Syria, Germany, and The Angel Of The Migrants


Boy In Palmayra, Syria

It is the people who have no say in making wars who suffer from the consequences of them.
– Philippa Carr


I am not really a political person, and I find all of the middle East issues incredibly complicated. The only thing I can say I know about this is that any human being that is suffering should be helped if possible. No matter where they are from, what economic background or religion. Under every circumstance we should give of ourselves in the ways that we can. I do care about what goes on in this world. I am in shock at the horrendous situation that is still going on and worsening in Syria. I may compose a song about it at some point, but for today I spill on my MacBook.

Syria’s crisis, which began in March 2011, has killed more than 250,000 people and wounded more than 1 million.

A few facts about the Syrian refugee crisis. (From World Vision)

  • Nearly 12 million Syrians have been displaced by the fighting — at least 7.6 million within Syria, and more than 4 million as refugees in neighbouring countries.
  • Increasing numbers of refugees are attempting to reach Europe.
  • About half of those displaced are children.
  • Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.


Europe is faced with a major struggle with all of the migrants that are in need of a place to safely settle. Over 6,000 Syrian refugees have flooded into Austria and Germany over the last few days. Both Austria and Germany opened their borders to the escapees fleeing the civil war in the tumultuous Middle East. Many more refugees are to come.

This is quickly becoming the worst refugee crisis in recent history. Austria and Germany have stated that they will allow thousands of refugees in, but other countries are not as enthusiastic. Some other European countries see it as way too big of an issue to handle, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown her advocacy for helping Syrian refugees and asks other EU members to take more refugees into their counties. She as been quoted stating that there should be no limit to the number of migrants they would take, as they are a secure and financially strong country and will do whatever is necessary. The U.S., on the other hand has agreed to allowing 8,000 total. Even though the US and EU are leading in support for the crisis world-wide, the U.S is far beneath the European support. Compared to Germany’s commitment to 800,000, 8,000 is not really going to cut it. Australia is on board slightly, but also not enough. It really will require a proactive stance from ALL economically sound countries to help one of the biggest humanitarian crises ever known.

This week, the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott told a press conference he was moved by some images that have been in the media that are putting ” a human face” on the crisis. He said he was prepared to accept more refugees from Syria, but not raise the overall yearly intake.  Australia’s overall yearly intake of refugees which stands close to 14,000 total. Abbott wants Australia’s focus to be on families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities. Apparently most of the refugees are christians fleeing from ISIS. Last year Australia allowed more than 4,400 people from Syria and Iraq to settle in the country. The overall refugee intake will increase to 18,750 by 2018. This is better than nothing, but we still could do more, surely.

What’s happening in Syria now for those that are left behind?

The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria is only adding to the already massive crisis of child labour and hindered education to the Syrian children. Many of the children are, in fact, the main bread winners of the families, and have no other choice but to bring in income and forfeit their education. We know that child labour is wrong across the board, and the despicable conditions in which they work only adds extra anguish to an open festering wound worldwide. The children are often beaten and abused both verbally and physically. We have so many heart breaking issues across the planet to tackle, so where do we start? Syria is potentially at risk of losing an entire generation of children due to this crisis, so it seems we need to be focusing on that first and foremost.

The Dove And Reddening Sky

On a more positive note, there is one particularly beautiful woman and her friends that are doing amazing, heart centred things to help these people in dire need. Nawal Soufi, a Moroccan-Italian woman has been called the “Angel of the Migrants.” Together with a group of friends, she distributes baby food, clothes, and kind words of loving encouragement to migrants as they land on their shores of Italy. She inspires and gives hope to the immigrants by telling them that she loves them all, and gives them God’s blessing to live their dreams. She calls them her family.

Hope and a future vision of peace is still out there when hearts and countries decide to get involved and help the suffering.

Thank you, Europe. Thank you, Angel of the Migrants. Thank you everyone who is doing anything, no matter how small it may seem.

Let’s see if we all can step up to the plate now and bring what we can.

You can financially give aid to this crisis from these reputable charities.


Thank you for taking the time to read and share this post.


Home Brew Booch

I’m sure most of you agree that “Fresh is Best”, and when ever you can make your ownIMG_0725 products or grow veggies at home, I am sure you get excited like I do. Whole organic foods are one of our passions, and not only do they taste better, but knowing what really is “in” the food and where it is from is so vital for our vitality! Food awareness really sets up an over all focus of self-improvement, wellness, and a IMG_0728shared discipline and responsibility advocating choices which helps us steer away from processed and GMO foods. I continue to become more educated about our choices in food and how those choices affect our bodies, first, from a microcosmic perspective, to our entire planet, environmentally, on a macrocosmic level.

Whew! That was rather a “seriousish” tone, but now I’ll move into your kitchen, setting the stage for your home-brew of a wonderful elixir, Kombucha!

I love it when I get introduced to something awesome, that I get to share with others, and this happens to be a great gift you can give to your friends, as the mother scoby reproduces each time you make a batch! That is what is happening with our home- made “Booch”, and we are quickly becoming a Kombucha Community!

Luckily, it also is very tasty, for grown ups and children alike!

This probiotic fermented beverage is sometimes called “The Immortal Health Elixir” and has been around for over 2000 years. It’s health benefits have been associated with preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.

You make Kombucha from pure tea (black, green or white tea), sugar, clean water, and a scoby, and allow it to process for about 5-10 days. S.C.O.B.Y, stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast” (known as the “mother” for its regenerating properties). The  “mama” scoby mushroom may look a bit strange, but is worth embracing her beauty in what she can produce for you and your family! If you can, try to get a scoby given to you by another Kombucha maker, or you can order one online in most areas.  If you are in Australia, I recommend a  site called The Whole Daily for a scoby, as we are very happy with the results from the scoby that Alice sent us! Thanks, Alice!

The Food Renegade had some great info on the amazing health benefits of Kombucha , and answered a lot of my questions which gave a great kick-start to this newbie brewer! Hopefully this is something your body will smile and thank you for, and you will enjoying making Kombucha at home for your friends and family!


What a pretty sight!
Apple/Ginger, Goji Berry, Blueberry/Chia, Apple/ Wheatgrass…What a pretty sight!

Our Homebrews

Go Sober In October

Drink GlassOcsober is a fundraising initiative that encourages people to give up alcohol for the month of October.

I think this initiative is a good cause. Any alcohol awareness campaigns that target young people can only be beneficial in my opinion. Also, what I like about the idea of Ocsober is that the “grown up” who is participating will undoubtedly benefit from this clean living month also! Even those who have no issue with alcohol, per se, still may from time to time have a few too many. Or perhaps it is just a bit more of a habit or ritual than one would like. I feel this is a personal knowing in yourself to how you line up with this topic, and what you, personally, may get out of it.

So, for the person who thinks this is a great idea for someone else to commit to a dry month (this person is possibly the same person who thinks running a marathon for charity is also great for someone else) can still help a lot by contributing on the financial front. The goal is to raise ‘$700,000 to empower 700,000 children’ to make safe and healthy life choices.

So any and all of us can support the cause by either signing up ourselves, or as a group, or by financially contributing for someone who has signed up for the sober month of October. Cool huh?

And, it may also be a good incentive for someone who is wondering about their own drinking to take a look at it and take the challenge for themselves.

Even if you don’t drink, you still can join the campaign and continue your sobriety through it,  showing support and encouragement to those around you by sharing your experience of what living a wonderful, fulfilling life without the need for alcohol looks like!

Here are some facts about the devastating effects of alcohol on us and on our adolescents:

  • Every 24 minutes an Australian dies through either legal or illegal drugs
  • Alcohol related harm was responsible for 5,554 deaths in 2010 and same year 157,132 people were hospitalised due to excessive alcohol consumption (Alcohol’s Burden of Disease In Australia, 2014)
  • Teenagers who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who don’t start until they are 21
  • Nearly 50% of 16-17 year old drinkers say they intend to get drunk most times/ every time they drank alcohol
  • More than 20% of 14 – 19 year olds consume alcohol on a weekly basis
  • Alcohol is involved in 13% of all deaths among 14–17-year-old Australians.
  • One Australian teenager dies and more than 60 are hospitalised each week from alcohol-related harms.
  • Drinking contributes to the three leading causes of death among adolescents – unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.

So, all in all, the main point of Ocsober is to help our young people. But I see that it can have powerful effects on the adult population as well.

Think about alcohol and your life. How often do you feel you need a drink? There are many tests out their on the internet that clarify quickly if you indeed have a drinking problem. One of the main problems with an alcohol problem though, is denial. It sneaks up on people, and is quite cunning in its ability to justify a big night. Again, only you can be the true judge of what effect alcohol has on your life, and what role modelling you may be presenting to your children. I think it is a valuable dialogue to have with each other.

Alcohol is such a crutch in society as a whole, and it is excused so much more readily than illegal drugs or smoking, yet is just as harmful, just as fatal or more. The glamorised alcohol campaigns by alcohol companies is atrocious and really sets our young people up for binge drinking and problem drinking early on. The seductive bottles, fancy wines and the indulgent lifestyle depicted by attractive, rich and successful people who seem to “wine and dine” all the time, with no repercussions whatsoever.This is not accurate at all. We all know that, right? Alcohol  does a lot more harm than good for anyone who drinks (I know what they say about a glass of red wine) but the dangers far outweigh the benefits, no matter what demographic you come from. We all have a liver, blood cells, and a pancreas, and no matter how much money or prestige we have, the effects of alcohol don’t seem to really give a stuff about what income bracket we find ourselves in. The alcohol industry is not that different from the fast food industry in that it sells itself through very misleading advertising. The main victims of this advertising are our young people who are not yet developed enough to make responsible decisions. The seductive advertising and social pressure is enormous. I speak from personal experience, as I fell deep into this trap myself in early adolescents. I have been on both sides of the drinking game. From seduction to destruction. Fine line. I’m sure I am not the only one. Anyone else feel like being candid?

The main reason I chose to write about this topic was to be a voice to mysSplitShire-0061elf and other parents about how our own choices affect our children. What we do, our behaviours, are far more influential than what we say. Children imitate us, and there is generally no differentiation between what behaviours they imitate. They just do what we do. We make choices every day that will impact the rest of our lives, and those around us. We have more influence and power than we think. We don’t have to buy into the masquerade of society and be brainwashed anymore. We can make conscious choices to live wide awake. Individually when we delve into our self- understanding we can determine how this applies to our lives, and collectively we can support each other in passionately wanting to give our children the best chance for their life. Both adults and children having clear heads, healthy bodies and courageous hearts….

So check out the website for the Ocsober campaign for more thorough information and how to sign up.

It seems like a win-win to me.


Mortal Lives

I never put much thought into the wisdom years of life, as I have been chasing youth since before I was even a youth myself. Society instilled into my consciousness that youth was everything. Young people were all-powerful, and most influential. That image of skin that never ages, a gleaming white grin, toned physical structure and energy that trumped all others. This is what I thought immortality looked like. I was nothing more than a silly little sproutling feasting on naiveté.
When I think about it, I was force fed propaganda, glossy superficial magazine spreads, the who’s who goss of celebrity lives, the overpriced and unattainably anorexic sized runway fashions, and the McDonald’s television commercials that depicted awesomely perfect 20 somethings running on a beach playing frisbee after enjoying a Big Mac and Super Sized fries, apple pie and large diet coke. As appealing as all of that nonsense was, it was unhealthy, unrealistic, and in reality, a Super Sized lie.

It all is just shiny, glossy, fear mongering wrapped with a pretty little bow. Fundamentally it is a societal mental health crisis.
I was in the same boat as many mortals on the planet, I was scared to death of death. Being scared of death makes ageing really unappealing. There are hair extensions, eye brow tints, collagen injections, Botox, nips and tucks here there and everywhere, anything that may halt death in his tracks. Deception again. I haven’t tried all of these wonderful death-defying tools, but I could have been on my way if I didn’t WAKE UP!

Image of Guenevere Measham by Dimitri Tsapkinis at UNCSA 1994
Image of Guenevere Measham by Dimitri Tsapkinis at UNCSA 1994

Being a teenager wasn’t all the commercials made it out to be. Maybe it was the perfect time for some people, but it wasn’t for me or my misunderstood companions. How could I be understood when I couldn’t even understand myself? I missed that point, another bit of proof that teenagers are not that clued in. We were awkward, we had acne, bucked teeth and growing pains. We had parents that didn’t have a clue, teachers that just wanted to inflict misery upon us, and no one seemed to understood our true omnipotence and creative genius. Why couldn’t you see that we were so brilliant, beyond anyone ever to walk on the earth before us? We knew it all, and then some. This is painfully true, and so painfully teenager-like. We were confused, we were in constant heart ache like many badly acted soap operas of the late eighties. Come on, Fantasy Island. I shall be right there. I was more like Adrian Mole, in angst and confusion and embarrassment of the tragedy of teeneragerdom. (Check out The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend- it is hilariously funny!) I had no idea who my authentic self was. Massive declarations could be made one day, and the next day I would decide that I was sorely mistaken, and I would declare another identity. I am sure this is not everyone’s teenage experience, but for me, these were some of the most agonising, ridiculous and dangerous years of my life. So why had I glamorised them? I think I was still chasing what you had, what you looked like, judging your outside appearances with my fragile insides. What society had programmed me to believe immortality and perfection looked like was definitely not me.

Was it really all that bad?

Okay, it wasn’t ALL bad. In certain ways, it was the rite of passage that started to unfold the largest chunk of my life. My true authentic self was hiding in there, and let out little sparks from time to time, usually the parts I shied away from. But, those sparks of authenticity become cornerstones of my true self later on.  Some may think of that as digression, but I see it as the parts of myself that were always there, always wanting to shine whether I knew it or not. Young minds are able to imagine such great things. They have an extraordinary faith in their abilities and don’t see the limitations. They have passions and desires that are so true to them, that they feel will always be there! Add a lack of common sense which could lead to dangerous or risky choices, but if directed and encouraged this passion could be harnessed to become monumental change in the world. A star is born. Ready for anything. No ceiling on their future. Endless possibilities. The qualities I tried to keep with me for the long haul are these early seeds of passion that were born. I tried to let go of the not so awesome personality traits, kicking and screaming at times. The beauty in all of this is that I am a bit better at discerning what to keep and what to leave behind. What wins and fails I encountered are what made me into who I am now. This can only be moving closer to my authentic and best version of myself.

Fast forward 20 years. I am a mum. My eldest child will be moving into adolescents in a flash, and I am now putting to rest those outdated beliefs. I don’t need to chase youth to see the tops of the daisies. It used to feel that way. Either we are young, or we are dead. I know, it’s macabre. So I have adjusted my view of youth, mainly from the “punch in the face” perspective gained from being a mum. I see how my kids view youth as the barometer of awesome. Old people just aren’t as hip as hipsters, as epic as Ed Sheeran, as sick as Sam Smith, or as cool as the Clash of Clans, Okay? I understand why it seems that way to them. I was them. So were you.

One thing I completely missed in this whole story was what worth I placed on experience. What value I placed on wisdom.

Wisdom is what I chase now. I keep my ears to the ground, I love discovering new stuff, seeing young talent emerging, being physically active and being excruciatingly silly, just ask the kids. I thrive on new experiences and knowledge. I am enamoured with world breakthroughs in science and the understanding of the human mind. I am fascinated with the world, I am in awe of the galaxies, I am humbled by the mysteries of the deep. I love being alive. The passions of youth are the beauties worth holding onto, when accompanied by a drop of wisdom. I don’t think I could appreciate the real value of life until now. So, to be honest, the best years are these. I get to appreciate all the phases, all the decades, and witness my own children as they learn to walk on their own. Perspective is gold, and as far as being mortal is concerned. If I was not mortal, I wouldn’t appreciate they importance of living each day to the fullest. I would take life for granted, and not see the value of this precious gift we have been given. There is no way I could have seen that at 15. My scope is panoramic, and my vision is becoming 20/20. I listen to the wind and I live in my heart. I say thanks everyday and I ask how I can help the world be a better place. I’ll never take life’s precious gift for granted again. Those times have passed, and new times are here for the living.

Planting Seeds

My children give me gifts every day. This particular day, the gift turned out to be a  gift of the heart, and a reminder of all I have to be grateful for.

I am sometimes confronted with difficulty in how to discuss certain things with my children.These are most often topics that I don’t feel confident in how to communicate to them. I worry that I may stumble over my words and do more damage than good, or just be dismissed as “Mum, what ARE you going on about?”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree:

I wasn’t the most self assured child. Yet I was a very hard-headed stubborn child. I doubted and questioned most things, including myself and others. I often felt a bit uneasy and not sure-footed. Or I felt self- righteous and all-knowing. Was it due to nature or nurture? I don’t know. I don’t think it really matters anyway. It was just the way I was. I was an artistic, sensitive, over stimulated heart-on-my-sleeve kinda kid with a curiosity and connection to the supernatural. All of the above felt like (and seemed like at times) a recipe for disaster, or at the least, I was trouble! My children seem wired in similar ways (minus the trouble part), and possess many other strange and wonderful attributes. Their particular uniqueness are obvious to other people who know them, despite whether they themselves know what they have. I feel I get them. I understand them. I know that we all have insecurities at times, but it still pains me when I hear my own children expressing any self-doubt. I just want to take it all away for them. But I can’t. I am only human as well, and I can only try to impart my experience and any tiny drop of wisdom I may receive. I do try my best.

On this particular bright and early morning I was gifted with a wonderful conversation with my eldest son. It began with me nagging to all three of them (more like AT them) about needing to be more motivated, trying harder, getting more organised, on and on ad infinitum. I was being a relentlessly whiney mum who obviously didn’t have much insight of when was a good time to spew a barrage of requests and commands at people. 8 am is probably not ideal (is there any ideal time for nagging, please let me know?!) I know that I was sounding frustrated because I was frustrated. I was offering problems, sighting offences, but not offering any solutions. I was on a serious role, and it could have gone on much longer. Trust me.

Then I stopped. I shut my mouth and I took a few deep breaths. As I inhaled I saw an image of a handful of seeds, and I was immediately flooded with insights that I felt I was meant to share with my son, Asher. (The other two had sneakily left the room by this point!) Because I surrendered and halted my own busyness I was now able to actually hear the deep in my heart and receive direction that he and I could share in dialogue together. The conversation began:

 “Let’s say you’ve been given a handful of seeds, (the seeds being a metaphor that represent your gifts), what should you do with them?”

“You should plant them.”

“What if your seeds were not planted in soil, and were just discarded onto hard ground or in the bin, what would happen to them?”

“They would do nothing, they would not grow, they would only shrivel up and die and that would be a waste!”

“What else do our seeds need?”

“They will need to be planted when the soil is ready, and then looked after. They will need lots of water, sunlight, and good soil. They will need lots of love!”

“What if you did all those things, and then you decided to forget about them after a time and they start to wilt, whither, or dry up?”

“You would be so lucky that they did not die and you now better take extra good care of them, spend even more time and pay even more attention to them then you did the first time. They need extra love, extra food, and extra hard work to get them to grow as big and as strong as they can!”

“Yes, this is all true!  You should remember to appreciate your gifts as they will be your resources in your life. The more lovingly you take care of them, the more you will be rewarded. Others will then be able to share in your gifts, as you honourably and generously give them away to the world!”

“Does everyone have a handful of seeds?”

“Everyone is given many seeds, many talents, many gifts in this life. Some folks seem to have been given better, more fertile soil right from the start. It may appear that they have an easier place to grow their seeds. We all are meant to work with what we have, and adapt to our particular circumstances and environment that we have been placed in this life. Even when it seems impossible to break ground, we should persevere and not abandon our gifts.We are all exactly where we are meant to be.

Be attentive to these seeds as they are your gifts from God. No matter whether your soil is dry, no matter whether you forgot about your seeds for a period of time, no matter whether you even know what the seeds will eventuate into, just plant them. Just water them. Place them where they will receive lots of light. Pay attention to them every day. Love them. You will surely discover what they are as they bloom into a beautiful sight! They will far exceed what you could have imagined in your wildest of dreams!”

This conversation was illuminating, beautiful and unforgettable. For both mother and son.

I gained heaps of insight into myself because of this conversation with Asher. I looked back at my choices regarding my gifts at various times of my life. I was sometimes quite careless and threw them away thoughtlessly.  At other times I lackadaisically scattered my seeds to the wind, praying that God would water and grow them for me when I didn’t want to do the work but I wanted the reward. I landed on rocky ground at times, and wanted to give up and walk away because it felt too hard. I compared my garden to your garden which always appeared richer and so easy to tend. I cried out “no fair!” from the top of my lungs, but this would not change the circumstance in any way shape or form. It was time that saw that I had in fact chosen the rockier soil because of my own neglect or self-will run riot.

I can now tell you that I was given beautifully rich soil from the beginning, I just had to pay attention and keep my eyes on it. It was always there to provide me with a bedrock, and wonderful growing conditions, I just needed to trust and have faith that my seeds would grow. I needed to make sure that my eyes were open, and were focused upward toward the sun.

I am watching my children bloom in front of my eyes. I have a responsibility to help them cultivate their seeds from their own integrity. This is an honour, and a hard task, where the ground sometimes feels unsure underfoot. It sometimes feels rocky, but I know that I only need to look up and I am provided with all the tools I need. This is the most important gift I have ever been handed.

I got to really appreciate one of my son’s gifts this morning. The gift of communicating from the heart. Thank you for giving a gift to me today, son. You are tending to your garden it in such beautiful and eloquent ways.

The Inhumanity Of Hate – Our Call To Action

The month of June, 2015. I am trying to sort out the common thread of current political and social issues we are facing on the front line. I am addressing these issues from a Christian perspective where I hope to diffuse the prevailing conservative fundamentalist thought. Christianity has been primarily responsible for these injustices of human rights throughout history. I hope to offer a voice that helps to merge these dividing lines. I am ashamed that in the name of God many people have been victims to injustice and abuse.This is not Christianity. This is not spirituality. This is religion. Religion is outdated superstitious law that caused so much bloodshed. Religion (almost universally) is enforced by those in power in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others. -Jake McWhirter (to read more of why Christianity is not religious, check out Jakes’s website).

Jesus was not religious. He was super cool and totally spiritual. I don’t do religion, but I do connect with the divine and try to live by the spirit.

Back to June, 2015. Stories of white police officers killing innocent African-Americans with no provocation. Innocent people being gunned down in their bible studies because of racial hatred. Civil rights in the forefront, from racial discrimination and violence to personal freedom to sexual identity and gender. The Confederate flag is finally being brought down. The rainbow flag is at full mast. There are so many people mourning and so many people celebrating simultaneously, many of them the same people. I am one of those people. I am mourning and celebrating. I am mourning injustice and hate, and celebrating freedom and equality.This is a month we will never forget, as it is a landmark beginning and ending that will forever alter history. We have a BIG job to do, as the unified tribe, to begin the journey of ending the hate and reinstating only pure love.

Are we not all equal in the eyes of God?

The stories of hate and the stories of love that pass down from generation to generation become the cloth we adorn ourselves in. Racism sewn from all kinds of thread. Passing statements like “those people are…different, bad, wrong… blah blah”, to obvious intentional hate and slander with expletives fill in the blank. Do we have the right to insult and assassinate the character of another human being? Perhaps we do, with the freedom of speech, but the prison of oppression we inhabit from this type of verbiage is anything but freeing for anyone. The language of love and acceptance frees both the speaker and those who are spoken of.

What have we been taught?

From subtle viewpoints to inherited belief systems (religion), we pass on what we know and what we have been taught. We pass on our opinions, right and wrong. We can’t help it. Our children succumb to the quiet whispers of separation spoken from our mouths and realised in our actions. Separatist thinking suffocates the soul. Hope of grace, love and fellowship fades. When we look down on another we forfeit our compassion. During this momentous month of June, same-sex marriage became legal across all of the USA. This is an act of love and an act to love through legislation. And couples are now rejoicing this win. This is beautiful, liberating and important. No matter what someone’s personal views on homosexuality are, as human beings they have a right to have love and give love. We have been living with social injustice and inequality for generations throughout many centuries.

Why is that?

Why do we feel so threatened by someone different from ourselves? We actually have more similarities than differences, when we choose to see them. We are all human beings with feelings, longings, dreams, goals, ambitions, pain and suffering.
My heart breaks for my fellows in Charleston, South Carolina. My heart breaks for the families of the victims. My heart breaks from feeling the sting of hate. My heart breaks for the decline of human compassion. But my heart swells in love as it breaks. My heart grows from this pain. My heart acknowledges the horrific tragedy and becomes softened in compassion. My heart grows in understanding and willingness to try to find common ground and conversation where the healing can start. My heart is eager to see what this will do to transform the human conditioning of hate. Our hearts must heal and change, never returning to these barbarian ways.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Luke 6:31

I am no expert on politics or scripture, so please forgive my simplified viewpoint. We are meant to love unconditionally, whether we think of someone as the enemy or not. We are meant to love beyond those who love us. It is speaking of performing an action, it is not passive. Do unto others. Doesn’t that unequivocally give us a responsibility to act? Jesus presents us with A CALL TO ACTION. You do not need to be a Christian to understand that this is a very clear request to have compassion for others. A moral code that benefits human kind. That’s what I’m hearing.

But wait a minute, I already do enough…

I remember fundraising for the World Wildlife Federation in my early teens canvassing around neighbourhoods. I noticed a particular attitude as I approached many front doors. When asked if they would like to help a particular cause or another or another, I got back “We already do enough.” Really? If it wasn’t happening in our own backyard, it didn’t matter whether the issues were environmental, political, racial or moral. We were unaffected. The over all attitude was that if it doesn’t directly affect me, I really don’t care. Apathy at its worst. Even if it doesn’t directly affect us, we are meant to care and act accordingly. I don’t think we can turn away from the glaring social, civil and environmental issues we are all facing in this current time in history. Now that it’s in our backyards, perhaps we will pay attention and do more than just enough.

He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14

I write in the spirit of inclusiveness, and non judgement. I write about the injustice done to multitudes of people. I take a risk at being judged. I do not like religion. I love God. The house of God dwells inside our compassionate hearts. I keep my eyes focused on the goal. I see that there should be no division between us. There should be no hostility between us. We should have no barriers between us. We should be in peace and at peace together. Because we have been given the gift of compassion, there is no room for divide. There are no laws and regulations regarding peace and love. The law is love, the law is peace. In this we have freedom and are one together. Undivided! Oneness!

My Brothers & Sisters and Our Hearts Call To Action.

So to my brothers and sisters in every city, I love you, I feel you, and I understand. I know we have so much in common. I know there is more we have alike then different. No matter where we are from, or what we do, or what colour our skin is, or who we choose to love, we are alike. We all have suffering. We all have longings. We all need love. We all want to give love. We all are seeking truth. We all want to know the reason for our existence. We are all sons and daughters.

So as I try to sort out my feelings on all of this, I review this heck of a month, and this heck of a life. We’ve been on a long and tumultuous roller-coaster ride. There has been a lot of pushing dirt uphill, and a lot of trying to carry the grand piano alone. But we actually are in this together. We get to look inward at our motives and review how we treat each other. We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters and future generations to break the patterns of prejudice. We must begin to heal our own hearts, so we can dwell in peace.

It begins here in my living room, as I ponder my heart. It begins in this conversation over a cup of coffee or breaking of bread. It begins in the actions I choose to take every day with my eyes fixed upon what we are building together. It begins with an open honest discussion where I have failed you at times, where I was believing a lie of separateness. It begins with ONE HEART. I’ll start with mine, you start with yours, and I’ll meet you here.



Preparing For The Unknown

Out Of Utero

I thought it may be useful for me to share how I held myself back from the absolute miracles of the mysteries of life for so long. What I hope to accomplish is to illuminate both this fear and my desire to control everything in my world. I hope to remind us all of what we already know about our Light and our creative spirits.

Fear Was A Motivator

Have you ever been disappointed that things in your life didn’t turn out as you imagined? Has it ever gone completely pear-shaped? One one end of the spectrum is disappointment – on the other, major disaster. I have to say that I was a frightened little creature when I was young. It was often paralysing. In my cellular memory, I can still feel the fear that attempted to suffocate my life source. The ways I tried to manipulate my world placed me further away from the light…the light that was always there to be seen. I was scared of the unknown and unseen. I stayed locked in a dungeon of self-fulfilling prophesies, instead of inspired experiences. Fear was a motivator for all things unseen. The inherent almost inborn fear of the unknown had a wily and stubborn grip.

The Delusional Optimist Verses The Annihilating Pessimist

If I didn’t have an absolute clear understanding or picture of something, I was terrified. I didn’t like not knowing what was around that corner. When I tried to guess or imagine what outcome to expect, I usually made two distinct predictions. They fought tooth and nail, back and forth, driving me to one form of insanity or another!  I “predicted” from the stance of an illusory/fantastical/ego-driven self on one extreme (AKA the delusional optimist), to the impending doom/limiting/ soul-crushing self ( AKA the annihilating pessimist) on the other. Neither were healthy or good or based on any form of reality.  Both had potential to cause disaster across the board.

Stagnation Leading To Death

When I couldn’t control the outcome, or predict the future, I would often times NOT ACT AT ALL. This seemed safest. This caused a withering and wilting of spirit, and was no way to live. It was not living at all.  Hiding out in “safe” self-inflicted malaise, waiting for doomsday to arrive – horrible really. From this safe, contrived prediction comes Stagnation…Paralysis… Death… Stagnation by non action. Stagnation by predictability, conformity, mundane survival with no risk taking. Paralysis born from stagnation. Paralysis leading to death of the Spirit. It became the withering of my soul by withholding its natural desire of creating and connecting to the Divine.

I now passionately fight the very notion of wanting to know what the future holds. Instead I am preparing for the unknown, the unimaginable.  My grandest imagination couldn’t bring about the wildest realities. If I attempt to imagine greatness from the limitations of brain and blood and bone, I am left only with what I started: brain and blood and bone…I want beauty and grace and inspired vision that can only come from above and beyond my finite self. What greatness could I summon from relying on my imagination alone? Figments. That’s all.

Allowing For The Real Adventure

Now I have a bit more understanding of it all. I said “a bit!” When I am in this place of the unknown, I am vulnerable. This very vulnerability is the sprouting seed I need to be open to what’s in store for me. Bigger than me. Bigger than my imagination. Luckily, this vulnerability and unknowing is the ultimate footing, and is the spice and wonderment of life. This allows me to live in a world of that which I cannot control, and that which I do not know. Then comes the real Adventure… Growth… Freedom…

Creative/ Creator/ Creation: A Gift For Humanity

I want real creative input from way beyond my own human condition. I am not discounting the human imagination, I actually think it is vital and essential in preparing for the unknown. But I see it as just that – preparation. A preparation for things unseen and unimagined. I can prepare by developing my skills in life. For instance, from a musicians standpoint I can put some dots on a page, or some words on paper. That is not really creating, though, if I am only creating with known formulas and techniques. The formulas and techniques are a part of the preparation and are valid, but they themselves are not the creation. When I allow creative spirit to guide my life in all creative acts, I begin my adventure. I start to grow, and in this growth I gain freedom.  I let go of thinking it is ME doing the creating. When I allow the art of creation, the end result always astounds me. And in that end result, almost always another creative adventure begins. All this is so much bigger than me. It’s awesome.

If I try to create from an egocentric perspective, filled with expectation and prediction, it will be shrouded in inevitable disappointment, and It will NEVER come out the way it seemed it should. Even that expectation of how I thought it was meant to eventuate would be a  minuscule expression compared to the true majestic wonderment that can only be divinely inspired. True inspiration will always astound and amaze me!

Preparation For The Absolute Wonderment Of Life’s Mysteries

All in all, being human is not the easiest task (well, how should I know what would be easier, but still). It’s daunting to say the least – on top of the challenges of just being human, we have this insatiable desire to DO something significant in life. And look at how many billions of us there are. Then look at how much suffering there is in the world. Look at how much fighting there is always going on.

Then look at the amazing people who actually have creatively changed the world by what they did. Jesus, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, to name only a few who completely changed history forever. The world will never ever be the same because of these spirited people. I am sure they were preparing for the absolute wonderment and mysteries of life, by tapping into the creator, the creation, and the creative spirit inside of themselves.They all had amazing courage, and a brave but softened heart. Because of that conviction and light, they shone – bright as the brightest stars in the sky. We can all shine our light upon the world, if we tap into the light first. It is ordained for us. It is in us. We are part of this creation.

As I Tap Into The Divine Light Of Creation

I’m preparing for surprise.

I’m preparing for excitement.

I’m preparing for  experience.

I’m preparing for challenge.

I’m preparing for humility.

I’m preparing for adventure.

I’m preparing for growth.

I’m preparing for humanity.

I’m preparing for freedom.

I’m preparing for the unknown.

Tear down the walls of my ego, let go of all my expectations, open myself for experiences far beyond my deepest imagination. I am in awe of the wonders of creation, when I can be the observer, the witness to the unfolding. I’m off on another adventure, and another fight for freedom. I am ready to be birthed as my fullest Creative Spirit. I am ready to step into the unknown, equipped with Light and Divine Inspiration…

How ’bout you?

Naked And Unashamed

So if you really saw the true me, would you still think I’m cute/pretty/beautiful (AKA, pruteeful?) I already knew the answer when I was a little person, and it was a big fat NO.

What do we identify as  beautiful? Shouldn’t it be the honest, raw, unaffected self, guts and courage and truth? I got really sick and tired of trying to keep up with the stories I invented to keep everyone “kind of” loving me. I was literally sick from it, in my youth, downing bottle after bottle of whatever I could just to be brave enough to blind myself from seeing any remnant of the true me. As I grew numb, I cared less. A whole lot less. I cared about nothing. I felt nothing. I was free, at a price, in the death of drowning from a bottle of poison. Don’t get me wrong, there were many wonderfully grand times as well, it all depended on the motive behind what I was doing. What was I running from? What was I hiding? Who was I killing? Why did I hate myself so much that I didn’t want to hang out in my own company?

The main point was that my authentic self had been bruised early on. That part was not my fault. It was not your fault either. It was just unlucky.The authentic self of me barely had a chance to form before it was stifled, judged, constrained, criticised. That was enough to stunt the development of authenticity, and breed superficiality and creative role play for survival. A role play game using real people, real feelings, real situations as my actors on my stage. That part was my fault, but I didn’t know it.  I thought that’s what everyone was doing. Weren’t you? I thought that not being authentic was the only real way to stay alive. No one was ever really themselves, because either they didn’t know what that was, or more likely, it had been taught out of them early as it had for me. Or so I thought.

I couldn’t know something was wrong that I thought was real life.  The roles I was playing were real to me. It’s what I thought humans did in order to survive. Maybe some of you did. I just know for a fact that I did. I had to. I had no other choice, and if I did, I didn’t know there were choices. I was just living… Well, surviving.

I did survive, barely. And so did you, barely, and I am sorry that I took you into my green room and kidnapped you, holding you hostage to act in my dramas with me, if you in fact, were actually “living ” and minding your own business and not actually choosing  to be cast in some Teenage Off Off Off Broadway production of mine. I’m sure I owe many of you amends. Please allow me to make them.

I just know that acting and making up fantasies was a heck of a lot easier than being real. It was a heck of a lot safer for me, and I thought that I was being a creative human. I just forgot that I was acting out a drama that was messing up actual lives. Mine not excluded, and yours definitely included. A few black comedies, but I had more aptitude for tragedies unfortunately.

So what is it that made this human so terrified of being seen? Was I living out the story of Adam and Eve? Like Adam and Eve who freely ran naked in the garden until they had the realisation that they were naked, and all of a sudden naked felt shameful. “Naked and  ashamed!” I related to that. I was ashamed for who I was. I always felt naked, and many times ashamed. Society fueled our negative self-image creating ideals of perfection that don’t even exist, dosing us with fast food, fear and consumerism to counteract the shame, perpetuating it on and on ad infinitum. Adam and Eve were awesome, beautiful and  free, and they knew it. Until they didn’t. Until they lost it. Until they thought that they weren’t. Until the enemy inside started lieing to them, placing doubt in their hearts about their authentic selves.  Until they felt that they had to hide from each other, themselves and God (their inner self, their heart, their love).

The enemy inside us affects us in the same way over and over again. Our soul goes to battle, against society’s standards of acceptability, conformity, consumerism, greed, apathy, illusion, delusion, illness, until and not excluding death. It makes us feel we are not even ok, never mind beautiful, awesome or free, the enemy makes us feel that we need to cover up and hide our true selves. Complete Soul Assassination, Spiritual Separation, Self Annihilation. 

Not unlike Eve may have felt, for me the shame game was on. And shame won. Not only was the inside not to be looked at, but the outside needed serious work as well. How could a young girl, with nothing but apparent innocence and beauty only see ugliness? Only hear a monster in her head, and see a terror in the mirror? Naked and ashamed. That was it. Through and through. Shame became the label that I identified myself with. Shame became my badge, and I was waving that flag. Identifying with the image, the actions I took followed and I lived immersed in acting out the lie. The story of my life became a full-scale production, lights, camera, action, an exact reenactment of the first draft when the seed of shame and self-doubt was planted. The seed of the lie. The “not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not rich enough, not cool enough, on and on enough” lie is what ended up ruling my life. It almost ruined my life, it definitely sabotaged my life until I woke up, and realised that I actually wanted LIFE.

I WANTED TO LIVE. Fully embracing all of life, and all the majesty in it, glorified in its jagged perfection of the past, present and future. As it is, unashamed, unapologetic and raw.

So I came to see that my open, honest, courageous truths that I thought were too frightening and ugly to share, in fact have proven to be the most beautiful parts of me.

 No one is cast in my productions anymore, I am not the stage manager, I’m not even an actor at all. I am a warrior for love because I have everything my heart wants, I am love. My spirit is awakened, I’ve heard the calls, and I have a soul on fire.

In its essence, truth is unashamed. Truth is naked… Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, the Princess and the Toad, the stories of so-called ugly misunderstood characters are transformed into beauty, their outward falsities transformed into truth, the ultimate love story that we owe to ourselves. These characters are testament to what is truly beautiful, when they were to be truly witnessed as their hearts were all along.

So, real beauty does exist, in its ultimate truth, the surrendered heart in its ultimate nakedness, baring all…

And I saw myself naked.

And I accepted the ugly beauty that I am.

And I told myself my truth, and became a real person. 

And I learned to love myself as I am. The jagged, raw, honest, naked and unashamed princess that all true fairy tales are made of.


I’ve spent my whole life thus far wondering what I was supposed to be doing. As a kid it seemed so black and white. Happy or sad. Right and wrong. Loneliness or togetherness. Acceptance or rejection. Yet personally filled with a sense of mystery, majesty, beauty, imagination. Coupled with a sense of fear, questions, doubts and confusion.

I was  told that I was gifted, and the gift was music, and that I had “musical intelligence” first and foremost and above any of my other intelligences. I do agree even still to this day that my musical intelligence far outweighs any other intelligences I may possess, relatively speaking. But why? What could music really do to change the world? How could playing the cello really help anyone? It sometimes felt like it was just a form of entertainment, predominantly for the affluent and the elite. It felt like not many folks really dug classical music unless they, too, were on stage playing it, or had some other association to it. On countless occasions, truth be told, even I got really fidgety at concerts of classical music unless I was on stage, or unless it was mind-blowing. I never made peace with the fact that cello alone would not save the world. I knew that people like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell were changing the world,one song at a time,  so I took a page from their books and started “rebelliously” writing songs to my mother’s dismay. I wanted this to be my gift, along side of my cello prowess.

I wanted to say something. Something more than just an interpretation of the beautiful dots on a page, as I understood that those classical masterpieces were many times politically charged, spiritually inspired, and unmistakably life changing and poignant during the periods they were being written, just as Dylan’s words and songs were. Not that I thought of myself as anything close to those geniuses, but I still wanted to voice something relevant to the world as it stands, in my own humble musical and textual expression, as those masters had in their own way.

So as I grew up, and made many mistakes (nothing to do with the music I was making, but from my glaringly obvious more underdeveloped intelligences), and I became superficially worldly, I lost that hope I felt as a young person. I somewhere lost the vision. I thought the dream had just been a childhood fantasy, with no relevance or place in a grown up world. And I became complacent, dismayed, apathetic, despondent. I felt even less able to do anything that might help anyone, as through my trials, felt I could barely help myself, so what could I possibly offer to anyone else? I wasn’t getting answers to the problems of the world, I was getting more questions, and contributing to the problems of the world. That was a sad realisation, but it was not accurate. It was honest, as far as I could understand. I was seeing reality as it is, as where I had failed, as to my mistakes, and my lacklustre.

I would catch glimpses of my part in the story, but had no idea how this weakened sight could contribute anything to anyone. I was humbled to the point of despair. I was paralysed in fear of never being remembered, never really contributing anything of value to the world. Yet I called it hunger for fame, fortune, recognition, yet I really only wanted to be loved, and heard, and seen. But it was too scary to let anyone see me, because who I was could not be seen. If you saw me, in my vulnerability, then you might have rejected me. You may not have liked what you saw. So it was easier to show you what I thought you wanted to see, only perpetuating the isolation and separation that is born from insincerity and hiding behind veils. As long as I looked a certain way, did nice things for people, and was a relatively good person, than I must have been a success. But that was not true.

My motives were all wrong. The motivation for achievement and the value I put of my life was directly measured by how you saw me. This is the definition of Hell on Earth, and between a giant rock and a very hard place. The weight of the world I created was far to heavy to continue to hold, so I landed in a heap on a very hard and cold surface of a futile feeling existence.
That was the problem, I was only scraping the surface, and only existing, not living. I was so busy trying to convince you that I was ok, that I hadn’t looked at whether I was or not. I clearly wasn’t.
Then a shift happened. As I called them often, epiphanies…. Now I tend to call them “rememberings“, because I think I did always have a sense of what the point of it all was. I remembered I had felt alive as a child. In wonderment, in awe. Not understanding everything, but being teachable and hungry for life’s beauties and magnificence. Able to see clearly with a trusting heart. I could see that as I “grew up”, and I had experienced real pains and struggles, that I had built giant walls around my heart to survive. I chose to numb out, and forget. I closed shop on epiphanies, I had stopped remembering, until I remembered, again….. and whew…
Shift happens…. and is still happening…. and will always keep happening. I think it is for all of us. As I allowed myself to recall that bewilderment of my childhood, I started to see that you, too, while you were growing up, may have started closing shop on your “remembering” too.

So, as we felt apart from, as opposed to feeling a part of, we were all in the same boat. We all grew up, and hardened our hearts, and forgot to trust, as the risk was too great. When we openly shared about these experiences together, and saw that we are all have suffered  at different times, and that we all just wanted to reunite with our tribe, and make a difference in this world, we learned that we could trust each other. So we decided to take a leap of faith and reclaim our tribe.

My tribe is your tribe.
My tribe is humanity.

I now remember that I am a part of the bigger story, I am seeing how my gifts can reach the whole tribe, and through song, and through cello, and through words and through our children. And your gifts will too. Not EITHER/ OR, but AND.

T: Trust, Togetherness, Truth, Teaching
R: Relationship, Respect, Reuniting, Right Action
I: Inspiration, Integration, Involvement, Imagination
B: Brotherhood, Belonging, Being, Bringing
E: Empathy, Evolving, Empowering, Enjoying!

Here we are now… A part of our T.R.I.B.E.

I Don’t Talk Politics Or Religion…Or Do I?

Politics, Religion, War, Poverty, Injustice, Greed, Apathy, Abuse, Corruption, Closed-mindedness, Fear, Consumerism, Wastefulness, Separation, Denial, Suicide.

Maurice Sendak’s Classic, Where The Wild Things Are

Those words reflect a sad view of the human condition. What has this world come to? What have humans evolved into? Wilder beasts than the scariest of stories.

“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another.”

To summarise Maurice Sendak’s wonderful classic story, Max’s mother thought Max was being a naughty boy. After going to bed without his supper, Max found himself in a dream like state, where he witnessed wilder beasts than himself, and at some point after teeth gnashing and terrible roars from the Wild Things, with great courage, he asked them to “Be Still!” Max became respected as the most Wild Thing of all. He became the King of the Wild Things. Yet, this sense of purpose was not what he truly wanted in his deepest heart. He only wanted to be accepted, and had the realisation that  his yearning for acceptance was not born out of respect from intimidation and fear, but out of pure, unconditional love. “Max, the King of all Wild Things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

All of those words at the top of the page represent the human condition of not feeling loveable enough, not being good enough, not feeling a part of anything, not feeling important enough, therefore leading us to places and beliefs and ways of life that only lead us to the exact state of being that we don’t want, and that we abhor in others, and ourselves, like Max.

If I read that top list of characteristics, I get a nasty feeling in my gut. Surely I am not like that. Surely I am the exception to this malady of humankind. In some ways, perhaps. I don’t start wars, I try not to be greedy, I am aware of what I’m purchasing at the shops, I recycle, I try to self evaluate so that I am not in denial, I am kind to others, and I help old ladies in the shops if they can’t reach something or read a label on a soup can. So, I’m all good, right?

I stay away from politics, and I believe in God, but from a spiritual centred place, not in a “rules and regulations thou shalt not” kinda way. Yet I feel that I am meant to speak about these things that I apparently have nothing in common with.

Mainly, I don’t want you to think badly of me, because I really care about what you think. I don’t want to be judged, because, believe me, I learned a long time ago how to judge you. I was taught early on how to stand in a position of defence … Yet I say I am not a believer in War. So how come I have placed myself in the middle of a war, just by caring too much what you think of me? Obviously this is an individualistic, singular perspective of the internal war, the internal battlefield,  as opposed to the “big time blow ’em up” war involving countries, or even the world at large. What’s the difference?

Is there a difference in the wars we create, and the battles we personally face on a daily basis, and the world’s act of war?

Because I care so much about what you think of me, it can tear me up inside, it can lead to other ailments besides a defensive stance, it can lead to the biggest of all human dilemma, FEAR.

Fear is what drives all of these conditions. Politics thrives on instilling fear into the public at large, making false promises to keep us safe from the bad guys, pointing out who the bad guys are, meaning that we are somehow the good guys. Who gets to decide that? Again, we are judging a whole people from a black and white perspective of good and bad, right and wrong, just because they live somewhere else, and wear different clothes, and build different temples or mosques or churches. So there we are, involved in politics, judging the world based on some fundamental beliefs systems that make us right, and them wrong.
Old School Organised Religion (O.S.O.R. I just made that up!)  has given God a really bad rap over the years as well, because of the authoritarian perspective of separation, of alienation, of original sin (as if we are all bad inherently, and just have to try to become less bad. This is a really flawed theory I think, and only feeds the sickness of the soul we grow to have from our separation from our fellows), of bad and good, and mainly because of the reflection many pose as doing God’s work, in the name of God, as they kill anyone who is not agreeing with them. That is not an act of God, that is an act of man, of MAN IN FEAR.
I am not a politician, and I am not a preacher, and I am not a war monger, but I am a human being. I get to play whatever role in this tragedy, or comedy or masterpiece that I choose… That depends on me. I don’t want to try to get into the politics of the world, I don’t want to try to begin to talk about religion, but I do feel that I can talk about the human condition, because I do qualify for that. As we all do.
So, I am guilty of having greed, I can get into thinking of myself too much, and I can lose focus on the important things when I get wrapped up in what I want, and what I don’t have. We know that the world is still suffering greatly with millions of people in need of basic life essentials and it’s easy to remove this from our awareness when we get busy in our lives, and like a horse with blinders, we sometimes only see whats in our own back yard. The first step for change from where I sit today, is to see that the greed of one culture, is creating and perpetuating the poverty of another. That does not sound “fair” to me, as equal lives on this globe, we all deserve the basic human rights of food and water. So, I get to think about that, and feel that, and see what responsibility I have in all of it.Then I get to act accordingly.
When I can see that we are all the “same” in that we are all unique, individually beautiful creations, then I feel more able to see you, and be able to help you. We are all a part of the tribe of humanity. When I get out of myself and stop focusing on whether or not you are judging me, as I judge you judging me, then I can get in a place of complete love with you. I can feel the connection we share, the life that we both bring, and then can have fascination by the different views you may have to mine. It’s refreshing, and often illuminating and life altering.

So I choose to be open-minded, I choose to be empathic, I choose to be compassionate, I choose to be giving, I choose to be caring, I choose to be proactive, I choose to be a warrior for light and love, justice and equality.

I don’t want to commit slow soul suicide, which is death in itself. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to help this planet be a little better and brighter because of me. I am writing this as all of us. The “I” in this story is Us. Together, united, healing the planet in one smile, one step, one decision, one surrender at a time.