Normal People Anonymous Support Group

I’m thinking about starting a normal people anonymous support group.

Members have the right to define normal for themselves but not for anyone else in the group.

You’re anonymous to each other, at least at the start of your membership.  If you surrender your anonymity with another member, that’s okay.  You can still attend, together or separately, but it is recommended that you come out of the closet about it, for your own good.

If you have sex with somebody in the group, that’s normal, even if you remain otherwise anonymous to each other.

You do peer-led programs, activities or projects together, such as 12 steps, meditation, yoga, hiking, book study, nature study, photography, joke-telling, litter cleanup, gardening, sailing, canoeing, singing, teaching disenfranchised children how to fish, putting Kahlil Gibran in every hotel room, Christmas caroling in July, picketing industrial cattle and chicken growers, making art together, including music, Amazon forest fire-fighting, skinny-dipping (peer-led), putting on a play about climate change and domestic abuse of males, or what-have-you things that normal people do.

The normality of the activity is as beheld by the peer leader, and you quietly accept it and have fun, perhaps expanding or shattering your notions of normal, and squelching the ferocity of your clinging to them.

The peer-led things, the anonymity, and the group dynamic are good for you.  You affirm this aloud in unison at every meeting and outing, holding hands in a circle, a perfectly normal thing to do with strangers.

The anonymity is to help avoid the stigma of being normal, even more normal than most others are.  In the group, you can enjoy — if possible — a place where you can be non-judgmentally welcomed by similarly frustrated normal people.  You define “non-judgmental” loosely, considering its extremely elusive nature, like unconditional love.

You take it all lightly with good humor because you all know that normal exists only from your perspective in the mirror.  That is the guiding principle.  Take your normality lightly.  You affirm it together in unison, religiously, sorta.

Copyright 2019 TheBalsamean.comOver time, with consistent participation, you may be able to give up excessive notions of your normality, as one might give up excessive drinking, smoking, or gambling, and be freed of the pathetic frustration you inflict upon your deluded self.  Amen.

Take your normality lightly.

The VanWestervelt Declaration and Sacred Texts

Sometimes just saying something does make it so.  Sorta.  For example: The Declaration of Independence.  I have another declaration to suggest we use, as individuals.  It throws the user into an immersive encounter with principles of being an American.

Rus VanWestervelt is an educator and writer in Baltimore (and distinctly, proudly of Baltimore).  You can meet him at thebaltimorewriter.org.

He is also a compassionate, contemplative philosopher (in my view), things he would not say on his resume or business card.  He has good taste in meditative music, too (so sez me).  He put six minutes of Deuter on his Samadhi Sanctuary page.

Yesterday, the Fourth of July, I had the pleasure of reading his beautiful article, A Declaration, where he reflects on patriotism in a personal way from childhood to adulthood, learning along the way that the nation does not always live up to its principles.  In his continued commitment to those principles, he reminds readers of the Emma Lazarus words at the Statue of Liberty …

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she / With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

… and he takes it much farther by doing something I don’t recall ever seeing done in school or in any public celebration or at home: he presents the complete text of the Declaration of Independence, and asks us to “Please read every word. Every single word.”  (copy below)

Then he writes, “On this day of independence, on this day that we celebrate everything that America stands for, I offer a Declaration that is a little less of the grandiose and a little more of the introspective contemplation of what it means to be ‘American.'”

With his permission, I share it here, and embrace it.

  • I declare that, as an American, I respect the rights of my neighbors, regardless of political affiliation.
  • I declare that, as an American, I open my arms to the homeless, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses. 
  • I declare that, as an American, I embrace the independence and individuality of my neighbors as long as that independence and individuality does not bring harm or injustice to others.
  • I declare that, as an American, I shout my encouraging words, my art, my music, my ideas, my beliefs of what is right for all to the world regardless of the risk of suppression or judgment.
  • I declare that, as an American, I work hard to support my community, to be honorable in my efforts, and to offer good will toward others who contribute to the wellness of our country.
  • I declare that, as an American, I embrace inclusion, not exclusion, and my words and efforts shall carry opportunities instead of consequences. 

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Longfellow Deeds’ Beautiful Hiking Companion Girl

“I used to hike a lot through the woods, and I’d always take this girl with me,” said Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, 1936, opposite Jean Arthur’s sneaky, conniving two-faced Mary.  Enjoy the rest of Mr. Deeds’ romantic speech in this one-minute clip.


Alternate Link to this YouTube video.

“Pet trees,” he said.

Right then, in that touching moment, he made an imaginary girl become real, but neither of them knew it.

I’ve done it, and knew it.  We had a good time.  Then she went away and I got another imaginary girl.

Longfellow sounds like a Balsamean-kinda’ guy.

This post is for the laughter it gets in an office 26 miles from here.  If anyone else enjoyed it, get the movie.  It’s fun.

Oak Tree Trilogy Part 1 – Sentinel Oak

20150819 Driveway Oak 02b me txt

Sentinel Oak with The Balsamean’s head in the lower branches to be removed soon. Remove the branches, not the head.

In 2005, the birth year of Balsamea, my father asked if there were any oak trees on the property.  I had not seen them.  Over time, I learned that there were many red oaks.  They are one of our minority trees, but the mature ones number about one per acre, and there are dozens of seedlings and saplings.  We would have many more oaks, were it not for the deer munching on their buds every winter.  I have seen them kill a 3-foot healthy oak in two seasons.

On that day in May 2005 when I closed on the property purchase, I immediately installed a cable gate across the entrance.  Dumpers had abused the property, a practice that ended that day, and became a considerable process of remediation for me.  Still I find things resurfacing from below ground.

While opening space for access to the right trees to attach the cable, I noticed two little red oaks about two feet tall each.  One was in excellent condition.  The other was crushed under a fallen gray birch.  I left the latter alone to grow in its own way, and it has done well.  The former, I nursed and lightly pruned over the years, to encourage a nice geometric shape.

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How to mix deer, campfire, tin foil stew, dog, photography and grace

oscar-deer-20140906e-notxtDeep in the woods there is a great way to ensure that you get fantastic wildlife photography opportunities.  Leave your camera home.

I’ve said before that our deer population is too high, and this year more than ever.  Among the family here, there is one deer that has learned that Buddy and I are harmless.  Harmless enough that in the woods he lets us come close enough and stay long enough to discuss life.  The deer doesn’t say much, but he seems to be interested in what I say.  Stupid things humans say to wild animals.

Keep in mind that Balsamea is densely forested, surrounded by forest on all sides, and many miles of it, with a smattering of houses.  Our deer have not acclimated to people by their suburban gardens.  Deer at Balsamea are wild.  As they should be.  Just one of them is getting too familiar with us since mid-summer.

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Being Thankful

I went to a wedding where a little boy carried the rings up the aisle on a fancy pillow.  As he walked along, he growled loudly like an animal.  When asked why he growled, he said, “I’m the ring bear!”

I am thankful for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the National Public Radio news quiz show, where I heard this ring bear joke, and where, unless your sense of humor is badly broken, I guarantee you plenty of smiles, snickers, chuckles and laughs during each one-hour show.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so I felt obligated to say at least something about being thankful.  Blogger duty called.

A bit more seriously:  I asked myself earlier this week what I was most thankful for.  Instantly, without thinking even one second about it, my mind, such as it is, went immediately straight to …

(drumroll, please)

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Moose Scat

Now this is what I’m talking about, when it comes to really good scat identification technique.

I’ve never seen one, but I hear there are some bobcats in our area.  But there are lots of things I’ve never seen, which is good, because there’s always something new.

As to scat flavor, I think I’d prefer vegetarian pellets, such as this moose scat I found during a hike on April 30, 2013, scattered in several piles within a five minute walk.  Either there was one very prolific pooper on the route, or a whole family.

These are large pellets, roughly half the size of a walnut.  A few of them would be a mouthful for anybody.  I wasn’t hungry enough.  (Click on any picture to get even more up close and personal with these darlings.)

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Buddy, my canine companion

Buddy-01

Meet Buddy, Prince of Balsamea, resident health coach and therapist, human-walker, fellow forest lover, wildlife warden, stick and ball player (mainly in the game of keep-away), tug-of-warrior, warm fuzzy friend, and expert daily comic relief provider.

These pictures span 2007 – 2012.
Click any picture to scroll through them in large size view.

Click any picture to scroll through them in large size view.

“Buddy, don’t step on those.”

“I did so NOT step on your precious Cladonia stellaris lichens!”

This actually happened exactly like this.  I wanted a picture of those lichens (whitish in this picture) to go with the set I published here earlier (see my post, The Best of Being).  I thought he was about to step on the brittle lichens, so I gently said just those words.  His reply came through his usual telepathic mind-melding, plus his body language.

Got a photo-biography of your animal companion?  Share it with us!

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Wind Slayer – Scribblement 20130223

20130223.  A nice date brought to you by 0, 1, 2 and 3.
Congratulations to all of today’s newborns.

WARNING:  This blog is for my entertainment more than yours, including the parts that you contribute.  Apparent indications to the contrary should be viewed another way.

NOTICE:  You are reading the blog of
The Conqueror of the West-Northwest Wind.

colorful weather map

I enjoy clearing snow, but not when it is solely to remove drifts, without the benefits of fresh, significant snowfall.  In this context, the Balsamea Dictionary 8th Edition defines “significant” as at least four inches of snow within twelve hours, preferably at least once per week from Pearl Harbor Day to Saint Patrick’s Day.

Lately we’ve had more snow accumulation by drifting than falling.  It is an annoying pattern where one or two inches of snowfall gives you up to a foot of drifted accumulation in all the wrong places, and it keeps happening for a stretch of contiguous days, including days when there is no snowFALL, just snowBLOW.

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