Quality of Life

Some people like to say, "Eat well, do good, get exercise, and die anyway," as some sort of excuse for partying, being unhealthy and/or being inconsiderate. This logic has no place in a happy, fulfilling and successful life. Regardless of when you die, you want the life you live today, and tomorrow to be the best life you can possibly have. There is no excuse for not doing the best for yourself and the best you can for those you love. Even if I were going to die in six months, I still would continue my diet exactly as I do (if not do even better) because I want the highest quality for my life. The quantity is quite irrelevant.

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot

"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ M. C. Escher

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Gift Bags

In gifts I gave this year, given in original bags, I placed the following note:

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas
Awesome New Year and Other Joyous Occasions

Greetings celebrant,

This quick note is about the bag your gift in is. I made gift bags this year for many reasons, which I'd like to tell you about, starting with how Christmas was for me growing up.

Yearly on Christmas day my family dug the car out of the snow at five o'clock in the morning. We made the two-hour drive out of the city to my Aunt's beautiful cottage.

My Aunt has a flair for decoration. Her house was immaculate, spotless and free of modern technology. It felt magical, out-of-time, and warm. Her living room sported an old-fashioned roaring fire place, a Christmas tree covered with hand-made bows, angels, ceramic balls, and other baubles.

My Aunt's table was set to perfection, with each piece of silverware “just so” and cloth napkins in decorative ceramic rings. Breakfast was served at exactly eleven o'clock, followed by coffee, tea, stockings, board games, lunch, presents, and then dinner. The tradition of it was wonderful.

The part I cherish most was the presentation of the presents. Each gift was a work of art. Perfect wrapping, shining cloth ribbons, hand-crafted bows, and so on. The tree would be absolutely buried in gifts, labored over through the season.

As a child, I recognized the beauty, the effort, the careful labor, the festive spirit, and the love that went into it all. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.

Carefully wrapped, unique gifts is a tradition in my family.

Yet now, I'm faced with conflicting feelings. I no longer want to purchase “cute” gifts and wrapping papers from corporations that make irresponsible decisions. I don't want trees to be cut down to support wrapping gifts. At the same time, I remember the magic of the Christmas I grew up with, and that beautiful gifts were a large part of that.

And hence, I've decided I want to sew gift bags. Curtains, sheets, shirts – anything no longer in use can be sewn into a reusable festive bag. Also, if other people decided this was a cool idea and made bags of their own and sold them, it could create jobs here in America.

And thus, I found a happy place between my family traditions and my values.

These bags may be washed and dried on the gentle cycle. I have washed them after sewing them. However, a few of them came apart, so those ones needed mending. In other words, most of the bags I've made are for wrapping more than using.

I encourage you to pass this bag on to someone else next year with a gift inside.

If it strikes you as appropriate, you can even pass this little letter on so that the recipient knows the history behind the bag.

Much love and merry holidays.

~ Raederle Phoenix, Holiday Season of 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

One Piece of a Giant Puzzle

There are a lot more factors at work than any one evil.

We can not point all our fingers at "capitalism" and make it go away, and expect everything to be fine and dandy. No more than we can blow up the credit card companies (like in the movie/book Fight Club), or like we can just burn all the places that chop down forests (like in the documentary If A Tree Falls -- one part of the true story of the Earth Liberation Movement).

Actions of violence, and destruction and "anti-_____" movements are overall, unsuccessful. Yes, sometimes they work. But it is when people fight for something that we see true progress.

There are motives behind motives behind motives when it comes to why catastrophes happen. Nobody wakes up one day and says "let's destroy an entire culture for the fun of it." They wake up one day with some brilliant plan to gain something in order to make up for what they feel they are lacking.

Today, people are all constantly suffering from feeling that they lack something in their life, and that feeling that there "isn't enough" is a big hurdle in accomplishing anything.

Regardless of what we feel we lack, and regardless of whether that lack is real, the feeling is highly detrimental. It promotes greed and desperation. It promotes illogical actions.

As soon as we go around saying, "X" is the source of all problems, they have caused a lack in this world... Then we are fear-mongering people to our cause, and at a high cost. Creating more paranoid individuals does not create a harmonious peaceful universe.

The feeling of lack is what causes people to do drugs, to rob others, to submit to jobs they hate, to waste their lives in relationships (either romantic, or as business partners, etc) that are toxic to them, and it is why we will eat toxic fast food but then buy an expensive large TV-screen.

If we can repair the hearts, bodies and minds of our fellow human beings, we can repair the world. All things negativity will fall away when we are loving and at peace in our own hearts.

A friend of mine at the potluck picnic today was saying, "I was really surprised by how much my attitude changed when I first entered a macrobiotic diet. I didn't experience many physical changes, but my attitude went from incredibly pessimistic to very optimistic in a short period of time. There was no other change in my life, just my diet. It was disconcerting. I didn't even recognize myself with my new outlook."

This is one piece of the puzzle. Our moods, motivations and outlook our affected dramatically by our pH. How many wars have started because one person had an acidic pH level in their bloodstream?

It's similar to the amount of suicide caused by vitamin-B deficiency. Instead of taking psychotropic drugs, just take a vitamin-B multi-vitamin complex. Watch your anxiety and depression just melt away. This is also effective treatment for schizophrenics in most cases.

If we fight for health, happiness, unity, clarity, sustainability, truth, accuracy, compassion, equality, and love... Then all the things we've been fighting against will fall away without resistance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Can We All Live In A Space The Size Of Texas?

This article originally took me 8 hours to create. I loved the concept but there were some problems with my original design, and also I neglected to make some of the most important points. I've completely renovated every aspect of the article. The re-write took me 20 hours. Please come check it out at its new home on Raederle.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."
- Voltaire

There are six billion (or how ever many people) on this planet. It's a freaking huge amount. In this mass of human beings, we feel small. Insignificant.

What can I really change?

Does my vote really matter?

Why bother wasting my time when it won't make a difference?

And besides, when there are so damn many of us, with so many different opinions, who is really going to listen to my opinion?

It's true that one of us, alone, can't do much. Certainly not with any single action, such as voting once a year, or every four years, or how ever often we vote on something. In the big scheme of things, that is pretty trivial.

So, in order to make our voice heard, should we sacrifice our lives and our time to make change happen? Should our every decision be tempered towards trying to shift the world from consumerism to compassion, from a love of money to a love of life?

Well, what if it didn't have to be a sacrifice...?

What if we didn't have to sacrifice our time to go protest twice a week to make change happen?

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Gandhi

What happens when these protests occur?

Watching the movie If A Tree Falls has really opened my mind to the repercussions of protests. Innocent people get tortured. That's what happens. No kidding. Young women in peaceful protest were taken in and had pepper spray put directly into their eyes. I mean, seriously folks, this is the world we live in.

Protests don't work.

Mother Teresa said: "I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me."

Watch the movie The Secret for more insight onto the same thought.

The basis for the argument that protests don't work is because we're putting energy into what we don't want. We can't just fight against. We must fight for something. We must be pro-______. Pro-peace. Pro-nature. Pro-happiness. Pro-education. Pro-freedom. Those are good concepts.

For every one thing we state that we are against, we must state that we are for at least ten other things.

For every one anti-action we take, we must take at least ten other pro-actions.

If we say we are against disease, does it do any good to kill everyone with disease? We must cure the cause of the disease, not kill the people with it.

If we are against war, does it do any good to shoot the commanders? Then we are just fighting fire with more fire.

We must prove that there is a way to do without the things we are against. We must set an example. If we are against consumerism, then set an example through finding your own alternatives.

Buy your clothing second hand. Shop at yard sales as often as possible.

Shop at farmer's markets. Less food miles, less nutrient deterioration.

Grow your own garden. No food miles. No nutrient deterioration. No corporate profit at all.

Eat wild plants. Learn about the native wild life. Absolutely zero negative impact.

Wash your hair with plants that grow nearby instead of commercial products.

Use organic products instead of conventional products.

Buy products in recyclable or compostable containers.

Talk about solutions instead of problems. Have a peace rally.

Have a free market. Everyone comes and gives things away for free. No barter, no money involved. Undermine the system without hurting anybody in the process (except the corporations who lose profit because you don't have to buy it new if you can get it second hand).

Smile. Give energy to people around you. Inspire people, don't bring them down. Give people something positive to focus on.

When you're bored, go for a walk. Being bored is a bad excuse for spending money wastefully.

(Here is my super-anti-item of the entry. My bit of negativity and fighting against...)
Quit the cigarettes. You're polluting the air and supporting a meaningless value system at the same time by smoking. It's not just your health, it's everyone's health. You're not just fucking over your lungs, you are fucking everyone. And you're giving me a migraine every time I walk past you. I can't even be friends with people who smoke because I get a horrible headache every time I get near a smoker. Instead of being a hazard, be a joy.

Yoga instead of commercial gyms.

Teach your friends martial arts, dance, yoga, tai chi, etc, and bring them health.

Eat lots of fresh produce. Fresh produce goes from the farm to you. Fresh produce does not get packaged or processed in all the complex ways that boxed foods do. There is less waste, less food miles, and less (or no) negative health impacts to eating fresh produce.

When you buy local organic produce you support better soil, better air, a better healthy life for yourself, better ethics, and an entire better Earth. It's something you can be proud of, and it's not even going out of your way. You need to eat anyway.

I choose not to eat meat for nutritional reasons. It's nutritionally inefficient to eat meat, so I don't do it. But, as I've started hanging around other vegans, I've started hearing many sides to the ethical reasons behind it. I'm not saying hunting down an animal and eating it is wrong. But the raising and slaughtering of animals in the massive, massive way we do so in this country is harmful to the planet. Land that could be full of wild life and forests is kept clear for cattle. That land could be full of trees giving oxygen to the atmosphere and pulling nutrition from deep below into the topsoil. Instead, we have a bunch of penned up animals raised for our gluttony which are (sometimes/often) force fed to reach maturity sooner to bring us beef sooner. It's filthy, absurd, and disgusting. And it's not even nutritionally efficient to boot.

Try watching Food Matters, and Super Size Me, and Fast Food Nation and Dying To Have Known.

Read more.

Watch more documentaries.

Eat more raw, less cooked. Raw foods balance your pH levels, regulating your mood, temperature, nutrition absorption, muscle production, fat production... It's all regulated and affected by your pH. For a healthy alkaline pH level, you need at least 65% (at the very least) of your diet to consist of raw, uncooked fresh produce.

Stop being a conformist, and be yourself.

"A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble."
- Gandhi

We don't need to change our entire life to make the world a better place. We only need to change key aspects of our life, such as what we choose to buy. Just by choosing recycled napkins over virgin napkins, we can save millions of trees. Also, you can compost your recycled napkins as long as you have not used them to clean up something toxic.

The system is affecting every one of us. Even if we think we're "outside" of the system, it still has impact. Nobody is immune. The best we can do is to get educated and make better day to day decisions. Save yourself some torture, and move from protesting to living the dream. Live the example you want others to follow. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be an inspiration to everyone who encounters you.

Burning down corporate buildings, unfortunately, will only cause more bitterness and retaliation all around. The corporate leaders will still be heartless (or whatever they were beforehand). Massive "actions" only generate more fear. Fear-mongering is not the answer.

You can control people temporarily with fear.

You can inspire people indefinitely by gaining their respect.

Reconsider the concert for the famous pop star. Why spend your money going to watch that star? Why not find a small local band you like and support them instead?

Reconsider the huge big-screen TV. Perhaps you'd like to build a green house, install a green roof, or build some new bamboo cabinets in your kitchen. Maybe you'd like to spend more time with you friends, spouse, children, or parents and less time sitting around flipping channels anyway. Maybe you'd like to put that money towards starting your own small business.

Reconsider that new ipod. How much do you really listen to music anyway? Can't you just listen to it at home on your computer?

Reconsider that new designer dress. Couldn't you find something just as flattering second hand?

It doesn't matter what your priorities in life are, you can make room to be environmentally friendly. You can stop being a consumerist without becoming Amish.

For example, at Christmas time (or any holiday where gifts are given, such as birthdays), you can give "green" gifts, home-made gifts, or edible gifts. Make an organic raw vegan pie for your friends' birthday. Home-make soap as gifts. Buy someone a notebook made from recycled paper instead of one made from virgin paper. Do them a favor instead of buying them anything at all.

Most of that useless junk being sold in stores that comes from China is used as a gift. Something cheap and quick to "show someone you care." These things just sit around collecting dust.

Watch The Story of Stuff. Items are disposed of only six months after they are purchased.

I think being revolutionary needs to be reexamined. It's clear to me after watching If A Tree Falls that protesting and "blowing shit up" doesn't work. The real answer is serious boycotting.

Not just "oh, I'll buy a little less from Wal-Mart." Rethinking all of the ways we spend money and accumulate money... That I believe, is the only sensible answer.

PS: Have your spouse proof-read your blog... Less embarrassing typos. :D

I also recommend the documentary: The Marketing of Madness.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I dreamed I was Pharaoh

In my dream I was a Pharaoh.

I went among my people as a laborer. I was connected to all beings. I was friends with a spider, and with creatures that looked like men but were only a foot tall. There were other creatures as well, but I don't recall their appearances or purposes.

I was standing on something akin to a sidewalk, near a labor site. Close to me was a mound of dirt where many creatures whom were my friends had died. I especially mourning a spider. I pulled her web down and placed it upon the mound of dirt.

Oddly, my mother pulled up in her car alongside the sidewalk and said, "I can see that you are busy now. I will come to pick you up later."

I nodded, barely giving her my attention for a second. As she pulled away I summoned other laborers around me. They did not know I was their Pharaoh as I called them to me.

I spoke to them, and the surrounding men listened. I was in the body of a powerfully built man, and they all had bodies like mine. Deeply tanned from labor in the sun, powerful built from working long days at arduous tasks.

As I spoke to them, my power rose within me, making me a pillar of light. My aura became visible as it stretched out to the men around me. I spoke to them of the creatures that had meant something to me, my connection to them, their connection to them, and the light burned bright white.

A link of light formed between me and every laborer and I said, "My love courses through you, your love courses through me." I felt it inside me that it was true, and then I realized that I was God.

With my power as God, I drew up my wealth of energy, and poured it through the men around me, raising a temple on the mound of dirt before me. This was a miniature temple, built the appropriate size for the creatures who were only a foot tall. I built it for them, in their honor.

I knew treasures were in the mound of dirt. Great treasures that would be tempting. I knew my heavy marble temple would stand as a warning to not disturb this holy earth.

I felt the loss of my companions, the love of my fellow laborers, the power of a king and a God, my own love for each being, my pride at the structure I had risen before me and the symbol it served as memory of this time, this moment.

The temple was white and baby blue. It rose nearly as tall as me. It was a square in it's proportions, as long and wide as it was tall. It was made of pure marble, with baby blue designs on the pillars in the front. Pillars were throughout the temple, inside and out.

I know that in the dream specifics were more clear. I knew what treasures were buried, what creatures I mourned, how those creatures came to harm, why I was posing as a laborer, and the significance of the mound of dirt alongside the walking path. Unfortunately, those details were lost to me upon waking. The only reason I recall as much as I do is because I said most of this aloud to my husband the moment I woke.

I believe the dream was full of symbolism, which I could explore, but I'd like to hear what you think. What do you think my dream meant?

~ Raederle

Monday, June 27, 2011

If only...

Give me a reason to want to wake up in the morning.
Something fun.
I want excitement, exploration and adventure.
A hike through the woods would be nice.

I'd do yoga, if my mat were clean, if my floor were clean,
...if I really had enough space in this cramped little room.

I'd sing a song, if I liked my voice, if I knew the words to a song,
if it served any real purpose at all.

I'd dance, if I had the space, if I had a collection of music to dance to,
if someone would watch and clap,
...if someone would dance with me.

I'd draw a picture, if I had a place with good lighting,
if I could scan my artwork when I was done,
if all my drawing supplies on hand,
if I felt the least bit inspired inside my heart...

I'd read a book, if I had a quiet comfortable place to read,
if I had a good book I really wanted to read.

I'd be happy to play a game of hacky sack, or spar on the grass,
or tumble and play like little kittens;
If I had a playmate or three who'd play with me,
and some soft fluffy foliage to tumble in...

I'd make an extravagant raw vegan meal,
with nori rolls as the appetizer,
dipped in a sweat and spicy sauce,
I'd make stuffed mushroom caps alongside raw zucchini noodles,
with a thick tomato sauce,
I'd make pizza in my dehydrator at 110 degrees,
and top it with peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chives
and marinated mushrooms,
I'd make a coconut cream pie with a thick crispy crust,
a creamy coconut filling and a light fluffy topping,
and I could serve a delicious sweet and sour ice-cream cake too...
If only anyone could afford such an expensive meal,
if only someone would appreciate my hard work,
if only it would mean something, help someone,
or give me some satisfaction.

I'd play a video game,
if I could find one that'd hold my interest for more than an hour.

I might even watch television if I had one hooked up,
or if anything good was on,
or if I had a comfortable couch to watch it from.

I'd be delighted to paint a picture if I had the canvas, paints,
and brushes set before in a large comfortable well-lit area.

I'd love to photograph beautiful models,
and be photographed with them,
if only I had a high quality camera and sexy model friends.

I might be up for board games,
if only if I had a new game to play and new people to play with,
a nice gaming table in a well-lit space,
and some good gaming snacks that were light and healthy.

I'd clean something, anything really,
if only it would stay clean, if only it would really benefit someone,
if only I could feel like I wasn't completely wasting my time.

I'd go grocery shopping,
if we didn't already have plenty of things in the kitchen.

I'd eat breakfast,
if I had an appetite.

I'd go for a bike ride, if my bike didn't have a flat,
if my husband could bike with me, if I had somewhere to bike to.

I'd garden, happily and joyfully, I really would,
if only I had new plants to plant, if only I had more soil to add,
if only...

I'd play an instrument, if I was any good at music,
if I owned an instrument to play, if anyone would listen...

I'd make a board game, if I had the funds to print my first play-test copy,
if I had play-testers lined up,
if I had a good space to invite my play-testers over.

I'd make a video game, if I had a couple willing programmers,
if I had an animator, if I had a model-maker and texturer,
if I had a nice set-up with enough computers, if I had the time.

I'd make a board game,
a video game and a browser game each to educate people about their choices,
to show others how their spending affects the planet,
to show them how there is enough food for everyone,
to show them how everything they eat causes or solves every problem they have...
if only I had the money,
if only I had the time, if only I had the right friends...

I'd start up a restaurant with incredible cuisine,
with its own green house for the freshest produce possible,
if only I owned a good location,
if only I had a few employees on board for a couple months without pay,
if only I knew enough about taxes,
paperwork and other government garbage.

I'd start up a raw vegan healing commune today,
round up the volunteers to build the community structures,
and begin readying the land for dozens of fruit trees and permiculture,
if only I had the land, if only I knew the volunteers,
if only I had my confidence, if only I could wind-down,
if only my head would screw on straight,
if only I had something fun to get up for this morning.

I'd change the world for the better,
if only I could do some yoga,
if only I could sing and dance,
If only I could go for a hike, draw a picture,
paint a masterpiece,
read a book, play a game of hacky sack,
If only I could make extravagant healthy meals,
make board games,
photograph incredible people,
If only I could clean my space, eat breakfast,
plant more herbs in my garden, go for a bike ride,
If only I could play an instrument,
start a restaurant, start up my commune...
Then I could make the world a better place.

~ Raederle Phoenix

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Breast Augmentation, Circumcision, Abuse & Beauty Pagents

I posted the following to my facebook stream to share, with the following comment:

Imagine if you got breast implants for your 15th birthday from your father who took out a loan from the bank. The bank gives your father the loan because the bank understands that you are more likely to be successful and make money with big boobs. Sound absurd? In Venezuela it's reality.

You can read the full article and donate to the project by clicking here.

I was surprised by the array of comments that were posted, and I think the discussion is worth posting here for others to think about and consider. Many of the comments brought up issues that affect us, in our own country.

I have added some notes in [brackets].

The discussion:

Jim Welke: It's reality in Hollywood.

Donna Bowen: Would love a bit of a nip and tuck, lol.

Matt Goehrig: This reminds of the time when I was 15 and my dad paid for my breast implants. [Being sarcastic.]

Cheli Bremmer: "Tits and Aaaaasss, got myself a fancy pair, tightened up the derriere... did the nose with it, all that goes with it. It's a gaaass".... now THAT dates me.

Raederle Phoenix: I just find it incredibly sad that people are willing to mutilate themselves in the name of beauty. It's incredibly ugly.

Matt Goehrig: I know right? who would ever get a piercing? or a tattoo? or a circumcision? Okay, well.. two out of three of those seem like good ideas... but I agree with you on the breasts thing.

Cheli Bremmer:
It comes of being too caught up in things that are by their nature illusory. We exchange Reality for Illusion and then chase the things that are the most fleeting. Something like that.

Donna Bowen: I got a tattoo I was having a midlife I put my kids names on it.

Marie Johnson: I'm sorry but I'm surprised at how lightly everyone is taking this clip that Raederle shared... Even if you are okay with plastic surgery, there is a whole other facet here that everyone is overlooking, and that is the rampant abuse that is going on over there because of the fact that these girls are truly seen as objects.

These young girls are being beaten and killed as if their lives was not worth anything. With the prevalence of plastic surgery here, in California at least, and the fact that younger and younger girls are starting to get it here as well... The question is how long before our own girls are treated as harshly?

Raederle Phoenix: In response to Matt -- I honestly am not for piercings, tattoos or circumcision either. I don't make a fuss about it though -- people can do what they want with their bodies. There is a big difference however in a tiny hole through the ear that has little to no risk and costs very little and a long expensive surgery with multitudes of risks that has no health benefit or necessity.

In response to Marie -- Thank goodness someone has some sense. I cried through that video. It's one of those bits of information that is hard to carry. Obsession with perfect appearance and abuse go hand in hand. I think the project is worth donating to, and if I had the money, I'd at least make a small pledge.

Vviolent Vickie: I wouldnt want my dad thinkin about my tits... and yes i do find this very disturbing.

Matt Goehrig: For the record, I think tattoos are cool, but I dont like peircings. I think that silly, if you'll forgive me for using the word "silly." Its like putting make up on.... What crackpot thought it would be a good idea to paint your face and put holes in your skin? That should be left to clowns and surgeons.... I think some aspects of our culture are just silly. Tattoos, on the other hand, can be pretty cool...

I think the reason why I can like some tattoos but not piercings, is that tattoos are not cosmetic (and if they are, I don't think i'd like it). Things that are purely cosmetic just seem to vain and ridiculous to me. Sometimes I think the line between self-expression and vanity is blurred though, and I can understand the use of piercings and makeup for those reasons, though it more often both are attempts at something else...

Cheli Bremmer: Tattoos and piercings are a personal choice. Breast implants come from a message in our society that we have to have breasts look a certain way in order to be pleasing. Whatever. Overall, it's still a personal choice, but if women would refuse, then our perception of women's bodies would change. Circumcision is cutting the genitals of babies who ARE NOT GIVEN A CHOICE IN THE MATTER.

Matt Goehrig: Babies don't get to choose anything about their lives.. Maybe we should only feed them food they like when they want it, and only send kids to school when they want to, and never take them to the doctor, and have them buy their own clothes... yea, lets just treat babies like they're adults who can make decisions for themselves.

Vviolent Vickie: Maybe what we should be thinking about here is how they are linking the obsession with plastic surgery/the objectification of women with domestic violence. how r these things related?

I found this: "Individual sexist acts may seem harmless, but they ultimately foster disrespect for women and women’s well-being, which makes rape and abuse seem more acceptable. In this way, telling a sexist joke, using sexist language, blaming a victim of sexual assault, or displaying an objectifying poster actually contributes to a culture that allows sexual violence to occur."

And this: Sexual objectification is seeing a person as a sexual object and emphasizing their sexual attributes and physical attractiveness, while de-emphasizing their existence as a living person with emotions and feelings of their own.

Annelie Russell: When I was around 11, my parents sent me to "charm school", because I was too much like a tom boy. It was basically modeling, and we had to participate on the run way. Some people like it, I remember hating it and didn't wear a dress for years! It starts in the home, and one by one they will wake up.

Cheli Bremmer: Matt, I think it's wrong to cut off someone's body parts. They scream their heads off, and it's unnecessary. I think you're taking my point a little far to the extreme. [Agreed Cheli.]

Nikki Scott: Perhaps the populace could demand that beauty pageant officials change their terms of entry. Anyone who has had surgeries to augment appearance (ie: lip injections, breast augmentation, eyebrow lifts, etc.) are disqualified.

Raederle Phoenix:

In response to Matt -- It's true, babies can not choose for themselves, which is why every human should do their best to research and educate themselves about all possible options, pros and cons, etc, before making huge decisions that will affect their child for their entire life before they make such decisions.

In response to Vickie -- Great quotes you found. It is important to draw that connection, indeed.

In response to Annelie -- Everyone is their own person. (I'm agreeing with you, just expanding:) Some men want to stay home and raise kids and take care of the home, and if the woman makes enough money for kids and husband, that's fine, and vise versa. If a woman wants to play sports, that's fine.

It's when we start to say "you shouldn't cry because you're a man" or "you need tits because you're a woman" that we cause people to force themselves to be something they are not in order to "fit in" which makes them miserable people who are not productive/happy/fulfilled members of society.

Cheli Bremmer: We are a group of people who agree on the basics: live and let live -- stop messing with nature and enjoy who we are and what we are, and try to live within reasonable bounds of goodwill and health. Agreed?? By the way, Nikki, I think your idea is brilliant.

Raederle Phoenix:

In response to Cheli -- Indeed. But Matt has trouble accepting anything that is not conventional wisdom. "If circumcision is what they do in hospitals in America, it must be okay" sort of attitude. It's common and unfortunate. I know several men who have not been circumcised. It takes a few extra moments in the shower of cleaning. Before we had showers and knew about hygiene, infections were a problem. Now we know, so it's just pointless mutilation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Craft of Writing

I attend a Writer's Group every other Tuesday evening. We have two scheduled hours, but sometimes we stay longer and chat. The two scheduled hours include half an hour for business at the beginning, followed by three readers who eat get ten to fifteen minutes to read, and then fifteen to twenty minutes of feedback (or we just chat about the piece until we have nothing left to say).

I was at the very first meeting a couple years ago, and until I moved to California I never missed a single meeting. Since I've moved back to Buffalo, New York, I have not missed a meeting. In just a short while I'll be heading off to one of the member's homes for tonight's meeting, which is a very special occasion for us.

Instead of doing the general three readers tonight, we'll be sharing our tips and tricks on writing itself. We'll talk about the craft. I'm really excited to hear the process behind the other writers in the group. We're friends now, the entire group, but while we've heard each other read a lot, and know much about the lives of one another, we have not yet done a meeting to discuss our craft at length.

For the meeting I've prepared a handout of some of my favorite writing advice from various sources as well as a couple things I think may be helpful to writer, even if not directly relating to writing itself.

The handout goes as follows:

A Collection of

Writer's Craft Tips

Assembled by Raederle Phoenix

"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once." — Stephen King

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." — Stephen King

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." — Stephen King (On Writing)

"Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on." — Stephen King (Bag of Bones)

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” — Stephen King (On Writing)

“Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty.” — Stephen King

Bill Harper: “Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

“A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.”

Pete Bollini: "I sometimes write out 8 to 10 pages from the book of my favorite writer… in longhand. This helps me to get started and swing into the style I wish to write in."

Kukusha: "Learn to take criticism and seek it out at every opportunity. Don’t get upset even if you think the criticism is harsh, don’t be offended even if you think it’s wrong, and always thank those who take the time to offer it."

Lillie Ammann: "After editing the work on screen or in print, I like to read the text aloud. Awkward sentences and errors that slipped through earlier edits show up readily when reading out loud."

Professor Strunk: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

"David": "Write as if you’re on deadline and have 500 words to make your point. Then do it again. And again."

Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Joanna Young: “One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

“It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…”

Caroline: "I watch my action tense and wordiness in sentences when I am writing my technical diddley.

"For example, in a sentence where you say …”you will have to…” I replace it with “…you must…”, or “Click on the Go button to…” can be replaced with “Click Go to…”.

"Think of words such as “enables”, instead of “allows you to” or “helps you to”.

"If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge."

Raederle: Only read your favorite writers when writing your masterpiece. What you read will affect your word choice, grammar, punctuation, point-of-view, character depth, syntax, etc. Just as your body is made up of what you eat, your writing is made up of what you read.

The reason I was inspired to use quotes from Steven King was because his wonderful book "On Writing" has helped my writing immensely. I loved the book through and through, and take Steven's advice seriously. Sure, he doesn't writing "my sort of thing" in terms of genre, but he's clearly a successful writer who knows what he's talking about.

*smiles warmly*

Thanks for stopping by and reading.

~ Raederle

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I used to hate doing dishes. And I do mean hate it.

The idea of doing dishes plagued me. I knew one day I'd have to do them regularly. I expected it to come, and dreaded it.

I didn't mind laundry. Sure, it was tough as a child to lean into the washer to pull out the clothes, but hanging them up on the drying rack was a game. I could even sit on the floor while hanging the socks on the lowest bar of the drying rack. The collapsible wooden rack wasn't replaced with a dryer until a dryer was donated to us after the house fire when I was fourteen.

But I hated doing those dishes with a passion. I had to stand in one place the entire time! That was a big deal to me as a kid. Standing in place. I misinterpreted my dislike of standing in place for a dislike of dishes. The dishes, as it turns out, are entirely neutral.

When I was twelve or thirteen I came to realize what I hated so much was a matter of poor blood pressure. Standing in place would cause my legs to become red, and then blotchy. My circulation was so weak that it couldn't pump the blood back out of my feet and back into the rest of my body. I became light headed and my legs would itch terribly.

I like being bare foot. Wearing shoes always made me feel off balance as a child, so I would be standing in front of the sink barefoot, legs blotchy, red and and itching with my arms raised up high to reach into the sink. To make it worse, water ran down my arms and dripped all over the floor and mixed with the dirt on the floor and then stuck to the bottom of my feet.

I couldn't stand more than five or six minutes before I became so miserable that I threw a tantrum. I was so adamant about not doing the dishes that I didn't spend much time doing it as a child at all. I was so useless when it came to chores and so often sick and kept in bed that I spent little time cleaning in general.

I didn't even realize that sinks got dirty and that someone had to clean then until I was seventeen.

This sounds like a rant about my poor childhood health, but that isn't actually my point at all. I thought I hated doing the dishes, but in reality, I had a root problem: my health.

Many of us believe we have to do things daily that we hate, but in reality, we don't hate what we're doing. What we're doing can be a job, a career, a calling, or nothing to us at all. What we're doing can be a chore, or it can be effortless. It is our attitude and our disposition that determine how we feel about what we're doing.

This was brought to my attention in particular today by washing my feet in the shower after they became dirty from wandering around the kitchen floor barefoot. I realized I wasn't troubled by my dirty feet or by washing them. It then occurred to me how much I would have resented it as a child. It would have been an affront to my livelihood. Perhaps even something that might have made me feel depressed.

My poor circulation prevented me from being able to enjoy many simple tasks. If you asked me as I child how I felted about showers, I would have literally replied, "I hate them." Baths were acceptable, since I could sit the entire time.

I came off as a very negative child who hated everything about life. In some ways, I was, but that wasn't the real me. That was a lump of unresolved issues. The real me was an artistic creative fun-loving compassionate person: and that me was buried beneath my problems.

Many people go on ignoring the root causes of their unhappiness their entire life. I'm very blessed and very grateful to discover that my health was the main source of my misery so early in my life.

I could have gone on to become several hundred pounds overweight at the rate I was going. I went from 120lbs at the age of thirteen to 153lbs at the age of sixteen. At the rate I was going -- 33 pounds in three years, or 11 pounds a year -- I would have been 219lbs by today.

My self-esteem was already bad at sixteen, imagine what it would be today if I hadn't done something about my health.

Health might not be a problem you're struggling with, but we all have problems that affect the quality of our life. Until we acknowledge them and work on self-improvement, we continue to be easily agitated. We curse under our breath about every little thing. As unhappy people we might even adopt "easily annoyed" as a personality trait.

"Easily annoyed" is not a personality trait. That is a personality flaw. Or more accurately, it's not your personality at all, but just a sign that your real personality is being blocked by circumstances. It means that you are not satisfied with your life. It means you're not satisfied with you.

People take on things like "commonly angry" as part of their identity. They become confrontational and defensive when others ask them "What's wrong?" This sort of behavior drives away loved ones, prevents possible friendships, and destroys opportunities to find fulfilling employment.

I'm not saying, "Oh, I've discovered my big problem and solved it, so now I'm perfect." If that were the case I might not even be writing this right now. If I had achieved a state of being where I was always calm, never lost my temper and never felt depressed... then I might not easily recall how important and how difficult it is to pull oneself from situations of denial, confrontation and anger.

I'm constantly amazed on a daily basis how much has changed in the past few years. I look different, I think differently, I dress differently, I interpret people I encounter differently, I look back on memories differently, etc. And I believe all of these changes are positive. It is a great source of joy in my life to see how much I've grown and improved.

It's draining to feel like you're "screwing up" your life. It's double-draining because you not only feel like you're creating a mess, but simultaneously you're not achieving your dreams in life. You're not getting closer to your long-term goals. Perhaps you don't think you have any long-term goals, but that is an even bigger problem.

Long-term goals are your desires, but more than that; they are desires you are actively planning on achieving. They are not just absent wishes. Goals are something you are striving for regularly, perhaps even on a daily basis.

When your goal is to become a published author you write regularly, perhaps every single night. You have a book you're working on for hours each week. Those hours make your entire life feel like it's going in the right direction. This is because your life has direction when you have a goal you're working towards. It's not just "oh, I'd like to be published," it's "Hey, I'm working on this book and it's coming along great, and yesterday I was invited to an event where I'm going to meet a lot of people -- maybe I'll meet an agent!"

If your goal is to become a rock star then you spend your free time jamming on your guitar or your drums or singing. Even if you never become a rock star, you'll still accomplish a lot. You'll be a happier person, you will attract good people into your life, you will learn several musical talents, and as a result you'll have successful performances that earn you respect and money. But most importantly, you'll feel at peace with yourself.

You can't ever love yourself if you're working a job you hate, living a lie, denying your desires and blocking out all possibility of achieving your dreams.

Your identity does not involve being depressed, angry, annoyed, upset, or being a "loser." Your identity does involve who you desire to be, your aspirations, your goals and your talents.

Once upon a time I defined myself as a "pitiful barbie" and I used that as my main e-mail address for over ten years. I deemed myself as frivolous as a doll, and pitiful to boot. Perhaps that title wasn't completely serious, and perhaps I just thought it "sounded cool" at the time, but I think there is an underlying message there... The simple fact that I was okay with something like that representing me. I allowed that to define my online persona to people.

I'm not pitiful. And I'm made of flesh, not plastic. I'm an organic being (and not conventional -- no pesticides or for me... Human version of pesticides: white sugar, excessive salt and cigarettes). I love and respect myself on a level completely unknown to myself just a couple years ago.

If you've spent your entire life depressed and tired then you'll be in for a huge wake up call when you finally grasp some happiness in your life. I didn't know what it meant to be energetic until I was fourteen, and I hadn't a clue that what I felt then was only a glimpse of what being healthy could feel like (which I didn't discover until I was twenty).

How many of your years are you going to let slip on by without addressing who you are, what you want, where you're going, what your obstacles are and what you really care about? Ask yourself those questions. You should be able to write four types pages on each of those subjects easily. The topic is you.

Do you know you?

Think about it.

~ Raederle Phoenix

Happiness Assignment:

Write four typed pages on each of the following:

What do you want?
Where are you going?
What are your obstacles?
What do you really care about?
Who are you?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Angry Relationships

A good pen-pal of mine (I'll call her Alexis for this entry) whom I've had for years is having trouble in her relationship. I've been critiquing here essays for college for her, and every now and then she's been mentioning her love life in her letters. Her most recent letter:

From: Alexis
To: Raederle
Sent: Friday, May 6, 2011 at 11:17am

Hey Rae,
You're very helpful to my English assignments. I love your ideas. I have to use MLA format so that's why I don't include periods after quotes. Ehh...I just got done writing the final essay last night and included some of your input. Thanks! Get ready for next semester, lol; longer essays. This semester was only five pages or less.

I'm not sleeping very well lately and my relationship is going down the drain. I'm just sad about it. He doesn't want me around anymore, and when I do visit, he tells me to leave... :( He's always mad and I don't even do anything. When other people upset him, he takes his frustration out on me.

I learned in psychology that this is called 'displacement.' I hate it. It's like he's tired of me or the person that I am... because like I mentioned, I don't do anything and yet he gets mad at me. Why me?? I just want to cry. =(

- Alexis

From: Raederle
To: Alexis
Sent: Monday, May 9th 2011 at 6:30pm

Glad I could be of help!

My ex [whom I've told her a lot about in the past] had a displacement issue, for sure. Anger comes from many things, but anger is never 'justified.' It can be understandable. It can be a good reason to give compassion to someone in need. But it is never beneficial. It is an animalistic defense to help us raise our adrenaline to get us ready to defend ourselves -- it's meant to help us fight in a life or death situation. In modern society we shouldn't ever have to deal with a life or death fight, and thereby, most of us should never have any real use for anger. If we reflect on anger, and think about times when we've been angry we can think about how it has affected us and those around us in the past. It makes us do things we regret. It makes us say things we don't mean. It makes others respond negatively towards us. It clouds our judgment. Often it is even physically painful to feel anger.

If someone is perpetually angry they have a very serious condition. It's not normal, and it's not okay. It's even less okay for someone to continually take it out on someone.

You have two logical choices: Leave him is one option. The other option is to be compassionate and understanding towards him when he acts towards you with anger. You can say: "I can see that you're distressed. I want you to be happy and to feel good. If I'm in the way of that, I'll leave. Do you want me to leave?" If he says "Yes" well, then, leave. And most importantly, you have to not let this break you.

While sadness is not as disruptive to life as anger, it is also futile. It is not that you don't have reason, and it is not that it is easy to simply put on a smile -- it is only that being sad about his anger is not helpful. In fact, being sad about his anger is letting his anger, in a way, spread. It's spreading his negativity from him to you. The more people who resist negativity from others, who maintain love, compassion, peace, and happiness in the face of negativity from others, the more beautiful the entire world becomes.

In other words, by walking away peacefully, quietly, with a serene smile on your face, you are literally breaking the cycle and making the world shine brighter. Perhaps by reflecting on both the futility of sadness and the benefit of serenity and peaceful smiles, you may be able to overcome how upset his anger makes you feel. If you can't, then I recommend leaving the relationship in order to preserve your sanity. While it may make you feel more sad for a time, (maybe even a few months), it'll be worth it when someone who isn't angry all the time comes along.

Anger and sadness, by the way, can be dramatically affected by health. The pH balance in the bloodstream is directly connected to how you feel. Having an alkaline bloodstream promotes positive feelings, and having an acidic bloodstream promotes negative feelings. Alkaline creating foods: raw fruits and raw vegetables. Acidic-creating foods: meat, dairy, bread, pasta, beans, nuts, alcohol, and refined sugars. Also smoking creates acidic pH in the bloodstream.


~ Raederle

Related entry: Generating Happiness

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Effective Education

I'm incredibly impressed and excited about this video.

This is the new age of education where we utilize technology to humanize and personalize education, allowing children to master subjects, learn at their own pace, and empowering teachers to help individual children with their specific problems, and even enabling the teacher to choose the correct student to tutor another student.

Watch this incredibly inspiring video:

I'm going to try this for myself, just for fun.


~ Raederle

Ever wanted to see a logo created? Or see the creative process of an artist at work? You can see mine in my newest video on my art blog, click here to check it out right now.