When you are tired of California you are tired of Life.
Orange County in Southern California is one of my favourite places in the world ~ say right up there alongside Tuscany in Northern Italy. I’m visiting SoCal next week, but here are some pictures from my last trip there.
It’s very nice to be able to afford to go travelling.
I’m just about ready and prepared for my next long vacation, which starts on this coming Thursday.
Today I booked a car to collect me at the garret, for 06:00 on Thursday March 15th, as my flight leaves from Newcastle upon Tyne airport at 09:30. I then have layovers in London Heathrow, and San Jose International in Santa Clara County, before I eventually arrive at John Wayne airport in Orange County California at 20.32.
I’m renting a Toyota Rav4 at John Wayne, and then I have a shortish drive, so I expect to get to get to my accommodation sometime around 22:00.
If you add in the 8 hour time difference between England and California, that makes the journey exactly 24 hours. Why does air travel always take so long? Even if everything goes to plan?
Poor Marmaduke isn’t coming along on this trip ~ because when I looked at the layovers I decided I’d just take one carry-on bag.
Poor Marmaduke has been in tears since he found out.
I expect to be back in the garret on Wednesday April 18th ~ after another 24 hours of travelling.
I will be in touch while I’m away.
It’s cold here.
And I have caught a stinking cold.
Get back to you soon
The deep introspection is there, along with much self-awareness and self-study. Monday December 11th, while possibly being the most psychologically painful day of my life, was also a cathartic epiphany for me. There are new beginnings turning to a new direction. I believe these new beginnings are a spiritual regeneration for my soul. I am aware that my personality is expanding, turning towards goodness, emotional stability, self-awareness, self-confidence, and well-being. With the help of the Dreambook and Planner I am learning who I am, and discovering who I can become. I am beginning to understand the lessons given to me, and through that I am becoming the master of my own life.
It is a new dawn for me.
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.
Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education. ~ Mark Twain
Most will regard the humble cauliflower as a boring side dish ~ at best. Perhaps something not to put into one’s shopping cart on a regular basis. But, as I hope these smashing recipes from some great cooks will show you, there are a lot of exciting dishes you can make with this cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower is from the same plant family as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts and is said to be even better for you, in some ways, than these green vegetables.
First this week we have these cool cauliflower rice carne asada bowls with mango salsa, from Teighan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest. This whole meal will take you an hour to make, but you can do so much with the leftovers afterwards. Lunch at work, tacos, burritos, topped with a fried egg…
Cauliflowere Rice Carne Asada Bowls with Mango Salsa
Cauliflower cheese is a classic dish, but this creamy cauliflower gratin from Chungah at Damn Delicious is just a little bit special. Again this easy dish will take you about an hour, and again this is something that you can reheat in the microwave at work. Or have with a nice steak for dinner later in the week.
Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
Next, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower there’s this cool dish to think about; zucchini lentil pasta with mashed cauliflower. Made with mushrooms, squash, and grape tomatoes ~ with a side of creamy mashed cauliflower. It looks very delicious for a midweek dinner.
Zucchini Lentil Pasta with Mashed Cauliflower
Yvette’s Gourmet Kitchen has this brilliant looking recipe for roasted cauliflower with almonds and capers. I think you can have this dish ready in 30 minutes. It’s vegan if you use a vegetarian substitute for the Parmesan cheese.
Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Capers
Here’s something exotically different and up-market from Petra at Food Eat Love; cauliflower soup with beetroot and gin cured salmon. This dish is something for a really posh dinner party ~or be even posher than that and serve to your house-guests at breakfast. The dish only takes 10 minutes to prepare, but you have to cure the salmon for 36 hours before that.
Cauliflower Soup with Beetroot and Gin Cured Salmon
A blog-post of cauliflower recipes wouldn’t be anything without a soup. Ergo from Alanna at the Bojon Gourmet we have cauliflower and yellow split pea soup with turmeric and curried ghee. Both cauliflower and turmeric are supposed to be very good for you. This is a great soup to make a lot of, to take to work later, as it will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.
Cauliflower and Yellow Split Pea Soup with Turmeric and Curried Ghee
And finally this week we have our list, this time from delish. So, how about 70 crazy creative things to make with cauliflower???? These 70 cool recipes include this loaded grilled cauliflower by Lauren Miyashiro, which should take you about 20 minutes to prepare.
Loaded Grilled Cauliflower
cauliflower is easy to grow, even if you only have a small garden, it’s pretty decorative too.
I you’re not offending someone, you’re not doing your job.
Yesterday evening I started to write a post for today ~ or rather I began 3 different posts, and scrapped all of them. All three of those posts would have offended some of the people who follow my blog, and some of my close friends, so I junked all of those questionable posts.
I believe in absolute freedom of expression. Everyone has a right to be offended. ~ Taslima Nasrin
If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I don’t shy away from offending some people, but the people I’m happy to offend deserve whatever they get, and more. I have no problem being offensive to Bankers, Politicians, Government Officials ~ and on Monday of this week I was offensive toward the disgusting sex-pests, perverts, paedophiles, and rapists who work for some ‘Big Charities’ such as Oxfam.
I’m not happy to offend the innocent who just happen to do, (or have done), some things I profoundly disagree with. That would be cruel, hurtful, hypocritical, mendacious, and vicious of me.
I try to practice ‘mindfulness’ every time I encounter a stressful feeling or negative emotion, of I am challenged by my own anger. Mindfulness grounds me in the present and stops me obsessing about the past. I can look at my feelings as though I am an uninvolved observer, rather than being at the centre of the maelstrom. That way I can act and react in a balanced and thoughtful way.
So, instead of what I intended to write about, which in each of the three cases would have been stressful, challenging, negative, and emotive ~ I’m going to tell you how I came to the decision that writing about this stuff would have been a bad idea.
These days I try to live a kind, mindful, self-aware, and spiritual existence ~ bringing inner peace and happiness to myself and those around me. Offending innocent people for no good reason than my own instant gratification is not living an ethical and spiritual existence.
I try to be accepting, understanding, and supportive to those around me. I do my best to live a mindful life. I work very hard at walking the warrior’s path to ultimate truth and inner peace. I profoundly believe that as I give to the world, so I shall receive in return.
Ergo, publishing a blog which I knew would upset and hurt some people, which would make them think that I was actually attacking them, was not who I am trying to be today. In any event, I am not perfect within myself.
When you are offended at any person’s fault, turn to yourself and study our own failings. Then you will forget your anger. ~ Epictetus
I want to make good changes in my relationships, my behaviours, habits, and routines ~ attacking someone, or a group of people, is neither good nor positive. So, I decided that I just wasn’t going to do it.
And you know what? I feel better for not publishing any of those three negative, emotive, and judgmental posts.
The posts I had half written, and then trashed were about Borderline Personality Disorder, casual sex with strangers, and the medicinal use of marijuana.
La mode se démodé, le style monochromatique, jamais.
Noir Rouge à Lèvres Fumer
une garce est la contraire d’une salope,
et elle fume pour la prouver.
No person is free who is not master of themselves.
Self-discipline and self-control aren’t easy ~ these admirable character traits are not something we are born with, and usually most people don’t really develop self-discipline and self-control until they are well into adulthood. Some sad people never learn any real self-discipline and self-control at all. They are doomed to live meaningless, unfulfilled, unhappy, and unenlightened existences.
The exercise of self-discipline and self-control is difficult and complicated, needing willpower, flexibility, and judgement. To live fully rewarding lives we must continually be completely honest with ourselves, yet at times withhold the whole truth from others. To be free of disappointment, pain, and suffering we must assume total responsibility for ourselves and our own actions. It’s no good breaking our abstinence from alcohol or cigarettes just because some other people seem to having a good time smoking and drinking. That is just giving the power to control our lives to others whose own judgement is very suspect.
We must also have the self-discipline and self-control to reject responsibility that is not truly ours. I am not my brother’s keeper, nor are you responsible for what your sister does with her life.
True self-discipline and real self-control means being organised and efficient, living wisely, and living in balance and harmony with yourself and the Cosmos.
A key part of this is the ability to delay gratification ~ don’t always stop at the pub on the way home from work, don’t always get angry when questioned, and don’t always eat that last sandwich even when you are not hungry. Keep an eye on the future, think about what your actions are going to mean tomorrow, next week, next year. Do you want to be an angry and overweight alcoholic? Well, by the sound of it that’s where you’ll be heading if you don’t learn some self-discipline and self-control.
Let hunger sharpen your awareness. Abstain liquor and frivolous recreation, which dull the mind and weaken the body. ~ Laura Joh Rowland.
It’s all about replacing bad and self-destructive habits with good habits that will enhance your life in the longer term. Instead of stopping off at the pub on the way home from work, three or four times a week, go to the gym instead. You won’t get the immediate buzz of getting drunk, but you will get the long-term buzz of being a fitter, healthier, much better person.
Either I’m lucky, or I have a lot of willpower, because I seem to have more than my share of self-discipline and self-control ~ (and even I self-destruct from time to time). I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t pick up cheap women in bars for meaningless sex. I’m fit and healthy, I walk at least 5 miles every day, exercise, and I do yoga. My weight is right where it should be, my blood work is excellent, and my heart is strong. I don’t go to work at all, and yet I’m wealthy enough to do what I like when I like.
And nobody has ever given me one damn thing. Everything I have I have earned for myself through hard work, self-discipline, and self-control.
The answer is easy. Stop pissing your life away like a fool, and start really living instead. Replace your bad and self-destructive habits with good habits that will enhance your life in the longer term.
If I can do it, anyone can.