Is Your Life a bit of a mess?

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When I went to study art I was shocked when the first thing they did was confiscate our pencils and stand us in front of a giant paper with only a nib pen and a pot of ink ( they did supply white paint for when things got too muddled to even see the lines.) The life model then appeared and took a complex reclining pose.
Their reasoning they explained was they didn’t want us to make the pretty little pictures we were used to. They wanted us to “think big and bold, to make decisions (and mistakes). A beautiful picture they explained meant you learnt nothing! A messy sheet was evidence of learning. They heartily applauded our hatched black lines sprawled across the muddied grey of white paint mixed with black mistakes. I had to admit at the end the final creations said so much more than our usual safe renderings.
I have come to apply the same principals to life. It’s those messy times, full of mistakes and attempts to “white wash” with their ugly edges and smudged lines that are some of our most fruitful. We find our vision enlarged, our concepts heightened and our humanity deepened. So don’t worry if you hit a “messy patch” continue to “think big”, to do your best to get it right and be honest when you get it wrong. Your world may not look pretty right then but heh you’re on a learning curve!

Exile. (Flash fiction)

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night waves
Waves crashed to the shore. She listened to their echoes through the surrounding mist, wishing she could follow them home. Around her bundles of cloth held together their remaining possessions. At least they were safe now, enveloped in a shroud of mist and water. Jamie’s oars slipped through the waves counting strokes that took her from all she’d ever known. He turned to smile at the anxious little face nestled to her bosom, the bloodied cloth that circled his head a grim reminder they could not stay.
“We’re safe now laddie. Yer uncle ‘ll take us in, he’s no friend of the redcoats. There’ll be rabbits and fish to catch, sheep to herd and you’ll have a playmate…”
Maggie was far from comforted. Their lives were saved but at the cost all else. They would be exiles. Never again would she see her mother’s face or man the market stall with her sisters. What could life hold for her on a remote farmstead…?

*

It was past midnight when the boat bumped against the island shore. Leaping down she helped Jamie pull the vessel up onto the shingle. Waves surged against her legs as she labored. They surged in a different direction here she realized, new waves surging toward a different beach, a new beginning. Somehow they comforted her heart. Though the old was forever gone a new life beckoned. Voices echoed from the blaze that had guided them in the darkness.
“We thought you’d never make it lad!”
A massive figure lunged toward them silhouetted against the blaze. Jamie embraced his brother. Other faces gleamed in the firelight. They were not the only exiles the waves had carried here.

Exile.
Waves crashed to the shore. She listened to their echoes through the surrounding mist, wishing she could follow them home. Around her bundles of cloth held together their remaining possessions. At least they were safe now, enveloped in a shroud of mist and water. Jamie’s oars slipped through the waves counting strokes that took her from all she’d ever known. He turned to smile at the anxious little face nestled to her bosom, the bloodied cloth that circled his head a grim reminder they could not stay.
“We’re safe now laddie. Yer uncle ‘ll take us in, he’s no friend of the redcoats. There’ll be rabbits and fish to catch, sheep to herd and you’ll have a playmate…”
Maggie was far from comforted. Their lives were saved but at the cost all else. They would be exiles. Never again would she see her mother’s face or man the market stall with her sisters. What could life hold for her on a remote farmstead…?

*

It was past midnight when the boat bumped against the island shore. Leaping down she helped Jamie pull the vessel up onto the shingle. Waves surged against her legs as she labored. They surged in a different direction here she realized, new waves surging toward a different beach, a new beginning. Somehow they comforted her heart. Though the old was forever gone a new life beckoned. Voices erupted from the blaze that had guided them in the darkness.
“We thought you’d never make it lad!”
A massive figure lunged toward them silhouetted against the blaze. Jamie embraced his brother. Other faces gleamed in the firelight. They were not the only exiles the waves had carried here.

Childhood Magic.

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chr can 2

I look back and remember. Come and peek into my world,
When candles softly glowed, the angel’s wings unfurled.
With childhoods eyes I waited for the feast on Christmas Eve,
Not food, or presents waiting but what little eyes perceive.
When dad would light the candles upon the Christmas tree
With my sister I would huddle and glorious beauty see.
It lasted a few moments (the flames could not be left)
And so this time of magic would leave us soon bereft.
But in our souls would linger the beauty of the sight
And in our hearts remember Christ was given on this night.

My memory stretches back to the early 50s, Christmas Eves. It was cold before the days of central heating and double glazing. The heat from the roaring coal fire in the living room did not extend to the hallway where the tree stood and my sister and I huddled together in our flannelette nighties and tightly bound dressing gowns. Furry slippers and wool socks guarded our feet from the drafts that slipped past the door stop, but we didn’t notice the cold, our eyes were glued to the metal clip on candle holders we’d helped arrange (being careful of nearby branches the candles might ignite.)
Dad, still dressed in his work clothes, struck a match to the box and the magic began. Tiny flames appeared reflecting their gleaming warmth off the baubles and tinsel as we stood in awe at its beauty respectfully keeping our distance (only dad was permitted this task). Mum came behind to hug us and for a few moments time stopped as we admired the tiny lights gleaming in the darkness. Then all too soon they began to die and dad blew them out making sure his family slept safe.
In the morning there would be presents to unwrap, hot chocolate, carols at the old piano, mum’s home made cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding to devour, but as a child The most special thing about Christmas was when dad lit the lights.
Childlike, I was sure that must have been the time Jesus was born, amidst the magic.

lighting candles

Sublimely Happy Bunny!

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chr. rabbit
No I’m not in love and I haven’t won the lottery but I just can’t seem to keep it in.
Maybe I should at least cloak it a bit, people are beginning to notice. It was remarked on by a guy at the market yesterday.
“What’s made you so happy then?” he didn’t understand my answer.
“Christmas!”
He just looked puzzled and said, “a bit early isn’t it?”
My smile gets bigger and there’s no way I can hide it. Every time I see Christmas décor or hear a carol my eyes mist up and my heart swells till I can no longer contain it. Like a thirsty sponge I just absorb the sweet water. After the drought and ugliness of Halloween it’s like a drink of fresh clear water, better yet a swig of sweet wine – exhilarating!
It must be a taste of how, when Satan has brought the world to its knees and seemingly wrecked everything, God will have the last laugh and as His tones ring once more across the earth hearts everywhere will rejoice.

Some Good News! (For a change)

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(Received this message this morning. I felt so inspired that I wanted to pass it on. Sometimes things seem overwhelming but folks really do seem to be banding together to fight the forces that seek to ruin our world.)

Dear Avaazers,

Lately, we’re not just winning, we’re winning BIG.

These are not small time victories, but the biggest stuff, the save the world stuff – on climate change, Monsanto, our oceans, the internet, democracy, and more! There’s a lot that’s depressing in the world today, but scroll down and see what our future could look like if we just stick together…

After the March — Real Progress on Climate Change!! From Europe, the US, and China!

Progress on climate change
One of our 2,600 climate marches!

We desperately needed Europe to kick off a global round of ambitious climate commitments at a recent summit in Brussels, so I felt deflated when I was told by insiders there was “no way” the EU would stand up to big oil and coal to cut carbon emissions by “at least” 40% by 2030. But we didn’t back down, and they did it!

Here’s how we got from “no way” to a big win:

  • Drove the largest climate mobilisation in history with 675,000 people in the streets in 162 countries!
  • Got the UN Secretary General, 18 cabinet ministers, and countless politicians to join the march.
  • Delivered a 2.2 million strong petition calling for 100% clean energy to world leaders including French President Hollande.
  • Held advocacy meetings with the climate and energy ministers of France, Germany, Brazil and the UK.
  • Lobbied Poland, a key blocker on climate action, with an ad campaign that got news coverage throughout Poland and phone calls from Polish Avaazers.
  • Commissioned opinion polls in Germany, France, Poland and the UK right before the decision.
The climate march was a game changer
30,000 marchers in Melbourne!

The climate march was a game changer, cited by president after president in their UN summit speeches. While hundreds of organisations contributed to the march and the win in Europe, our role was crucial. The BBC said: “The marches brought more people on to the streets than ever before, partly thanks to the organizational power of the e-campaign group Avaaz.” And Germany’s Environment minister said: “I would like to thank the millions of people who have joined Avaaz…Without public support it will be impossible to stop climate change.”

US President Obama also responded to the climate march, saying: “Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them.” Following the momentum building win in Europe, Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week – Obama promised reasonable-sized cuts in emissions, and China promised cuts as well, for the first time ever! The momentum we desperately needed has begun…

After big oil and coal, what’s the next worst soulless corporate lobby? Yep, Monsanto. And that’s the next big victory that our community has helped win.

Monsanto’s mega-plant blocked!!

Monsanto's mega-plant killed!
Protesting Monsanto’s seed factory.

When Monsanto tried to extend its grip over the global food chain with a massive new seed factory in Argentina, Avaaz members stood side by side with a local movement and stopped Latin America’s largest GM seed plant from being built this year.

Monsanto is a $60 billion mega-corporation that plays dirty. Here’s how we helped stop them:

  • Launched a 1 million strong petition and flooded the inboxes of decision makers with thousands of messages.
  • Worked with top lawyers on a briefing that showed Monsanto’s Environmental Assessment was illegal, making a splash in the media.
  • Released a poll showing that 2/3rds of town residents opposed the plant.
  • Supported local residents to build their power and a winning strategy.

Local grassroots leader Celina Molina said: “After more than a million Avaaz members stood with the people of Malvinas Argentinas, we won an important battle in the fight against Monsanto! From gaining access to documents previously denied to us by the authorities to running a game changing opinion poll, Avaaz was important for preventing the largest transgenic seed plant from being built in our backyard.”

Plus Big Wins on Saving our Oceans, the Internet, and Democracy

Big Wins on Saving our Oceans
Open Vote in Brazil
‘Nothing to hide!’ protest, Brasilia.

Thanks to several thousand Avaazers who donate monthly to sustain our small team, we can work on several issues at once. Here are some other big wins in recent weeks:

The Largest Marine Sanctuary in the World Created! – To support this critical reserve, over 1 million of us called on the US government, we commissioned an opinion poll in Hawaii, and more. And in the end, President Obama stood up to the big fishing lobbies and protected an area of the Pacific almost the size of South Africa!

Internet Neutrality Protected in Europe and the US!1.1 million of us lobbied the EU parliament to protect the free and open internet with strong rules on net neutrality. And against all the efforts of the big telecoms companies, we helped get the win! In the US, Obama just followed suit and took a strong position to protect net neutrality that “stunned” the telecoms companies.

Brazilian Congress Ends Secret Voting! – After several months of steady campaigning with call-ins, activist stunts, media attention and more, Avaazers in Brazil (now 7 million strong!) pressed the Congress to almost completely end the shady practice of “secret voting.” It’s a huge victory for one of the world’s largest democracies.

And More on the Way….

These are the battles won, but they take months or years. Dozens of others are in the works. Here’s some progress updates:

And more on the way...
ABP: divest from the occupation.
  • Ebola VolunteersOver 2,500 skilled Avaazers have applied to volunteer to risk their lives to go to West Africa to help stop this deadly disease in its tracks. A stunning example of courage and humanity. Many have been processed by our partner organisations and are beginning to travel to the front lines of the crisis.
  • Ebola fundraiser – Our community has raised over $2.2 million for relief organizations at the front lines!
  • Save the Bees – We delivered our 3.4 million strong petition to a US government commission studying whether to ban the pesticides that are killing the bees.
  • Palestine – After the horror in Gaza earlier this year, we’re pulling out all the stops to get some of the world’s largest pension funds and corporations to divest from businesses that support the Israeli military occupation and illegal colonization of Palestine. We’re getting close to winning, which could be a game changer for the conflict, and hopes for peace…
  • and much, much more…


I just came from a meeting of the Avaaz team, and some of us cried (ahem, maybe including me) at what a pure joy it is to serve our mission and this community, and just how much potential, together, we have to make a difference in the world.

The climate march and the Ebola volunteers campaign, as well as everyone donating, are examples of how Avaazers are stepping up to an even greater level of commitment to this vessel we share. And with each step we take, our power grows.

There’s a lot of fear and greed and ignorance in our world, but we are steadily bringing love and hope and smart, effective strategies to make a difference. And in every way, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible. Let’s keep building this vessel, and investing our time and hope more deeply in it, because something like this is precious, and the world needs us more than ever.

With love and huge appreciation for this movement,

Ricken, with Nell, Pascal, Marie, Laila, Andrea and the whole Avaaz team.