Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hold On ...

Hold On

whatever it is that sustains you ... and I pray I might be counted as one of those things ...

Blogging for me has always been about the outreach. My work has always been about the outreach. People matter to me.

I have never cared much for money, or acclaim. I don't really care if anyone else thinks I am swell or where people rank me. What matters to me are the connections, the one on one's ...

If I can make someone smile, lift a spirit, encourage, empower ... then I have had a good day. I am always blessed by my interactions with others - be they good or unpleasant ... I always benefit from the lessons gained.

For some time now I have blogged as my avatar, then moved to a crossover with my real identity and am now moving to me. It is easier to explain my real life to Second Life than it is to explain Second Life to the real world. It is an interesting transition - in Second Life people friend everyone. Some people actually want to know you, others just want to hang, and some want to be where everyone else seems to be. In real life people hesitate, are cautious, are fearful. We don't want to share ourselves nearly as quickly and certainly not as easily.

Like many in SL I have lots of people who follow me on Facebook. I have followers on my blogs. The invitation is out to all of them to make the transition with me. It is an open offering of friendship with all the walls down. You don't have to reveal a single thing more about yourself to me ... avatars are lovingly accepted and welcomed ... I never have been able to see much of a difference between whether it is you in a pixelated body or you in your own body. People are just people.

I hope people will make the leap across to the new websites and they will follow me on twitter, facebook or Google + as Aria E. Appleford. I hope they will join my blog Intertwingled for all my writings or choose one of the other 3 blogs that splits it into humour, social commentary and spiritual. These blogs are all networked on Facebook and they have their own pages. I will keep my Blissimo as the fashion blog for Second Life and will remain in Second Life but I have lots of new projects, and things I hope those of you who have supported me and been my friends will continue to be interested in and support.

Lots of people slip words onto the page and maybe they mean them and maybe they don't. I can only tell you that YOU matter to me and I really would like you to feel invited to join me. I love the comments and the sharing - on the blog, emails and chats. I think that people helping one another is important. Empowering people to be the best they can be, to find their own strengths, their own talents, and spreading their wings and flying ... is its own reward. I am as imperfect as they come, have found my way by crawling and bleeding through the tragedies of my life. There are only two things I know for sure about myself ... I am a survivor and I am worth it ...

And so are you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Little Red Haired Girl & The Unmowed Lawn.

Unmowed Lawn

The grass was over grown, perhaps the lawnmower had broken down, or perhaps her parents were just too busy with preparations for Christmas, but the little red haired girl appeared not to notice a thing amiss as she strode purposefully into the midstof the grass that was almost as tall as she was. She had that very busy look about her, like nothing would deter her from her very important appointment with her back yard.

Todays look was a sort of fairy (she had her wings hanging off one arm and dragging in the grass and her fairy skirt) cowboy (she had on cowboy boots and a straw cowboy hat with a dangling red whistle under her chin) Barbie (she had a pink barbie t-shirt on- inside out for her own stamp of individualism and a political statement about how barbie lived in all of us and it was our inner barbie we needed to cultivate!!) I guess you could call it a"fairboybie" look. I loved it and immediately felt bad that I had not thought to bring a cowboy hat with me from Canada. I tugged at my own fairy wings as I watched her through the window ...

She twirled - as she was wont to do - somewhat impeded by the long grass - and she stopped mid twirl to frown at the grass and then tried again - stopped - and finally pulled a piece of the tall grass out and looked at it very closely - her eyes almost crossing as she did so. She dropped the grass and ran into the house and was back in an instant with a box that was almost bigger than her.

I could tell this was a very important mission … her tongue was out and she was very busy. She set the box down and dusted off her hands, then stood with them on her hips and looked around her. She reached down and rummaged in the box and pulled out a red Christmas garland. She laid one end on top of some of the grass and skipped around weaving it until there was no more left to weave. She went back for another - this one gold. 3 more garlands appeared - each missing tinsel, tattered, but still garlands none the less and the tall grass did not seem the least bit offended - I think they were all happy to have any attention paid to them in the long hot days of summer. Once that was done, she giggled and put her hands over her mouth and shrieked in joy, and then ran back to the box and dug some more throwing out Christmas cards and bits and pieces . Finally she had some ornaments.

Her only problem was that the ornaments were far too heavy for the grass and so she stood, stubbing her cowboy booted toe into the earth over and over, 3 ornaments dangling from her chubby little hand, as she considered what to do … and then she spied it… the darn doll carriage that she was forever kicking or throwing in the bushes as the universal red haired girl symbol of frustration at all adult logic and overbearingness. She ran for it, disengaged it from the bushes, and pushed it out into the middle of the garlands. There she hung ornament after broken ornament off of it. The wind rustled through the grass when she was done with whispers of approval and she made another mad dash for the house,only to return moments later with a doll, her Teddy bear, and a book.

She set them all down around the doll carriage and sat down beside them hugging her knees to her chest. There in the quiet of the day she began to sing, "Oh you better not shout, you better not die, you better not cry, cause Santa gets mad, SantaClaus is coming to town. He's making a list, he finds bad boys, he doesn't bring them toooooooyyyyyys …." and on it went until it morphed somehow into "Siiii-ah-lent night, Ho-eh-ly night, all is bright …..ummm …JingleBells, Jingle Bells …"

Once the carol fest was over she stood up and curtsied. She blew kisses to the grass and said "thank you" and had conversations with her imaginary friends who were clearly complimenting her on her singing. Then she went inside. The bear, the doll, the book and carriage stood mute amongst the tall grass, they were not as familiar with Christmas Carols as the little red haired girl.

A few minutes later her mother appeared and seeing the Christmas ornaments all over the yard, and somehow missing the magic of it all, screamed for her to get out there and clean up her mess .. NOW!!

The little red haired girl appeared stomping her boots with a very frowny unhappy face and insisted she couldn't. Her mother took her by the hand and marched dragged her to the middle of the garlands, and pushed the box towards her and told her she wanted every last piece put BACK in the box AND she had better get it done before her father got home. The little red headed girl stood there with her arms folded over her chest crying and trying to look pitiful until her mother was out of sight and then she reverted to the scowl and wrinkled sucked in prune lips. She stamped one of her cowboy booted feet and with one mighty motion, she swung her left leg back …. and kicked her doll carriage….sending it sailing into the garlanded grass....

As she picked up the ornaments and threw them into the box, I could hear her singing, bobbing her head back and forth, sarcasm dripping from her fairy wings. I leaned closer to the window .... she was singing "Jingle Bells, Mommy smells ....." over and over and over ....

LESSONS: You can dress up anything but it does notchange its true nature ... a stupid doll carriage, even with ornaments and Christmas garlands, is still, in the end, just a stupid doll carriage.

Even unmowed back yards can feel the magic of Christmas, especially if shared with a Teddy Bear and a genuine "fairboybie."

After the carols are sung, Christmas is definitely over - regardless of whether the"woman" singing it is fat or red haired.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is Not Just for Kids.


I know I have been on a tangent about Christmas.  There seems to be so much about what Christmas is and what it isn't these days.  People can't be bothered, people focus on the religious aspects and what they disagree with and everyone is miserable.

Being in Australia has forced me to really think about the traditions I was raised with and what they are and what they are not.  It is true that I have not died from missing out on any of them, or from learning to celebrate them in a different way ….but why are they so important?  I have tried to analyse the different components and in the end I can only share with you what Christmas is for me.

Yes I was raised a Christian, I am profoundly spiritual today although I would not attach that to a specific religion anymore.  Religion played a big role in the music and the feeling … not because our celebration was so focussed on WORSHIPPING Jesus Christ but it was the idea of pure love, embodied in the hope of a single child that would ultimately pay the price for mankind, being introduced to the world.  It was about a life that sought to remind us all that we are more than our physical appetites and urges and that we are all one.  It was a message of hope, a reminder and a connection with that part within myself.  It was about how it made me feel inside when I listened to the choirs sing, and thought about a mother giving birth in a manger to the son of God.  Human emotions that we all share.  Whatever trials and upsets I was dealing with, I looked at this story and realized that life is what it is and that we are all capable of much more than we ever believed and that our circumstances can only limit us if we let them.  It inspired me and motivated me.

But that was only a small part of Christmas.   Christmas is always dismissed as "being for the kids."  Think about that.  Every parent wants, for one day of the world, to let their child know that they are loved.  We create an experience for them of sensory delights, messages of hope and love … we spend time with them, we eat together, we play, extended family come and we reinforce THIS is your home.  It is the home that fills a child's heart and will go with them wherever they travel in their lives.  These are the roots we speak of, our emotional anchors.

And we grow up, and Christmas morphs and changes, we are no longer just the "invited guests" we are participants and then we are in charge and each Christmas that we celebrate reminds us of our "home" and reinforces all that it stood for.  It is the one time of the year when we stop to take that time and to let people in our families know they are loved.  We do it in word and in deed.  We give a hug.  We say thank you and we sit together and break bread.  We are reminded of who we are.  We light the fires in our inner homes.  We extend that love to the world around us and even though it is just a day, and one season in a year of days and seasons, we are better people for it.

Yes, we grow up and are no longer children but neglecting Christmas damages our hearts and emotional well being because the further we travel away from those connections that anchor us …. the further we travel from ourselves….

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Evidence of Life.

I Love the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. I particularly love this passage:

 "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

 "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

 "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

 "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

 "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

 "I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

 It is funny that we as human beings like things shiny and new. We throw things away, we trade them in for a newer model, we update …. We cling to youth, we cling to beauty, we cling to those things which really are so fleeting and temporary. We want the romance of love but not the substance.

 I always loved ballet shoes … the ones that were old and scuffed and used. I loved to think of the women dancing in them and all the stages they had been on. I always imagined that the shoes told the most amazing stories. I was amused to find out later in my life that ballerinas actually scuff up new shoes ….no-one wants shiny new ones.

 I have always been drawn to people and things that are old and used. I love a man's hands that tell of his willingness to work hard. I love a tall old tree, and trying to imagine all that it has known and seen. I love old houses and old bits and pieces of things tucked away and forgotten. To me the discovery is not just about the way something looks but the imaginings that go with it as I think about what it is, what it was used for and the stories it might tell if it could speak.

 Most of all I love people who are real.

 Our lives make us beautiful. Each experience marks us in some way and bears it's witness on our body. Some are scars, some are lines, some give us light in our eyes, some bend us, some quicken our step. Evidence that we are real, that we are loved, that we have not lived our life protecting ourselves from everything, but that we have opened our arms wide and embraced life. To me it is a beauty far beyond any perfect painted face of a 17 year old girl.

 Sometimes life scrubs off all the paint, takes off the hard edges, breaks through to the softness within, to reveal the real beauty within. The real beauty within is something that touches more than the eye. It is a beauty that runs through our veins - with an understanding of a finer purpose than "pretty."

 I hope that during this holiday season when we package everything up with ribbons and bows and tinsel and lights that you will look beyond all that and see the real beauty in the people around you. Most of all I hope that you look in your own mirror and not only see that beauty within yourself … but that you embrace it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Crackers and More Bitching by the Complaining Canuck.

Christmas Crackers

Can you tell that I am on a bit of a rant about Christmas … still???

In North America when you ask people if they are ready for Christmas yet … you get an engaged, detailed response ranging from either how much is left to do or smug pleasure that you are right on top of it or even DONE!!

Ask in Australia and you get, "Pffft Christmas … just like any other day in our house." "We don't celebrate Christmas." "Ya, it is no big deal." Those that do celebrate it tend to have a meal of some sort (just to distinguish it from other days … when they have a meal … of some sort …) and that is about it. I am sure there are people somewhere in Australia that celebrate Christmas with some enthusiasm … I just have not found them yet …

It's kinda like a scavenger hunt only with eggnog and large black beetles called Christmas Beetles. (They have all the best Christmas stuff here)

So yes they ignore all the meaningful traditions. There are no decking the halls, jingling bells, no christmas carolling, no church, no nativity scene, no Santa, no lights, no bells, no candy canes, no pine cones, no wreaths, no reindeer, no sleigh, no pack of toys, no mincemeat pies, no cranberries, no candy, no turkey, no stuffing, no christmas pudding, no stockings hung with care, no candles, no tree with hand picked ornaments, no angels, no shepherds or wisemen, no tinsel, no gifts, no mistletoe, no holly and ivy, no good cheer, peace on earth and lets visit grandma …..

Nope BUT there is one thing. The universal sign for Christmas in Australia is a Christmas cracker … see one of those puppies on the table and you KNOW you are in Australia and today you are doing Christmas!! Yes, those incredibly tacky, stupid paper things that you are expected to crack open with the completely drunk stranger sitting next to you so that you can get some useless plastic something you can kick on the floor and leave to choke up the earth some more, and a beyond stupid joke that everyone insists on reading out loud and groaning or pretending to laugh depending on how drunk they are and OH OH OH lets not forget the ridiculous tissue hat that in the heat, actually recolours your forehead and hair pink, purple, red, yellow, green or blue!! Wear them all and you can get a part time job doing kid's shows as Bozo the Clown.

AND THOSE hats are what the Aussies are passionate about!! You WILL wear that hat. IT IS FREAKING CHRISTMAS!! People become very irate and dangerous when you tell them you are not going to wear the hat. They have police for that kind of thing and they are serious about the law of the Christmas Cracker Tissue Hat. They have guns and they are not afraid to use them should you make no move to unfold the hat and place it on your head. Sweet looking older ladies that smell of peppermint and you swear arrived in a wheel chair, suddenly are in your face, unfolding your hat and forcing it on your head.

And so everyone sits looking like complete idiots, with their tissue hats, reading jokes and eating sausages… cause this is Christmas .. WHOOT!!

I don't do tissue hats. Ever. Shoot me … I am going to sit alone by my Christmas Tree and gnaw on my turkey leg that I had to special order because what turkey is sold here often comes sans the legs … yes … they evidently only raise handicapped Turkeys here. I do have my limits.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Handbook for the Sisterhood of Facebook.

Girlfriends have specific irrevocably inalienable virtual responsibilities towards one another in social media platforms such as Facebook, and they are as follows ...

1. You will always watch your screen for the announcement that your girlfriend has arrived. It is appropriate to have some sort of magnificent music begin playing immediately. You can commence the jumping up and down and squealing and you will immediately IM her with "HIIIIIIIII!!!!! (hugs)" (helpful hint.... to fully experience girfriend huggydom you should hug yourself frequently and pretend it is her doing it ...don't french kiss the mirror though cause that is just pathetic)

2. Next step is immediate voice chat. More squealing and jumping up and down. (if rl interferes with this find a huge closet - tell the children and hubby you are playing a special game. Tie them up with duct tape and make sure to put two pieces over their mouths ... tell them the first one to get out of their restraints will get supper. Throw in some dry crusts of bread for incentive. Believe me I have used this many times .. the family loves it .. such a fun fun game ...hours and hours of fun ... one time it went for 4 days .... hilarious ....well I guess I was the only one laughing ... except no .. I forgot about them and went to bed ... I was sleeping ... ok nevermind...)

3. You then immediately send her all the info on what has happened or what you have heard or seen since she last signed off - even if she just put the headset down to go to the bathroom for 2 minutes.(except that real girlfriends go at the same time) If there was something hilarious that happened you should have pics and of course ALWAYS copy what everyone else talked to you about - how will your properly gossip otherwise?

4.You must also update her on who you both like and dislike. There is no room for individual relationships with true girlfriends. Make sure she knows who you are mad at so she can be mad too. Check and recheck these lists so that there are no mix-ups cause if you ever say something on a post of one of the "banned" you are about to get hit upside the head with a whole lot of girlfriend insanity.

5.You must take a million pics of you and her doing silly things together in real life and post them all over facebook. When she posts her pics you must make a comment about how gorgeous she is and she will respond in kind. You must "like" every post and comment that she makes.

6. If someone else has been a bitch and you both agree you hate her/him .... begin writing nasty stuff immediately. Post pics if you have them. Involve everyone. Bullying and Stalking with a gang is much more powerful. Never underestimate your grandmother and her willingness to tell people off. Go on for days and days and days.

6. Never pick up other girlfriends when she is not around. You own each other and owe each other - this is real territorial stuff .. in fact do like the animals in the wild do and run around and pee a big circle around her .... that way there is no confusing who she belongs to ...those damn deer horn in on everything otherwise. DO NOT talk to other people or "smile at them" or "like" what they say. DO NOT post pics of you shopping with anyone else. Think of ownership like Goreans except without the loin cloths and all the kneeling.

7. Never kiss and tell. Don't do anything and tell. That is a girlfriend kiss of death. If you need to tell someone tell me .... because I am a professional and I need stupid things to write about.

8.List her as your "sister" under family. Say she is your sister from another mother because dad's like it when we accuse them publicly of screwing around on mom.

9.Yes! It is your job, should anything happen to her, to immediately access her computer and wipe it clean, destroy the evidence !

10.You are not allowed to ever date someone she has looked at or talked to online. The virtual rule is first one to drool on a picture, regardless of whether you ever talk or cyber, has ownership (no co-operation of the male is required - the less he knows about being owned the better).

11. Most importantly know that cyber girlfriends take precedence over every other relationship and you must wear the ankle tracking device at all times.

12.You must constantly vote for her as the one person who looks most like Angelina Jolie and the cutest Disney Character in every facebook contest there is. You must repost every post she puts that says THIS will prove which of her friends really care about her.

13. Answer your im's within 4.7 seconds or the automatic assumption is that you are "stabbing her in the back" and "hurting her like she has never been hurt before." This will lead to name calling with words you have never heard before.

14. In the event a break-up should occur a division of the friends that are not so damaged from the fall out, that can still type and are alive is not expected. These are to be share .. have them immediately don their stool pigeon outfits and carry info back and forth between the two of you so that even if you are no longer friends you can still spend quality time together each day fighting.