Who’s driving the bus? Taking control of your brain

I’m leaving my sense of humor at the door just this once to write about a serious subject. Okay, maybe just a few snarky remarks thrown in here and there, but for the most part this is going to be a straight-up, no-nonsense kinda blog, so fasten your seatbelts.

So, what I want to ask you is… ‘Who’s driving the bus?’

Are you the master of your own brain or do your thoughts control you?

What brought this question to  mind was a recent spate of purchases of one of my graphic designs called ‘Positive Focus’ … wondering about the customers who bought this design…and sincerely hoping that they can focus on that big golden YES in the middle.

Positive Focus

I made this graphic based on… not exactly a philoshophy…. but the way I choose to think. This is major, so I’ll repeat it…it’s the way I CHOOSE to think. This is such a simple, basic concept but it’s amazing to me how many people do not seem to be aware of this fact …you can choose what to think. I know…what a shocker right?

The thoughts floating around in your head right now are optional! You can stop them, start them, create new ones. Right now, right this minute, I decided to think about pink frilly tights. Why? Because I like pink frilly tights. Not on me of course, but what the hell, it’s my thought and I can put those pink frilly tights on my old butt and even make them look good if I imagine it so.

Technically your brain is an organ, not a muscle, but it behaves like a muscle. It grows and strengthens with use.
And like other muscles, the more you exercise it, the better control you have over it.

I’m not a pollyanna…or an ostrich…I know there are horrific things going on all around me. What  might be considered horrific things have happened to me personally. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint. I have been raped. I have been in an abusive relationship. So life is not all sunshine, but I choose to look for the sunshine….or more accurately, I make the sunshine.

Poor, Poor Dear

Many of the things people choose to focus on are  frivolous worries, like poor, poor dear above. (providing me the opportunity for poking fun at people’s foibles; thank you Lord for foibles). Another sneaky trap that catches thousands of people and they are totally unaware that it’s got them in it’s grip is ‘righteous anger’.  Let me give you an example of what that expression means.

Let’s say, for instance, that you are out shopping…… and hey, why wouldn’t you be?…it’s Saturday. The sun is shining. It’s a holiday weekend and everyone else is out enjoying the day.  They’re not stuck at home (like me) writing some bloody blog. They didn’t have their car broken into on Thursday night (like me) and the ignition totally thrashed by vandals so you can’t go anywhere even if you wanted to. Okay…I’m working up a good head of steam here on my righteous anger….I could go on with this trainwreck of thoughts until I was well and truly p….d off.

I have a right to be angry don’t I? Course I do. All the facts are on my side. After hearing the above circumstances you’de sympathize with me wouldn’t you?…I could get good and ticked off and be justified in doing so. We love to have confirmation of our right to be angry.

So am I angry? Nope. Good guess wonderchild…you win da prize.

Why? Because I don’t want to be. That’s it. No secret formula. My brain, my thoughts, my choice.

I have control of my brain and all the drivel that emerges from it is my own creation. If you have a choice (and you do) between happy or sad, anger or laughter…why  continue to choose sad and angry? I don’t know, but I’m not inclined to think about it too much right now…I’m busy planning a convention. Any other non-conformists out there who want to join the NC-U with me?

Non-Conformists Unite

What women want….. buying gifts for women made easy.

Most men are clueless. That’s not an insult; it’s a fact.

Sorry guys,  you know it’s true….most of you just have no clue how to buy gifts for women.

Knowing this fact, I’m going to demystify the gift-giving process for all you non-sensitive, but well-meaning studly types.
I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to
pick the perfect gift..for mother, girlfriend, wife…any female in your life…for any occasion.

I’m not just going to give you a list of appropriate gifts…. lots of sites already do that and men still don’t understand WHY one gift works and another one gets them booted out of the house for a week.  What I’m going to do is explain female logic (yes we DO have logic) so that you can pick a gift yourself without all the angst!

Here’s the one thing that all women want…it’s not complicated.

Proof that you love them.

That’s it. Now what’s so difficult about that?

Quit muttering and groaning like that, you’ll scare the dog.

Okay, I’ll expand on the idea a little just ’cause I can’t stand watching a man cry.

How the h…..  do you prove that you love her?

That’s easy too.

You think about them.

That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Really.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money; just prove that you thought about her for more than two minutes (in a non-sexual context) and she will believe you are a king among men.

If she knows that you spent ten hours scouring stores to find the right gift for her…it doesn’t matter what gift you come home with…all that matters is that you spent ten hours thinking about her!  Really, you could bring home a stuffed pig and still get lucky if she knew you had spent all that time thinking about her! The problem with the pig-thing is how do you prove you were thinking about her? Unless she happens to be a pig farmer…then it works.  What you buy should prove to her that you were thinking about her personally. Does she even like pigs?

Think about her.Take a minute here to really do that.

Come on, quit blubbering,  you can do this.

Now,  write a quick  list of words that relate to the female you’re gifting. Nothing complicated.

Here’s are some examples:

1) what work does she do ….  nurse, teacher, jazz pianist, secretary, mother

2) where does she hang out…….clubs, gym, kitchen, barn, school

3) what  are her quirks (bites her toenails, wears too much purple, sings in the shower)

4) what are her hobbies ……running, cooking, playing music, humming Beatles tunes

(okay, that last might qualify as a quirk, but don’t be too anal about where you
list stuff, it doesn’t matter)

Alright…got your list done? You are now fully armed to go gift shopping.

Don’t panic, I won’t leave you on your own just yet. I know you’d flounder and drown if left on your own at this point.

Before I take you out shopping with your little prepared list, I want to interject a side note. If you simply took that list that you have just written,and transferred it onto a custom card for your wife-girlfriend-mother, she would think you were the sweetest, most sensitive, most romantic guy in the world.

Why? Because it proves that you thought about her. Ergo: you love her!

Realize the Love

If you’re the handy type, you could hand-craft something that related to the any of the items on your list…the proof that you were thinking about her would be obvious in the time you spent to hand make something for her. It’s not the gift that counts IT’S THE THOUGHT that goes into it…seriously!

If you aren’t able to make it yourself, there are many ways to customize a gift that will make it personal…more proof that you were thinking about her. Putting her name or picture on a gift is perfect. Putting your own words on it is even better.

Here’s an example; this ipad cover can be customized by just adding her initials to it. Note: if she doesn’t own an ipad, do not buy this gift. If she hates black, do not buy this gift! THINK ABOUT HER.

Black Diamonds

Keeping your list in hand, click here to visit my one of my favorite one-stop shopping websites. Now type in one or two words from your list into the search bar at top. Everything on this page is a potential gift. Any of these items would prove that you were thinking about her because they all relate to one of the things you wrote on your list specifically about HER.
Remember, that’s what it’s all about ... thinking about her=LOVE.
 Try different combinations of words from your list until you find the one thing that suits her perfectly. If you add a personal note or image or even just her name to one of these products that already relate specifically to her, you’ve got a winner.
Here’s another example. I found this great frame by typing ‘mother’ and ‘photo’ in the search bar.

Greatest Mother

I understand that men don’t purposely set out to buy dumb gifts, they sincerely don’t get it..that’s why we forgive them and love them anyway. So if anything I’ve said makes sense to just one man, it will be a major step forward in male-female communications.

My son says this whole thing is a lie…understanding what women want will NEVER be easy. He might be right, but the main thing is you tried; don’t give up. Tell your girlfriend, wife, mother that you read this blog. You’ll at least get a few bonus points for making an effort…be sure to add a comment and you’ll have proof that you were here.

10 tips for making your Deathday a day to remember

Funerals in this country follow a rather predictable pattern….some pretty flowers, a little heart-warming, tear-jerking music and lots of blah, blah about what a wonderful person so-and-so was. For many people, this routine is comforting. Personally, I’d prefer a less conservative approach.

The dear departed are probably going to a better place (seriously, how much worse could it be?) so it should be a day for rejoicing. The recent trend is towards a more celebratory atmosphere and maybe if funerals were as one-of-a-kind as the individual, we’d actually start to look forward to them. I’ve come up with a few ideas for deathday celebrations that you’re welcome to borrow, but don’t be afraid to improvise and come up with your own. We human’s are a diverse bunch of whackos, so make that final exit as unique as you are.

Party Line

When you’re making out your termination papers and setting up the plans for your family to follow when you’re outta here…there’s no reason it has to be another run-of-the-mill, hohum-another-dead-guy kinda day. The following list has a few ideas to get you started on your own path to perdition.

1)A movie theme might work well for some…if you were a couch-potato in life, request a comfy, couch-shaped coffin and a remote control.  Already, you’re half-way to a perfect deathday. Throw in a popcorn machine, a big screen TV and 3D glasses for everyone… now we’re starting to get excited about attending. Remember, it’s your day, so you get to choose the movie.

2)Dressing up is considered de rigueur at funerals, to show respect for the dead. But if you hated wearing a suit and tie in life you could request mourners wear a copy of your favorite ‘Zombie’ tee (these can be pre-ordered if you’re the organized type) and start the day in a more relaxed atmosphere….unless you pop up out of your coffin with a knife and fork in your hand, then things might get a little tense. There are as many variations on this theme as there are favourite tshirts…so personalize, personalize!

Zombie Wall

3)If you’re an actor/actress, why not get a stand-in for the day? In this case, it’s probably even better if they don’t look like you… just pick any old body off the street. Seeing the wrong body in the coffin will surely stir up a little excitement and provide mourners months of additional entertainment trying to figure out who that was, and where you are.

4)This isn’t my personal favourite, cuz clowns kinda freak me out, but maybe a circus theme would be your idea of the ideal deathday. Jugglers, clowns, an elephant or two (optional) and twisted-balloon-animal handouts for everyone. This theme works particularly well if you ever worked for the circus, were a juggler or clown. Otherwise it’s just kind of weird.

5)Pinatas…let’s talk deathday pinatas. I like this one. A pinata is so versatile……have it made in advance to your specifications. If you were an accountant in life, why not a entertain your guests with a giant pencil-shaped pinata stuffed with dollar bills? Maybe they’ll even forget how boring you really were. Or if you happened to be an obnoxious bastard, attach a pinata to your coffin and let everyone take a whack at you. This release of tension is guaranteed to boost your ratings and maybe even engender a kind word or two.

Money is a Tool, If You Aren't

6)Music is an excellent way to adapt your celebration to suit your personality. Don’t settle for ‘Amazing Grace’ just because everyone else does. If you’re into Radiohead maybe “High and Dry” would be a better selection for you. I like blues, so “Someday the Sun Won’t Shine For You” by Jethro Tull might be appropriate for me. However I’d advise caution when making this kind of last request….it’s bound to produce more of that weeping and wailing thing that can quickly ruin a good party. A good DJ should know how to keep the party upbeat, so spending a little time now to find the right one would be a wise way to start your deathday planning.

7)Scavenger hunts are fantastic….I love ’em. Write out your list beforehand …if you need help coming up with a list, google has endless ideas for your search list. Here again, this is an easy theme to make your own….use some of your own belongings…or relate the items to your own hobby, etc. Make sure some of the items are hidden under and around you in your coffin; this way you will be involved in the fun as people dig around you looking for stuff.

8)Remember, you don’t have to take it lying down…..this is such a basic fact that most people forget to take advantage of the opportunity. Why just lie there if you can stand up in the corner, or better yet, sit yourself in the front row and sport your 3D glasses with the rest of them. There are endless variations on this basic premise…just run with it, so to speak. Buttresses, pulleys, and some simple frameworks can create some amazing effects.

This Way Up

9)The following idea can be time-consuming, so if you’re planning on making this idea part of your last hurrah, be sure to get on it now. To avoid all the usual blah, blah, pre-write everything for your friends and family to say at your deathday celebration. For goodness sake, take pity on those left behind and do this pre-planning now. I would suggest a selection of the best jokes you’ve ever heard. Alternatively, if you have no sense of humour,  just give us all the real dirt on your life…. you’re not the angel people would portray you as, so give us the down-low and we’ll have a bit of fun with that. This one’s a great crowd pleaser and is sure to attract an audience. …a perfect choice if you have no friends anyway.

Laugh Lines

10)Lastly, if you want to really go out in style…..make it a SURPRISE party. Don’t tell anyone you’re dead. Granted, it’s difficult to pull off, but it can be done. Unavoidably, one or two people usually find out ahead of time, but that’s okay.  Bribe the nurses and doctors if necessary to keep the cat in the bag and then have a trusted family member send out your pre-printed invitations. Tell everyone it’s come-as-you-are, potluck and voila….a perfect deathday celebration.

What are you’re last requests? I’d love to hear them, even if it’s just a request for me to stay the hell away from you and your family.

Hopefully, my own deathday is a long way in the future because I’m not finished my planning yet, but if some of you adopt these ideas at least I might be invited to a few fun funerals in the meantime.
Happy Endings!
(If you’re pre-planning, all the above merchandise can be found on my zazzle website…see link on right)

The obsession

I confess, I am obsessed. Artwork absorbs me to such an extent that I forget to eat; I mean it’s such a colossal annoyance to stop for a meal.  Seriously, I’d love to just strap on some intravenous, vitaminized gloop and carry on with my work.  Daily hygiene is also a necessary evil. I’d skip it altogether if not for the other people in the world (taking pity on their sense of smell, I occasionally sacrifice the time).
When I’m working, nothing is sacred…my kitchen egg-flipper still has chips of paint on it from some long-forgotten adventure in art. I gather household items around me like Pig-pen’s cloud, as I foment the latest creation. It’s an obsession. Fortunately, my obsession brings me joy not anxiety. And there’s no stigma attached to being an eccentric artist…my OCD is socially acceptable. Everyone knows artists are crazy.

For the last couple of years I’ve concentrated on photography and graphic art. These two hobbies shouldn’t generate much mess, right?  Ha! When I’m taking photos, I can’t just snap things in their current location and condition….that would be too neat and tidy. No, I have to decorate them with bits of lace, or outline them with light from sparklers or freeze them in ice. At the moment I have a piece of glass out on my patio(rescued from some old picture frame) where I’m taking advantage of the current cold snap to coat it with ice.  I’ll use it later, for better or worse, to create some new images under ice.
For as long as I can remember, one project or another has cluttered up my living space. The freaky thing is, disorder upsets my equilibrium so I compulsively clean today, and I’ll obsessively create a new mess tomorrow.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, art is undeniably a jealous mistress (or in my case, mister). Relationships definitely suffer neglect when you’re wrapped up in paper mache and tubes of glitter….(unless you’re using them in novel ways outside my normal methods). People become extraneous and just as much an inconvenience as eating a meal… or more so…at least the meal doesn’t expect conversation.

Here is one of the harvests from my obsession. This one required burning sparklers in the kitchen, dropping remnants of ash in the kitchen sink, as well as coating the top of the range with dripping candle wax. I never notice the mess I’m making until I come out of the zone…..and then it’s back to compulsive tidying.

Photography Prints

and if I happen to scatter a little broken glass here and there, who’s to notice?

Art Prints

When I was younger, I tried to fit into society’s standard of a “normal” life…..someone else’s vision of normal. Now I’m old enough to understand that my life is normal….for me.

And it’s damn good.

Links to header images:



Dammit, I’ve been ripped off!

Apparently, other people have something called a soul mate and I feel I’ve been cheated. Where’s mine then, huh?  How come, in all my long years, I’ve never bumped into anything that remotely resembled a soul mate.

Maybe it’s because I’m not sure what a soul mate is? Is it anything like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus?

Okay, I may be a tad cynical, but if there is a soul mate for everyone, mine is wandering around Tiffanys and I’m over here shuffling around WalMart (okay, I don’t really shuffle yet, but I’m sure I will be by the time he finds me).

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year.

This whole soul mate question began rankling me after watching “Crazy Stupid Love” with my kids over the holidays. One of my sons, who is now 38 years old, recommended it as one of his favorites. Now, biased mother opinions aside, he is a handsome, thoroughly masculine, hunky kinda guy with a ton of husband potential. Any guy sensitive and romantic enough to pick that movie, must have possibilities don’t you think? But he’s never met his soul mate. I have two other sons….same thing. No soul mates. Are we all delusional?

And when exactly did soul mates become a national objective? My parents never told me that a mysterious soul mate lurked in my future. It was supposed to be a knight in shining armour. Yes, I’m sure I remember that correctly. A clanking hunk on a white charger. Would have made for noisy sex, but hey, in those days you weren’t supposed to be doing it anyway. My siblings and I were all immaculate conceptions…..no rattling breastplates and crashing helmets in my parents bedroom; no need to even remove the gauntlets.

So, have I been duped? Was I watching for a white horse when my soul mate went charging by on a black stallion?

Or is the whole thing a myth propagated by the media to sell more movies and Valentine’s cards? What’s your opinion….do you still believe in the Easter Bunny? If you have met your soul mate, send me a picture.  I want some kinda proof that they exist.

Honestly, I’ve managed to have a wonderful life with no horse hockey messin’ up my yard…and I don’t have much interest in shopping at Tiffanys. But if you’re out there ‘soul mate’, and you’re not too senile to find it, drop by WalMart…I’ll be the little grey-haired lady causing a scene in the lingerie department. And hurry up, time is running out. I figure I might have twenty good years left in me, but after that you’re on your own.


What’s my NEWline? tee contest

iiphotoArt introduces fun new line of tshirts!

It’s called, strangely enough,


Each tee features a simple graphic line drawing that is actually a  rebus puzzle depicting a word or phrase containing the word “line”. Below is an example.

NEWline 1

To see the design on a tee, click here.

………this one’s pretty obvious, but I’ll give you a minute to figure it out. The answer is at the bottom of this post (and that’s a blatant hint for you).

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what word or phrase the next three “NEWline” tees depict.

NEWline 2

To see the design on a tee, click here.

NEWline 3

To see the design on a tee, click here.

NEWline 4

To see the design on a tee, click here.

The contest begins NOW and runs until midnight Dec.31/11.
Everyone who sends in correct answers for lines 2,3 and 4 before the deadline will be entered in a draw to win a “NEWline” tee with the design of their choice.
The best part is, there will be lots to choose from. Every day  from now through December 31, another “NEWline” tee will be added to the iiphotoART zazzle website.

These first four tees are available beginning today at iiphotoART. Visit every day to find out what the next “NEWline” will be. Just to keep it interesting, the answers to each “NEWline” will not be shown anywhere except here on this blog. That means if you like a challenge, you can buy your tee and have as much time as you want to figure it out yourself before cheating!

The rules are simple:

  1. anyone can enter (except my immediate family, so forget it you guys)
  2. you may submit only one entry per email address
  3. the winner must answer all three lines correctly
  4. entry must be received before midnight Dec.31/11
  5. there will be one winner chosen by a draw from all the winning entries
  6.  the winner will receive one tshirt, in the style and design of their choice taken from the iiphotoArt NEWline Zazzle collection

So, that’s it. Fill out your answers in the form below and good luck! Winners will be announced here and at iiphotoART by January 15, 2012.

Oh yeah, for all those who are linearly challenged, the answer to NEWline 1 is ……… “bottom line” (they’re not all this easy).

The answer list can be viewed by clicking on the link at top. I’ll add the next answer every day after the daily NEWline tee has been added to zazzle.  Lines 2, 3, and 4 will not be revealed until the new year.

The skeletons are out of the closet…

…and traipsing around England at the moment (click on picture for exact location).

Abbey Road Halloween

If you live in Canada, like I do, you’re probably safe for a couple more weeks. That’s when all the weirdos will come out to play…zombies, vampires, witches, and the odd (and I do mean odd) superhero. No silly,  not Saturday night on Granville Street. I’m talking super-freak night “HALLOWEEN”.

When I  grew up in the 50’s there weren’t any zombies for Halloween.  At least you didn’t see them much, they mostly kept to themselves.  I mean dead stuff mainly stayed in the cemetery were it belonged and we just didn’t spend much time there. And mom didn’t often say, “I’m just on my way to the cemetery dear, do you want anything?”

So we had boring old ghosts, and they didn’t do much except sort of float around immaterially and go “B0o”. Oooh, oooh, I’m so scared. Things are much more exciting  now with brain-eating zombies lurching around and blood-sucking vampires waiting to slurp your neck. Ahh, what a great time to be a kid. You can get the crap scared out of you and have nightmares enough to last ’til next Halloween.

And you won’t find any self-respecting youngster these days wearing a costume made from their sister’s old tutu..on no. Not when you can pick up a fake limb, including blood and mangled veins, at the local dollar store. Have you seen the Halloween goodies in the dollar store? Wow…it’s enough to make a 60-year-old woman want to trick herself up in blood-dripping wounds and hit the streets. Okay, 61, but don’t be niggly.

Just a brief word of caution:

If your children speak to you in Latin or any other language  which they should not know, shoot them immediately. It will save  you a lot of grief in the long run. However, it will probably take several  rounds to kill them, so be prepared. This also applies to kids who speak  with somebody else’s voice.

For the big night, find yourself a few other people who like to dress up in funny clothes (if your Uncle Joe fits that description, bless you, that’s family)…and have yourselves a party.

Or sit at home in the dark, hide behind the door and pretend no one’s home so you can eat all the Halloween treats yourself. No, of course I’ve never done that. I’m not some crazy old cat-lady you know.

I have been spending a lot of time in the dark but only to practice long exposure photography. You can see some new “painting with light” images on my photography website iiphotoArt including the picture in the header. And for some really unique Halloween fun, be sure to check out all the great artists at zazzle.com…see links in the sidebar.

I’ll talk to you again after things calm back down, when the skeletons are back in the closet and the bats are back in the belfry.