Unwanted Thoughts

It’s interesting to me that so many of my daily one-card tarot readings talk of good fortune, windfalls, and such. I don’t really believe what the cards say because each reading negates the previous one, and the cards aren’t always positive, but I have come to believe that things are going to go well for me financially. So when things don’t, I feel affronted. I mean, how is my house insurance going up by 25% good fortune? It seems like a huge increase, though perhaps with more people staying home there are more claims? Or the weather in the area has been more damaging this past year? Or the company took a huge hit because of all the wildfires in the Colorado last year?

This particular area has inordinately high insurance rates, anyway, but whatever the reason for the increase, it isn’t good fortune! Or maybe it is? I guess I could consider myself fortunate that I’m not one of those who had to deal with damage.

It’s things like this — huge increases in expenses that aren’t reflected by increases in income — that made me not want to ever own a house, but I’d be paying it one way or another anyway. If I were still renting, the rent would go up to reflect the current insurance rate.

Luckily, once I get over the panic and affront of the higher rate, I’ll be okay for now because I am working, and so will have enough to pay the bill. Even more luckily, once it’s paid, I won’t have to think about it for a year. It does make me glad I didn’t reward this particular insurance company by switching my car insurance over to them. I would have saved a bit on the house insurance, but my car insurance would have gone way up, so I’d still be in the same position.

I did talk to my insurance agent in case there was a clerical error. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an error, though she too was shocked by the huge increase. She’ll look around to see if she can find a better deal for me, but back when I first got the insurance, this current company was by far the better price.

I really shouldn’t even be writing about this — it’s not anyone’s problem but mine — but it is on my mind, and writing about what I am thinking is how I get rid of unwanted thoughts, and I really don’t want these thoughts in my head!

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Note to My Grieving Blog Visitors

During the past ten years and ten months, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I have been writing about my grief. My grief. Not yours, not anyone else’s. Mine. Many people find comfort in reading about my struggles to live with my grievous loss. Others find resonance with what they are feeling. But whether my grief posts strike a chord with you or not, they are ultimately my thoughts, my feelings, my attempts to make sense of my life both before he died and afterward.

I am not a therapist. I am not an expert. I have no degrees. I have only my own experience of grief to guide me through the chaos, and I don’t pretend to anything more.

I don’t object to your reading what I write; after all, that’s why I post my thoughts on a blog rather than in a private journal. I don’t object to your printing out a blog or two to take to your therapist (as many have) so that the therapist can understand more about the grief experience.

I do object to your chastising me. If you don’t like something I write, if it doesn’t make sense to you at your grief age (how long it’s been since your spouse died), it might in later years. Or not at all.

My experience strikes a chord with many people who have lost “the one,” which made me realize how un-unique my grief is. But although grief is universal, how we express it isn’t. Some people get sick. Some get angry. Some scream. Some cry for months on end. Some do all of those and more.

If you’ve lost someone dear to you to death, chances are I know how you feel. And you know how I felt and still sometimes do feel. Empathy works both ways. I don’t castigate you when you disagree. And you shouldn’t castigate me. I am not the voice of your grief. What I say changes nothing about what you are experiencing.

Often over the years when people were less than kind, I wondered if it were time to pack it in, but enough people find my words and my story inspiring that I keep going. But I don’t have to continue to write updates about grief and what I’ve learned. I don’t get paid for this. It’s not a job or even an obligation. I do it because I feel, I think, I empathize, and I write. It’s who I am.

I’ve written close to a million words about grief. I’m sure I’ve shed a pint of tears if not more while doing so. I certainly don’t need anyone to add to my grief. I always apologize for inadvertently wounding people because I am sensitive to people’s feelings, but there really is no need for my apology. I don’t set out to hurt anyone or even to help anyone. I simply feel it’s important to tell what grief is like — my grief, anyway — rather than what the so-called experts think it should be. If you don’t like any of my words, so be it. It’s not a personal affront. I don’t even know you, though if you’ve read many of my posts, you know me.

So think about that before you rail against me. If I had stopped writing about grief the first time someone told me how wrong I was, either by what I wrote or that I continued to write about grief long past the first few months, thousands of people would not have found the comfort they need, the understanding they sought, the courage to continue living another day.

Neither would I. And probably, neither would you, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here to read about my grief.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The Secret of the Cards

After almost six months of picking a daily tarot card to study, I’ve seen some trends — out of a total of 78 cards, about one third have not yet shown up, about one third have shown up sporadically, and the final third are constant companions.

One of the cards that turns up frequently is the queen of wands. The court cards (the face cards) are traditionally linked to those asking the question of the cards. In some readings, the court cards are removed except for the card that most represents the querent. (The querent is the one asking the question.) I’d like to think that the queen of wands represents me, both for what I know I am as well as what I would want to be. For example, the queen of wands is adaptable, kind, generous, warm-hearted to her friends, intelligent and capable. Her ways of thinking are varied and complex, but she can grasp the moment and make what she wants of it.

Sounds like someone I would like to be! One thing the card has wrong (or at least one interpretation of the card that is wrong) is the advice not to be afraid to speak up and be heard; no one will silence me. That makes me laugh because Facebook and its minions or algorithms or something has effectively silenced me since it has blocked any link to my blog from the site. In an effort to overcome that block, I reblog this blog onto another blog and post that link, but apparently, their computers can pick up that it isn’t the original link, and hence they subdue it. Instead of the hundred or so people who used to see my blog on FB, now only a handful do.

And FB isn’t the only one who has silenced me — left-leaning folks tend not to like what I say, and override me if we’re in person, or insult me if we’re online. Nothing is worth that. Well, that’s not true — I never let anyone silence me when it came to my grief writings, even though more than one person told me it was time for me to drop the mantle of grief and move on.

But I’m straying from the point, which is learning the tarot.

Although most people use a single deck and learn the cards by the interpretation in the booklet that comes with cards, I use a variety of decks (a different one each month) and a variety of sources, so the interpretation of the card becomes deeper than the few simple words that generally are used to explain the deck. And what I am learning from this is that the tarot seems like a great story and character generator.

Cards have an up and down (called dignified and ill-dignified). I shuffle the cards so they all face the same direction thinking that the world is unfriendly enough without focusing on the shadow side of the world, but the ill-dignified aspect of the cards, especially the face cards, adds an additional dimension to the character — a shadow side. (I prefer to think of it as a shadow side rather than a “flaw” because it isn’t a “flaw” it’s part of the person, just not something to be proud about. For example, the queen of wands can be jealous and domineering, perhaps obstinate, and tending to imagine wrongs done to her.

I’m not yet ready to embark on writing another book, but when I do, I will use the tarot to help flesh out my characters, give them depth. The other cards will help direct the action, sending the characters on various adventures.

Until then, I will continue my study of the cards. Who knows — I might discover something else. The secrets of the universe perhaps, or maybe the secrets of my heart. If nothing else, I will discover some of the secrets of the cards.

***

Please check out my new book!

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Dona Nobis Pacem

I joined the peace bloggers in 2012. And every November 4th since then, I have blogged for — and about — peace.

This year’s theme is “Peace in the time of quarantine.” Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and other international conflicts are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances), I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

We tend to think of peace as a passive thing. An absence of strife. Effortless calm. Yet, when we talk of unrest and chaos (or whatever is the opposite of peace), it’s always about action, doing something, committing something — committing acts of terrorism, declaring war, fighting, rioting, tormenting, bullying.

Maybe peace is also about action, about committing acts of peace. We as individuals can’t arrange truces between warring factions, whether global or familial. We can’t bring peace to chaotic countries — ours or anyone else’s. Often the best we can do is bring peace to our own lives, arrange a truce between our inner and outer selves, find a way to ease our anger, create art (because people who are involved in creating a piece of art are also creating a space for peace), meditate or take a walk. Commit acts of peace.

It’s odd to think that this time of quarantine, which because of enforced isolation and orders to stay at home should have been a time of peace, has been one of the most violent times in recent years. But the country at large, especially the bigger cities have been ablaze with chaos.

Of course, being forced into isolation — any sort of force, actually — can’t bring about peace. It’s no wonder people were so ready to erupt into violence — isn’t that some sort of law of physics? Equal and opposite reaction and all that? On a smaller scale, victims of abuse were forced into situations where they had no escape, so for these people, instead of bringing about peace, the quarantine brought about more horror.

Apparently, I have nothing positive to say about peace in the time of quarantine, even though my own life during this time has been quiet and contemplative. I’ve managed to stay away from strife — except for occasionally getting riled up by all the lies and idiocies going on. I’ve even managed to commit acts of peace — if only by taking solitary walks, blogging, reading, enjoying a rare visit with friends.

If you don’t have a blog or think this a hopeless cause, you can still participate in this event by committing an act of peace. I hope you will.

***

Please check out my new book!

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

One Week Until the Blog Blast for Peace!

One month from today, on November 4th, people all over the world will blog for peace. Blog4Peace was created and founded by Mimi Lenox, who believes that because words are powerful, blogging for peace is important.

Mimi began blogging for peace in November, 2006. Thirteen years and thousands of peace bloggers later she — and all those she inspired — are still blogging for peace. On every continent. In 214 countries and territories. In war-torn countries and peaceful villages. Whole families. Teenagers. Senior citizens. Veterans of war. Poets and singers. Teachers. Schoolchildren. Authors and artists. Doctors. Lawyers. Cats (many, many cat bloggers). Dogs. Gerbils. Birds. Goats and Bunnies. Scientists. Designers. Researchers. Stay-at-home-parents. Kids. Baby Boomers.

And me.

I joined the peace bloggers in 2012. And I still blog for peace. 

This year’s theme is “Peace in the time of quarantine,” and that is a theme I can adopt. Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and other international conflicts are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances), I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

And yes, words are powerful. And yes, this matters.

How To Blog For Peace:

  1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.htmlor from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.
  2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com
  3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to order the print version of Bob, The Right Hand of God
Click here to purchase the Kindle version of Bob, The Right Hand of God.

I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

One month from today, on November 4th, people all over the world will blog for peace. Blog4Peace was created and founded by Mimi Lenox, who believes that because words are powerful, blogging for peace is important.

Mimi began blogging for peace in November, 2006. Thirteen years and thousands of peace bloggers later she — and all those she inspired — are still blogging for peace. On every continent. In 214 countries and territories. In war-torn countries and peaceful villages. Whole families. Babies in utero (yes, really!) Teenagers. Senior citizens. Veterans of war. Poets and singers. Teachers. Classrooms. Authors and artists. Doctors. Lawyers. Cats (many, many cat bloggers). Dogs. Gerbils. Birds. Goats and Bunnies. Scientists. Designers. Researchers. Stay-at-home-parents. Kids. Baby Boomers. From the Netherlands to Kansas. And everywhere in between.

I joined the peace bloggers in 2012. And I still blog for peace. 

This year’s theme is “Peace in the time of quarantine,” and that is a theme I can adopt. Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and stressful times are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances) I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

And yes, words are powerful. And yes, this matters.

How To Blog For Peace:

  1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.htmlor from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.
  2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com
  3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Thirty Days Hath September

Am I the only one who has to recite the ditty whenever I need to know how many days in a month? Thirty days hath September, April, June and November . . .

I thought the above was a clever way to begin a blog on this last day of September, but I have no more cleverness with which to follow it up. The month is almost over and tomorrow begins another month, but that’s nothing new or clever. It generally happens every thirty or thirty-one days. Though I must admit, turning over a clean page on my calendar is rather nice.

Not on a lot is written on my calendar for October yet — a couple of birthdays, a notation of when I next need to turn in my time sheet, a reminder to post a pre-blog-for-peace blog on the fourth. (Every year, bloggers all over the world blog for peace on the fourth of November; and this year is no exception.) I also have a note that at the end of the month, my sister will be 21,000 days old. I’m trying to think of something special to celebrate the day, but in the end, I’ll probably just send a text. Since it’s not exactly a Hallmark occasion, no cards or gifts for the special day are readily available.

Missing as yet from October’s calendar is the day of publication, the day my newest novel will be available for sale. When I get that date, I can assure you, it won’t just go on my calendar, but will be blasted all over the internet. Well, blast might not be the word, but I will announce it especially since I know people will want to read a book about God deciding s/he’s fed up with humanity and decides to recreate the world. To be honest, with all that’s going on, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened in real life rather than simply in my febrile imagination.

This upcoming novel is a real departure for me — no mystery or suspense other than the suspense of wondering what God and his right-hand entity are going to do next to our luckless hero and how the poor guy is going to survive the re-creation. But maybe it’s not that big of a departure now that I think of it. A minister once told me, “You have a marvelous ability to write the longest parables in all of literature. You unglue the world as it is perceived and rebuild it in a wiser and more beautiful way.”

This new novel is definitely about ungluing the world and rebuilding it (though whether wiser and more beautiful is still to be determined), so the parable nature is one way it ties in with all my other books. It also has an underlying humor to it, maybe more so than my other books. In earlier blogs, I referred to it as a whimsically ironic apocalyptic novel, also as Humor Metamorphosing into Horror Metamorphosing into Allegory. My publisher is classifying the novel variously as absurdist, urban fantasy, humorous science fiction. Which is another sign of a Pat Bertram novel — one that can’t be easily categorized.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is still the old month, even if it is on its deathbed. I still have September time left to water my plants, walk, work my few hours, and read.

Sounds like a nice way to spend a lovely fall day. Hope you too enjoy your thirtieth day of September. Toodaloo until next month.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Writing a Book Summary

Blogging is easy for me. It’s mostly a matter of letting my stream of consciousness flow through my finger tips onto the page. There’s not a lot of thinking, because either the thinking has been done or my thoughts are being processed as I write. The only time it’s hard is when my mind is blank — it’s hard to stream something that isn’t there. Often, though, I can start writing and an idea will show up that I can develop into a blog post, even if it’s only to say that my mind is blank.

Writing novels isn’t that difficult once I get started. It’s more a matter of sitting down and working out the puzzle and trying not to get bored by the necessary scenes. (The scenes that are necessary to the story, but that have been in my head so long it seems as if they’ve already been written.) What’s hard is getting started. To me, writing a novel is about finally getting the story out of my head, but if there is no story caroming around trying to get out, I have no real impetus to write.

Writing at someone else’s request is whole other situation. It feels too much like homework, and although I never minded homework when I was young, at least I don’t think I did, my mind now balks at having to do something by request.

This latest “something” isn’t onerous. It just feels like it because of the aforesaid balky mind. I’m supposed to be writing a summary of my soon-to-be-published book (my publisher is aiming for October 20!). Even though it’s been a while since I last worked on the book, I mostly remember it. (I’m looking forward to the day I completely forget so I can read it as if it’s new to me.) I just need to summarize it in a way that will entice everyone to read it. Because of course everyone will want to read the book, they just don’t know it yet. And it’s not as if I have to write a synopsis of the whole thing to get a publisher interested, because he already is interested and working on putting the book together. All I need is a short 300 word blurb and a longer 3000 word summary.

Shouldn’t be difficult, right? But apparently, I prefer to write about writing the blurb than to actually write it.

You’d think I would have been smart enough to have already written it, knowing the book was going to be published, but somehow, just like with homework, I’ve put it off until the last minute. (Actually, that’s not true. For the most part, I think I did homework right away so I wouldn’t have it hanging over me.) In this way, at least, I was much more disciplined as a child.

But I am thinking about the synopsis, so that’s something, right? Maybe if I think about it long enough, it will pretend to be a blog post and I can just let it flow through my fingers onto the page.

Then the real work starts: a bio. You’d think after almost 3,000 blog posts, many of them about my life, it would be easy to come up with something interesting to say in a bio, but nope. Total blank.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.