Julie in Michigan

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I’m gonna talk about God today

I have a spiritual advisor, a woman that I speak with daily. She gives me a question to write and the following day I read her my answer.

Today’s question was about the role that discipline or the lack of it has played in my life. I won’t bore you with the details except to say that both were considerable in length and the disciplined areas of my life far outweigh the undisciplined.

Where I am undisciplined is related to an area not readily seen by the outsider looking in. Let’s just say that upon occasion my emotions overrule my head. But, because of the mix, my life has been a colorful, lively journey. I wouldn’t trade it. When I was very young I made a decision that I didn’t want to end my life looking back with regret at adventures I didn’t have. I won’t be. I really don’t have many regrets. The ones I do are where I’ve hurt others.

I have to say it’s been a lot like going to my brothers. He lives out in the country and I when I find myself driving to visit him, it’s usually on a pleasant, sunny afternoon. I frequently get lost.

He’s told me that he’s come to expect the phone call (Thank God for cell phones), as I tell him where the landmarks are and where I got off course and he give me directions back on, that sometimes will mean another call or two before I get there. He knows not to hold dinner for me, but he leaves the porch line on because he knows that eventually I will arrive.

Those veers off the path don’t change his feelings for me. They are my opportunity to explore the countryside and get a feel for it. I sometimes meet and talk to people along the way. I lean toward the back, country roads and usually stop at produce stands, caf├ęs and garage sales. It’s an enjoyable day for me and he and I have a chuckle about it as we sit and talk before bedtime.

It’s a lot like that for me with God. I’m heading in his direction, but he knows I probably won’t arrive in time for dinner, or while I’m still in human form, but if I keep heading that way, making calls, asking for help, eventually I’ll get there. If I wasn’t heading in that direction, I’d never get there.

As I write this I think of the Footprints in the Sand verse we’re all familiar with. I don’t need God to carry me all day every day instead of walking along side him, although there were times in the past I did. And he wants me to walk directly toward him, but sometimes I still take those detours. I usually get back on track, before I stray too far and get totally lost. But, I really never need to let go of the hand that’s always available. That will always be there to keep me on the path. He doesn’t want me to miss dinner but knows that it’s up to me to decide if I want to reach for his hand.

He’s keeping the porch light on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rob Says

Here he is again, right on target for this week as I finalize my business plan and foresee letting someone else do the actual coding for a website I am designing.

“Some celebrities have hired ghostwriters to communicate for them via Twitter. In a recent tweet from rapper 50 Cent, actually sent by his operative Chris Romero, his fans were told that "My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends." I hope you won't follow 50 Cent's lead in the coming weeks, Leo -- either in the sense of hiring a ghost-Twitterer or in the sense of following your ambition down a tunnel that never ends. In my astrological opinion, you need to work on eliminating middlemen and go-betweens as you pursue your ambition through sunlit fields that lift your spirit.”


The sunlit fields that lift my spirit put me at the keyboard solving coding dilemmas. I know, I’m weird.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Craigslist Boot Camp

To everyone who may not know about Craigslist Foundation, let me start by saying that Craigslist is one of the very few, probably the only, Websites on the Internet that attracted millions of visitors to its site during 2008, while its founder managed to refrain from selling out to the billions of dollars available from the sea of investors that endeavor to make money from an Internet audience. Some may think of that element of big business as unscrupulous.

Craigslist postings are free to millions of everyday people without cost and to professional headhunters and apartment rental agencies, for a fee. Craigslist uses these dollars to support the site, creating a common good for all of us. The income received over the necessary expense of running the site is used to good purpose.

Craigslist Foundation is the non-profit organizational business model that operates the popular Website and utilizes part of that money to operate an annual Boot Camp in San Francisco.

The purpose of the Boot Camp is to connect the nonprofit community with their peers, potential supporters and resources to help the sector work more effectively. It empowers nonprofit leaders to get the resources they need to help effect change. The Boot Camp itself does not result in any economic profit to the Foundation.

This year Craigslist Foundation will operate its Boot Camp on June 20th in Berkeley, California. The very nominal fee for this one day event is $75. I want to go. I can pull together the $75.

Transportation, meals and housing will be a larger expense. I need some help with this aspect of attending.

My goal of creating a nonprofit venture to help an underrepresented and unsupported segment of our society, by creating a free social networking and informational source Website for them, while keeping it safe and private, is my goal for 2009-2010. If you would like to help me get to Boot Camp in Berkeley, CA this year, so that I might further educate myself on the process and connect with possible supporters to make it possible, I invite you to contribute to making this trip possible, either through the PayPal link that sits on the left border of this site or by publicizing the fund raising endeavor to those who might be able to contribute.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Courage to be Successful

We often think of fear of failure as presenting the highest challenge to stepping off into a new venture, a new lifestyle, a new endeavor, but I think the other side of that coin is more prevalent for some of us.

Not that I haven’t enjoyed a modicum of success in this more-than-a-season lifetime I’ve been here, but not to the degree that I have a vision might be in the making.

I plan to graduate in a few weeks. I’ll be receiving a degree earned from an institution of higher learning, that only in the last few years became a reality that I had any thought or consideration might be one that I would enjoy.

Leaving high school earlier than graduation, I had visions for us of the marital bliss that I saw around me and a husband I thought was to be my permanent partner. He’d been my first boyfriend and as I continued down that path bearing two children by him, I assumed we would weather the storms and settle into a lifestyle similar to our parents. My innocence was probably typical of the age bracket.

Returning to high school night school a few years later and then classes at the community college to prepare myself for a career that would support raising my children by myself, I saw my highest future, sitting at a desk with a regular weekly salary and necessary benefits like insurance and sick pay.

That goal soon was overshadowed by that of a career in computer programming, and after struggling for a few years, was fairly easily reached. It was a little more challenging to achieve and required a move a thousand miles away from my family, friends and the place of my birth.

But, it too, was soon enough, filled with complacency and I yearned for a higher purpose.

Floundering through the creation of small, homegrown businesses and acquiring licenses to perform various and sundry practices, the plans weren’t mature and the addiction to the money provided by the corporate career, of too high a value.

This century and life itself provided an opportunity for me to leave the safety of a skill that came easily and naturally to me. I needed a new plan and a return to school was imminent.

That was 5 years ago and much has changed in that time. I’ve moved back to Michigan, quite unexpectedly, due to the death of my former husband and long time close, personal friend. I’ve all but abandoned any consideration that I will return to computer programming and corporate life. I’ve been educated.

I received a more than worthwhile education from Texas Woman’s University. My world view is larger and more in depth. I truly can see the big picture. I know how a lot of it works.

And now, I begin to see a keyhole, an opening in the universe, where I can insert the skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years to an idea that has been calling for attention from within my psyche. As I write the business plan, I begin to see that it might really work. That’s the scary part.

This morning I have lots of work left to do on the assignments remaining for this semester. I really must put aside my thought of tomorrow and work on today. I will. I have the requisite self discipline, honed to an art form. I’ll eat, drink, breath and think about what’s in front of me today and I’ll get it done in a timely manner.

But tomorrow, tomorrow is right around the corner and I see the light starting to increase as I approach the end of this hall and soon will be able to round the corner, with full expectation of the light of God that is waiting for me.

I can do it. I know I can, I always have.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I’m becoming part of something bigger

AmericanTowns is a website that offers communities their own website with individualized information for all sorts of local events and has locals blogging about them (me too)! We create our own content on the site, allowing them to provide information, including local news articles (who has time to read the newspaper?), events (farmer’s markets & fireworks schedules), best gasoline prices in the area, sports events, social activism, statistics and much more. Lake Orion’s link is just below Dilbert.

Looks like I’m going to be creating a website for a moving company! Men of God Moving is owned by some great people that I met during a ~very~ stressful time in my life. They were a God==>-send. Watch for the link to show up soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It was a Beautiful Snow that fell this April in Michigan.

The Real Deal

I read my horoscope. I admit it. Just one though, Rob Brezsny’s Freewill Astrology.

While I was in Dallas, I got hooked on Rob’s read for my week. He posted in the Dallas Observer, one of those free alternative periodicals. Initially I read it just for entertainment purposes; he has a clever way with words. However, I soon noticed how right on he was, not necessarily for astrological life guidance; I mean, ~Come On~ but just his perspective on life.

When I stopped adding paper to my home and started being guided by the re-duce, re-use, re-cycle thought line and got more into internet feeds, I marked him as a favorite online.

It’s interesting though, I don’t necessarily think the answer is in the stars, but how timely and coincidental his recommendations are. I agree with his perspective and the suggestions would be appropriate for most weeks in my life. He just hits the target on the right week. How? I don’t know.

This week he says, “French President Sarkozy's best friend, advertising mogul Jacques Seguela, has an unusual way of measuring success. If you don't own a Rolex watch by the time you're 50, he says, you're a failure. I'm inclined to propose the opposite: If you do have a Rolex watch, no matter what age you are, you're probably a failure. To be attached to such a conspicuous status symbol is a sign that your values are dominated by the transitory trivialities of materialism. Where do you stand on the matter, Leo? It's a good time to think about it, because you're in a phase when clarifying your definitions of high achievement is important.” http://www.freewillastrology.com/horoscopes/leo.html

I’ll tell you where I stand on the matter. I think the advertising mogul referenced in the post is way off target for me. The timeliness of Rob’s advice however, in this season of my life, as I contemplate initiating a business plan that just might be very successful, is the reason I’m writing about Rob. I’m strongly considering a nonprofit organizational model.

Craigslist Foundation runs a Boot Camp every year out in San Francisco. This year it’s an opportunity, scheduled for June 20th , for participants to enjoy a time-out as they come together as part of a network of do-gooders from all over the globe, sharing and inspiring one another, while we learn a thing or two about running a socially responsible venture.

That idea about abandoning blogging for a few days didn’t last long, did it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Second Life

I’m going to have to abandon this blog for a few days, now that I’ve spent way too many hours on it, yesterday and the day before. I’ve got some big assignments due that must be completed, well, and in a timely manner. I hesitate to admit it publically, but I’ve been in work avoidant mode as I’ve spent way too many hours researching videos and coding for this site.

How can I say its work avoidant, and not just taking some time off for R & R? Because last night I was up until almost 4am, working on Julianne Mexicola, my alter ego in Second Life. In other words, these last few days, I’m still sitting in front of the computer, still typing, still gazing into the screen, but I’m not moving forward on my projects, I’m Playing!

If you aren’t up to speed on Second Life, take a few minutes to view the videos at the bottom of this page, below all my blogging. The video selections, which aren’t individually picked by me, just the topics, are gifts from YouTube. The heading is Second Life and they tell who, what, where, and all that stuff about this do-it-ourselves, virtual world being created.

Before I go off on another tangent, and make it an SL kind of a day, I’m going to leave it to you, my reader, to do that yourself and hope you enjoy visiting the 3D world. If not, please, please, get into the discussion on community gardens or urban farming or something. Feel free; in fact I encourage you, to comment on my posts.

Or follow me, something only the crazed attempt to do in the real world.

Monday, April 6, 2009


So what is Urban Farming? In Detroit, seriously? Yes, it’s happening. The alternative to leaving the trashed vacant lots empty and useless as teams of Detroit residents are getting together with help from organizations like Earthworks Garden/Capuchin Soup Kitchen, The Greening of Detroit and MSU to work together creating community gardens.

Community gardens provide food security, healthy choices at that, especially for low income persons. They usually are created in an open space and provide areas of fellowship. They help form strong bonds between neighbors, working together to provide food, while enjoying nature and healthy exercise. Most importantly they provide sustainability.

Community businesses can do that too. Do we need a large corporation to come and build a factory so that we can spend eight hours or more a day inside making widgets to sell to people who don’t need more stuff? Can we create a business where we work together, sharing the load, each person doing work they enjoy and do well, contributing to the whole, creating a useful product that we can sell at a reasonable price and still make a profit? Can we become sustainable in our own backyard?

Something to think about.

Soap Making

It’s that time of year again - Farmer’s Markets and Arts & Craft Fairs, that is. I heard rumors, nothing positive, that Lake Orion might be hosting a FM this year. I’ve sent an email request to the Village Offices for a vendor application, just in case, but haven’t heard back yet.

I’ll be heading to Dallas in a few weeks for the final presentation in my last class, of my last semester in business school and will quickly return, loaded down with personal favorites from the storage unit and high hopes that one more trip will eliminate that monthly bill from my budget.

Soap-making supplies will be included on my list of things to remember as I load the van for the return trip to Michigan. I have plenty of space here to set up a soap-making kitchen and store the bars as they meet the curing requirement.

I’m excited about the possibility of getting back into the fun (and work) of this creative endeavor. Who knows where the trail may lead me?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

One thing always leads to another

I pick up a piece of thread and an hour later, I’m amazed to look around and see where I ended up.

Last week’s Free Press had an article on Farming Detroit. Wow, that’s positive. Things are looking up. The work of organizations like Detroit Garden Resource Program, Greening of Detroit, Detroit Agricultural Network, Michigan State Extension and Earthwork Gardens came to my attention when I simply Googled Farming Detroit.

A huge movement is underway in the city that I once visited only during daylight hours and escaped promptly at 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Having grown up in St. Clair Shores, Detroit had a reputation that only worsened after the sixties riots. When I left in 1981, I felt like a deserter and I was. I sought career opportunities in the Southwest and I found them. But now I’m back.

Having visited Lake Orion this past summer for the first time in my life, I fell in love with the abundant lakes, trees and curvy country roads. I live downtown and walk everywhere. I’m finishing up my degree from Texas Woman’s University and am looking into continuing my education in Oakland or Wayne County. Wayne State University attracted me because of the online distance classes. No, I really didn’t want to spend too much downtown Detroit, but there was a certain flavor to the air in the WSU area that I remembered fondly from the old days, especially at Traffic Jam & Snug, one of my all time favorite pubs that I was so glad to still standing and thriving. So, I am just so pleased to see the community gardens and the personal investment into the city of Detroit.

I’m already working on my garden here in downtown Lake Orion. I’ve got the green light from my landlord and collected twelve bags of leaves from my sister’s house in Ferndale that are waiting for the site to be ready. I’ve enlisted a fellow from the neighborhood to till up my spot and plan to get some landscaping timbers this week to frame it in. Full steam ahead as my mouth is already starting to salivate at the thought of home-grown organic Michigan tomatoes in the backyard, next to cucumbers, onions, squash and peppers.

I decided to Google community garden Lake Orion Michigan and found a blog post from someone looking to start a community garden here. Yikes, maybe there is even greater hidden treasure in this lush little village that I’m falling in love with, than I originally thought.

A new tenant, a lady about my age, is moving into the upstairs flat of this quaint house that I rent this weekend and I’ve already told her to feel free to take a patch of the garden for her own. But maybe, there are others. Who knows where this is going. I’m just following threads and enjoying all the flowers I get to stop and smell along the way.