This is where hesitation becomes important, the previously mentioned third state.  If one carefully observes others they have the opportunity to notice instant reactions when they occur, like the knee jerk response.  I swear to you I have seen people jerk their knee when they hear something or see something that they instinctively react to negatively.  Hesitation takes a great exercise of will.  It also involves some risk.  When The Christ stated turn the other cheek, he is talking about denying the reaction and concentrating on the action.  The act of Hesitating has to become trained, instinctive, it is through the act of Hesitating that any individual might be able to begin to detect the difference between reacting and acting.  Hesitating is an exhaustive process as it denies the instinctive response.  It also requires that part of the individuals attention constantly be cast inward in a semi reflective state.  Any one following this path needs a quiet space where they can just be.  This will give them the opportunity to rest and recuperate.  The path of Hesitation takes discipline and patience.  In time the difference between the two states, reacting and acting, will become easily discernible.  This will give the individual the opportunity to act when they think or feel they must and save their energy for pursuits closer to the heart.

The test is a simple one.  People, especially educated people, are experts at pushing other peoples buttons.  That is saying or doing something that will provoke a reaction.  So the next time some one hits you, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, or says a thing that cuts deep, that causes your body to scream and demand a response, hesitate.  While hesitating watch the reaction of the provocateur.

That is where the real education begins.

Develop Your Psychic Abilities

Try and predict which side of a Lays Classic Potato Chip has the most salt on it.  I have chosen Lays Brand chips because in my own experience the difference in the amount of salt from one side to the other is very noticeable.  If you can find some other chip that works for you then don’t let my recommendation keep you making your own choice.  The process is simple, focus on the act and keep the desire of tasting the salter of the two sides first, choose a chip and eat it, if you have made the right choice you should know immediately, don’t stop with one though.  The process must be repeated.  The participant should concentrate on and carry out the process with deliberate intent  My Calculations and the Calculations of other people state that after ten thousand hours of practice any individual should have attained expert status.

If you are going to eat the chips any way you might as well get something out of it.

May today and tomorrow be better than average days