Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Open Letter to the Timberland Regional Library Board of Trustees:

Dear Members of the Board,

I am writing on behalf, and in support of the communities that have recently fallen under threat of closure of their public libraries.  The Capital Facilities Proposal has come to the attention of current, and former residents alike, and I’d like to have a moment of your time to lay out some shared concerns that, I believe, the proposal does not address in an adequate fashion.

Primarily, I am deeply disturbed by the recommendation that public libraries in small, isolated, and economically depressed communities be shuttered in order to allocate funds toward expansion programs for facilities located near, and around our State’s Capital; an area with the population to support innovative fundraising techniques.  Thanks to the data provided in the proposal, we can see that Thurston County produces 55% of Timberland Regional Library’s revenue, but receives 41% of the budget, and while this may seem like a sad state of affairs for the library facilities in Thurston County, isn’t that kind of the point of belonging to a region(?) -- meaning that the libraries are stronger together than they would be apart.  Making money where you can in order to benefit the whole should be a point of pride for the well-funded facilities knowing that with their help they are doing an important part of ensuring equal footing for all community members within the region, but especially for vulnerable youth, and the impact it has on their education.  It at least used to be, when urban libraries were subsidized by the money generated rurally by the tax on timber sales, or have we forgotten that so soon?  As a society, we’ve come to a point where we’re beginning to view all of our supposed disparities through the lens of unfair hand-outs, instead of what they really are, which is a hand up.

Reading should be egalitarian, and free.  The Capital Facilities Proposal, as it stands today,  is one of the most vulgar displays of the worst aspects of capitalism, coupled with elitism, and segregation I’ve seen in our modern era.  The small, formerly robust timber communities who once propped up the TRL system for urban areas, now, after experiencing decades-long, dramatic economic shifts can expect to be further stripped of crucial community resources by the very system these towns created?  Let’s be clear, these “shifts” are nothing new, and yet, now is the time the board has decided to examine the unique challenges facing these counties?  Now is the time for people to have “courage” and “adapt to change”?  These communities have been changing, adapting, and having to scrape together courage just to hold it all together for the last 25 (+/-) years, and they’ve gone largely ignored as they persisted.  I’ve heard of being fashionably late, but the timing of this proposal, the faux-concern, and fixes outlined therein is just one insult after another.

Just as it can be dangerously short-sighted to assume everyone has the luxury income to buy every book they want to read, the technology and devices necessary to access digital media, and that libraries are losing business to Amazon, and the internet, it is equally naïve to think everyone has the means (both financially, and time wise) to hop in a car and travel 20 miles round trip to access all of the amenities local libraries currently provide.  Closing a building, and promising a fleet of bookmobiles is not going to cut it.  An Über-for-books might sound exciting at first, but we’re really just looking at a dressed up version of the “Traveling Collections” introduced during the first American Industrial Revolution, and expecting it to usher us into a glittering 21st century (never mind we’re well past a decade and a half into it by now) … Yes, that takes “courage,” indeed!  It’s worth noting that the implementation of a bookmobile only takes into account reading materials for entertainment purposes, as it ignores all aspects of in-depth research, education, volumes of reference materials, and access to historical records.  Loaning out e-readers is unlikely to alleviate frustrations either, unless in addition to the above complications, the following are also considered: Rare, and out of print materials, as well as the fact that not everyone has a safe place in which to use, and / or even charge fragile devices.  Mobile services also take for granted that everyone has permanent housing.  People with temporary, or transitional housing situations will not be well-served by a van intended to meet them at designated point-of-need sites in the same way that they are served by static buildings that are at constant, learnable, and stable locations in their respective communities.  Right now, on the Timberland Regional Library website, in order to be granted a library card, an applicant must furnish a physical address, and phone number, as well as a personal email address.  Assuming the vans won’t be opening up their passenger seats for patrons to peruse their selected materials, one needs a library card in order to take advantage of what a bookmobile has to offer.  This new service will exclude an entire swath of low-income, homeless, transitional, and vulnerable members of the community who could otherwise walk into any public library in the region, and so long as they didn’t remove them, have access to physical materials that suit their needs, and furnished accommodations with which to satisfactorily use them.  Not all library patrons are card-holders, nor can they be, by virtue of the application process.  In this respect it is not logical to expect bookmobiles and county “hubs” to effectively replace the fixed location buildings of local libraries.  It also calls into question the data (page 8) in the proposal illustrating the current population versus active library cards as if that is a reliable indicator for how many people actually use Timberland Regional Libraries annually.  Likewise ignored in that particular data, is the amount of people present, and actively participating in library coordinated events that do not involve the use of library cards.  Until there is a way to quantify that number or level of activity, a truly honest conversation about community engagement can not be had.

Additionally, public libraries are free meeting places where members of the community, clubs, and organizations may assemble without having to become some establishment’s paying customer(s), in a time where that is becoming increasingly rare.  By entertaining the idea of closing local libraries, we are all but ensuring the erasure of fixed or low-income folks from their own lives, and existences.  Not only is a move like that completely unfair, but it is cruel.

In the same vein, Librarians have been responsible for providing countless “free services” that go beyond their job description in these safe spaces located in our communities for generations; many of which have been walking distance to our schools, and downtown areas.  They have been teaching adults, and children alike how to read, or improve upon their current reading levels, how to conduct deliberate research, homework assistance, how to draft attractive resumes, as well as introducing patrons to new technology, and equipping them with the skills necessary to use it, and essentially instilling the dignity, and sense of pride that comes with taking control of one’s own betterment.  These people are invaluable to the locations they serve, and scattering them to the remaining, post-closure locations would be a devastating loss for the people who have come to rely on them. 

Without local, easily accessible libraries what else is left for children of these communities who weren’t born with a guitar or football in their hands?  There simply aren’t enough programs (school-related or otherwise) to engage local children, keeping them interested, and willing to develop themselves in constructive ways.  We have to ask ourselves, when everything good is plundered, is it any wonder why so many of the youth of these counties flee the moment they come of age?  The ones who do stick around are either tasked with the endlessly tiresome job of trying to breathe life back into communities gasping for air after being gut-punched, yet again, by another committee who seems more concerned about the numbers on a page, than what, and who those numbers actually represent, or they fall into the margins, and become the population the rest of us absolutely must care for, and protect.  For those of us who leave, or have left, we are completely overwhelmed by the convenience, and resources available the moment we step foot across county lines, and we resent it.  We resent that everything had to be so needlessly difficult.  We resent that the attempt to thrive had to be a fight.  We resent that the local economy couldn’t sustain all of us who wished to stay.  We resent the people who have never experienced how the effects of the closure of a single industry can devastate entire communities who, in turn, make decisions that will negatively impact places they’ll never live, and people they’ll never know.

Furthermore, I find it disingenuous to frame the conversation of these particular library closures on underperformance in the last couple of years, when the truth of the matter is, yes, many of these communities have been lagging behind economically, however, libraries across the United States have seen a steady decline in revenue beginning in and around the Great Recession (twelve years ago).  We know this, thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  We also know that library usage follows, not only funding, but strategic marketing as well.  According to Pew Research Center, large portions of the American public aren’t even aware of all of the services provided by public libraries; things such as: E-book borrowing, online career and job-related resources, online GED or high school equivalency classes, programs on starting a new business, and online programs that certify that people have mastered new skills.  All of this begs the question: Where was the sense of urgency for community outreach, marketing, and stopping the decline in usage over a decade ago?  In other words, none of this could have been a surprise for those with data at their fingertips, and with that being said, I’m asking that these towns not be punished for the Board’s failure to act sooner.

Aside from enthusiastic marketing, and flooding the region’s population with information on all of the services available to them through the public library system, one major aspect that could use a radical reconfiguration would be the hours of operation for Timberland Regional Libraries in rural areas.  If we’re being encouraged to consider creative solutions, then I think the first place to look is at the operating hours of libraries in small towns with large outer lying areas to cover.  A source of frustration for me personally, having grown up in Montesano, was how the library hours never seemed to correspond with the schedules of working adults / parents, or those of children with after school activities, and sports practices.  Having a library close at 5 and 7 PM during the week, barely gives children time to get home, eat, and put themselves together in order to get to the library in time.  It makes perfect sense that if the goal is to get more people coming through the doors, that the hours should be radically reorganized to make that easier to accomplish, and to suit the lives of the local population.  If quitting time for the typical job in the area is between 5-7 PM, that leaves only one day per week for anyone in that demographic to patronize the library, or chauffeur their children (especially families outside of walking distance who can not make other transportation arrangements for their children).  If the goal is to keep the 39 hour work-week model, then a 6 day work week of 6.5 hours per day operating from 2 - 8:30 PM not only fits within the currently allocated hours, but also gives more of the population a greater likelihood of getting inside a library more than once a week.  Obviously, weekend hours can be adjusted to earlier time slots to suit the needs of the community, but overall I’ve always believed that shifting the hours of operation to later evening hours during the school / work week does more to encourage activity, and help eliminate “dead hours” during the day when the majority of the people are otherwise preoccupied.  This is just one aspect to consider, and I’m sure if the community were allowed to put its collective head together with those of the Board of Trustees, that more ideas would be sure to follow.  I think all basic solutions should be seriously examined, and tested first, before closures are placed on the docket again.

From the outside looking in, these ofttimes romanticised sleepy little towns seem idyllic, but the truth is, they’re not “sleepy,” they’re on life-support, and the last thing they need is for someone to callously pull the plug by depriving them of resources, and services they’re desperate to keep, when there are other more compassionate measures to take. 

Sincerely,
Stormy Peterson

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Change is in the Air

 

Autumn ... the year's last, loveliest smile.


-William Cullen Bryant
(Indian Summer)
I doubt I will ever cease to be amazed this time of year as the best of Summer collides with the beauty of Fall.  All of the flowers are flourishing while the neighborhood foliage begins to put on its most glorious show pausing only for the bold, red punctuation marks dotting the casual holly tree who's been waiting all season to stop onlookers mid-sentence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Currant Affair

Summer is more than simply winding down in my neck of the woods.  In the span of a week I've gone from nauseating heat + socked-in smoke filled Puget Sound from the BC fires to bundling up in my amazing technicolor dream-sweatsuit.  And that can only mean one thing: Baking season has arrived!

Not just any baking season, either, thanks to Jennifer Esposito's cookbook, Jennifer's Way Kitchen, it's a gluten-free, allergen-free, anti-inflammatory baking season, and when you're loaded with as many allergies, and dietary restrictions as I am, this book is nothing short of a miracle.  Her commitment to providing vegan, wheat / egg / soy / corn, and refined sugar-free recipes really piqued my interest, but the fact that her baked goods are actually appetizing, and packed to the hilt with nutritional value (no empty carbs here!) was the refined white sugar-free icing on top!  The problem I've often run into with a lot of gluten / wheat -free cookbooks, gurus, and natural health dieticians is that they rely heavily on either pre-packaged, and processed "gluten -free" foods that have very little nutritional value, or their recipes are full of ingredients that sit on the list of the Top Eight most common allergens ... Seven of which I can't eat, and so find myself having to make enormous changes to any recipes I want to try, and saddled with more substitutions than is reasonable to allege that I'm actually following a recipe at all.  While I still have to make a few adjustments to avoid rice products, they are far, far fewer than any I've had to make in the past, and it's why I think anyone newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or who has wheat allergies & sensitivities, or a laundry list of other allergens you need to avoid I can't recommend this this cookbook enough.

And so it is, with Jennifer's help (page 234) I've created a Black Currant Banana Bread recipe that is the best of both Summer, and Fall that is a perfect treat for this time of transition.

Here's what you need:
1 Tbsp of butter (or butter replacement) to grease the loaf pan
2 Cups Jennifer's Way Bakery All Purpose Flour (page 211)
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Pumpkin spice mix (recipe here)
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
3 Ripe bananas
4 Tbsp + 1 tsp cooking oil of choice (grape seed, olive, coconut)
3 Tbsp Unsweetened applesauce (recipe here)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
7 Tbsp Canned full-fat coconut milk (additive free)
6 Tbsp Pure organic maple syrup
4 Tbsp butter (or butter replacement)
3/4 Cup Black currant berries (fresh or frozen - if frozen, no need to thaw)

Here's what you do:
Preheat oven to 325°F (350°F if using dry or granulated sugar / sweetener) & grease loaf pan.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  Using a stand mixer, mix the bananas, oil, applesauce, vanilla, maple syrup, and butter (or its substitute) until smooth.  On a mellow setting, continue mixing while slowly adding dry mixture, and coconut milk in alternating scoops.  Once the gang's all there, mix until ingredients are well incorporated, and finally, fold in the black currants.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).  Depending on your appliances, elevation, and weather your cook-time may vary, so be ready to check its progress and to tent the top with parchment paper to prevent over-browning while the mid section continues to bake.  Let cool completely before removing from pan (ease a knife around the inside edges of pan to ensure a smooth release), slice and devour!

The flavor of this dessert is truly unlike anything I've ever baked before.  There is something incredible about the combination of warming spices typically associated with Fall mingling with the earthy amaranth (ingredient in Jennifer's Way Bakery All Purpose Flour), and the fresh bite of the black currant berries that, to me, is everything that is right about this time of year.

If you do pop over, and decide to nab a copy of Jennifer's Way Kitchen: Easy Allergen-Free, Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for a Delicious Life, and you want to dive into some of her dessert recipes you'll want to also add these to your shopping cart:  Amaranth flour, arrowroot starch, potato starch, sorghum flour, quinoa flour, and xanthan gum.

xoxo

Friday, August 31, 2018

Dikya D.I.Y.


I've loved the sea, and nearly everything in it, my entire life, but there are a few tentacle-having friends that hold a special place in my heart; one being the Jellyfish.  Apparently, if Jellyfish show up in your life they are there to teach avoidance of danger, mistakes, and pain ... Possibly by stinging the hell out of you until you finally get it?

So, around eight years ago after seeing something in the background of a photograph of a woman's studio space I decided I needed to create a bloom of jellyfish for my nephew's sea-themed bedroom.  Years passed, and after seeing several people's creations (especially Sayuri Sasaki Hemann) but few attempts at any DIY tutorials, I'm coming at you with my straightforward method for low-cost, high-impact fiber art jellyfish.

For any needle-craftsperson, fiber artist, textiles artisans, or hobbiest crafter the necessary supplies should be pretty easy to come by.  Without further ado...

Here's what you need:
  • Organza fabric of your choice
(the amount is really up to you, but half a yard will give you a robust swarm of jellyfish) 
  • Novelty yarn (think scraps!)
  • Pinking shears, or candle, or both
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing needles
  • Beads of your choice 
Here's what you do:
  • Begin with cutting your fabric into uneven strips of varying widths.  I cut across the fabric from selvedge edge to selvedge edge, which is particularly helpful on delicate fabrics that tend to fray because the edges have already been "sealed" during production. For mine, the long, dark strips vary from 1/4" - 1/2", while the lighter strips start at the top measuring 1 1/2" - 3" and work down into a pointed tip.  The Circles that will become the "bell" of the jellyfish measure anywhere between 4" - 8" across.  Cut 2 of each for each jellyfish you intend to create (for larger jellyfish with bells measuring 6" - 8" you can increase the number of fabric tentacles for a full, and proportionate look).  
  • Zigzag (pinking shears) or burn the edges of your strips.  Both keep the fabric from fraying, while burning adds the extra crinkle that will make your jellyfish look more jellyfish-y.


  • Work out your colorway.  It's very easy to change the look and outcome of your jellyfish collection just by changing a few colors of your chosen yarn.  You can use the same fabric combinations for all of your creations, and they can end up vastly different from one another, just by switching up a few yarn selections, so, no you do not have to buy up an entire fabric store worth of organza to get different results!
  • Start cutting!
Checklist - 14 strands
24 inches: 2
42 inches: 2
46 inches: 2
48 inches:1
54 inches: 2
56 inches: 3
64 inches: 2

 (List of exact yarns above, in order left to right: Bernat Boa & Lion Brand Fun Fur, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Moonlight Mohair, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Lion Brand Vanna's Glamour, Lion Brand Incredible, Lily Sugar n Cream: 2, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Martha Stewart Glitter Eyelash, Lion Brand Fun Fur & Martha Stewart Glitter Eyelash ... granted, a lot of these are discontinued, and while you can find some skeins still floating around online marketplaces, this is just to give you a close look at what went into this project, and inspire your own creativity in selecting your materials)

  • Once you've got everything sorted.  Bundle 13 strands, and pinch in the center, using your one strand tie the bundle together with a sturdy knot.
  • Combine your large organza strips by slightly overlapping the tops (the wide ends), and securing with a stitch.









  • Do the same for your thinner strips.  Lay them in an X shape over your large tentacles, and securely stitch in place near the center
  • And once more, now with the center of your bundle of yarn matched up to the center of your fabric tentacles.  Stitch firmly in place, and finish with a sturdy knot. 

Bead placement
  • Now it's time to create the bell shape, in order to add it to the body of your jellyfish.  To do this, take one of the two circles you cut out and burned, or zigzagged earlier and run a simple straight stitch around the circumference about 1/4" in from the edge of the circle.  Gently cinch until a bulbous, or bell shape starts to form.  Knot, and work the stitches evenly through the fabric until you're satisfied with the shape. 
  • Assemble your cnidaria by knotting a length of thread at the end and running it up through the layers you just created: yarn bundle > thin tentacles > large tentacles, and now the "bell".  This is where I add a medium sized, clear bead to create space, volume, and movement in the tops of my jellyfish, and finally the second circular layer of fabric.  Run your needle, and thread back down through all of your layers, and bead, back up once more, down again, and knot.  
  • *Optional* Embellish the tentacles with beads, or other found objects for added interest, or use as or in part of a sea-themed dream catcher.
  • To suspend your creation, a thin 10 - 15 pound test fishing line will do the job.  Knot the end (especially helpful if you know fancy knotting techniques!), or tie around a medium sized bead so the knot won't pull through your layers of fabric and yarn, run the line up through the layers the way you just did with sewing thread, and create a loop at the top.  That's it!
  • Finding your own style... Now that you see how it all comes together, and how simple it is (even though this post is wordy, there are really only 4 steps, and the whole assembly process aside from burning the fabric takes less than 5 minutes) you can decide how plain or gaudy you want your creatures to be.  Search around for different types of jellyfish.  For a fluffier Portuguese Man of War, or the Black Sea Nettle look, simply run a straight stitch up the length of your pointed organza fabric strips and gather the material down your thread, or add bits of mesh, and tulle to the collection of tentacles.  For the South American Sea Nettle, you could skip the yarn altogether, and use more organza strips for more light catching shimmer and translucence.  For the appearance of movement, use wired ribbons, or soak a selection of your materials in, or spray with fabric stiffener and shape on a protected surface, and let dry prior to assembly.  If you're minimalist, pare down the 14 strands of yarn.  If you want your jellyfish to feel at home in your country cottage, swap out the shiny organza for your favorite quilters' cottons torn into strips of varying widths and throw them through a wash & dry cycle to fray them up, and consider combining with bits of lace.  The point is, this post is just the jumping off point (plus, I know someone out there is going to do something remarkable with a set of fairy lights).
If you've created an entire bloom of jellyfish, and are eager to suspend them together, or are creating a mobile for a child's bedroom, THIS might be the "how-to" you're looking for.

 xoxo

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Happy Blogiversary!



I started this project (ten[!] years ago) when I needed something nice ... Something that felt good to visit ... A chill little place in the corner of the internet where strangers weren't fighting each other, a place to come to breathe, and restore.  That's what it's been for me and I hope that's what it's been for you as well. 
xoxo 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rosewater D.I.Y.

FTC Affiliate Disclosure
So, I've already shared with you my Rosy Cheeks Toner recipe, but I kind of glossed over the steps to make your own rosewater at home.  Allow me to break down my process:
In this batch: Leaping Salmon & Pink Peace
First things first, I use the simmering technique, because it's faster, easier, and requires fewer supplies and less set-up time.  Also, because I use up my rosewater so quickly, I'm not worried about extending the shelf life the way the distillation method can.  For more information on the distillation process, check out Sheerin's video for Eve's Cafe, here.
To Simmer
Here's what you need:
  • Rose petals,
  • Filtered or previously distilled water,
  • Small pot or saucepan with lid,
  • Mortar and pestle,
  • Mesh strainer,
  • 4-cup glass measuring cup,
  • Glass bottle, or container for storage

Here's what you do:
Gather a small selection of organically grown, pesticide-free rose petals.  Since I'm growing my own, I'm only going to need 2-3 roses with blooms that measure about 4" across.  If you're using miniature varieties, you'll obviously need more flowers than this ... This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" kind of project, but as long as you've got a nice little heap of petals, you're good to go!

In a colander (or large mesh strainer) generously rinse rose petals with clean, room-temperature water to remove any dust, film, debris, or little friends that made their way indoors from the garden.  Give it a good little jostle to make sure both sides are getting rinsed.

Next, bruise your petals.  This can be done any number of ways, I gather them up, and gently mash them with my mortar and pestle.  Gently tearing, collecting in a storage bag and pulverizing with a rolling pin, or even meat tenderizing mallet will work just fine.  You don't want to bash them beyond recognition, just give them a good massage to encourage them to release their natural oils, and fragrance.
Place bruised petals in a small pot or saucepan, and fill with just enough pure water to submerge the petals, and cover with lid.

Over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer, and let your petals luxuriate in their warm bath for 30 minutes, until they have lost their color.  Remove from heat, and let cool.

Once cool, using your mesh strainer and glass measuring cup, pour the contents of your pot into the strainer catching the rosewater in the measuring cup below.  Be sure to use your pestle, large spoon, or other implement to gently press the wilted petals against the mesh of the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible.  You may need to strain a couple of times in case any particles slip through your mesh.  When you're finished, store your rosewater in a glass jar or container until you decide what you're going to do with it.

I go straight into making my Rosy Cheeks Toner by combining the following in a Ball® 4 oz. Miniature Storage Jar (simply freezing any leftover rosewater in a tray until I need it for another recipe):

2 oz rose water
10 drops palmarosa essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

Witch Hazel's acne-fighting, inflammation, and oil reducing properties coupled with its ability to eliminate bacteria on the skin, and hasten the healing process of skin wounds, and infections partners perfectly with Rosewater's pore tightening, pH balancing, and soothing (to the point of clearing up certain rashes completely) aspects.  Adding to that, Palmarosa's skin restorative, regenerative, and rumored anti-wrinkle properties, along with calming Lavender's balancing, and cellular reproduction enhancing effects this concoction creates the perfect team in this cooling astringent.  I know people who carry it in little misting bottles for a pick-me-up throughout the day.  I store my jar of toner in the refrigerator, and with a little shake to make sure the ingredients are well mixed, and the dip of a cotton ball, my skin gets an extra refreshing Summer treat! 

Also!  For the gentlemen in your life, Witch Hazel & Rosewater make strong contenders for aftershave ingredients.  You may need to butch up the scent a bit by using essential oils other than Palmarosa, and Lavender depending on your guy's taste, but the two to one ratio of the main liquids gives you a great foundation to build from.  If you're interested in making products for men at home, and need a little guidance, a couple of good resources to check out are: The Directory of Essential Oils, and Body Care Just for Men.

xoxo

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Burn, Baby Burn

Twin flames definitely exist. So do liars, and manipulators who shape situations to appear to be random, or fated-to-happen because of some cosmic guiding force. Being re-located for work, and running into a long lost lover, or childhood sweetheart is a lot different, to me at least, than stalking social media, and learning a person's patterns in order to place yourself on their path to have a seemingly uncalculated meet-cute, just to say "Look, proof! Twin flames! I knew it all along!" 

Don't do that.  It's creepy.

On top of that there's the crowd who over-exaggerate their love-lives to make it all sound so much more fantastical, and exciting than it really is in order to feed a severe hunger for attention, adoration, and admiration from their peers. So it's little wonder that it's a bit of a minefield out there. And it's also why I'm not quick to believe every gum smacking girl who, like, totally has a tubular twin flame, and somejunk.

Not every love is going to be a "twin flame" type of love, and nothing's wrong with that. All this fad-language has taught me is that it's got everyone all hyped up over something many may never even experience in this life (and feeling bad about themselves and their situation if they don't). Right now it's twin flames, and before that everyone was on a wild goose chase for a soul mate. I can't wait for the next New Age "thought leader" to coin a term for the thing that will be even GREATER than twin flames, so everyone can ditch this ideology, and flock to the new shiny word, and then start feeling bad about themselves and circumstances because they don't have a "Dinglehopper Dick" yet, or whatever it'll be called. I mean, it's starting to look like a page out of the Star-belly Sneetches' Playbook at this point with people frantically searching for one thing, while getting bored, and cashing in something perfectly good in the meantime. When did just falling / being in, and experiencing plain old love become not good enough?  When did love become so ordinary we decided we needed to create a new term?  

Love, real love, is absolutely radical.

With nearly every single love-experience being labeled "twin flame" it makes me doubt just how many people have ever actually experienced love at all. To me, it's not something that has to be dressed up, upgraded, or made to look any better than it already is. Love is perfection as is (that's not to say perfect love = perfect relationship), and anything less is infatuation, or lust. Not that I think the twin flame journey is just a dressed up version of love, it's that I think a lot of girls who talk about it describe it that way, as if it's actual love, but it's a little more like love holding a Balenciaga bag.

It's not that I don't believe. I do. I also believe in love at first sight, and all the other ooey-gooey good stuff. I just think I need taller boots sometimes to wade through all of the manure, especially within the self-help community, and soul vibe-y online magazines.  I also don't fully understand why anyone would want to pretend or convince themselves that they're having a Twin Flame experience anyway?  If you have one, or you've read enough about it you know it's a lot of hard work, a lot of forced introspection, and oftentimes (especially if you're fighting the growth) a lot of frustration.  Maybe people cling to the hope that the label offers in order to explain their own hardships, pain, or confusion that are sometimes present in adult relationships.  Perhaps it hurts less, or is somehow comforting to believe the dysfunction is connected to a higher purpose, or greater plan.  All I have to say to that is: Love doesn't hurt.