Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!!!


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Look at the photograph above.  Can you guess where it is?  Click on the above link to look at a larger and more detailed version.  It is just beautiful.

Happy Hannukah to my fellow Jews!
Merry Christmas to my fellow Catholics and Christians!
Merry Kwanzaa to my cross-cultural friends!
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Happy New Year to all my dear and loyal blog fans!

I've been thinking about what I have accomplished this year.  Sometimes it makes me a little sad, but other times it makes me incredibly happy.  To be honest, I cannot wait for 2013 to start.  I'm already so over 2012.  So many fabulous events are going to occur in 2013...I can hardly wait.  Here are my top five accomplishments for the year 2012.  I'm sure there are more...I'll think about it even more and report back next week.

5.  The Successful Slaughter of the hen named, "Butterball."

4.  Successfully raising two Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats, Trixie and Vincent (Vinnie) Van Goat.

3.  I saved both "Daisy" and "Griselda" from the brink of death when they were egg-bound.

2.  I figured out a bizarre behavioral pattern, which deeply affects my loving relationships.  More to come...

1.  I am most proud of finishing my manuscript, "How I Learned to Smile From The Inside."

What were your biggest accomplishments?  Think of ten!  Think of twenty!  Think of them all.  I would love to hear them!  Please email them to me.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

1)  Next week, I will share my Resolutions for 2013.
2)  It appears my book will available on my website (SethSantoro.com) and Amazon as early as February 1, 2013.  Yeehaw!
3)  I cannot wait for my new great position at an incredible company.  I feel it coming real soon.  Hopefully sooner than later.
4)  Thank you for reading this.  Thank you for coming with me on this journey.  I guarantee next week will even be more eventful than this year.
5)  The photograph above is actually taken in Puri, India. Incredible, no?

Christmas in Milan, Italy

A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOW DO WE EVEN BEGIN TO HEAL FROM NEWTOWN CT???


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I am not going to talk specifics.  So, please don't worry about that.  The details are far too gruesome and terrible to have in our lives over and over again.  I am also not going to make this a political blog about how I think all automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be banned from the hands of anyone.  Nope.  Instead, I want to talk about a subject about which I know a great deal.  How To Deal With Trauma.  Trauma touches all of our lives.  Every last one of us.

I don't know about you, but last Friday, I was a mess.  Let me briefly explain a little of what I went through last week.  First, I need you to know that I went to Samuel Staples Elementary School, in Easton, CT, which was about 12 miles from where this horrific event occurred.  I knew I group up in different times and I probably do NOT know anyone currently in Newtown, just a short 12 miles away, but it hit home.  Boy did it hit home. It hit me in such a way that I could not even concentrate.  Clearly, we were all beyond affected by what happened.  I was devastated.  I was in Shock.

1.  THE SHOCK OF TRAUMA - "Whoa!"
Once the news hits, it's like a torpedo straight to your heart.  The body, however, has one of the strongest defense mechanisms known to humankind...Shock.  Your mind will NOT allow the information through until such time as you can properly and appropriately handle the traumatic event.  We don't really know why.  It just happens.  But, thank god it does.  Shock -- it does a body good.  We all experience it the same way. 

2.  THE MOCK-CCEPTANCE OF TRAUMA - "I'm fine!"
Over the weekend, I was busy.  I kept telling myself that I was fine.  That everything was going to be okay.  That I didn't want to know anything else...I knew enough.  Remember, though, the details of what had happened weren't 100% clear as of Saturday.  This is sort of a fake acceptance, which coats and protects you from the truth.  I loved my world where everything was a-okay.  It was nice and peaceful...the calm before the storm, if you will.  Everyone will also pass through this "blissful" phase, no matter how short lived.  The mind is a powerful thing, no?

3.  THE OVERWHELMINGNESS OF TRAUMA - "Ugh!"
Ugh! says it all, man.  This is the part where all of our emotions come through.  For me, it was Tuesday morning when I read through the entire CNN timeline of what had occurred last Friday.  The tears were flowing and I could feel my heart racing.  At times, I thought I was going to throw up.  I was upset, sad, and angry.  These feelings are important to feel.  They are not bad.  They are all constructive and we must plunge through them to get to the other side.  Remember, there is sadness and anger and then there is overwhelming sadness and anger.  All unique yet poignant emotions.

(I myself am somewhere between Overwhelmdom and Learning with this Newtown catastrophe.)

4.  THE LEARNING IN TRAUMA - "Ohhh...Wow!"
Once the overwhelming feelings subside, there will come a time of reflection.  This reflection is where we stumble, where we pull up our sleeves, and where we eventually grow.  Inevitably this event has already changed anyone who reads about it.  It is how we move forward that will show our strength, our resolve, and our livelihood.  There will come decisions in the next few months, I suspect, that will shift our consciousness a bit.  That's good.  That's what growth and learning is.  I say, let's all welcome it!

5.  THE EMBRACE OF TRAUMA - "Yeehaa!"
Last, but certainly not least, we need to eventually accept what happened (emotionally - speaking).  We will never forget the situation -- it will always remain in our hearts.  Once in acceptance, we can then take the final step toward Embracing what happened as a necessary evolutionary step in our lives at humans, or as our culture as Americans.  I can't say I'm even close to this point right now, and sometimes, it's just not possible.  It's some place for which I personally strive with all my traumas.  Again, sometimes we just can't!  In this case, I just don't know if it's possible.

Horror is horror and this was absolutely terrible and mind-boggling for us all.  So, how do we even begin to heal from this traumatic ordeal?

In order to heal, we need to acknowledge the process happening to us.  The more aware we are of our own individual process, the more poignant and constructive our healing can be.  It takes great courage and determination.  We each have the capacity to climb the insurmountable with inner strength, hope, compassion, and love.  Follow the above plan and watch yourself.  Be kind to yourself this week too!

Lots more to come on this topic of trauma and healing.  I promise!  :)

FINAL THOUGHTS:
1) Shout out to my good friend Ciara for her new blog (which I love) http://tgfrl.com/.  Check it out!
2) My apologies for being late this week by 24 hours.  It has been quite the week for me.
3) I hope your Hanukkah was fab!  Please create a safe, happy, and healthy Christmas and Kwanzaa!
4) When President Obama wept, I couldn't help but clench my heart and cry right along with him.  It was beyond heart-wrenching.  And so honest!  God, I love him.
5) I should be receiving the electronic version of my book any day now...and the first physical copy of my book next week.  OMG...i can't believe it.  it's really happening.  Will start the countdown soon.

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A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TEN THINGS WE HUMANS CAN LEARN FROM GOATS!




Sometimes I just watch "Vinnie" and "Trixie Van Goat" in amazement.  They are ZEN warriors and they are definitely exemplary masters of the Smile From The Inside way of living.  Here is just a tiny list of things we humans can learn from my goats.

1.  BE PLAYFUL...ALL THE TIME
     I have never ever seen the like in any animal especially in any "pet" I have had the pleasure of owning.  Trust me, there have been probably over FIFTY animals including but not limited to horses, cows, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, dogs, fish, cats, etc...  Anyway...they constantly act as if life is just one big playful recess.  God bless, right?

2.  LIVE LIFE ON THE EDGE
     They climb to the highest reaches of their goat jungle gym, nap on top of the huge recycle bins, test the severity of the current to our electric fences.  These goats consistently teeter on the brink of danger at least ten times a day.  It's refreshing to watch!

3.  ITS' ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!
     If you know goats, you'll understand this one.  They aren't like our pot-bellied pig neighbor, Delilah.  They won't eat anything and everything.  Nope.  They are completely picky eaters.  And they are fickle eaters too.  Some weeks they LOVE the clementines, whereas the next, not so much.  Though these kosher creatures might have unique and different fancy tastes, Vinnie and Trixie have one thing in common, no matter what their palette craves, they definitely enjoy each and every bite, even at the bitter end.  Oh yeah, and just like any human, they get a tad concerned when there is no Alfalfa Hay in their hanging feeder (a/k/a their version of an outdoor fridge).

Delilah&Maggie

4.  WHERE'S THE LOVE?
      Whenever Vinnie and Trixie hear the beep of our house alarm when we enter or leave the premises, one can always hear the faint sound of their little vocals cords saying, "Come visit me!"  Once the door opens to the backyard, they always come over to the entrance of their pen.  They love us.  They love people.  And, they might back away at first, but they will never refuse an extremely tight bear hug.  So cute!  

5.  THEY DON'T GIVE A "SHIT" ABOUT WHAT OTHER GOATS THINK
      Case and Point:  They shit wherever they feel like shitting and they pee whenever and wherever they feel like peeing.  They don't care what anyone else thinks, not us, not Maggie, not the chickens...absolutely no one.  It must be nice!

6.  NATURE VS. NURTURE?
     Just like us sentient beings, Vinnie and Trixie maintain the very same DNA as well as the fact that they were socially brought up in our fabulous gay backyard.  So, why is Vinnie gay and Trixie straight?  Go figure?  The debate goes on...  

7.  BE MASTER ESCAPE ARTISTS
     In case you don't know, Goats can escape from any fence, any pen, or any situation if the threat is  enough to endanger their lives.  It is incredible to watch them scale a six foot fence with just two steps (or hops, rather).  We could definitely learn a thing or two about escaping from dangerous situations.  Don't you agree?

8.  JUST WALK IT OFF
     Trixie likes to test her agility every time we turn around.  When she gets hurt physically or emotionally, she makes a little goat-noise squabble, shares her woe with Vinnie for a two-second bit, and then walks and shakes it off.  Now, that's inspiring.

9.  REST WHEN YOU ARE TIRED AND NAP DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS
     When no one is watching, or the hens are silently laying, sometimes, you can catch a rare glimpse of Vinnie and/or Trixie resting their little bodies.  Always safely.  Always comfortable.  One in a great while, you might even see them napping with their eyes closed.  Delicious.

10.  BE CURIOUS ABOUT EVERYTHING
     If there is one thing about goats you probably know, it's that they are curious 100% of the time.  They explore.  They circumvent.  They plot.  Usually, their behavior is all about mischief.  Vinnie and Trixie carry within them a great light of curiosity and it's infectious.  At least to me!  

I'm sure I will write more about Vinnie and Trixie in the future.  I just thought I would change the vibe for this week's blog entry.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  This week, I will be submitting my manuscript and all respective material to my publisher.  AWESOME!!!  Next week, I will commence the 30-day countdown for my book, How I Learned To Smile From The Inside.
2)  I want to wish you all an incredible and healthy Happy Hanukkah!


Some Goat Quotes:
(unknown)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend it’s whole life thinking it’s a goat. (Albert Einstein)

The Fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a goat.
(Shakespeare)

A Smile From The Inside Publication :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WHAT WOULD HARRY POTTER DO?



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Lately, when faced with a choice, I find myself asking, "What would Harry Potter do?"  As you all know, it has been a challenging couple of months for me.  With financial issues, work-related issues, etc..., things have been up and down.  There have been a great deal of tough choices made this past year and some were easier than others.  

As most of you know, I am a Harry Potter freak.  So much so, in fact, if Harry Potter were to have bedroom paraphernalia, I would have the sheets, the duvet cover, and the throw, which would undoubtedly double as my invisibility cloak.  I would be ALL about it.  I wouldn't say I'm an expert in the Harry Potter world, but I have literally read each book three times over and have seen all the movies countless times.  Anyway...my love of Harry Potter is very near and dear to my heart.

What would Harry Potter do?  What does that even mean?  (P.S. I'm talking about Harry, the character, not Daniel Radcliffe).  I have deduced that there are three main qualities at the core of each decision Harry Potter makes.  Those three qualities are Intuition, Non-Violence, and the Just.  Harry follows his gut.  He follows his instinct always comes out in the end.  There is not a violent bone in Harry Potter's body either.  He practices what we call in Yoga, "Ahimsa," which is Sanskrit for to do non-harm to those around you.  Lastly, he always does what's just to all involved.  His moral and ethical compass are astronomically on par to the wisdom of today's greatest thinkers and doers.

I believe if we all took a little bit more time to think and act like Harry Potter, we would live in incredibly amazing society.  People would have similar moral and ethical compasses; they would have be accepting of our differences and that which makes us unique; and we would be OPEN to anything.  There would also be a great deal more adventures and purposeful chaos.  (meaning chaos with poignance).

Over the past few months, I have been grappling with my own legal dilemma, which stemmed from my last relationship.  We leased a vehicle together.  Therein lies the first issue.  When we broke up, half way through the lease, he wanted to keep the car and I politely obliged.  I drew up not one but actually, over an eighteen month period, three separate contracts/agreements, to ensure that, when the time came to return the vehicle, he would be responsible for ALL the expenses.  I wish I could say those eighteen months went smoothly but they didn't.  At one point, he even stopped speaking to me...completely (even via text).  That become extremely awkward and challenging to say the least.  

Long story short, when he returned the vehicle (late, I might add), something tells me he did not have the large sum of money to pay the dealership.  So, instead of being honest and forthcoming with me, he just didn't do anything.  I gave him many many chances over the last several months to make good on the last and final settlement amount, to no avail.  Finally, I had to make the payment myself as it was four days away from affecting my credit.  In my last ditch effort to collect money from him, I did receive a final response, which was to eat shit and die.  Not really the most adult of responses, but I'm sure the judge will love it!  (Note the sarcasm)

Thinking about what Harry Potter would do, I felt that I had given him more than enough time, consideration, and opportunities to do the best thing for all of us.  As angry as I was with him, I still wanted to do what I felt to be just.  Despite many suggestions from others, most of which, wouldNOT have been productive.  Those same friends felt that he was taking advantage of me the entire time.  Perhaps he was.  At the end of the day, I had to do what felt good to me.  Therefore, I followed my intuition, I struggled with the non-violent approach, and I did what was just.  So, now I am taking him to small claims court here in Los Angeles.  I will win!  I will collect the money... just not anytime soon.  This decision was not easy for me.  Now, would Harry Potter sue someone?  That answers really remains in the eyes of the reader.  In this instance, if you listened to all of the facts and evidence, I think he would do the same.  If homeboy would even contact me now and offer up some of the money, I would be willing to listen.  I doubt that's going to happen though.  Anyway... I'll keep you posted.

Intuition.  Ahimsa (non-violence).  Just(ice).  Think about them.

So, the next time you need to make a grave decision or even a minor one, think What Would Harry Potter do?


Speaking of Harry Potter...
Did you hear today about the invisibility cloak that the U.S. Army will soon make into a reality?  Read the article here.  It's called HyperStealth technology.  OMG, perhaps soon we can all become like Harry Potter or like a super hero!  Read about it or watch the video.  It's absolutely intriguing.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  Waiting on a couple of final edits for my book before I send off to publisher.  It's almost there.  Wow!  It's really happening!
2)  Everyone send positive energy my way, I have two great opportunities on the horizon for starting in January.  Either one would be absolutely incredible...and my financial troubles will definitely be eased.  Woohoo!
3)  Bessie Cooper, of Monroe, George, age 116, died yesterday.  Wow!  Imagine living 116 years.  Apparently, there are only eight people in the Guinness Book of World Records to have lived that long.  I hope we ALL live to be that old.  Rest in peace, Bessie!
4)  When was the last time you laughed until you cried?  Think about it for a minute.  Take yourself back to that joke or that moment.  (Dramatic Pause!)  If you didn't just smile, then do it again.
5)  If you liked what you read, share with one other person.  If you didn't, please be quiet and let me know.
6) Birthday shout out to Heather and Danielle.  Love you both!!!


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A Smile From The Inside Production :)