Bobbing Around Volume 21 Number 8

Human relationships are circles, not arrows.
Bob Rich in Personally Speaking


A “mild” case of COVID-19 might knock you out for a week or two.
Catherine Pearson


I don’t need opinion. I’ve got science.
John Neve

Bobbing Around

Volume Twenty-one, Number Eight,
February, 2022

Bob Rich’s rave

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bobswriting.com    anxietyanddepression-help.com/    mudsmith.net/    previous issues

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I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.


Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. Actually, you may steal any of it, but only with permission from its author if that’s not me, and well, from me if I am the author.


* From me to you
Hello Grandfather Bob
Personally speaking: a free offer
Thank you

 

  New content Posts during January
RESPONSES From “E”:
Helping others stay sane
 
ENVIRONMENT Gas may be cooking your lungs Less stuff—more joy
GOOD NEWS Food not coal
Not guilty, on the grounds that climate change is a existential threat
 
POLITICS   The second American civil war
INSPIRATION   “Tax us now!” British millionaires have a heart
PSYCHOLOGY Am I depressed or just lazy?
My in-laws are outlaws!
Their father killed himself — how can I help?
The power of NOW: the chapter on mindfulness from my book-to-be on grief.
Your body is only a space suit for surviving on this planet: dealing with a horrific last memory of a beloved person.
TECHNOLOGY Award-winning hospital Sucking out the CO2: an inspiring story
HEALTH   Pre-op guided imagery
WRITING Point of view — why does it matter? Virus-infected writing: the January Round Robin on writing.
ANNOUNCEMENTS Survivorship Webinar 2022: Healing the Unimaginable: A Ten-Session Course
Nature-based leadership training
All humans are family
Legacy of Laughter: A Grandparent Guide and Playbook, by Mary Kay Morrison
 
REVIEWS When Spirit Whispers by Carol March
Shifting Bravely by Holli Kenley
Death Becomes You, by DM Langdon
Lifting the Gloom, reviewed by Mary Kay Morrison
STORIES   The More You Give, the More You Grow: A chapter from Lifting the Gloom
POETRY Threnody, by Laurie Corzett  


From me to you

Hello Grandfather Bob
Personally speaking: a free offer
Thank you

 

Hello Grandfather Bob

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Elle and I had emailed with you sometime back in 2019. I was struggling with intrusive thoughts and false memories. I’m now at a much more peaceful place. Not sure if you even remember me. But I had to reach out to let you know how appreciated you are.

For a couple of weeks now I have felt compelled to email you, so I began to locate your webpage. Glad I found it. I want to thank you so much for taking the time to message me and care about me. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. Today as I think back, it touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes to know beautiful souls like yours exist on this earth.

I send all my love and good wishes to you.

Sincerely
Elle

I got this wonderful, lovely email early one morning in January, and it filled me with a warm glow that has no interest in extinguishing itself. This wonderful young lady and I have been exchanging emails since.

One of my clichés is, “Only two things matter in this life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others.”


I feel I am doing well.


Personally speaking: a free offer

As a toddler, I spent involuntary time in Budapest’s ghetto as Hitler’s guest. About two years ago, someone let me know that this entitles me to compensation from the German government. So, why not, I clicked on the link this friend sent me, and came into contact with an organisation in the USA that acts as an agent for such applications.

The long process is over, and I have officially been granted restitution. I value it, nor for the money, which I don’t need given my modest lifestyle, but for the validation. It is an example of decency, and proof that people and cultures are not evil. Germany is now a world leader in compassion, forward thinking and responsibility. I’ll make sure to put the money to good use, to benefit much more than myself.

I have had many friendly exchanges with the lady who guided the process in America. Now that our official contact is over, I offered her any of my books as a thank-you gift. To my surprise, she chose one of the oldest: Personally Speaking, which is a collection of 50 single-session email therapy sessions.

So, I had a read of a few, and was surprised that, over 20 years ago, I was using the same attitudes, emotional reactions, and psychological techniques as today, with one exception. I developed my expertise in positive psychology since then.

To celebrate, I am making a free offer of this book to all subscribers to this newsletter, and followers of Bobbing Around, until the next issue, that is, for the month of February, 2022.


Thank you

Last issue, I asked for advice: in my Doom Healer books, should I refer to Myanmar and its leaders, who have proven themselves to be FAR worse than it previously appeared? The problem is that in my story, two of those rulers turn out to be decent people, and one becomes a major secondary character.

I received so many responses that in a way this was an informal survey. On the basis of this generous advice, I have replaced Myanmar with the fictional country of Kyawat. With a careful replacement of a few terms (e.g., the honorific “U” with “Lah”), it works very well.


Responses

 

From “E”
This person has asked to stay anonymous, for reasons that are none of your business. So there.

I write to you today because I feel I could really use your counsel and personal insight on something that continues to come up, but I’m unsure how to respond. I know you can help! I’m assisting in the Design A Life You Love class again this quarter and the students have shared feeling overwhelmed by the system, and that they’re unsure how the gratitude journal practice correlates with living under the system… Self love as an act of resistance is one way to look at it I think, but I’m curious how you might tackle that inquiry?

One resource is one of my posts 2 years ago: No, I won’t jump off the planet. It also has links to several other resources, including the last 1500 words of Ascending Spiral.

I’m also curious how you might advise others on the most effective careers for the times and changing the system? Activism? you can’t pour from an empty cup…

Very true. This is the role of positive psychology: whatever the situation, inner strength and calmness is always an option.

A Shintoist saying is, “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain.” I trained in psychology, but intended to be a physicist at first, and then played with the idea of medicine. (In Biology 101, I was required to murder a frog and a rat, so I decided against that.) I think I would be doing exactly the same things, for exactly the same reasons, regardless of the path I had chosen back then.


They can choose any occupation. It’s not what, but how and for what reason. You can be part of the team working for sanity, decency, compassion, cooperation, regardless of how you earn your income.

The professor says she believes we can’t change the system, that she became a teacher because she wanted to do just that, but has learned otherwise, but that we can focus on what brings us joy and what works for us. I agree to a certain extent, but also see how this line of thinking could lead to unhealthy selfishness/narcissism, doing what works best for us and what we want, etc., use to our advantage… the balance and navigating what may work best for us harms another, really may not benefit us… There is an interconnectedness that seems to be overlooked or unaddressed here. I also think she became burnt out with swimming upstream, trying to change things…

The answer that keeps me sane is set out in the references I’ve given above, and in more detail in my book, From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide. It is available very cheaply as an e-book, and also as an audiobook. Seems to me, your professor would benefit from reading it. Get her to contact me, and I am happy to email her a free review copy.


In summary, the answer is, outcome is out of my control, but I still can, and must, do the best I can. What matters is not events in the “real world” out there, but fulfilling the reason for life: moving toward enlightenment, and mentoring others to do the same. If there was an explosive growth in that movement, we could still create a survivable and decent future.

How would you counsel students navigating these decisions? What is the most effective strategy? I read somewhere, can’t remember, perhaps it was one of your articles? that investing time/energy on an intentional community, a “separate” system, existing in parallel, allows for an option, an out, and opens up space for others to have a choice, and then builds more energy and support… Do you believe this to be better than fighting/changing from within?

Both are legitimate pathways. However, the community still needs to be part of society, not a dropout. Arnold Toynbee demonstrated that civilizations are always changed from the periphery. Those outside it cannot do so. Those in power cannot do so. Change agents are people like Greta Thunberg, just a kid with Asperger’s, but I’d love her to be President of Earth!

Basically I need a “How to exit capitalism for dummies” or “Career advice for an existential crisis” LOL, but seriously these students are questioning and articulate and just lovely beings I hope to provide with some sort of quality resources to investigate, even if I don’t have the answers myself. Curious, where might you point them when faced with these types of comments?

My essay, How to change the world has that exact theme. It has a link to a speech I once made, which sets out the same philosophy differently, and has a link to a page with a long list of practical actions.


Both Ascending Spiral and From Depression to Contentment have this message, though in Ascending Spiral it is disguised to the very end.

Looking forward to your response! Perhaps a reading list? Or something else entirely? Thanks for taking the time to read this and contemplating my role in this dynamic.

E

With metta,
Bob


Environment

 

Gas may be cooking your lungs

This new article summarises research in the USA showing that even when your gas cooker is not used, it can release methane into your airspace.

Not only is that a climate killer, but also the emissions can hurt your health, and especially, that of your children.

Well worth a read.


Good news

 

Food not coal

Not that long ago, everyone and his pig wanted to mine coal in Australia. This included Chinese company Shenhua, which got all the approvals from the NSW Liberal (conservative as hell) government.

But, well, thermal coal is not profitable anymore, and will continue to lose value. Unlike certain politicians and other businesses, the Chinese people running this mob are intelligent, so they decided to go environmental, and have sold the rich, productive land back to a bunch of local farmers.

I wish all people in power made decisions on the basis of logic…


Not guilty, on the grounds that climate change is a existential threat

Three honestly believing Christians, two of them ministers of religion, and two of them elderly, caused chaos for a while by blocking a train in London. The good news is, a jury has acquitted them.

Jesus will be cheering. So am I.


Psychology

 

Am I depressed or just lazy?

Hi, My name is Barry and I’m 18 years old. I’m currently 3 months into a 13 month apprenticeship studying accountancy with an energy company.

For that time, I’ve been feeling really down. Most days, I dread going to work and really only enjoy myself when I’m not doing work or hanging out with my friends.

I’m mainly envious about friends going to university and enjoying themselves while I feel like this. I’m confused as to whether I have depression or that I am just lazy. I feel no motivation to do basic things sometimes like doing my bed, brushing my teeth. I also find it hard to leave to go to work on time. I don’t know whether I need to see a counsellor or if I can just battle it on my own.

Am I experiencing symptoms of depression or laziness?

Dear Barry,

Would you normally miss brushing your teeth from laziness?

Second, what makes you think that going to university is more fun? Is that perhaps “grass is greener on the other side?”

Let’s look five years down the track. Assuming you manage to complete your apprenticeship, you have a job. Your friends will mostly be graduates, but does that guarantee them employment?

And suppose that indeed they are having fun now, and will find a job. When they are working, they will face the same obligations and pressures as you are now. For them, it will probably be a culture shock to change from student to worker, while you will long be used to it by then — and with money in the bank.

So, objectively speaking, you are probably no worse off then they are.

Of course, I don’t know the details of your job. You may be badly treated by superiors or colleagues, expected to do an unreasonably high workload, your tasks may be boring and repetitive… or not.

But also, mood is not determined by circumstances, but by our reaction to our circumstances. So, here is the key question: if you were full of energy, would your work situation be acceptable?

Nothing is ever perfect, so no doubt things at work can stand improvement. But are your colleagues also unhappy? If there are other trainees at your level of seniority, how are they coping?

When you have considered all these issues, you will have the answer. If you decide that yes, you are experiencing depression, you will find a few sessions with a psychologist to be immensely helpful. Also, for a few dollars, you can buy an electronic copy of my book, From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide.

And I am happy to be here for you as a resource. You are welcome to email me back.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


My in-laws are outlaws!

My wife and I are very different. I come from a larger and more laid back family. Hers is smaller and high strung. Her parents were very controlling, critical, and helicopter parents. My wife does not feel fully loved and accepted by them. They are very enmeshed. We should have talked about boundaries with them early on. Her mother is very emotional, opinionated and is disrespectful to her husband and yells at him all of the time. They were germaphobes even before the pandemic. They have serious illness anxiety issues. They are typically inflexible and judgmental in their thinking. My wife and I are people pleasers, so I feel like we are used as doormats. I often harbor resentment toward them, causing distressed tolerance. My sister-in-law is single and is often needy. She has extremely high standards, which is fine, but often makes our lives more difficult. She is a taker more than a giver (not that I’m keeping track). They dominate our holidays, so I rarely see my family around that time, which causes me to be a bit jealous and feel bad that we don’t see my family. When it boils down to it, my wife seems to not want to talk to her parents and sister about this, but I may if my back is to the wall. My wife is worried that they would be extremely hurt if we have a discussion about boundaries. We feel that we often bend over backwards for them, but do not feel that they would always do the same for us.

Any tips on not burning bridges (if we have a discussion)? Should I stand up for my father-in-law when my mother-in-law criticizes and screams at him? Any other suggestions for my situation?

Dear Martin,
This is indeed a difficult situation, and more frequent than you would think. At least, from what you write, your wife and you have the same reaction to her family of origin, so you are a source of support and validation for her.

My guess is that if you asked your mother-in-law if there was anything wrong in her family, she’d deny it. Your father-in-law probably wouldn’t dare to disagree with her. So, there is unlikely to be any possibility of formal relationship or family counseling.

I have seen people handle this kind of situation in one of two ways:

1. Divorce. If your wife would be happier by cutting off or minimizing contact with her parents and sister, you are at perfect liberty to do just that. It is possible but not usually necessary to move out of their vicinity. You can send them small presents and cards for birthdays and occasions like Christmas, and be polite but distant at all times. Only reply to phone or email messages when it suits you, and can have convenient other engagements to avoid contact.

2. Tolerance. This is much more difficult, but is just the kind of action that leads to spiritual growth, making the two of you into better people in the best sense of the word. That is, you do not need to accept abuse, passive or active aggression, material or emotional imposition, but react with unconditional love and acceptance anyway.

If you choose to give this second path a go, it will be very helpful to have a wise advisor. If you are religious, your minister or religion would be suitable. Otherwise, occasional sessions with a suitable counselor or therapist would help.

It is perfectly OK to be people pleasers, but that does NOT imply that you need to be doormats. Instead, use the assertive formula: “When you [do this], I feel [], so please [do this].

Finally, I don’t think it is possible for you to protect your father-in-law. He needs to live his own life. However, you could talk with him privately, describe your perception of his marriage, and ask him, why does he put up with it?

I am happy for us to correspond about this issue.


All the best,
Bob


Their father killed himself — how can I help?

My nephew hung himself August 18. He was supposed to turn 30 on Sept 6. He left his partner of 16yrs, his son 11, daughter just turned 10.

He and his son did everything together. They were best friends as was my nephew and his dad. He is the first suicide in our family of close to 40. I am very concerned for his 11 yr old son. He is angry, can’t sleep, rude and disrespectful. He doesn’t have permanent living situation as they lost their house. He uses his dad as an excuse, goes from family member to family member, who are all understanding and no one is turning him away. Their mother is on the verge of leaving them as well and may have another guy.

What can we do for these two children whom we all feel their pain what can we do to prevent them from ending the same way?

Dear Carla,

First, thank you for caring. Your love, decency and caring shine through.

Anger and misbehaviour are frequent ways for children, particularly boys, of expressing grief. So, his behaviour is “normal.” I can also understand it. No doubt he feels betrayed and abandoned by his father.

Kids also often feel guilt when a loved person commits suicide.

I suggest you, or another suitable person, talk to the principal of the kids’ school, who may be able to arrange sessions with an educational/developmental psychologist.

I am not sure of how medical services are organised in New Zealand. In Australia, the kids could be taken to their family doctor, who would refer them to a child psychologist under Medicare. Check out the local situation.

Regular sessions with a professional like that will make an enormous difference for both kids.
In turn, if his behaviour improves, their mother may be more able to be there for them.

I don’t understand why the death of the father has left the family homeless. There are guaranteed to be both government and charitable services that should be able to help. A phone call to the local Council may be a good first step.

Please tell both kids that they have a new grandfather in me, and I am sending them all my love from Australia. They are welcome to contact me.


With love,
Bob


Technology

 

Award-winning hospital

A hospital built on a shoestring budget in one of the world’s poorest countries has won an international award for architecture.

Among other things, it focuses on compassion for the needy, takes the local climate and its predicted changes into account, and is a tool for harvesting precious fresh water in the rainy season for use during the dry, when every drop counts.

I was tempted to classify it under “Inspiration.”


Look over a writer’s shoulder

 

Point of view — why does it matter?

Michael Amos is the publisher at Sleepy Lion Publishing. He and I have had a wonderful collaboration in assisting Maraglindi: Guardian spirit to take flight.

Michael runs a blog that regularly offers “how to” articles for writers. As part of the publicity for our book, he occasionally uses one of my essays. Point of view — why does it matter? is the latest.

Even if you are not a writer, you may enjoy understanding one of the major tricks of the trade.


I approve of these announcements

 

Survivorship Webinar 2022: Healing the Unimaginable: A Ten-Session Course

Healing the Unimaginable: A Ten-Session Course in Treating Survivors of Organized and Extreme Abuse

By Alison Miller, Ph.D., retired Psychologist who practised in Victoria, B.C., Canada and worked with survivors of organized abuse, including ritual abuse and mind control from 1990 to 2017. She has twice chaired the RAMCOA (ritual abuse/mind control/organized abuse) special interest group of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. She is the author of Healing the Unimaginable: Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control (for therapists), Becoming Yourself: Overcoming Mind Control and Ritual Abuse (for survivors), and co-author with survivor Wendy Hoffman of From the Trenches: A Victim and Therapist Talk about Mind Control and Ritual Abuse. She has published several other book chapters and articles, as well as being the originator of the LIFE Seminars parent education programs.

Each online presentation will be 60 minutes. Following each presentation there will be a 30 minute confidential question and answer session.

The regular price is $25 US per session.
The low income price is $10 per session.

The ten sessions are a series.
The discounted price for all regular sessions is $200.
The discounted price for all low income sessions is $80.

Payment must be made one week prior to each session.

The course will only be open to licensed professionals in the mental health field. Please write info@survivorship.org with your registration information prior to payment for approval.

The first session is Thursday Feb 17th 2022.


Nature-based leadership training

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, March 2022

Nature’s Apprentice launched a long dreamed of vision in 2021: a year long Nature Based Leadership Training, in partnership with Melbourne’s CERES.

Applications for 2022’s program are now open. Check out this 4 minute video to learn more.

Instead of peak experiences, I have dreamt of offering an immersive training where the seeds of transformation and pattern shift can really take root; where a consistent experience of connection over time surfaces an individual’s true gifts in the world. Gifts that are so needed.

And despite the pandemic — we did it! Thirty participants dived into a rich curriculum of: Tending the Wild, Deep Nature Connection, Wider Stories, Village Building, Spirituality and Sacred Activism and Leadership and Purpose.

The 2022 program beginning in March is open to 25 passionate and curious participants.

For more information download the full Course Guide here.

Applications close at the end of January. Please be in touch if you have any questions.

Wild Season’s Blessings

Claire and the Nature’s Apprentice team.


All humans are family


This is the theme of Us/Them, an anthology that includes my short story, Labels.

Do check it out for some interesting reading.

Wolfsinger Publications specialises in anthologies with interesting themes, with more being released all the time, so if you like reading short stories, this is the place to keep an eye on.

Mind you, I’ve always found that difficult. What do you do with the other eye in the meantime?


Legacy of Laughter: A Grandparent Guide and Playbook, by Mary Kay Morrison


Contributors: The 12 grandchildren of the author: Ben, Tyler, Andrew, Samuel, Emma, Mimi, Christine, Katie, Steve, Cloe, Isaiah, and Faith, and their parents.

GOAL: To make a significant difference in the lives of children through the superpowers of playful grandparents.

This book is a must for grandparents who strive to provide nurturing stability for their grandchildren during difficult times. Legacy of Laughter: A Grandparent Guide and Playbook provides guidance for building loving relationships with purposeful, brain-based playtime and strategies to help kids cope with the challenges faced by this pandemic generation. Through shared laughter and joyful fun, grandparents can create a lifetime of memories that support the optimal well-being of their grandchildren.


Reviews

 

When Spirit Whispers by Carol March

The first thing I noted about this book when Carol requested an advance review was the language. It can only be described as beautiful: clear, not an unnecessary word, yet evocative, powerful, lyrical. Also, in the initial sample I read, I was surprised at the close correspondence between her philosophy of life and the universe, and mine.

So, I agreed to review the book, and I am glad I did. We have lived immensely different lives, and yet, time and again I found parallels, as if we were walking side by side up the same mountain path. She got the same joys and insights in an American desert as I gained in an Australian forest. The setting, the life are different; the steps of growth and inspiration are the same.

She has experienced lucid dreams since childhood, and lives within a vivid inner world. In contrast, I have never had a dream in any way related to anything, but got the same support from Spirit (to use Carol’s terminology), the same glimpses of Reality through meditation, self-hypnosis and activities like distance running.

Qualifying “unique” is frowned upon. All the same, this book is the account of an immensely unique life. Nevertheless, as I have shown, Carol on her unique path can lead you on your very different one, to the same place of inner strength, spiritual growth, meaning, purpose.
Without doing a spoiler, I need to mention a very clever thing: the sequence of how Carol’s childhood details are revealed. Given my knowledge of psychology, I noted the multiplicity of symptoms of extreme anxiety, fear of people, dissociative episodes, later OCD, on and on. If I were given such a list about a new client I would suspect very severe childhood trauma. And yet, although she describes her childhood in considerable detail, this trauma is only obliquely alluded to.

The first hint of something much worse comes halfway through the book. Interestingly, this parallels the time course of the recall of repressed memories by many survivors of childhood trauma.

The second half of the book consists of chapters with a single theme, like “Memories,” ‘Dreams,” “Words,” and each ends in a brief lesson on how to progress.

So, this is how Carol has converted a “sample of one” into a teaching tool.

Most people will find this book as inspiring as I have.


Shifting Bravely by Holli Kenley


This entire book is a beautiful metaphor, captured by the picture on the cover. Holli guides the reader along the path of growth from unacknowledged damage through gradual awakening due to suffering, to metamorphosis into strength. She explores what can stand in the way of progress, and how to grow anyway. Thought- and emotion-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter enable the reader to do the necessary work: we succeed by doing, not by knowing. If life is not how you want it, allow this wise lady to guide you to a better place.


Poetry

 

Threnody, by Laurie Corzett

            Leaves like falling stars
            twinkle windy twilight.
            Captured breathless scenes,
            rapture memories.
            Thick reverie
            spins far into private liturgy.
            *
            Resolute beat.
            “This you can believe in,
            creatures distilled in Earth.”
            Filigreed trills,
            ethereal choir.
            Channeled liquid fire
            pouring out salvation.
            *
            Leaves twinkle falling.
            Stars arise in twilight.
            Their song soft, insistent
            siren call.
            Lost to primeval moorings.
            Washed by eternal storm
            to awake
            transformed.


About Bobbing Around

If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don’t want a repeat, it’s simple. Drop me a line and I’ll drop you from my list.

You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at http://mudsmith.net/bobbing.html, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article’s author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)

I’d love you to follow my blog. That will automatically get you a copy of this newsletter, and other posts. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the newsletter. To do so, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.

Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
  • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

Submission Guidelines

It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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