Six Degrees Writing Round Up

6 Degrees Writer: Vignettes that VIP!

My Love affair with VIP! I’ve often had love affairs with words. One of them was from the old Stephen Colbert opening when he was on the Comedy Channel: It was “Grippy!” Colbert was on this Dana Carvey Comedy Show with Steve Carell and I used to be haunted by the fact that I was the only one who thought that show was hilariously funny! Now these people are famous and acknowledged and it validates my instincts for comedy in some quiet way. It doesn’t have to be shouted from rooftops but I can say this: I know funny when I see it! And the other love affair with words is for Dorothy Parker and her great vocabulary. There is Robert Benchley and James Thurber as well. All had great love affairs with words… And I, in turn, have this continuing flirtation with their creative displays and the lovely playful word feasts they have created. (Never a simple ‘word salad’ for these artists!) My newest love affair with words comes from an old Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie where Hudson saw the V.I.P designation and decided to make up a company called “VIP” And it’s like “Zudz!” or some fifties style brand that is just hilariously funny and teeming with meaning and onomatopoeia!… To my mind, VIP! embodies this great McGuffin of undertones for all the things we think are out there like widgets and prototypes and templates for items that are creative ideas and thoughts that never take flight! Instead…They VIP!   On the Randomness of Words: Felicitous Felicitous is thus defined: It’s an adjective most often used in formal speech and writing to describe something that is very well expressed or suited for some purpose or situation. It can also be used as a synonym for pleasant or delightful. Perhaps we know that it’s NOT the thing we hear most often these days simply because…there is not a lot of pleasant and delightful things to tell others about the news or present day world when we hear about modern life. A better idea instead might be to learn to re-orient and re-acquaint ourselves with news that is pleasant and delightful! And then-we need to know when to express our thoughts in a pleasant and well-suited manner. It sounds like a very old-fashioned type of wish for a very ultra-modern world where courtesy and manners and grace are somehow unknown quantities. And it’s also a sad fact of modern life.     The Random Bible Verse ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?’ Matthew 5:13 This almost seems to be a joke or a parody as random verses go. The salt of the earth I have never heard questioned in this manner. It also teaches us that the meaning is sometimes lost as we hear about those good ol’ ‘salt of the earth’ types and never question the meaning from whence the phrase came! Further reading tells us this: You are not JUST the salt of the Earth but the Light of the World. And I suppose it means you shouldn’t hide that light under a bushel. Salt can be ruined and thrown out, but if you let your light shine before others, and they see your good works, you may become as a beacon of light and a shining example to the whole world!  

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6 Degrees Vignettes for April

Note of Excitement: “Not all who wander are lost!”   I was driving and saw a sign that was attached to a rear spare tire on a Jeep that read: “Not all who wander are lost.” You can’t imagine the excitement I felt when seeing a ‘sign’ that there was someone else who loved the special saying I have on a pendant.  I loved the saying because it reminds me so much of Oedipa Maas and The Crying of Lot 49 (a book I dearly love.) Oedipa saw ‘signs’ everywhere that led her to think there was a secret underground conspiracy that was huge! And in this current day and age, the message seems so much more relevant. People seem to find meaning in signs and seeds for conspiracies just about everywhere these days. This phrase that I love on my pendant: “Not all who wander are lost” is either from The Lord of the Rings and /or Shakespeare. The original goes something like:  Not all that glitters is gold….& Not all who wander are lost!           I suppose the point is that nothing is as it seems. And that is how it should be in life!   The 3 AM Window leaves me with “The” on the page! There is this Creator’s myth where we hear of writers having wonderful inspirational passages that fly from the pen at 3 AM in the morning. Only to find in the stark light of day that the entire process was a sham and you are left with slashing your darling prose to leave when editing is done. You are usually just left with something like one “The’ on the page… When you write you write and you are always looking for touches of greatness.  And you are frustrated when you lose something you deem great or just good enough to fool others. Only you may discover it’s just not there! You are forced to write again or just give it up. In my case, it’s not like I have this 3 AM window of genius or a Hemingway-esque moment of grandeur… More than likely, I find that it’s akin to the moment in The Shining where we know the main character has run mad. But instead of the same words over and over, it’s this word salad that you thought was inspired but instead it just sounds like gibberish and jabberwocky. My writing mentor would always say: “Kill your Darlings’, so that leaves me with mostly “The’s” on the page! And then there is nothing more than a head full of dust and dirt-filled delusions where there were once dreams of  Beautiful Darling’s that extend forever! It IS a good thing that I am now starting to pitch my work and to send out stuff. It means I will be rejected, of course, but I can handle that. I see a lot of things written that I don’t like. I think editors are hard-pressed to find a large batch of good writing. There are good writers out there, but not as many as you might think. It runs the gamut from A to Blah There are competent writers, and those with some wit and humor and creative ideas, but they are few and far between. The pages that fill the internet are often filled with lots of rock-bottom feeders who are just slithering by. It’s not always creepy or demented, it’s just not good. Writers and critics like Dorothy Parker would make mincemeat out of the stuff we see today…It runs the gamut from A to Blecch! Or A to Blah or A to Zed….   The Random Fact about Kazakhstan   The largest country with no border-access to the open ocean is Kazakhstan, which has an area of 2,724,900 km² (1,052,100 mile²) and is bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the landlocked Caspian Sea. The thing is: I know of this place. I have heard of it, but the areas surrounding it are so foreign to all of us here in the West that it’s hard to fathom and embrace. A landlocked place is something foreign to someone who lives so close to the open sea. Water is always the thing that calms and soothes and brings great comfort to a community and people. That is why people live near bodies of water. So landlocked places that are wide are foreign to our understanding. But the central point may be more about a closed minded society-and not a landlocked one. That is why we have feared those with no doses of information to share and spread and feel. It is another way of living that tells us we can become mind-locked & then dead-locked,.  And in the end, that seems to be much more worrisome than to simply be landlocked and boxed in… 6 Degrees you might have missed… *Vignettes from the Past… *From The Growing Group….

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For April: Five Favorite Things!

April is not really the cruelest month…but it’s been given a bad rap by T.S Eliot! It’s one of the transitional months that we find from time to time may give us pause as we get further and further into the year and start to say things like, “I can’t believe it’s already time for so and so or whatever!”…. That’s the nature of time. We don’t have enough time and we get TOO much information flooding in on most days! (See my latest Blurb Blog on Substack!) So it’s hard to know where to look at times….Some of the favorite things for April have been laid out and it’s hard to narrow it down to just five! Here are five favorites for April Number One is World Health Day on Sunday, April 7th World Health Day marks a time when we celebrate advancements made in medicine and in health care, and also the notion that health care is what makes us live longer and feel better in this 21st Century World we live in! Brown Bag Organics is our magazine that gives us updates and tips for aging well and living longer. Please visit the magazine on Flipboard and our page on Facebook as well! Number Two is National Pet Day on Thursday, April 11th Pets are seen by those of us who love them as natural extensions of our family. We can’t imagine live without our fur friends. And for those who are without pets currently, we may remember fondly a pet that we grew up with. Yes, there are some among us who consider animals to be burdensome and dirty and just a nuisance or an added expense.  But they are not the majority! Because those of us who love our cats and dogs will always appreciate the joy they bring and the extra dimension they add to our everyday lives. Even those who don’t have pets will concede how much love is bestowed by family and friends on those fur bundles that we love as if they are our children. And the wonderful thing is this-that love is given back twofold by our sweet pets! We can celebrate the day by giving a hug to our own pets, and acknowledging the joy they bring to so many. Number Three is World Art Day on Monday, April 15th World Art Day is a chance to celebrate the great works of art that we all know and have come to appreciate through the years. But also, we can take a step back and know that art is something that we live with and help to contribute to in experiencing the world around us. Modern Art even allows us to participate with projects such as the late artist Christo, who wrapped a bright pink color in the waters that surround us here in Tampa Bay. Take a chance to visit an art gallery and make a point of pausing for a moment in your busy life to just take in a work of art that may move you or inspire you!   Number Four is Earth Day on Monday April 22nd Earth Day has become a celebration that is global in scope and is a day to remember all the days of the year. Our slogan here at Brown Bag Organics is: “Every day is Earth Day at Brown Bag Organics!” We know that we have just one planet, one fragile blue spinning orb that we call Earth. And we have to learn to care for her, to celebrate her beauty and the unique and fragile ecosystem that we are duty-bound to protect and preserve! Celebrate Earth Day with us as we continue to enhance our knowledge through our Eco-Green Resource list and find new ways to honor and protect our home on Mother Earth!   Number Five is World Book Day on Tuesday, April 23rd World Book Day is not just another day for writers and book lovers! We are celebrating particularly this year with the idea that books are made to be celebrated and read and discussed and not banned! The list of recommended reads for us includes those books that come from our friends at CSPAN. And though many find it boring, CSPAN offers BookTV, an entire channel where new authors discuss their latest books and there are book festivals and conventions also seen and featured each week. Your local library is another place where, far from being a boring and stuffy place, there are community events and reading rooms and children’s reading events that take place as well as classes and workshops. Films and audio tapes are available as well as books at a well-stocked local library. Remember to support your local library and librarian too, as we celebrate books on World Book Day! Number Five TIE! The 23rd is also National Shakespeare Day! Since publishing “My Grandmother’s Shakespeare’ a decade ago, I have naturally taken every opportunity to celebrate Shakespeare in our lives! My short story talked about the many Shakespeare books my grandmother had collected as she was the parliamentarian for the local Shakespeare Club in her community. And I have added to the collection, as well as keeping a list of the best Shakespeare films that have been adapted to the screen as I began to write about films in later years. So all of these things give us even more reason to celebrate how William Shakespeare still has made himself a relevant influencer in our 21st Century World! For the month of April, that brings us to the end of the ‘happenings’ for the time being! Stay tuned as we keep looking for more upcoming events each month here at 6 Degrees!  Enjoy yourselves this April! Some other 6 Degrees Blog Posts you might enjoy! Spiritual Guideposts March @the Movies! Books I have Loved!

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Spiritual Guideposts for Lent

For Palm Sunday…Here’s the Spiritual Guideposts for March Bible Passage You will have Success…Be Strong & Courageous 1 Chronicles 22:13 The Christian Life is open to new challenges.. We have to be ready to say –Yes! To the life we were meant to live-with Courage! From the Book: Life Coach/Christ Coach   “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Scripture: Matthew 7:21-29 From Life Coach:  The point is so simple: Do you or don’t you? Will you or won’t you? Your life should be built on  a strong foundation. Beginning this month, work on making your word your bond. Make sure that you have a reputation for truth and honesty. And when you say you’re going to help someone, just do it. It’s that simple. If you cannot do something, don’t promise that you will. Not because Jesus says you should or shouldn’t. Jesus is teaching you, of course, to grow in the spirit.  Therefore, you will learn to make your word your bond because you want to build a reputation in your life for being the type of person that is depended upon when things go wrong. You can become a leader & a mentor for others.  But you must start by building your life on a strong foundation of truth and honesty. You can start today & go one step at a time. This month, commit to doing something for others. Your Motivational Passage   Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther At first, I thought this was from Martin Luther KING but the original Martin Luther was also a pretty good thinker!….Hope is the thing that set him off and made him want to begin to embark on something new.  He found the courage to challenge the world as his namesake so many years later challenged a new generation.  In both instances, they saw a place where people were tunnel-visioned and filled with dark despair and guilt and pain and hate. If your message is carried with hope, the world can become a changed place… (By the Way- Barack Obama’s message, too, was one of “Hope & Change’….It’s a message that still resonates today!) From Zen Koans   One of the Zen Masters was approached by a student who told him he had a problem.  Will you solve it for me, he asked? The Master agreed, but told him to wait till the evening lecture. That evening, he called the young man up front and then told the assembled group , “Look! This fellow has a problem!” He then shoved the man aside and quickly left to go to his room. The lesson? That if you have a problem, know that it is something immediate. It cannot wait till the evening to find a solution. And perhaps if you are asking for help, you need to be aware that the Zen Masters will not work to make your problem-solving EASY for you! You are there, after all, to work to unravel the questions put to you by these Masters of Zen. They will not be fooled!    

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Five March Favorites from 6 Degrees!

  The Ides of March are almost upon us! And instead of being wary, we are anticipating the need to celebrate with a month that is packed full of different events and celebrations that give us all a good excuse to experience fun and happiness! We are celebrating Women’s History Month all month long here at 6 Degrees…& that starts with the Flipboard magazine: “A Century of Women’ where we have learned so much about the very impressive lineup of females who have made a difference in the past and continue to work every day to improve our lives! Hug your Dog Day is a shoo-in for those of us who don’t need an excuse to love our furry best friends…And we see reminders for ways to be kinder to each other with the National Good Samaritan Day and the International Day of Happiness! St Patrick’s Day is always a good time to celebrate as an honorary Irishman or woman…Finally, Easter rounds out the month. It’s coming early this year and with it comes the idea of Spring and all the wonderful things that it entails! Happy March to all my Friends from 6 Degrees!   Here’s some Favorites for March:   Number One: Women’s History Month all month long! International Women’s Day is Friday, March 8th. And we have been celebrating women at “A Century of Women’ and discovering each month the vast array of women who have contributed -sometimes in the background-to some of the most significant historical events in history! For example, the “Hidden Figures’ film tells the story of the group of African-American women who worked tirelessly to give us the mathematical figures that helped America land on the moon! And if not for singer Mahalia Jackson reminding Martin Luther King to “Tell them about the Dream, Martin!” we may not have been given one of the most famous quotations in history!   Number Two is a Tie! Sunday March 10th is “Hug Your Dog” Day! This is always an easy one for those of us who just can’t get enough of our best friends! And we have an online site “My Dog Journal” on Facebook, as well as “Doggie in the Window’ on Flipboard, to fill us in on the latest news for the health and well-being of our beloved pets!   Number Two: Oscars Night on Sunday, March 10th! 6 Degrees of Film is celebrating our “10 Years of 6 Degrees’ with an “Oscar News’ Newsletter that helps to make sense of the different categories and nominees for 2024. 6 Degrees of Film is also the name of our online magazine and the monthly newsletter…We are inviting all of our Film Fans to join us each month!   Number Three is “Good Samaritan” Day on Wednesday, March 13th   For all of the different articles being written about how ‘polarized’ we are, there is an equal number of stories that tell of people who reach out to give back and help others every day. So that is why it’s important for us to have reminders that the “Good Samaritan’ Parable is not just a nice story. We can all use more kindness every day of our lives!   Number Four is St Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 17th!   St. Patrick’s Day is a day of celebration and laughter and joy. There are parades and events for all those who are Irish and those who are simply “Honorary Irish” for the day!   Number Five is Wednesday, March 20th: International Day of Happiness! We can all use a message of love and happiness. Easter is just around the corner, and it comes early this month with another message of forgiveness and redemption and salvation. So to keep us grounded and focused on those things that are important in our lives, it’s a good time to celebrate the notion of what is embedded in our own Constitution: The lifelong ‘Pursuit of Happiness!” Join us at The Growing Group each week to learn more about ways to keep that pursuit grounded in reality and focused on what works best for you… Here’s a few 6 Degrees Posts you might have missed!   *On Mind/Body Wellness… *Growing Group Round-Up *Five Favorites for February!

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Five Favorite Things for February!

Just going through the list for February tells the tale! It’s a short month that leaves a long trail! This year, Mardi Gras is back-to-back with Valentine’s Day and that means Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent too! Have you ever noticed at times that you seem to have weeks that drag along and then there are times when everything happens everywhere all at once!?… It was the same when I worked in retail years ago. At the department stores, people would not come in & the time would just seem to stand still. It would be slow, and all of a sudden everyone would just swarm the counters all at one time! It must be some quirk of human behavior that I just don’t ‘get!”…Anyhow…there’s a lot packed in to just one little month!:) Some favorite things for February   Number One: Black History Month This month, I’m making a point to feature some of the lesser-known tales of black women who paved the way for all of us living in the here and now! I have spotlighted them in our “6 Degrees of History” & “A Century of Women” magazines, with heroines like Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. But not all of these ladies were well-known to the public. Remember the “Hidden Figures’ story of how the black women who were relegated to the back rooms at NASA were instrumental in helping our country make it to the moon!?   Number Two is Super Bowl Sunday Even if you don’t have a team in this fight, it’s always fun to see the roll-out of new commercials and films as we look for places to get-together with friends and just relax! We usually have Cuban Sandwiches at our house (it’s a Tampa ‘thing!”) for the big game, but just to mix it up, we are going to try some Philly Cheese Steaks this time around . Number Three is Mardi Gras Although I haven’t been to the actual New Orleans parade of parties in over two decades, I still like to celebrate that day with beads and maybe a festive dip or appetizer to help keep that party feeling rolling along…   Number Four: Valentine’s Day It’s a special time if you want to go out to dinner with your ‘significant other,’ but even if you are a single person, you can celebrate with friends and have a special dinner on Valentine’s. I have an entire site dedicated to romance on Flipboard: “A Little Romance.” I wasn’t quite sure how it would grow, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of the romance genre. And knowing my niece has a best-selling book in Fantasy Romance reminds me that the romance section of the book store is always hopping with customers…. And in addition to that, I have been a huge fan not only of Jane Austen, but also Georgette Heyer, for many years. Heyer has some stories that are so funny and full of detail about the Victorian era of England. Plus they are wildly entertaining. That’s why I cannot believe that Hollywood has not been swarming around her plots as they did with Ms Austen’s!   Number Five: Random Acts of Kindness I love this concept, because as we in The Growing Group know, it is always a good idea to remind ourselves that we should be kinder to one another (as well as to ourselves!) This special day is just a great time to reinforce that notion of random kindness. (And we really need to have it sticky-taped to our fridge!)_  

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On my 65th Birthday…To the girl I once was…

**Originally published in September of 2023  Writing to a girl I once knew…the “me’ that was 16 years old… Dear Friend, I got this idea to write to you after seeing a woman I admire write a letter similar to this as part of her MasterClass. So this is a way of just telling a story-a story of my life and how it works out-to you, a young girl who is so passionate and afraid and emotional.   I had always wanted to find this magic formula to know when I was going to be ‘all grown up!” And that moment never arrives…there is no real cut-off point to tell you when things are going to change for you. Some people are born with an’old soul.’ You can see it and hear it in their voices and just feel their wisdom exuding from every pore of their being. They are comfortable in their own skin and they know what they want and they work hard to get it. Those characters are surprisingly rare.   You were not born with an ‘old soul’ You have a vulnerability that is both touching and worrisome. You will find wisdom later in the words of your parents that you didn’t know existed at the time. And you will be hurt by some, and you will have moments of great joy and happiness in your life. That is all just a part of life and you will endure.   But it’s never going to be easy, and things don’t turn out the way you think they might. And that is not a bad thing! You will find that the road you’ve paved for yourself is often the road not taken by others. That is a perilous and sometimes a lonely journey for you.   But you will also find that forging courage and steeling yourself for challenges you face is one of the triumphs for the things you endure. We all face roads of uncertainty in our lives. But you will be able to weather the storm later in life by having come through the fires at some point.   None of this is going to change who you are. You will find that you may even bring comfort to others as they grow older and face challenges. That is the triumph of the will. But just know that you must keep as your lodestar the factor of love in your life. Don’t give up on people and things that cause you pain or sorrow at some point.   In the end, you will triumph as a better person. You will become a stronger person with the will to endure.  The stronger the spirit of a person that shines through, in my opinion, will indicate the greatest chance for happiness and joy as they grow older. You will know some people who possess great wisdom already. Seek them out and cherish all the moments of your life when you are at peace. Never stop learning in your life!   And know you will be a better person for it in the end. From that young girl who is 16, looking in a mirror and wishing she was someone else who was smarter and prettier and funnier…that is the person you are becoming and the woman you will be someday. Cherish your life and embrace the happiness you find along the way.   Nothing will change in the facts of your life because I have written to you. But I would love to impart the things I know now that I wish I knew then. I can say that your driving desire to write will never be extinguished. And you will fulfill that lifelong dream of being a writer and an Author. That is not the beginning and the end of your dreams, but life’s will and desires may become a self-fulfilling prophesy. You had a strong desire and your dreams came true…   Like Cinderella, that doesn’t mean that ‘happy-ever-after’ comes with it! You will need to persevere and not think about giving up. Too often, that has been your own self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. I think I CAN”T and I WON”T and I never DO! Your dreams will take a lot of courage to see them through. And life is never easy for most of us. It means we always struggle and we work hard to try and find success.   Success is something that you will redefine often during the course of your life and your career. And in the end, when so many of your dreams have come true, you will come to the realization that you have been able to succeed in the end in spite of your own insecurities and fear of failure.   You will even find a code of honor in that term: “Grand Failures!” It is one of the things you write about in life. And in the end, nothing is a sure thing other than the fact that you need to face your fears and own your own failings and weaknesses. At the end of the day,, the stronger spirit will prevail. In the end, you can be assured that your own life has been a life worth living. And you have lived to tell the tale!

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To all the Books I’ve Loved before…On Book Bans and beyond

**This post was originally posted in April of 2023 I am starting this essay thinking of all the books I’ve loved.  (It sort of reminds me of the Willie Nelson song paraphrased; “To all the Books I’ve loved before!…”) And all of the wonderful time spent just looking for a new book to read! And the anticipation of a favorite writer who has written a new book. All of those things have given me a love for literature and writing and for reading.  I came up with a short list of those books I have truly loved.  Some personal favorites from the National Book Month (every month for me!) for those of us who love books… To Kill a Mockingbird Catch 22 Kurt Vonnegut books; Slaughterhouse Five The Crying of Lot 49 from Thomas Pynchon Bailey White: Mama tells it… Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Gifts from the Sea Marjorie K Rawlings/ Cross Creek The Great Gatsby The Sun also Rises and A Moveable Feast/Hemingway Winesburg Ohio/Sherwood Anderson And I’ve also loved short stories. Some favorites include short stories by James Thurber & David Sedaris.  One of my favorites is Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party. There is Mark Twain’s The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, and many others. I’m thinking of those plays I have read. Starting with Shakespeare, way back in college, of course, but then moving to plays by the theater of the absurd playwrights such as the plays by Becket & Pinter. I have a treasured book of their absurdist plays. I remember how much I loved reading Jean Kerr’s witty and funny plays like ‘Mary, Mary” Short story Anthologies I was an English major and loved the reading assignments and classes where we would read from Anthologies. It was such a smorgasbord of love to choose from. It was the wonderful variety of beloved authors and artists who wrote in different time periods and different languages that made them special. And then I learned to love to read Westerns. I would read some of the books my father had collected a long time ago. He loved Zane Grey, so I began by reading all of the westerns that Grey wrote. Lover of Romance & Sci-Fi!   I have also been a lover of romance. Historical Romance was a favorite,and I loved the series about Alinor, who was based on the real life Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Roberta Gellis wrote these very intricate and detailed descriptions of the medieval era; and they swept you into a world apart. And then there was Jane Austen and all the romantic writers who have been so successful in the twentieth century. But someone like Georgette Heyer was the forerunner of all of the modern historical writers who made a living writing romance. Heyer is someone I would love to see adapted to the screen in the same way that Jane Austen has been. I love Jane,, but Austen has been done to death in recent decades and Heyer’s work deserves an outing… I digress, but then I could go on! Science fiction was a favorite category of my brother. I would borrow his collection of books  from  writers like Arthur C Clarke and Robert Heinlein. I remember how excited I was to read Venus on the Half Shell from the mysterious Kilgore Trout aka Kurt Vonnegut (Philip Jose Farmer really wrote that particular book)! Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers of all time, and he of course, transcends the sci-fi category. I can go on with all the different categories. The film books I’ve loved  are legion. Books on film noir and on great directors and films inspired me to write my own book-6 Degrees of Film. The biographies of famous and interesting people have always been a huge draw for me. I love to read about the lives of interesting and exceptional people.  Not just artists and famous actors like Humphrey Bogart or Rex Harrison and Montgomery Clift & WC Fields,  but books that are written about lesser-known stars and people who led and still lead wonderful lives! The Books you just can’t forget…   There are some books you run into by accident, but you just can’t forget.  There was this wonderful book, “Land of a Thousand Hills,” about a woman who lived in Africa many years before Apartheid ended.  But the story is about the exceptional life she lived after Apartheid.  She was a white woman who started an orphanage with a black man who had been her servant. The two very different people became business partners as well as close friends. For me, this book was even more gripping than the much-more well-known story told in “Out of Africa.” I may wander from the topic at times- but the main point is this. There are so many different directions that our interests can lead us when we love books. Reading is something we can do on a tablet, or in bed, or on a break, or almost anytime. It is a universal language of love. We cannot ban books. Some may say that not all books will be banned! You don’t have to exaggerate the problem. But the problem is this. My truths are not the truths of other young people. They are not the truths of someone who is suffering from a malady or a feeling that I cannot identify with or relate to. And if someone is answering that need by writing a book that speaks to them, who am I to deny that truth to another? There is some material that is not age-appropriate. I think librarians and parents and educators can cope with that. And I daresay, if something is banned or forbidden, then there will be intrepid young or old individuals who will find a way to read or furnish or sell this material! So it will not always be verboten. But the idea of banning books is one that should not be acceptable to anyone living in the modern age. We

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6 Degrees Vignettes: At Christmas, the proof of what is not seen…

Now Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen’ Hebrews 11:1 At this Christmas season, we spend much time rereading our favorite passages that reveal the story of Christmas as we celebrate Christ’s birth and his rebirth each year into our lives. The Reality of what we hope for…   This passage from Hebrews is a reflection on what one of the major components of our faith reveals. We live in a world where hope is sometimes a commodity that is not often used or expressed. And without concrete evidence as proof, we are lost when we look at logical problems that are solved in a court of law or in business. We cannot simply ‘hope for a better outcome’ when a hard-nosed and cold reality demands we must have evidence we can see and touch. But in our own lives, we use faith to guide us for the proof of ‘what is not seen.’ We cannot see love that is expressed for us by children or by our loved ones. We know that it is there, and the reality for us is those things we hope to receive in return. The love that is hoped for, the care and the guidance we need each day is something that is not seen but felt. Hope in the Night Sky   And at the Christmas season, we search for hope in the night sky. Looking at the Christmas star gives us hope for things we feel but we cannot see. We hope for a better life for everyone, and we hope for guidance in our own lives. The proof is what we feel in our hearts. And it is what we celebrate when we hear the stories of everyday miracles from those who are Good Samaritans. It is the reality we hope for and what we are searching for in our Faith. Reading the Christmas Story is another affirmation of our faith that we need to retell and to revere each time we hear it. The story tells us of the world and things unchanging. It tells us of the miracle of birth,  and the kindness and at times the cruelty of humans who hold power. It reveals the mystery of nature and the heavens.  And finally, it brings us the gift of hope.  It is that hope and promise that we feel and carry in our hearts each year when we see the Christ Child and think of his mission of love and hope and Peace on Earth. God is our Guide to paths unknown in Life- From Life Coach/ Christ Coach  

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