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Tested and used by yours truly. Gathered from all over the InterWebs.

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I’m spending Mabon literally in the middle of an orchard. I’m in Italy and all around me they are harvesting apples and pears (the peaches were last week, melons the week before). The house we are staying in is 100s of years old and has been in the same family all of that time. There is a pomegranate tree in the garden, and I’m delighted to see one ‘in the wild’ because it’s so entirely new for me. When we aren’t cooking for ourselves, my husband and I venture uot to one of many local places where we are often the only Americans, if not the only ones speaking something other than Italian. We do our best to expand our vocabulary and laugh when they switch to English because we just aren’t very good at it.

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One of our ‘rules’ is that getting to a foreign country is so expensive that we want to stay there as long as possible.  Another rule is that we each pack only a piece of luggage small enough to carry on, and a personal bag. Yet another rule is that we do our best to dress like locals. This means we have to get creative about what — and how — we pack.

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Everyone knows the phrase ‘fair weather friend’ — the ‘friend’ who is only around and interested in you when when circumstances are pleasant or profitable. If the going gets tough or tricky, they just completely disappear. Not many consider that the opposite type is also possible.

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A Statement of My World View

In my world:
Who you choose to be your sexual partner does not define you.
Who you choose to love does not define you.
Whether you choose to have sex, or not does not define you.
What you do to earn money does not define you.
Whether you earn money for your labor does not define you.
Whether you believe in ‘deity’ in any form, duality, presence, or religious framework does not define you.
What color your skin is does not define you.
What school you got a degree from does not define you.
What level of degree (grade, high, bachelor’s, etc.) you have been awarded does not define you.
What gender you are does not define you.
Whether you have suffered violence does not define you.

In my world:
You are shaped by your thoughts and feelings.
You influence others through your expression (whether verbal, visual, or written).
How you treat others defines you.
What you do with your life defines you.
What you choose to do in response to others defines you.
Everyone is ‘other’ which is wonderful and a constant opportunity to learn.
We are all in progress, not perfect, and the journey is the process.

I recognize that my world is not THE world. In no way does my worldview accept ‘color blindness’ or ‘erasure’ or any kind of dismissal as acceptable. In recognizing the disparity between my worldview and ‘reality’ I offer my space — at home, work, online, teaching — as safe for everyone as long as they agree that different is not threatening, lesser, or to be cast out.

Fear can be unlearned; but it’s not on those you fear to help you. (They’ve got enough to deal with already.)

Hate cannot be tolerated.

(I almost can’t write this, I still feel intense shame.)

There were two times in my my life when I was poor enough to feel actual physical hunger. The first was when my parents first separated and I was living with my mother in a commune in Berkeley (CA).* I’d been wrested from a typical middle-class (white) suburban lifestyle full of meat and bread in unlimited quantities and thrust willy-nilly into a hippie commune. No sugar. Homemade bread. No meat, except when we killed a chicken or rabbit. Nothing processed.

I hated it.

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Seven ago today I began a process of deliberately poisoning my body; in the medical profession this is called chemotherapy.

It was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. Partly because it wasn’t a one time even, but a whole series of sessions. And it got worse as time went on.

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I woke up this morning with some thoughts rumbling around.

Many of us are being called to step away from our boring lives and do something just a little bit more to make our worlds safe again. This is a call to change, one happening on a much larger and more obvious scale than previous occurrences. If you’ve ever wanted to participate in history, rather than reading about it, the time is now. We have LGBT rights to retain, systemic racism revealed that must be dismantled, a climate on the brink of devastation, and a huge number of people in danger of losing what little support they have for staying alive.

It’s overwhelming.

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Ok, I had to get ‘creative’ for a few categories, but I have successfully completed the 2016 reading challenge!

I love to read, I also read for a living (thanks Facing North!). So you’d think these reading challenges would be easy.  .  .

Here’s is the complete list:

A book based on a fairy tale — Cinder, Marissa Meyer
A National Book Award Winner — The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
A YA bestseller — Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
A book you haven’t read since high school — Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
A book set in your home state — Fire Touched, Patricia Briggs
A book translated into English — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
A romance set in the future — Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigurp
A book set in Europe — The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World, Anthony Amore
A book that’s under 150 pages — In the Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak
A NYTimes bestseller — Dead Heat, Patricia Briggs
A book that’s becoming a movie this year — Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
A book recommended by someone you just met — Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble by Baniel Lyons
A self-improvement book — Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety, Robert Butera PhD, Erin Byron MA, Staffan Elgelid PhD
A book you can finish in a day — Venus Envy, Rita Mae Brown
A book written by a celebrity — Don’t Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes From the World’s Greatest Chefs, Various (bonus: — Steps in Time, Fred Astaire, extra bonus! The Measure of A Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier)
A political memoir — Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright
A book at least 100 years older than you — Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
A book longer than 600 pages — Summer Tree, The Fionovar Tapestry (book 1), Guy Gavriel Kay
A book from Oprah’s Book Club — One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A sci-fi novel — In Conquest Born, C.S. Friedman
A book recommended by a family member — Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
A graphic novel — Grendel Omnibus, Matt Wagner
A book published in 2016 —Leonard, My Fifty-year Friendship With A Remarkable Man, William Shatner
A book with a protagonist in your occupation — Personal Finance for Professionals by Susan Berson (yes, this is stretching it . . . but how many books feature an Administrative/ HR professional as the protagonist?)
A book that takes place during the summer — The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
A book and its prequel — The Naked Sun, and Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov
A murder mystery — The Family Vault, Charlotte Macleod
A book written by a comedian — Bossypants by Tina Fey
A dystopian novel — Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
A book with a blue cover — Anodea Judith’s Chakra Yoga
A book of poetry — Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
The first book you see in a bookstore — a blank journal
A classic from the 20th century — Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
A book from the library — You Have it Made, Ellie Krieger (cookbook)
A book about a culture you are unfamiliar with — — Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir, Wendy Burden
A satirical book — The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
A book that takes place on an island — Frommer’s EasyGuide Kauai 2016*
A book guaranteed to bring you joy — Taltos, Steven Brust

*what?

How are you doing?

Creating a kind of mission statement.

1. My mind, body and soul are very important to me. I promise to take care of them by…

Treating my body with respect for the hard work it does so elegantly. Cherishing its strength and helping it achieve its best level of health. Feeding my brain art, literature, music, and puzzles to keep it sharp and active. Filling my soul with art and music, and beauty so that I might maintain my divine connection with the Lord and Lady.

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