It never rains in Southern California.
Last night it rained here in Orange County. It rained hard, it rained for a long time, and it was decidedly chilly; which is a change from the perfect weather I’ve come to expect here. In SoCal I have come to expect perfectly blue skies and perfectly warm sandy beaches. But then, nothing is ever truly perfect, not even you or I, and it is our own imperfections that make us who we are.
Each person is unique, and each of us bears the scars of our past, suffers the stresses of the present, has hopes and fears for all possible futures. Each of is a kaleidoscope of conflicting thoughts, emotions, and character traits. All of us has character defects and personality problems to one degree or another.
Each of us has been hurt, suffered, tried and failed, and had Pyrric victories. Each of brings into the present physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and spiritual wounds from the past. Right now all of us has difficulties to overcome or tolerate. We may have emotional, financial, medical, relationship, or spiritual problems; or all of those and more.
But then, we are not perfect.
There is no cure for imperfection. There is no mileage in blaming others for our pain, problems, and thwarted desires. And, yet we do blame our partners, lovers, ‘friends’, employers, the government….. for our own imperfections. We become angry, depressed, frustrated, impulsive, jealous, judgmental, and sometimes dangerous. We criticise and blame.
Why do you look at the mote in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the beam in your own eye? – Matthew 7.5
Some say that Life is difficult and painful. And that it is only through suffering that we can ever hope to achieve enlightenment. All I know is that it has been my own wants, lusts and desire for instant gratification that has caused my problems and pain.
The way to freedom from suffering and pain is through self-control in body mind and spirit. Striving for perfection is to chase a wraith… an illusion. Better to strive to grow, to develop and evolve, to be a ‘better’ person today than we were through all of our yesterday’s. Better yet to walk the warrior’s path with grace, honour, honesty, and openness towards an enlightened future.
I strive each day to be more accepting, less judgmental, more honest and open, kinder and more understanding than I was in the past. I try each day to be fitter and healthier in body, mind, and spirit.
But then, I am not perfect.
if I am not careful I can become Mr. Hyde
Only I can change my life ~ no one can do it for me.
Life is about change. Without change, without variety, without some stress in Life, all will stultify and diminish. Without change there can be no growth, and without growth and development all things will wither away and die.
I will not meddle with that which I cannot mend. ~ Thomas Fuller
But, as the Serenity prayer tells us, there are some things that we cannot change, some things that have to be accepted, and the wise learn to know the difference. I can think of a myriad of people, places, and things I cannot change. In reality no one can change another person, unless that other absolutely wants to change. This is why it is mostly pointless trying to talk to most addicts in an effort to make them change their ways. This is why many relationships, and many marriages, end in failure and recriminations. This is why there are wars.
A while ago I resolved to stop trying to change others and instead decided to work on myself to become a better person. That is now my lifetime’s project, and it doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes I make progress, and sometimes I go backwards a couple of steps or more ~ it’s like a man walking into a gale, sometimes he wins and sometimes the storm wins. In the last few days I think the wind won more than I did. In the last few days I went with the wind and my negative emotions, and that meant I really staggered in the wrong direction. In other words I totally fucked-up, again. For me, going with the flow is usually the wrong choice.
Life will do it’s best to deceive you. You may get knocked down, but you must always get up again. The mark of a really great boxer is not that he never gets knocked down. A really great boxer can get knocked down, but he will always get up again. And that’s up to and including Mohammed Ali in his all prime and pomp.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.’ ~ Thomas Edison
The English language is filled with wise sayings, allegories, parables, and proverbs. As you would expect a lot are by Churchill; ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often…’ Then from Scotland we have the allegory of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which gave us the saying; ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again…’ But we also have almost the converse of that saying…
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein.
The Goddess knows I have been there often enough ~ every time I took a drink I expected it to be different from the last time, and it never was. But, somehow I usually got away with it.
Back in my illustrious career in banking I once went into a meeting on Madison Avenue with no ideas and nothing but blank pieces of paper in my briefcase. I had got good and drunk in the Plaza the night before, so I both looked and felt far from my very my best. But I stood up in front of the board of the world’s biggest advertising agency and tried just one more time. I told them not what they wanted to hear, but what I wanted to make happen. It worked. The thing is I didn’t give up, and I didn’t try to change anything except myself.
After that almost debacle I resolved to make a big change by giving up banking for good. It was the wrong change ~ I should have given up booze for good. Back then I didn’t have enough serenity within me to even think about being sober for life.
Right now, today, all I try to do is be the best Jack Collier I can be, sober. That is difficult enough for anyone. I realise that life is difficult and painful. I know that the causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, lusts, and the blaming others for my faults. I now know that I can’t change others and I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change what I do, and how I react to people places, and events.
I know that the warrior’s road to freedom from continual distress, pain, and suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, spirit… and that’s a hard road to walk in honour, honesty, and truth. I try to always walk that road, and often I fail. But, at least I try, and perhaps not one in ten men even do that.
The world and the sky is ours if we want it enough.
Don’t be ashamed of your story ~ it will inspire others.
When nothing is ventured, nothing is gained, so what’s the sense of running away from your own life. The good things just don’t fall out of the sky, they have to be worked for. But we have to do the right things, at the right time, in the right place, with the right people. Trying to force the best that Life has to offer doesn’t ever work ~ we have to work with the rhythms of the Cosmos, and not against the flow of the tides.
The great rhythms of nature, today so dully disregarded, wounded even, have their spacious and primeval liberty….. Journeying birds alight here and fly away again all unseen, schools of fish move beneath the waves, the surf flings its spray against the sun. ~ Henry Beston.
Little did I realise when I was an overpaid and overworked international banker how little I saw of nature. What I saw were offices, the inside of cars, trains and ‘planes, hotels, airports, other offices, and city streets. I earned a hell of a lot of money, but money is a false God, and money never made me happy. Today I can be happy to walk by the sea, to look at the sky, to enjoy the vast curve of a distant horizon, to listen to the murmur of the surf and the mournful cries of the gulls. Cars, trains, and ‘planes still have their place in my life, but now it’s only a minor element of who I am ~ cities are no longer the be-all and end-all.
Perhaps it is the night of despair where you are, and I am certain that you are not sleeping soundly. If you are dreaming at all, I hope you are having sweet and pleasant dreams, but I’m certain that you are not. I am certain your dreams are weird and disturbing, turning into nightmares. Try and leave those night-terrors behind you for a while. There are enough nightmares in the real world without us having to suffer them during our sleep.
The world turns, it may be day-time here, night-time where you are, and somewhere the dawn is breaking and the birds are awakening. The Cosmos is like a giant time-piece, it has a rhythm of its own ~ the Cosmos keeps its own time. Be aware, just like the rhythms of a friendship and love between two people change and develop, so the Cosmos is a continual state of change. We need to enjoy the moonlight while we wait for the sunrise.
We are a part of the Cosmos, we are where our physical bodies are, but our spirits are everywhere. We exist in this time, but we also exist in a myriad of pasts and possible futures. I want, need, and desire that the future that awaits me is chosen from the best of all possible alternative realities. I can close my eyes and imagine ideal pasts, presents, and futures, and in all of them I hope I can spend some cool times with people I care for, cherish, and love.
We are made of starstuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. ~ Carl Sagan
What have we dreamed and who have we lost? In my ideal times we are entirely friendly, trusting, honest, open, caring and loving. You know what? I don’t think that it’s too much for me to pray to the Goddess to help me to attain my own earthly versions of nirvana. It may seem strange to you but I pray to the mother goddess, and in her form incarnate; Aphrodite. I dream of he Goddess Aphrodite, still looking for the place where we belong together.
I am excited about where I can go in time and space, in friendship, love, and sensual pleasure. The cool things I could possibly do, and the cool places I could visit. It’s about being able to fly, about having the courage to live life to the fullest, to enjoy every moment of every day. Someday soon I will build a tiny trailer, and someday after that I will build something much more ambitious, like a school-bus RV, or a tiny home in someplace beautiful, with a wonderful view of the dawn and sunset.
Shit happens all the time, but one has to remember that; as there is no growth without suffering, there can be no pleasure without pain. There is a reason we were brought to this life, all we have to do is trust and take one small step in time. Such are my beliefs.
It’s not all sweet and elegant lies. Shit happens, but Magic happens too.
Recovery is possible ~ but first one has to admit that there is a problem.
Begin by connecting with what’s really important.
Well, I’ve just started to work through the Dreambook & Planner I was given as a Christmas gift. The initial task seems to be that I should identify my core values, my skills and my talents, and sort out what my purpose in life is supposed to be.
That’s a tall order, and not something I could do in a few minutes. Or, maybe it is something I should do in a few minutes ~ just jotting down my first thoughts. Sometimes it’s better not to think too hard and ponder too much. Sometimes if I overthink things I just go around in circles.
I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line. ~ Jeanette Winterson.
There is a useful saying; ‘Your first guess is your best guess….’ Or, put it another way; ‘Trust your instincts….’ Instinctive behaviour is the way we act, or react, without having to think about it. Psychologists talk about fixed action patterns, which are hard-wired into our neural network. The best example I can think of in humans would be in sports, where such things as a golf swing, or baseball swing, become hard-wired into the brain after much practice.
Instincts in humans are sometimes called gut feelings or intuition, and it’s about ‘knowing’ things without consciously reasoning.
Our brains actually store every experience we have ever had, and that huge library of information is one half of what our gut feelings are based on. The other half of a ‘gut feeling‘ is emotion. Add our stored memories to emotion and we get instincts, gut feelings, intuition ~ call it what you will….
Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct. ~ Barbara Corcoran.
Instinct and intuition are very powerful, and often the right answer to any question will come from instinct, rather than reason. Ergo, in the case of my identifying my own core values, my gifts, and my life purpose, I intend to go with my gut feeling, intuition, and instincts. Of course, after I’ve written down my first guesses, I will go back and spend ages rethinking my answers.
Gut feelings are all very well, but something tells me that reasoning is better.
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Feeling a greater sense of meaning and purpose in Life.
An American friend has sent me a most wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gift ~ which I have already opened!
It’s a book; Rituals for Living, Dreambook and Planner. When I say it’s a book it’s kind of a journal, and diary, and project planner. The project in this case being My Life.
Stop playing small and start seeing yourself as the magical creator that you are. You can create anything you want. We want to help ensure that what you’re creating reflects your highest potential and most authentic self. ~ thedragontree
It’s about connecting with what’s really important to me; identifying my core values, gifts, and life purpose.
It’s also about developing habits and rituals to help me to realise my dreams.
At heart I am an engineer, I like planning, I need to make plans before starting any new enterprise or project. Well, this is a new project, it’s the rest of my life. A big project that deserves some big plans.
We firmly believe that if you set out to achieve your goals while remaining steadfast on the necessity of playing, caring for yourself, connecting to family, friends, a higher power, and the natural world ~ you actually amplify your ability to succeed. ~ thedragontree
I firmly believe that this book, the gift my American friend has sent to me, will help me achieve my fullest potential and realise my dreams.
In part it’s about self-awareness and self-actualisation, and in part it’s about developing habits and rituals which will lead towards the fullest and most congruent realisation of my desires, dreams, and goals.
You know what? This is a wonderful gift, and I know it was sent to me with love.
One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I can publicly thank my friend for this wonderful Christmas gift. Oh, and the kind friend concerned also has a blog. https://therobynbirdsnest.com
There are a couple of websites which sort of go along with this life planner;
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The most poisonous people come disguised as friends.
Some say that I’m an egotistical fake, and that all my problems are caused by my own lies and character defects. All I know is that I’m working very hard to be a better guy.
I took a walk outside early this morning, down by the sea where I usually find solace and serenity. The snow and wind were in my face, and the seashore was shrouded by a cold mist. Today there was no tranquility for me. My soul feels hurt, hungry, and lacking in love for myself. All I feel is regret and sorrow. What I could see of the surf was angry and accusatory.
Some would say that I’m a prisoner of my own ego, and that my personal identity is driven by conceit and self-importance. All I know is that it’s sometimes difficult to get through the next 24 hours, and then the 24 hours after that.
Sometimes I was a fake just to cope with life. BPD can do that to you.
What I’m trying to say is that I need to get my life in order ~ start to be honest with myself and everybody else, become reliable and trustworthy, stop being hurtful and aggressive at the drop of a hat… Perhaps then there can be some trust in friendships and I can begin to have real relationships with sensible people. I need to consider the feelings, needs, desires, wants, and commitments of others. I need to give more and take less. I need to change my ways.
It’s OK for me to want what I want, but becoming a fake to get it is abhorrent.
Some say that if nothing changes, then nothing changes. And, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. All I know is that this post is the start of something different for me.
All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is difficult.
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Women don’t like mind games. Most women like romance.
I’m just a guy, you know? Ergo I don’t actually understand the woman I care for, and sometimes I don’t really know what she wants from me. However, in an effort to be a ‘better’ guy I’ve been exploring the internet, and I believe these are the behaviours a woman would like me to bring to a relationship.
You know what? I worked out #1 all by my self.
- Do not be a jerk. (From time to time I have been a 21 carat jerk.)
- Give her respect. Respect her opinions, career, interests, friends, family, needs, dreams, and desires. Respect her body, her mind, and her soul. Accept and understand who and what she truly is.
- Give her time and space. She’s an independent lady, so don’t be clingy and dependent. She is not responsible for your happiness, you are. Don’t pressure her into doing things she’s not ready for. But, when she needs you, be generous with your own time; always be there for her.
- Be confident and capable ~ take charge when you need to. She needs to know that you can always be relied on to take the lead when necessary.
- Always help her to feel safe. Don’t ever be threatening, and if she’s worried about someone or something, or scared of something or someone ~ then help her to deal with it!
- Respect her privacy. Don’t ever intrude where she wants to be private, and never, ever, comment on what she posts on social media.
- Follow through with your plans and ideas. Women like to know that if a guy says he is going to do something, he will actually do it.
- Be completely honest, unless complete honesty is hurtful. Women don’t like liars, and once you have lost a woman’s trust it’s hard to get it back again.
- When it’s appropriate be romantic. And, what is truly romantic changes from time to time, and from woman to woman. To be romantic; You need to get to know her.
- Be polite, well-mannered, and well-spoken. Very good manners take a little effort ~ but I’m lucky here, I’m a true English Gentleman, and good manners come naturally to me. And never, ever get drunk when she’s around.
- Self-deprecating humour. Don’t make jokes at her expense, but it’s OK to poke fun at yourself. She will probably like gentle humour, and dislike you trying to be funny by being vicious and nasty about other people.
- If she ever feels the need to apologise, accept her apology with grace. Especially never, ever, mention the things she’s apologised for ever again.
- A Man should never be late. She may have no sense of time, she may always be late for everything, but you should always be there on time~ always. If you’ve promised to call at eight o’clock, then you should call her at exactly eight.
- Be consistent, reliable, and trustworthy. Women don’t seem to appreciate unreliability, a good guy needs to be the same good guy every minute of every day.
- Listen to her. When she wants to talk, listen patiently with acceptance and understanding. Don’t give her solutions she hasn’t asked for, just listen to her.
- Respond to her texts and emails in a timely manner. She may take forever to reply to you, but if you get a message from her, then respond as soon as is humanly possible.
- Always be clean, tidy, and well-groomed. You and your place should always be pretty immaculate, especially the bathroom. And, if you are ever invited to her place, treat it with the utmost respect. Clean your shoes, get a manicure, get a haircut, have some great pictures in your place….
- Be faithful in word and deed. Don’t screw around, don’t date other women, don’t constantly flirt with other women, don’t check out other women, don’t ‘like’ other women’s pictures on social media, and do not constantly jerk off to porn.
- Be complementary. Tell her she looks pretty, her hair’s nice, tell her you like her. and if it’s appropriate tell her that you love her.
- Do things just for her. Clean her car, make sure she’s always got petrol, (gas), in the tank, fix things for her, send her flowers and perfume, but bear in mind point #9, and be romantic in the right way and when it’s appropriate.
- Sex. Do not try too go to far and too fast. If anything, follow her lead, and remember point #10 , and always be polite and well-mannered. And, if and when you sleep with her, remember that her pleasure is important. You may need sex, but perhaps what she really wants is love.
Writing this stuff, it all makes perfect sense, and I don’t believe I’ve got anything badly wrong in this list. But, Ladies, if I have, then please feel free to tell me about it.
And, writing this stuff I realise that I do most of these good things most of the time, and some of them all of the time. Sadly, that isn’t good enough. Point #14 behoves me to be consistent, reliable, and trustworthy ~ I need to do all of the above all of the time.
That’s a tall order, but if she is worth it, and you really care, then she’s worth all of it all of the time.
In future, I shall make every effort to follow my advice from this list. I am going to do this stuff.
pictures by Jack Vettriano
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You don’t need more space, you need less stuff.
Back when I owned a trailer park, shipping containers often made instant buildings which could serve a myriad of purposes for me, from simple storage units, through a workshop, to a pretty nice office.
(not my office, a home made from shipping containers)
What I have never yet attempted is to use a shipping container to make a tiny home, or more likely, use several shipping containers linked together to make a decent-sized home. The place to start is to learn something about shipping containers, and then buy the right units.
Shipping containers are usually strong steel boxes with doors at one end, but they actually come in lots of versions. The standard width is 8′ (eight feet), the standard height is 8’6″ (eight foot six inches), and the two standard lengths are 20′ (twenty foot), and 40′ (forty foot). There are a whole raft of non-standard lengths starting at 5′, but a 10′ container is the more common of the non-standard lengths. The internal floor areas work out at 150 sq ft for a 20′ container and 305 sq ft for a 40′ container.
Given that most people regard 1000 sq ft as a decent size for a home, (plus a garage), then we are talking of at least a couple of containers to make anything that approximates a ‘normal-sized’ house. Container architecture is a discipline all of its own.
You obviously need a plot, the appropriate permissions from whatever building authority is responsible for all the regulatory stuff, and you may / or may not need to lay a concrete slab on which to stand the container(s) you’re going to turn into a home. (Whether or not you need to lay a concrete pad depends on the ground, and how long you expect the container home to stand there.)
It’s no good just buying a plot, plonking a used shipping container there and expecting to live in it. Shipping containers are steel boxes, and that means they are damn hot inside in summer, and bloody freezing inside in winter. To make a home you will have to line out the inside, and perhaps even clad the outside. Even if you just buy one 40′ container and are going to be happy living in 305 sq ft, you will still need to do a hell of a lot of work to make your steel box habitable.
One of the first things you need to learn is how to cut steel plate. Your box needs more than a big door at one end, you need windows, (at least), and maybe another door, and perhaps holes so you can link one container to another to make a bigger home. Luckily, shipping containers are mostly made of steel that’s only between 1.5mm and 2mm thick, so it’s easy to cut. Realistically there are 3 ways to cut steel on site, (using an ordinary hacksaw will take you aeons and you’ll hurt your wrist and hands).
- Oxy-acetylene cutting torch. These things are dangerous, and unless you’ve done this kind of cutting before, you would be best getting instruction before attempting to use an oxygen / acetylene torch. However, a cutting torch is fast and it’s easy to cut complex shapes. If you want circular cut-outs for round windows / portholes in your tiny container home, then oxy-acetylene could be for you.
- Electric jigsaw. The sides of steel shipping containers are pretty easy to cut, so an ordinary electric jigsaw will chop out your doors and windows. And, you can cut curves in steel with an electric jigsaw. This is possibly the best choice for the averagely skilled person.
- Stihl cut-off saw. STIHL is a trademark, but what we are talking about here is a big power saw of some description. Cutting lots of big holes in your containers, on site, you may well want something like a petrol powered Stihl saw, (and make certain you have the right disk for steel).
The benefits of using steel shipping containers to make a tiny home, (or something bigger), is that it’s pretty fast and inexpensive to get a weatherproof structure on site, they’re strong and durable, and you can put them down just about anywhere. A shipping container is probably the start of the ultimate off-the-grid home.
I can and have lived off-the-grid in a log cabin I built myself, (from a kit), but I would strongly caution anyone thinking of doing this concerning water. You will need a constant supply of potable water, either from the mains or from your own well / borehole. The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water every day of the year. It’s possible to finesse around all the other services; sewage, electricity, gas, heating, telephone and internet, but shipping water in a small bowser on a regular basis is an absolute non-starter.
Once you have a weatherproof structure with the doors and windows installed, and you’ve made a start on connecting your services, then you can start on the really fun stuff, which is fitting out the interior to suit your tastes. The only limit to your imagination is the dimensions of whatever containers you have bought.
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Really successful engineering is all about understanding how something will break or fail.
For some strange reason I am blessed with the ability to fix almost anything, install almost anything, make almost anything, and build almost anything.
I built myself a Caterham / Lotus 7 sports-racing car, which I then drove all over Europe on long road trips. The trip I enjoyed most in this little car was driving down the entire Loire Valley in France. (Or maybe it was the Stelvio Pass.)
Minor pieces of carpentry are child’s play for me ~ which is why I could rip out the old kitchen in my garret and replace it with something that I liked and suited my needs.
(With help from my friend Marmaduke of course.)
I’ve also erected log cabins and built vacation homes from plywood. (This is a stock picture, not one of mine)
Sometimes, half way through a project, I’ve wondered why I started, and if the thing would ever be finished. The picture above shows this kind of ‘why am I doing this’ project. Although, this wreck of an Austin-Healey Sprite turned into a really beautiful little car, finished in British Racing Green as a frog-eye. (the almost completed little car, I like that I did the white stripes)
For my next project I’m thinking about finding an old school bus, rebuilding it as an RV, (Recreational Vehicle), and then spending an entire year in the thing, touring as much of the USA as I can, on the longest road trip ever.
Something you need, if you want to tackle advanced DIY projects, is a really, really comprehensive tool kit. And, take my advice, always buy the very best tools you can afford. (You may need a hard hat.)
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some power tools are a must have
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