Same Same But Different

Same Same But Different

Times change, but people not so much.  There are always reasons.  Things move so fast in our internet-driven, 24/7, high-speed society that it’s hard to assimilate everything all the time, so instead people lapse into familiar ways and patterns, a form of stasis perhaps, but keeping up often requires way more energy and free time than most of us have.  As a result, we are all guilty of a certain rigidity of thinking.  

Now before you say, “not me” let me just say I know who you are because I am you.  One time, long ago when Catholicism was all I knew, I thought that everyone who wasn’t Catholic was wrong and only I and those who thought like me were right.  Thank the heavens I got over that.  All it took was a comparative religion class for starters, where I heard, quite clearly, people of different faiths saying THE EXACT SAME THINGS about God that I was saying.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Today, it’s happening again for me, but this time it’s politics and the people who think the exact opposite of me politically are saying the exact same thing about my guys (used in the generic sense of the word) as I’m saying about their guys, sometimes at the same time, which is when we laugh and look at each other knowingly.  Hallelujah for a break in the stalemate at the court of public opinion!  It happened to me the other week with my neighbor who’s great, just not his political choices. 

Coincidentally, he thinks the same about me.

I believe you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts.  My mother used to admonish us kids to keep our opinions to ourselves.  In a society of over-sharers, there’s something to that.  Maybe if people kept a few opinions to themselves once in awhile our nation wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Anyway, over the course of conversation with my neighbor, we both said we couldn’t believe what Candidate [fill in the blank] was doing, and when we both used the same words about our respective candidates AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT, it dawned on me:  we are entrenched and we are never going to get anywhere, never going to get out of it or remedy it, never going to do the “full speed ahead” kind of maneuvering we need to save a planet that is very clearly trying to shake off the human component of its existence, unless — we honor our differences.

That’s right — Honor Our Differences.

It’s hard.  I’m not going to lie.  To think that our newest Supreme Court Justice could undo decades of advancements for women with a few strokes of the pen makes me apoplectic.  But I know from whence she came in all her conservative thinking because I was once her.  But people can change, yes, sometimes they can even surprise us as Pope Francis has done on more than a few occasions since he took over as the head of the Catholic Church with his message of inclusivity for all.

To move forward we often need a push to find fulfillment and balance and an understanding of the process of transformation.  Perhaps the world needs a life coach, or as my friend Kelly says, couples therapy.  Generally, the only way to have trust in the process is to make it a collaborative one, something that’s been missing in the U.S., especially in religion and politics, for many years.

Access and consensus are imperative. 

Siloing is destructive. 

People who believe in God telling me I’m wrong because I don’t believe in God the way they believe in God seems illogical to me, maybe even unethical.  To them I say, has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?

Very few things that have worried me have come to fruition.  I’ll take that as a win, not because my worrying solved anything, but because it all worked out despite my interference.  And things I’ve thought about people have not been true, or maybe things I’ve never thought about them have been true.  Either way, my preconceived notions about people should not be the litmus test; everyone needs an opportunity to prove themselves and to be that which they came to this planet to be.  Everyone.  Even people with whom we  disagree vehemently as in God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions.

So what is the next version of US?  What does U.S. 2.0 look like?  What needs to change?  What should stay the same? 

Try to recall a picture of yourself from childhood.  Do you recognize who you are today?  Maybe.  Can you go back to that person?  Not without a time machine.  Shouldn’t we as a nation do the same?  Take the best parts of our lives and incorporate them into the next version of ourselves and try, really try, to work on the worst?

My friend and life coach —yes, I got a life coach this year to help me figure out the next version of myself:  Pam 2.0! — Mike told me a story about how when he was little — maybe 8 or so — he used to walk a blind man to the bar on the corner where the man could get a beer.  There was never any spoken agreement between the two.  Mike just saw him one day and knew where he was going so he’d grabbed the man’s arm and walked him to the bar and waited until he was done and then walked the man home.  While there, the blind man drank a beer and he always bought Mike a coke.  That’s not why Mike did it.  He didn’t need that man to buy him a soft drink.  He did it because even as a young child Mike was driven to service and he knew the man would appreciate his help.  Plus, he got to hear the blind man’s stories and in that, Mike got his first taste of listening, a skill that completely supports his current side gig and maybe someday full-time job as a life coach.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Who you were as a kid is who you really are underneath all the learned behaviors that society forces upon us.  Your true soul energy had a powerful current running through you when you were a born and it continued into childhood and lives within you today although it may be a bit more tamped down or even ravaged than the original.  That doesn’t mean you should give up trying to connect.

Tap into your soul now and try to remember what it was that drove you.  Reconnect with the essence of your younger self and get some answers for the you of today.  While you’re at it, have a little tolerance for yourself and the rest of the world.  Give thanks for small incremental changes rooted in love. They are the very best and most lasting kind.

Take the saboteur test and let me know how it goes:  https://www.positiveintelligence.com/assessments/

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  I am grateful for the power of a free-thinking society that is tolerant of diversity and always evolving, always rising to the challenge and striving to live life in harmony with nature and one another.  God bless us — Every One.

pam lazos 11.29.20

Posted in teach tolerance, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Message from the Future

 

Thanks to Rosaliene Bacchus for her wonderful post at Three Worlds One Vision showcasing this beautiful and hopeful video.  If we all hold the vision, the years of repair can become a reality.

“No one is sacrificed.  Everyone is essential.”

Today is 11.20.20, and if you live in the Central Pennsylvania, it’s the day of the ExtraGive, a day to donate to your favorite charities, to give back to the community that in so many ways gives to you.

A few of my favorites are the Lancaster County Conservancy for all their work saving woods and water; Off the Streets run by the enthusiastic and indefatigable Deacon Oles and a small, but committed staff of volunteers who work tirelessly to get the homeless off the streets and into affordable housing one family at a time; and my beloved Jr. League of Lancaster with their myriad projects, especially those undertaken by their Girls in STEM committee.

Thanks for reading.

pam lazos 11.20.20

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World Toilet Day – Nov 19th

The Throne

Bathroom

Loo

Water closet, or WC

Outhouse

El baño

Stall

Porta-potty

Latrine or pit latrine

The Throne

Whatever you want to call it, access to improved sanitation is a right due to all people.

If you live in a place where having a toilet in your home is a common occurrence, where water is pumped right to your sink and available at the twist of a faucet, where steaming hot water flows from a shower in intervals as long as you want or can stand it, give thanks, not once, not twice, but every day.

If you live in a place where you must leave the house to use a common toilet that offers privacy, if not luxury, give thanks that you do not have to go off to a field somewhere to defecate.

communal toilet

And if you live in a place where water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH, are difficult to come by, know that there are people and organizations such as Water.orgWorld Toilet Organization, and of course, Global Water Alliance, working to ensure access to WASH for all.

The U.N. estimates that 4.2 billion people worldwide live without safe, sustainable sanitation. The U.N. has made it one of their Sustainable Development Goals — SDG#6 — to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all people. This is not just about charity work or even simple human caring. The economic and health benefits of improved sanitation for all are indisputable.

So take note of this day — World Toilet Day. Together we can make WASH a reality for all people. Don’t let this moment in time go down the drain.

Posted in access to sanitation, Uncategorized, world toilet day | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

The Future is Flush

And don’t forget to wash your hands!

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World Toilet Day and the East Kolkata Wetlands

                                                                                             [inundated wetlands]

And why working with nature is always best…

Before we talk about the East Kolkata Wetlands, let’s establish what wetlands are and why we should care about them.

While the regulatory definition of a wetland is complicated, the average person recognizes wetlands as marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, bayous, and the like, basically, swamp-like places that are wet and mucky and hold standing water.  Wetlands are important for a variety of reasons:  they control flooding, acting as a safe harbor for flood waters to recede slowly rather than rushing off downstream via stormwater drain conduits; they filter out toxins — such as heavy metals, oily contaminants and excess fertilizers and pesticides — that would otherwise reach the rivers, streams and groundwater by capturing them in their soils; and they provide a home to a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in watery places, among other things.  Coastal wetlands act as a barrier between the mainland and the ocean, giving that vast body of water the space to expand and contract as storms and winds dictate, providing a much needed buffer in times of severe weather.

While we appreciate the value of wetlands here in the states, in at least one part of India, their lives and livelihoods depend upon it.  The City of Calcutta has a population of five million people with an additional two million “floaters” — those without a permanent home — and no wastewater treatment system, but what it does have is a gem of a natural treatment system in the form of the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW).  The EKW are considered the City’s biggest asset. In 2002, these amazing wetlands were recognized as a Ramsar Site for the benefits they provided to society.

In comparison, imagine the City of Philadelphia with its population of 1.5 million without sewage treatment as it was at the end of the 19th century. Everything ended up in the streets and, ultimately, the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers.  Even with a population somewhere shy of 55,000, that was an incredible amount of sewage for Philly’s rivers to manage.  Beginning in 1901, the City of Philadelphia began building sand filtration plants; by 1914 in response to an outbreak of typhoid, chlorine treatment had been added, resulting in a  dramatic decrease of water-borne diseases.

By contrast, Calcutta doesn’t use chlorine, but works directly with nature to bring about the same result. To quote Dr. Arun Deb, a founder and Board member of the Global Water Alliance in his recent editorial entitled, “Engineering History and Heritage,” by ICE Publishing:

“The EKW is an example of wonderful large wetlands, demonstrating that a city can have a large symbiotic ecosystem that provides sewage treatment, aquaculture and agricultural lands for the city, generating livelihood for thousands of people.”

To read Dr. Deb’s full editorial, click here.

World Toilet Day is November 19.  To learn more about it and what you can do to assure everyone has the right to take a seat, click here.

pam lazos 11.11.20

Posted in access to sanitation, access to water, clean water | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Blue Moon

[photo courtesy NASA]

 

Blue Moon

Maybe the Man in the Moon has never been thirsty, but if he were, things are about to get better for him.  According to NASA, there is water, not only on the dark side of the moon, but on the sunny side, too.  Not much, still about a hundred times less than what’s in the Sahara, but perhaps enough for one man.  Now that we are planning to send the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface in 2024, it is best they get some training in diplomacy in order to establish “a sustainable human presence there by the end of the decade.” 

However, if go the old fashioned route, colonizing the moon as has been done on other continents, fighting and tripping over each other to get at the resources — because the thought of such economic opportunities is indeed grand — then the life of the Man in the Moon will be in great danger indeed.

Do we dare recall a few things from our history?  Let’s give it a shot.

[Blue Moon over Central PA — All Hallows Eve — 10.31.20]

Colonizers have never played fair, not anywhere, not in Australianot in Asia, neither in Africa, nor the Americas.  Just ask the Native Americans, or the Aztecs, or the Aborigines, or any people so overcome.

We hope to have fixed it all with Indigenous People’s Day, — finally reaching a moment in our history where we say no to serfdom and yes to common effort, working together to treat each and every human being with dignity and rights —but we still have a ways to go on that and so we keep working. 

Why am I writing about all this when I promised you a Blue Moon?

Well, my fear is that the news about water on moon will be met by corporations across the earth wanting in on the pirate’s booty, looking to get their hands on whatever the moon has to offer — minerals, water, even just moon dust probably has a value here on earth — and in so doing they will exploit the moon as they exploit the earth, without regard to the effects on humanity, on the environment, or on the interactional activities between the moon and earth since something that can cause the oceans to rush in and out each day is obviously packing some serious mojo.

Before we muck up the balance on yet another planet in an effort to cash in on its resources, there should be a few ground rules, or maybe moon rules, that will result in fair access to lunar resources that benefit The Commons and support all of humanity, not just a few corporate interests.

For example, we should not think of the moon as a possible landfill for earth’s waste  Instead, let’s adopt policies of sustainability, policies that do not deplete the moon’s resources in a few decades or even a century, basically the opposite of how we’ve done things here on Earth.  We’ll need much more than a Youtube tutorial to adopt such a system.  Since we’re starting from scratch, why not adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the beginning of this ride and not after the fact which always leaves us destined to play catch up.

[Blue Moon over Central PA — All Hallows Eve — 10.31.20]

I suggest universal legislation as a way to make exploration of the moon fair and equitable for all.   (I can hear businesses groaning already — not more legislation!)  International treaties can help avoid the worst scenarios such as in the Amazon, Colorado, and California, which happen to all be burning right now. 

Most importantly, just because you can do something — smart or stupid — doesn’t mean you should.  Foresight makes infinitely more sense than hindsight where overuse of a resource that belongs to all of us — think mining, extraction, excavation, digging, dredging, and/or despoiling — is an abuse of power and ultimately an unsustainable use of that resource.

In these situations, rather than the tragedy of the commons, let’s apply the rule of the commons.

 

What if we approach the Moon as a common resource shared by all, serenaded in all cultures, the light on all lovers’ paths, the aspiration for dreamers, the home of one man that entertains the dreams of all men?  

And when we finally find Mr. Moon, let’s be diplomatic and democratic — because he was there first, and it is his house.

pam lazos 11.8.20

Posted in corporate pilfering, moon, NASA, pirate's booty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Actually Vote!!


ACTUALLY VOTE!!

There’s a wave coming, and it’s been building in size and intensity for quite some time here in the U.S.  No, I’m not talking about Hurricane Zeta that hit the Gulf Coast and left over two million people without power.  My heart goes out to the people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas who have been  hit with storm after storm this year — an atmospheric instability brought on by climate change that only a very few still don’t recognize as a legitimate threat to humanity.

But this is #WATWB Friday and I’m supposed to be posting feel good stories, so I’m going to do one better with this “hella catchy” video, as my oldest said, about getting out the vote.  Our world suffers greatly from overuse, over consumption, and an overworked planet, wreaking havoc on all species, including humans.  Isn’t it time we gave Momma a hand and did our part?  Remember, people, there is no Planet B.

My oldest also said something the other day that made me tear up. I can’t recall the exact words because I got all verklempt when she uttered them, so struck was I by their essence, but the gist was:  how exciting it is to be part of something so big – a cultural evolution in the making that, hopefully, is gonna turn this world around, making it better for everyone.

To that end — and man, I hope you’re eligible — get out and Actually Vote. If you need some motivation, listen to this hella catchy tune!  Go ahead, make it trendy!

 

It’s the last Friday of the month.  Time to share the good news on We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by the good news.

If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, you know, that kind of stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media using the #WATWB hashtag;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link to the WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list.  This month’s cohosts are:

Sylvia McGrath,  Mary J. Giese,  Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and  Belinda McGrath Witzenhausen

The idea is to spread #positivity and #light to counterbalance the #negativity and #darkness in #socialmedia these days.

Now quit reading and GO VOTE!!

pam lazos 10.30.20

 

Posted in trendy, Uncategorized, vote | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

Fallen Princeborn: Chosen

 

Happy Sunday, blogger family!  This week we’re going to hear from my fabulous friend and First-Rate Fantasy Writer, Jean Lee whose book, Fallen Princeborn: Chosen — currently available for pre-order — will be live in TWO DAYS!

If you are like me, after reading just a few pages of Jean’s work, you will quickly realize: she’s a writer’s writer!   And it doesn’t stop there.  Weekly, Jean distributes great writing advice like some give out Halloween candy.  I’m going to let her tell you all about it.

Take it away, Jean!

Hellooooo, you wonderful creatives and lovers of the Earth! Fantasy author Jean Lee here. Pam invited me to stop by and say hello, and so here I am to talk about turning nature’s blessings into villains. I hope you’re ready to consider and chat—I’m excited to see what you have to say!

We’re all familiar with “traditional” forms of Nature as a villain: typhoons and twisters, floods and famines.

A season such as Winter can be the antagonist of a story, or a vicious storm driving characters out of safety. Even the environment simply being itself is enough to be a force that works against a protagonist’s goals. A reading experience that has always stuck with me as a child was Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. For all my love of magic and mayhem at that age, I was riveted by the plight of Brian alone in the wilderness. There were no werewolves there, or sorcerers, or even a jewel robber in hiding, yet the story is more than one child surviving the elements. It is a story of overcoming one’s inner darkness while learning without aid how to acquire basic needs in an environment that does not readily provide them. It’s about understanding what truly matters. It’s about believing in oneself. It’s about coming to terms with where you are as well as where you hope your life can go.

Not bad for a story about a boy marooned in the woods.

When magic is thrown into the storytelling mix, all bets are off. Wizards throw buzzards at one another, ghosts kill people in their fog, tornadoes transport people to fantastical realms, and so on. When we see Nature, a force unto Itself, controlled by someone or something else, we are SCARED because this is something we are incapable of doing. (Unless you’re Gerard Butler in Geostorm, I suppose, but that’s not exactly reality.)

Now let’s shift, just a smidge, away from weather. Let’s consider an element of Nature we don’t often consider villainous.

Trees.

I love love LOVE this time of year because of the trees. The gorgeous reds, yellows, and oranges (or crimsons, ambers, and vermillions, if you’re listening to my son Biff’s lecture on tertiary colors) warm my soul like a campfire on a crisp autumn evening. I can’t help but wonder how TreeBeard from Lord of the Rings would have looked in Autumn. He is such a kindly soul in The Two Towers…that is, until he discovers Sauron’s devastation of the forest.

When TreeBeard summons the remaining Ents to war against the Orcs, we witness the strength of bark and branch against Orc forges and weapons. We root for them (ba dum CH!), Nature’s taking back of the land from Magical Industrialization.

But trees are not always allies.

One park my children enjoy visiting is populated by a dozen oaks. They are easily three to four stories high. Their shade is a blessing in the summer months, and their falling leaves are a joy for my daughter to catch. In winter, though, their skeletal form towers and intimidates me. They became an inspiration for a line of henchmen-like characters in my new novel Fallen Princeborn: Chosen, which comes out later this month. In the first novel, the evil Orna, Lady of the Pits, refused to give up control of River Vine, a cursed land whose shapeshifters survive by feeding on human desires. The Princeborn Liam defeated her and sent her back to the Pits, but she has returned to fight Liam and Charlotte, and she’s created new abominations from her Incomplete followers.

One side of the thicket tears up like dandelions picked by a greedy child. In the Pits, Orna had melded the Incomplete with scraps from the cursed white tree.

Not this time.

Charlotte’s dwarfed by this Incomplete melded with a giant oak bleeding veli and oil. Its branches thrash with thorns, shredding green leaves into confetti that fall into Arlen’s eyes as he closes the distance, into Dorjan’s hair as his blue eye shines cold steel. But Charlotte can still smell the animal inside the trunk. Up near the top of the trunk she sees a humanish jaw, a rabbit’s nose. One hairless rabbit ear. Buck teeth past the chin. Fleshy paws bleeding black sinews, rooting it to the tree. A furry chest too small for its ribs—two bones ooze oil outside its skin. Its screech is neither animal nor human. It’s worse.

Intrigued? If you dig magic and mayhem with a little romance in a setting of dark fantasy, then I hope you’ll check out my Fallen Princeborn series. The first book, Stolen, is available in paperback and e-book format and free on Kindle Unlimited.

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte runs away. She takes her bratty younger sister Anna with her, swearing to protect her. However, when their bus breaks down by a creepy old farm, the inconceivable happens—Anna is wiped from human memory.

But something inside Charlotte remembers. So she goes over the Wall in a frantic rescue attempt, accidentally awakening a once cruel but still dangerous prince, and gaining control of a powerful weapon, his magic dagger.

Charlotte’s only chance to save Anna hinges on her courage and an uneasy alliance with some of the very monsters that feed on humanity.

Welcome to River Vine, a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

Stolen is on sale before the second instalment, Chosen, hits the virtual bookshelves on October 27th!

CHARLOTTE’S FAMILY MAY NO LONGER REMEMBER HER NAME,
BUT HER ENEMIES WILL NEVER FORGET.

Charlotte just wanted to start a new life with her sister Anna out of the reaches of their abusive uncle. When their journey led to Anna’s disappearance from human memory, Charlotte hunted for her sister and the mysterious creatures that took her behind an ancient Wall that hid a land of magic the world had long forgotten. Charlotte woke the Princeborn Liam Artair, and with his return the conflict between factions of the magical Velidevour turned cursed and deadly.

Now Charlotte must end this conflict before the land of River Vine and the inhabitants she’s befriended are consumed by Orna, Lady of the Pits, who is still very, very eager to see her beloved return. And Orna is not the only one who wants hold of the Princeborn Liam’s heart. These Velidevour come armed with firey wings, crimson claws, and pale fire, and like dead magic, they know no kindness.

The Bloody Days are soon returning, and they will not end until a choice is made, a choice that could tear the heart of River Vine apart.

Fallen Princeborn: Chosen is a direct continuation of Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury.


My deepest thanks to Pam for letting me share a little magic and Nature with you all. I’d love to see what you think about Nature and magic—whether you find something else in Nature to be villainous/heroic, or you consider Nature to be magical enough without the help of wizards and witches. 😊 If you dig what you see, you can check me out in various nooks and crannies of social media.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeanleesworld

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeanleesworld/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012373211758

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18139027.Jean_Lee

Website: https://jeanleesworld.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Princeborn-Stolen-Platinum-Parts-ebook/dp/B07JYLFQP4/

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Posted in book release, books, Uncategorized, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Sincerest Form of Poetry

I will make no attempts at tomfoolery or to convince you as to the veracity of something which I am not — a poet.  Truth is, I am a shallow well when it comes to the art of poetry, much as I’d wish it to be different.  I’ve tried my hand, as they say, but what I’ve produced is so disjointed and tone deaf I can’t make a case for it.  So I will stick to what I know and leave the poetry to the experts, one of them being my fellow writer and blogging friend, Geoff LePard.

Geoff is a lawyer, like me, and a writer, like me, but unlike me, he has a way with a sonnet, a limerick, a free verse, even a haiku — a gift he inherited from his father — and which he continues with a renewed vigor now that he’s retired from the law.  Spurred on by ongoing convos with his adult children, as you will read below, Geoff has set out to capture in prose the essence of a climate in crisis.  I’ve no doubt you’ll be delighted.

Geoff’s latest book, The Sincerest Form of Poetry, and Geoff’s other books are all available on Amazon whose carbon footprint we will hold off on discussing until another day.  At the end of our poetry session,  you will find links to all of Geoff’s books.  I urge you to take a look around.  Apprenticed to My Mother is my personal favorite.

Forthwith on behalf of the environment, and with a zeal and a steadfastness of purpose that the boomer generation forgot it had, is the beautiful poetry of Geoff LePard with an intro by Sir Geoff himself.

  

My Poetry

All of life in one easy couplet

To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.

When I began writing poetry I felt the principle driver was emotion. It was the difference between an urge to write – prose – and a need to write – poetry. I sought out subjects with which I had a passionate interest and began to explore the different subjects in poetry form.

It didn’t take long before the issue of climate change drove me to poetry. It is something I feel compelled to write about, but often times my frustration at the lack of political will and understanding leaves me over-articulating my thoughts. It is easy for me to get on a roll and keep rolling, often steamrolling my opinions onto others.

In poetry’s necessarily constrained forms, I found a place to curtail such ‘exuberance’ and thus make my points in a more considered way. This was especially so with the sonnet in particular, what with its rigidities of length, rhyme and meter. By accident, I stumbled upon a method of conveying my feelings without the customary exponential growth in verbosity that would accompany my usual considered delivery rant.

This poem, which appears in my new book, The Sincerest Form Of Poetry first saw the light of day in 2008.

A Springless Future

Cold Jack, content and job well done, creeps home

Allowing Spring her turn to warm the earth.

Crocus tongues push out through softening loam

As glass-eyed shepherds watch their flock give birth.

We, unplucked youth, prime cocked with urgent sap,

Feel the tug of Nature’s call to breed.

Like sheep, we follow Her bewitching map

To plant, in fertile earth, our febrile seed.

Yet somewhere Nature’s diverse scheme is lost;

Our black-fueled lust sears seasons into one.

Our greed neuters Jack; he’s become a ghost,

Sharp fingers culled by a remorseless sun.

Why should our lambs breed, after this breach of trust?

We’ve fried this once green Earth, turning it to dust.

***

Its genesis was a family dinner. My son was 18, my daughter 15 and we had been discussing the latest egregious example of political feeblemindedness. At one point, my son challenged me as a representative of my generation to ‘stop bleating and do something because you’ve had the goodies and left us the mess.’ I had to agree and we batted back and forward how that might evolve. Then my daughter chipped in, wondering whether her generation would bother to have children given how bleak the future seemed.

That brought me up short. Over the next few days, I struggled to find a way of capturing the essence of what she’d said. It finally led me to write a very first draft version of what became this poem. After chipping and chiseling away at it, I was quietly pleased with the result and the sentiments I’d captured. The increasing lack of the customary distinctions between the seasons here in the northern hemisphere was apparent to all. Yet, nature hasn’t let us off ice-bound winters to bequeath us balmy Mediterranean temperatures, but rather has upped the dial to gas mark seven and challenged our Victorian drains with regular pulses of monsoon rain. Inevitably I focused on our obsession with hydrocarbons, laying the blame at that firmly in that direction.

It works as a piece of propaganda, for sure. It turns on that rather glib and frankly simplistic assertion and neatly makes its point.

But the more times I re-read it, the more I realised I’d written the wrong poem. It never totally worked as I’d originally intended. For the poem I sought to pen was aimed at addressing my daughter’s concerns, her personal view on how she would deal with such a changing world and find her place within it. What I’d written just wasn’t about her at all as it should have been.

So I took the essential elements and recast my net to look for the correct way of expressing the depressing situation from her view – or maybe it would be better to say, from how I perceived her view. Thus, six years later the next poem was the result. And because it was for and from her, it contains one essential element with which the young constantly surprise me when viewing the planet: hope. She’s not Greta [Thunberg], but she believes in the power of the collective to deliver.

 

A Sonnet For Our Time

Beat of a butterfly wing, rippling out;

Hope spills its dry seed, craving a drop

Of Humanity. From such scintilla a crop

May shoot, stalling the crippling doubt

Which is the lot of the young. Untrammelled

By life’s cares, she hesitates. A tasting step,

Toes tentative, muscles taut, not yet adept

At the world’s ways. Her chest is pummelled

By a heart, so pure and love-absorbent,

Caressing with her eyes, embracing those

Who reciprocate her joy, who will choose

Her above the clashing cymbals and discordant

Noise. Fresh youth will archive veneration,

Reel in tomorrow without hesitation.

***

She knows, like her brother these days, like so many others of her generation that it’s pointless waiting for us to perform what should have been our basic duty – to hand on the planet in a better condition than we received it. Rather than, as he did at 18, get angry at our failures, they are willing to try and see if there’s a way to shift the dial and not wait for their turn to run things. If that means appreciating her father has feet of clay at an earlier time than I did of my parents then so be it. There really is no time to lose, just as much as there really is no planet B.

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

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Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

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In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

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The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?

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Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015

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Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

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Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

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Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages

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Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

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Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

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When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.

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Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poetry selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.

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Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

 

 

***

Thank you, Geoff, for your wit, wisdom, and inspiration.  As you point out, the autumn of the earth is upon us.  Time for us to get busy.

pam lazos 10.18.20

Posted in book promotion, book release, books, Uncategorized, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Janjay – A Story About Water

This year I joined the Board of the Global Water Alliance in Philadelphia and have gotten to see first hand just how extensive a reach the GWA has.  So many of our GWA partners are writers, educators, academics, and leaders in their fields in addition to being Water Warriors and Chantal Victoria Bright is all of these.

A first generation Liberian-American, she knows the woes associated with a lack of access to clean water, especially as it impacts young girls, and has written this delightful book — Janjay — to shine a light on the problem because only light can eliminate the darkest parts of us. Chantal has dedicated Janjay to “all the little girls around the world who travel long distances just to provide clean water for their families.”

With Janjay, Victoria Bright is “teaching Children through literature about environmental health risks associated with drinking water access in developing countries.”

I’m going to let Chantal tell you her own story:

On my normal one-hour commute to work while standing on a crowded London Underground train, I started typing on my mobile phone, what would become the beginning chapters of my first children’s book entitled, Janjay.

Janjayh is set in the small West African country of Liberia, the birthplace of my parents. When my parents were growing up, Liberia was safe, economically prosperous, and to the outside world—a model African country for newly formed decolonized African nations. But, behind the image, was internal rumblings of conflict between the minority elite Liberians—who had run the first independent Black republic since 1847 and the majority oppressed Liberians. After the 1980 coup d’état, and assassination of the sitting president in 1990, the country would undergo fourteen years of war—killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying the basic infrastructure such as electricity and water sources.

I was born in America, but I spent the first few years of my life living in Liberia before the conflict really began and my family fled the country to seek refuge in the States during the early 90s. Returning to America seemed the natural choice for my parents because they had both pursued higher education in the U.S. Even though I grew up in America, my heart was always in Liberia. I returned in 2006, after the end of the conflict, to discover the once developed capital left in shambles. I was drawn to the impoverished neighborhoods and children –particularly young girls who I witnessed to be smaller than the buckets of water they towed on top of their heads or carried in their arms often while wearing school uniforms. I think this is when it all began for me. The passion for wanting to help improve access to safe drinking water in developing countries. But how?

Over the years, I took part in civic engagements on access to clean water, attended events, volunteered with charities, dedicated my studies to water security. I always found a way to include the message on the importance of clean water access. When I started penning (or digitally penning) Janjay—I really wanted to highlight the lack of safe drinking water access. I wanted the story to be authentic to Liberian culture, so I incorporated local language. I wanted to move away from the narrative that only poor communities lack access to clean water because that’s not always the case, and also dedicate the story to girls around the world like Janjay who travel miles only to help provide clean water for their households. But water access is such a serious and heavy topic. How could I appeal to children who are unfamiliar with these circumstances without drowning (excuse the pun!) the story in technical knowledge? Most importantly, I still wanted to preserve the dignity of girls who face these issues as a part of their daily activities. So, I decided to include a great deal of humor and showcase the main character as a smart and adventurous girl who came from a middle-class family of four (because yes—these families face the same challenges) and describe Janjay’s life in Liberia like any other kid around the world. Whether children live in a small village in India or a big city like London; they all still more or less enjoy the same things. Janjay likes to read, eat her favorite dessert—papaya pie—and play with her friends. The only thing that sets her apart from children in the so-called ‘developed world’ is that she has the added responsibility of collecting water for her household. The plot centers on how one day Janjay finds herself distracted by afternoon fun with a friend, which causes her to neglect her duty of collecting water for the family. She later discovers the seriousness of her actions and learns a life lesson about disobedience and the important role she plays in her family.

Lack of safe drinking water access is not exclusive to low-medium income countries. Environmental injustice still exists in more economically thriving countries such as in the U.S. I know first-hand, because I was one of the kids in Philadelphia who attended schools where I had to purchase bottled water if I forgot to pack it. While children in Philadelphia are not walking miles to collect water from wells, some Philadelphia students can’t drink water from the drinking fountains at their public schools because of lead contamination. Today, Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water and unfortunately it is not the only other city in the richest nation in the world to be without safe drinking water access.

Janjay was published in 2017and the success captured the attention of the U.S. State Department-Africa Regional Services Nouveaux Horizons. The book has been translated to French, Janjay, La petite porteuse d’eau. The French edition of Janjay ismarketed in French-speaking Africa, Haiti, and distributed to American embassies to support programmes.

When I wrote Janjay I set out to deliver three key messages. First, offer representation of Black characters in the children’s book industry where diversity is lacking. Second, bring awareness to clean water access. And finally, demonstrate how women and girls are traditionally responsible for water supply in the household.

The sequel to JanjayJanjay goes Upriver is set to be released in the early part of 2021. This time, with a little less humor, a lot more drama, and with a focus on sanitation and access to toilets.

Chantal Victoria Bright is writer, blogger, and academic. She is a first-generation Liberian-American. Due to the civil wars in Liberia, her family sought refuge in the United States where she grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science (dual course) from Seton Hall University. She is pursuing a PhD in Water Security and Environmental Peacebuilding in Liberia at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Twitter: @channi_v ; Instagram: @channi_v; LinkedIn: chantal-victoria-bright524;  www.chantalvictoria.com;

Purchase Janjay here

Illustrations designed by Adebayo Dare

Thanks for reading!

pam lazos 10.12.20

Posted in access to water, clean water | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments