Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Death of Originality

MICHAEL JACKSON MOONWALKER DANCECelebrities are originals, typically, that influence mass culture. When a celebrity dies, all the potential for creating new impacts in our society dies with them. That’s why it’s so shocking to hear news of the death of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. When they go, there truly is a mourning for the loss of their originality.

The Loss of Originality

In a way, I see these deaths as symbols for a trend going on in America and a mood that is becoming persistent. It’s almost a grieving for the loss of originality. This country was founded on an original way to govern, a new social system, and the ability of each individual to reach their highest potential with hard work and through their own efforts. Celebrities are evocative symbols of this system that exemplifies the potential for taking anyone and catapulting them to fame and fortune. If the value they create is large enough to benefit society, whether in entertainment or some other fashion, the reward for this originality is wealth, due to increased social value.

Value Is Still Here

The recession has made it clear that we’ve rested our laurels on past history of providing value, without continuing to be consistent in this area. A culture sprung up where it became more fashionable to exploit value, and that ideal eventually kills those willing to offer value. In order to see more new value as a culture, we’re going to have to learn ways to support the green shoots of value, instead of jumping in to harvest it before its time. It means we need to spend more time identifying sources of value, nurturing those sources, and be patient while they mature. When one source of value or originality dies, it has to be replaced by another in order for society to continue to evolve forward. The nice thing about humanity is that we are all originals. It’s just a matter of knowing how to contribute our own unique specialness in ways that contribute to other’s social well-being to generate a transaction of value to both parties. This requires some introspection and that’s where our grief can help us. It can help reset our internal compass to focus on what we can bring to the table too, instead of what has been taken away. When we start to appreciate our own unique gifts and feel safe enough to share them with others, without fear of exploitation, it can genuinely recreate society from the roots up.

When Opportunity Doesn’t Come Knocking

Door - open on my dream I’ve been musing on how opportunities present themselves to some people and not to others, and what those people do with them. Many people are sitting on the sidelines in this bad job market, and getting either no job opportunities, or bad ones. Others get job opportunities and (believe it or not) turn them down. The whole “opportunity” concept is really curious to me. It depends on where you live, who you are, and how well you can spot and judge an opportunity when it presents itself.

Cycle Of Life And Opportunity

Some people suggest that if you just network, work hard, and be positive that opportunities will just come knocking at your door. I think we’re seeing that this just isn’t the case, as millions of people are doing just that with their job search and nothing comes of it. There are few jobs and that’s the reality of the situation. It’s like when you want to grow a garden, you have last year’s seeds, and instead of waiting for spring, you plant them in the winter. How much do you expect to reap just because you took the trouble to dig the frozen soil, and plant a seed? Zero, because it wasn’t the right time nor was there an open opportunity, and open door, in that environment. You aren’t going to make the winter spring by thinking positive thoughts. It takes more than that.

The 80/20 Individual

I read this great book: The 80/20 Individual. It talks about how you take the 80/20 concept and apply that to becoming more productive as an individual. In this case, in my interpretation, you should learn how to spot 20% of your opportunities that will yield optimal results and ignore the other 80% as trivial time wasters. The better you get at that, whether it is reducing networking to better connections, applying energy to productive projects, or creating things that produce spectacular income results – you will grow less variety, but you will reap richer rewards and quicker too. It’s working smarter, not harder. It’s understanding that just because an opportunity presents itself, it doesn’t mean that it’s worth your time. That’s why, I believe, that those people getting the most opportunities are also the ones that are turning them down. They are able to spot those that will bear fruit sooner and avoid those that don’t, so they have a track record of success. Others may not produce as much success in their careers as immediate results, simply because they picked the wrong opportunities to work with or the time to fruition is beyond their length of service. They attract opportunities, by virtue of a track record of success, but the opportunity presenting itself isn’t sufficient to generate success. In a way, they create more of what they did before, and that magnetizes a larger vortex of energies, then they have to become very selective.

It’s a case where the individual isn’t the driving force of success, but it’s an understanding that it’s a partnership between those seeds that were sown before, by someone else, and the opportunity of time that now presents itself to be the person that reaps the harvest. It’s a matter of cooperation between various principles in life. Success is never a standalone project. Many others always contributed, but only those at the right place and time get recognized for their contribution, and reap better rewards. Doing that, they magnetize more opportunities in the same direction, but not all of them are guaranteed to yield good results.

Finding Or Creating Opportunities?

I don’t believe an opportunity can be created at the wrong time and I am more and more convinced that we don’t find opportunities, they are attracted to certain people. Whether the opportunity is to make a million dollars or to get mugged, these “open doors” of chance always seem to go to the people who have a track record of being able to produce those results, over and over. It is a combination of who we are (what energies we emanate) and how we are in alignment with our place in the world and history. The person who ends up successful isn’t the one that “makes it happen” but knows exactly how to position themselves to reap the rewards.

Learning To Judge Opportunities

See, I learned long ago to weed out people in my immediate circle who attracted drama and calamity. It just follows them wherever they go and no matter how much you help them, they continue to attract it until something within them changes. They can have spectacular opportunities to change (as a crisis will often provoke), but they fail to take advantage.  So, they continue to attract more and more crisis, and it becomes a very bad cycle that continues until something within shifts. Before that happens, they’ve often dragged you down with them too. Should we fail to help those in need? No. However, I am more and more convinced that only 20% of people who actually need help are ready to get it and shift out of their situation. It’s up to us to figure out who those people are as they represent the best return on our investment of time and help.

Now, I don’t believe crisis is always necessary to create opportunity, and I try to align with business people who are attracting what I want, not what I don’t want. If I learn what they do to create what they want, then I can also do the same. This is what makes me think that they aren’t any smarter than I am, more blessed karmically, or even luckier. No, it’s some basic skill of being able to place themselves in a spot where 20% of their efforts produce 80% of their results in consistent and profitable ways. That’s what makes them different. Often, they don’t create their own opportunities, they capitalize on others. They don’t find opportunities, these drop in their laps – as if magnetically attracted. They don’t accept all opportunities, and I would suggest they’re very picky individuals. Once they do, though, they work just as hard, and smart, as anyone else and KNOW that they picked a winner.

Yet, there is much more to this subject. There is always opportunity out there, that’s true. Is it the right opportunity for what you want to create? That’s the real question.

Recycling For Recession Gardens

empty toilet rolls under an orange fluorescent  lightI’m having loads of fun in my recession garden, but along with the fun comes some small conundrums. For instance, it seems I have a family of bunnies living in my hedge that like the salad bar I put out for them. I also am learning about all the little pests and diseases that can ruin a crop. What really has me excited, though, is learning how to recycle ordinary things into useful garden tools.

Old Toilet Rolls and Milk Jugs

If there was a support group for packrats, I’d be a member. Packrats Anonymous. I find it painful to throw out (don’t laugh) the inner core of toilet rolls. I keep thinking I’ll find a use for them some day, other than sticking them in the recycle bin. This year: Voila! I found a use! The okra I planted needs seed collars to keep cutworms away. I just cut an old used toilet roll in too, and there – an instant okra collar to protect my young plants. I love it.

I started out the season recycling milk containers too. I just cut them in half. I use the bottom for the seedlings of lettuce I started early. The tops I covered the bottoms with when it was too rainy or cold outside, like a makeshift miniature cold frame. It worked greeaaaat! Ha, ha.

As for the bunnies, I found out organic bone meal keeps them away and makes a great top fertilizer. Not sure I can make my own, but I’ll find out. And, today, I was eyeing some old cardboard boxes. I saw that they put these little molded carboard thingies to keep something from jiggling in the box. That’s when I wondered if I couldn’t soak the entire box in water, and remold it into biodegradable plant starters. I could save a bunch of money that way. I’m just wondering what chemicals they put on industrial cardboard.

Anyone else with great ideas on how to take ordinary items and use them for the garden?

Is Sustainability Bad For Business?

Avocado tree and orange treeWhile I’ve been learning how to make my land to pay me by farming it, I have noticed some things that make sustainability a tough sell for business. If you look at most of the niches right now that are making money in this tough economy, you will find they are things like nurseries, grocery stores, and discount stores. If most of us learned to grow our own food, what impact would that have on business? It wouldn’t be good. It might be good for us, but maybe not so good for the stores. It makes you wonder what our economy is going to look like when all is said and done.

Fishy Minimum Prices

Has anyone else noticed that the minimum price you can get anything for these days at a store is $3? Need a tomato plant? $3. Need a small packet of nails: $3. It won’t surprise me if restaurants start charging $3 for a glass of water too. Why is this happening when it’s obvious that many of these items don’t have a $3 value? Blame the credit card companies. I think it’s because there is a surcharge on items paid for with credit cards and stores lose money if the price is less than $3 because they still have to pay the surcharge to middlemen, like the credit card companies.

Value Versus Price

In a recession, the thing that sells the most in a consumer’s mind is value. However, value is a personal perception that advertisers and stores know exactly how to manipulate. Ever see the 10 for $10 signs? Is one avocado really worth $1? In California, they are selling them 8 for $1 on the roadside stands. Are cherries really worth $5 to $8 per pound? How much does it cost to plant a cherry tree and how many pounds of fruit do you get out of that cherry tree in one year? Yes, there are cost for transporting them, but I live in an agricultural state where even cultivars for avocados that grow here exist. An avocado is not worth $1 in my mind, just because it came from California, especially if I can grow my own. Cherry trees are the same. If I look at how much it costs me to grow my own versus how much a store charges me, I am paying a mark-up of at least 100 percent on my food, and I would venture to say much, much, more. Is that really value? Why should I have to pay a minimum price because credit card companies are greedy? Is business really interested in being sustainable or being exploitative?

Check out what the Dervaes family did with their land and how you can grow an urban garden too.

Where Have I Been?

Eating.I’m still here. I have been very busy getting a recession garden going. After my last trip to Whole Foods, I thought I could do better in my own backyard. I am hoping to get my daughter to post pictures, but the entire experience has really taught me much about why we’re so completely unsustainable in this country. I think what it comes down to is that few of us know how to feed ourselves, whether literally or metaphorically.

If we knew that each of us had the tremendous potential to become our own source of sustainable activity, wouldn’t that have a huge impact on the American psyche? I think we did get that at one time when we went through the Great Depression, but it’s a work of hardship and struggle and no one really wants to do that unless they have to. Well, here we are again, in a really bad recession and now we have to, like it or not.

I have probably lost tons of readers during this introspective time. I do tend to take a few months to chew on things every now and then. My daughter calls it “composting” and thinks everyone should compost every now and then. She also thinks that it should be a good reason to skip work or not answer phone calls, “just leave a message, I’m composting…” Ha, ha. I eventually get back to noticing the other things in my life that weren’t necessary to composting my ideas.

What am I gardening? I am gardening: lettuce, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, hot peppers, beets, okra, cucumbers, squash, and any other seed I can get my hands on. That’s right, most were started from seeds. Why seeds? It’s because when you are learning how to create something from nothing and you want to put it in practice, try growing a garden from seeds. It will truly be enlightening.

And, if you are trying to garden in shady areas, check out Shade Gardening 101 – Tips on Edible Shade Garden Crops.

Will discuss more later…