Category Archives: Writing

Pegi Young, and Women Who Can’t Live Without Men

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You know the type.  Even though he cheats on her….even though he bashes her behind her back…even though he is a serial liar, she clings to him, because she can’t live without a man to accompany her. Regardless of what he does, she HAS to have a man beside her or she doesn’t feel worthy or complete.

However, if  you’re in a relationship with someone who used to make you happy and no longer does, what keeps you there is not love, it’s fear, so don’t talk to me about being soft-hearted or forgiving, because you’re a fool, if this applies to you, and everyone who knows the two of you also understands this.  They just don’t have the heart to tell you.

If he has cheated once, he will do it again…and HAS…and still continues to.   You think by staying in an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship you are doing the right thing.  You convince yourself that things will get better, that he’ll change and that it’s not that bad, you can live with things the way they are. But the truth is you can’t and you know it.   Pegi Young is a woman who has said, “To hell with it…” and has forged a whole new life for herself, despite the public humiliation of her former husband’s infidelities.  I admire her for this.

Pegi Young turned that negative experience into a positive one.  She turned it into art.

This morning, NPR did a show about how Neil Young had dumped his wife of 36 years for the younger, prettier Daryl Hannah, shown here relaxing in France.

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But this story isn’t really about Neil Young.  It is about his ex wife, Pegi….the woman who was jilted….because she didn’t ‘just crawl into a hole and go away.  She embraced what happened to her in a way that puts Neil to shame.  Yes, “the best revenge is living well,” or so they say, and Pegi Young is doing just that.

I’ve heard a lot of people criticize her for putting out this album and drawing attention to herself at “this age” but I love it that she did this. Her album is not necessarily my cup of tea, and I have been a Neil Young fan forever, but I admire Pegi for taking the reigns and being in command of her own destiny regardless of what he did to her. Making this album demonstrated tremendous inner strength, and it doesn’t matter how old she is, what she looks like, how “jilted” she was when she did it.  She did it to heal, and I admire her for it.

Her new album is called, “Raw”….and it is.  She said that writing the songs that are on it is what got her through, i.e. saved her life. Each of her new songs deals with one of the seven stages of grief.  In this song, “Trying to Live my Life Without You,” Pegi wrote, “We regretted the changes that brought us to now. I’d take it all back if I only knew how. You can drive on away with the weight of demand. And the road keeps on going until you find where you land….”

She has made a statement that makes HER look like the better person. She has taken a pile of shit and turned it into gold.  I have so much respect for a person who does something like this instead of deciding to wallow in the shit as their lives go by with disrespect from their partners.  Pegi Young is a strong woman.  A REAL woman, and she has my respect.

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Stumptown Winter

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Cold season’s sky

The color of

old men’s teeth.

Discouraging,

like poverty,

a hapless, heavy gray.

Freezing rain.

Needles piercing tattooed skin

Staggering,

Like an angry crowd’s

paralytic crush.

Then a bud,

A blade of chartreuse grass.

It only takes an infant’s smile

To excise labor’s pain.

By Stacy Alexander, 2017

Happy Leap Day…well, I think…

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On this, the last day of February, I recall how I used to pity those poor kids who could only celebrate their birthdays on the actual date, every couple of years.  I felt uncomfortable about the ambiguous nature of the leap year birthday. I mean, those poor kids had to hesitate and figure out an understandable response to the question, “How old are you?”.

I have always had a distaste for ambiguity.  Therefore, I ask a lot of questions.  (Liars HATE it that I ask a lot of questions.  I catch them off guard, it seems…)  I ask people a lot of questions, not because I’m nosy but because when I have all the facts about a given situation, I can make better decisions for myself.  It isn’t a judgement issue.  It’s more like:  “If you’re going to do this….then I’m going to do that.”   “If you are going to call back later, I’ll leave my phone on.  If not, I’ll turn it off so I won’t be disturbed while I work.”  It isn’t that I’m asking someone TO call back.  Whatever their decision about this is, will be fine with me.  I just want to know one way or the other so I can take action accordingly.

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Turns out that science has now substantiated why ambiguity bugs me ( or all of us) as much as it does.   The phenomenon  actually screws with our heads.   According to a study published in the Journal of Science, the reason lies in how the brain responds emotionally, and sometimes, even illogically, when forced to make decisions based on conflicting or little evidence.   These so-called ambiguous decisions are different from decisions that we think of as risky decisions.  No wonder the person who is being lied to, for example, appears so nutty to the rest of the world. That person is being fed conflicting information.   The heart hears what it wants to hear, but the head says, “Um….hold on there just a minute….That doesn’t make sense!”

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Wait….If it looks like a duck…then, it IS a duck….but it also looks like a rabbit.  Which do I choose?

When faced with a risky decision, one  is not sure about the outcome of a particular choice but can have a notion about the probability of success. In an ambiguous decision, a person is ignorant of both factors.  Thus, the uncomfortable feeling….the uncertainty, and sometimes illogical and absurd behaviors.

Brain specialists  would say ambiguity is the discomfort from knowing there is something you don’t know that you wish you did.  This probably stems back to the fight or flight area of the brain, the hippocampus, and is a matter of survival.   In the previously mentioned experiment,  subjects were given the opportunity to place  ambiguous bets while their brains were scanned using a functional magnetic resonance imager (fMRI).  In this part of the experiment, participants  were given the choice between placing a monetary bet  on the chances of drawing a red card from a “risky” deck that had 20 red cards and 20 black cards…that is, where the probability of choosing either color was 50-50, and making the same bet with an “ambiguous” deck where the color composition of the cards was unknown.

In the majority of  cases, the participants  decided  to place the risky bet. Logically, however, both bets would have been equally good because in both cases, the chance of pulling a red card on the first draw was 50-50.

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The brain scans taken during the experiment revealed that ambiguous betters were often accompanied by activation of the parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).  These are  two areas of the brain that are involved in the whole emotions processing thing.   The  amygdala has been found to be closely associated with fear, which, again, harkens back to being in survival mode.   If you think about it, a correlation between aversion to ambiguous decisions and activation of emotional parts of the brain makes  perfect sense from an evolutionary point of view.  Do I go into that dark cave or don’t I?  Well, first, I need to know if a saber toothed tiger is in there, right?  And I’m going to be a little nervous about it until I find out.  Should I leave my boyfriend or not….Well, first, I need to find out if he really IS cheating on me.  In the modern human brain, this translates into a reluctance to bet on or against an event if it seems at all ambiguous.

The results of this study could help those of us in the field of Psychology,  understand how humans make decisions in the real world, because the choices people make are often based on very limited information.  (i.e…..All signs point to cheating, but he denies it….or I’m not going to walk into that dark cave if there’s a tiger in there, because it will eat me alive. )

Makes sense to me.

Anyway….Happy Birthday, Leapers…er…Leap Yearlings…um…people whose birthdays are on leap year.  Here’s a nice mug.  Have some coffee.

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The Writing Life

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The Mills Brothers  released their hit  “Too Many Irons in the Fire” in 1946.  70 years later, this song could be designated my theme song. Yet, how many irons are too many?  I suppose that much is subjective.

I live a multi-faceted existence and always seem to have a lot of irons in the fire.  With the onset of the new year, however, I find myself busier than ever, but I am also happier than ever, and with great hope for the future.

I am working on opening a new business and have been developing workshops and programs for that, gathering partners and finances, and creating a dynamic endeavor that may take a couple of years to get off the ground, so  I continue to work on other things as I focus on getting this done.

A friend, who is a former celebrity client from a decades-ago stint I did with an entertainment law firm, contacted me over the holidays to ask if I would be part of a $25 million capital raising campaign with a view toward producing 5 new independent films.  I will be working in the capacity of a consultant, designing social media promotions and campaigns, but won’t know many details until some time next week. This will be my first MOIP-related, salaried work I have done since I received my masters degree, and while I’m excited about the work, this is not what I’ll be doing professionally, in the long run, but that is another story for another time.

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In addition to my art work, a large part of my vocational time is spent writing.  I have my various creative writing projects going on….my cookbook, my novel, my poetry and short stories, all of which take the back burner too often in favor of the writing work that I get paid for.

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Over the last 48 hours, I have written essays on the world-renowned Monte Pascoal cigars, Missouri fly fishing, eyeliner, the Bakken oil fields, Maternity photo shoots and the merits of portable ballet barres.  I have written essays for a graphic design company, two criminal law firms, a judge, an artist and a physician whose specialty is the treatment of diabetes.  I have a long list of articles to complete today, and another list of articles that I will have to complete from our retreat at Lake Tahoe.

I have honed article writing down to a fine art and can knock out what my editors designate as “high quality” writing in a very short period of time.  My research skills were honed to perfection while I was in graduate school, and I am able to produce many articles in a short period of time.  All this, is in addition to writing the Chinese fashion catalog that provides an endless stream of work.

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Admittedly, I do not feel a lot of passion about the paid writing that I do.  My heart lies with my creative work, but the paid work provides a good income, and I rather enjoy it.  It isn’t what I intend to do over the long run, but for now, it is fine.

I work through a number of different agencies.  Over the years, my ranking has risen to the top with many of these agencies, and I have received a more noteworthy status than I once had as a hack writer.  Today, I am frequently notified by editors and former clients, so that the majority of the work I do is for private clients or special projects.

My work involves long hours and intense concentration, and, therefore, results in my having to make a special efforts to exercise and stay healthy.  This work can be all-consuming, and it is as easy to forget to eat and exercise as it is to breathe.  There have been days when I have started work before the sun came up, and ended it well after midnight.

In this new year, I shall endeavor to moderate my writing into a more manageable enterprise.  I vow to place my health first, and to exercise twice a day, beginning each morning with  yoga and a long walk, and doing a concentrated aerobic effort each afternoon. I have been doing this three times a week, but I am going to up the ante.

This freedom to arrange my schedule as I want it is the primary reason I continue to pursue the writing life.  This freedom to travel.  This freedom to begin and end work when I want.  The freedom to take off a half hour when my best friend calls, or the freedom to stop what I’m doing to pick Ingrid up from school.  These are the reasons that I write.

Tomorrow, as my friends go to their offices and get snagged in rush hour traffic, I will be departing for Reno/Tahoe.  THIS is why I engage in the writing life.  This freedom to leave when I want or to sleep as late as I want …..although I am an early riser….this freedom is why I write.

 

 

 

It’s Official! 

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There is no greater feeling in life than accomplishing a goal that one has worked hard to achieve….well, maybe seeing my daughter receive HER masters degree was a greater feeling, but this is a significant personal milestone and I’m feeling pretty good about it today.  Congratulations, me. 😀  

Nepal

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Click HERE to learn how to offer relief effort to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal.

(Thank you, Karma Hallmark)  xoxo

A “Ten Things” Check In

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A “Ten Things” Check In

I am spending very little time online these days.  Time is fleeting as I count down the days until my final 10 weeks of school work and I am staying quite busy….working, playing, learning….  There are not words sufficient enough to describe how much I needed and am enjoying my current break.  My capstone (thesis) course begins on Sunday, but I probably won’t check in and look at it until Monday.

During my break, I have accomplished a lot and have felt joyful and happier than usual, simply because I have so much to feel grateful for …and because I am so close to completing this monumental goal in my life.  Things seem to be falling right into place in virtually every area of my life.  However, I remain ever-mindful that I could lose it all in an instant. That is the nature of life……so I am enjoying what I have in the moment, and am feeling extraordinarily thankful.

Here are some of the things that make me feel so lucky:

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#1.  John – My husband is such a good person.  He is a genuine blessing in my life.  His play writing endeavors are getting a lot of positive attention and reviews.  It makes my heart jump with joy to see him thriving in this way.  He is happy, so I am happy.  That’s how a good marriage works.  His job is also going very well.  He was just promoted and given a nice raise and a extended contract…AND, he will now be an exclusively online professor, meaning that he can work from anywhere in the world.  He will be moving back home to Portland  at the end of May, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  We have many adventures planned together.  While we have settled into our separate routines in separate cities over the last five-ish years, with him coming home during holidays and over the summer,  we have always wanted to be permanently reunited.  This will be a dream come true for us both.  This will also give me the opportunity to take care of him better…diet, exercise…tender loving care.

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#2.  Art – I am on a roll with my art, becoming more inspired each day, learning new skills, trying new techniques.  Just this morning, I finished a mixed media portrait of my best friend called, “Lightworker”.   My head is constantly filled with art.  Right now, I am taking one of Deryn Mentock’s fabulous jewelry making classes, but I am also designing a new mosaic fireplace surround for our house, working on a painting, doing a series of guitar-related art, working on a new tee shirt graphic and am generally living the art life.  I love it.  I set aside a number of hours every evening to focus upon and create new art.

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#3. Music – Music, of course, is its own form of art, but I feel it deserves its own category.  I am practicing my guitar each day and still taking lessons. Not getting very good, but am learning a lot.  The main problem lies in the fact that despite being a keyboardist for the vast majority of my life, I do not have strong hands.  I understand how to play guitar perfectly.  My fingers, however, struggle.   I am, again, taking the Berklee College of Music songwriting course, and I will probably enroll in it again and again.  Even though the lessons are the same each session, I learn something new each time.

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I am working on writing these country songs that are really coming together!  I am also still attending jams on Sunday afternoons/evenings and am becoming deeply immersed into the Portland music scene.  I am having fun, meeting a ton of great people and have found yet one more thing to be grateful about.

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#4.  Friendship – With each passing day, I am more thankful for my best friend and the energy, love and kindness that he bestows upon me.  Two peas in a pod, we are, and demonstratively indestructible.  He is a gift straight from heaven.

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This is real love….real friendship, and I am grateful for it every minute of my life.  It has its negative side, as all things do, but since I have learned to ignore that, I am better able to reap the benefits of the positive. I used to take the negative aspects into my heart and allow them to hurt me or worse, allow them to make me angry.  Today?  I can’t believe I ever allowed them to bother me.  The positive is SO good, that it completely cancels out the negative.  I simply ignore the fluff and embrace the substance.  The love is substantial.

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  In addition to my bestie, I have other friends that enrich my life every day that I live it.  My friends are exceptional people, individuals from whom I continue to laugh with and learn from.  I am so fortunate to have these awesome, intelligent, remarkable people in my life.  What a gift!

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#5.  Organization – I am becoming remarkably organized, purging things from my life, becoming more minimalist, materially, and less dependent on STUFF, as I become more dependent on living a rich, full and active life.  I am sorting, adding shelves, tossing things out, donating things and really taking a new perspective on every THING that I own.  Stuff is simply not that important to me any more.  I find it easier and easier to let go.

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#6.  Adventure – I am trying new things a lot…going places I’ve never been, re-examining things that are familiar to me and seeing them through more appreciative eyes.  I am studying things more….nutrition, geography, philosophy….and taking on new perspectives about virtually everything.  I love trying new things and learning lessons about them.

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#7.  Simplicity – This one fits in closely with my binge toward organization.  I am learning to simplify…physically, emotionally and in every way.  If something is not working in my life, I have learned to simply move on with no regrets.  This happened with a couple of members of my family that simply could not be happy with anything I did in my life.  Therefore, I simply let them go and moved on happily, with no regrets and no negativity.    It’s funny.  I have let go of family members, but have not had to let go of any friends….but I will, if I need to.  I just haven’t needed to.  My friendships remain positive, probably because of the old adage that you can choose your friends, but not your family.

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#8.  Family – This is another category that should go higher on this list, in terms of priority…but I’m not writing these things in order of importance.  I am writing them as I think of them.  My family has taken some dramatic shifts over the last few years.  I have grown very close to my mother and father.

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I have grown closer to my cousins and have an Auntie that I feel very close to and thankful for.  I have a new daughter-in-law with whom I am very close, and a new grandchild who delights me with each encounter.  I love and appreciate my family here in Portland, and thrive on my encounters with little Ingrid.  I have grown closer to my granddaughter, Maya, and embrace the idea that she will soon live here in the Pacific NW again.  I admire her sense of adventure and love it that she is not afraid to make drastic changes and try new things.  She is an adventurer of whom I am quite proud!  I am one lucky woman and I know it!  Exceptional bunch of people, my family…..at least some of them.  😉

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#9.  Finances – I am learning more and more about business, about how to manifest money….about how to work the system to my advantage so that I might help others. I’ve learned to make lists and to prioritize.   It gives me such pleasure to share what I have and to make other people’s lives easier.  Using my financial prowess to do good in the world is my ultimate goal.  So far, so good.

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#10 – LIFE – Life, in general, is good, but I never take it for granted.  Rather than fear the future, I am grateful for what I have in the moment.  I know there will be losses eventually, but I prefer not to focus on that and, instead, really live the life that I have, while I can, and to do as much as I possibly can with a big smile on my face.  Life IS good!

Life in the Fast Lane

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Life in the Fast Lane

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
—William Blake—

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Life has really begun to ramp up for me here in Portland.  As I near the end of the term, I find myself getting less and less sleep as I toil into the wee hours of the dawn in a fervid  attempt to finish up my final paper and the term.  This one is a bear….a minimum of 30 pages, and involved performing an assessment of a major corporation, analysis of the data and then an action plan for strategies and interventions.  Suffice it to say, I have learned much in this course, but I’m ready for it to be over!  I still have to prepare responses for the class discussion by tomorrow night, and to do the same for the forensics class.  Then….it will all be over.  I will have about a week off, and then I will begin the final journey with my thesis/capstone course.  10 weeks after that, I will graduate.  Feels great…but I’m beat!

On the work front, I am still writing the Chinese fashion catalog.  It is very time consuming, so I switch from project to project, ever inching toward the light at the end of the tunnel.  Love is what propels me forward.  I am in love….and that gives me a good reason to do everything that I do.  Love gives me purpose and energy….and it makes me happy.

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This Saturday, my friend, Shannon Kringen, (artist, model and television personality) will be driving down from Seattle to attend a Wayne Dyer seminar with me.  The day-long seminar will provide an opportunity to free oneself, now and forever, from the chains surrounding limited, often self-sabotaging thinking and:

  •  Let go of that ego-dominated, controlling part of the persona
  •  Become free from pervasive, ego-driven thoughts
  •  Cleanse one’s self- perception
  •  Come to feel, know, and rely on the divinely-connected self

The philosophy behind it is this.  Every one of us has both a personal self as well as an impersonal aspect to our being. The personal self, or personality, is being directed at all times by the mind and the five senses.

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This  day-long seminar is an opportunity to free oneself from the emotional ties that bind…to become more creative and emotionally free. In order to awaken to this fact one must get away from the consciousness of  the body and intellect, that enslave us all.  The seminar intends to teach us to  feel our infinite impersonal self within and come to know and rely upon it at all times. “From the perspective of the infinite, it is obvious that the individual self ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT EXIST.” This is a truth that the personality, with it’s ever dominating ego presence cannot and will not tolerate.

The seminar will include a  presentation from Anita Moorjani, who had a momentous experience of truly understanding the title of this seminar I AM LIGHT, wherein she came face to face with her omnipresent impersonal self in the Light, and was miraculously healed of a ravaging cancer that had left her in a coma. Her book, Dying To Be Me (also an Online Course) is now considered to be a classic in contemporary spiritual literature.  Anita will speak on the power of forgiveness as a tool for coming to live each day from a place of divine love and living in the light.

So….I am looking forward to this.  It will provide a nice way for me to ease into this next stage of my life.  I feel happy and positive and eagerly look forward to it.

Meanwhile….back on the ranch….

Today, I will begin a new Deryn Mentock jewelry class.  This one is called BoHo Bliss.  It isn’t too late to register, if any of you are interested.  Just click THIS LINK to sign up.  Deryn makes very cool jewelry.  I love her style, and have managed to use her techniques to discover my own voice in the jewelry making realm.  Every single piece of jewelry I have made using Deryn’s techniques (adjusted to be my own) has sold almost immediately.  Her work is beautiful.  She is a beautiful soul, and her classes are fun.  She is a fantastic teacher.

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So…for now, this is all.  It’s enough. Right?  🙂  I am off to finish up that paper….and to start my first lesson with Deryn.  (This is the third class I’ve taken from her.)  But first, it’s time to go for a puppy walk…..

Have a great day, everyone.

Jose Padua: The Night We Tried to Get a Poet Arrested

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Jose Padua: The Night We Tried to Get a Poet Arrested

Fantastic!

Vox Populi

I remember the night my friend and I tried to get a poet arrested
for his crimes against literature, his hiding
of horribly sentimental lines by speaking like a seller
of cheap real estate, those broken down houses
where everything and everyone leaks, in neighborhoods
divided by the tornado roar of long, slow trains, night and day.
It was just poetry, I know, words arranged like a landscape
of dark trees against the, whatever, azure sky,
but why should he escape punishment like the stealers
of poor people’s minority fortunes, the rule makers
who make us break our backs at hard labor
while they sit up high in penthouse suites
eating their feasts, drinking the best wine,
as they sneer at the riff-raff drawing heavy strings
and pushing square wheels along concrete floors
in the moldy basement, thump thump?
We called the police. “There he is,” I said,
“at the…

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Regret is usually a waste of time. As is gloating; A precautionary tale for the clueless…

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Do you know anyone that gloats when he or she perceives triumph?  I’ve witnessed this, and we happen to be studying the cognitive structure of emotions right now in one of my psych classes.  Thus, this entry.

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If you’re like me, there are times when you just can’t help but feel sorry for the person doing the gloating….especially when he or she is doing it  under false pretenses….that is…when the gloater THINKS things are one way….and they gloat…while everyone else is sort of making fun of them or clucking their tongues because that person’s perception of reality is WAY off…..but do you ever wonder what actually causes someone to gloat?   In a word….insecurity.   Public appearances and saving face are huge issues with the person that gloats.  The phenomenon is initially caused by comparing oneself with others, with insecurity and with envy, and it has deep neurological roots.

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The smugness and malignant pleasure associated with gloating has to do with envy that is believed to be overcome by a feeling of personal triumph.  According to neuroimaging studies, the part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activates when envy occurs.

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This happens because coming up on the short end of social comparison violates the person’s self-concept, resulting in emotional pain. The more superior the assets and attributes of the target person in a social comparison, the greater the envy will be.  When the gloater believes that the envied person experiences misfortunes , strong activation occurs in the ventral striatum, a key reward node in the brain….and gloating takes place.

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Gloating can also be at the root of specific forms of humor.  For instance, we might laugh when we see a slapstick comic fall down on stage.  People that are prone to gloat might also laugh when they perceive that a person that had power over them gets “knocked down a peg or two,” and gets “put in his or her place “.  The emotion is stronger the less the gloater cares about the individual, the more the gloater holds that person responsible for some misdeed,  and the more the event was unexpected.  Gloating can feel especially sweet if the gloater envied the person or wanted revenge against them.

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Just a precautionary measure.  Consider that you might be wrong before you publicly gloat about something.  You might look much less silly if you do.  “He (or she) who laughs last, laughs best.”

Just sayin’…..

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