This Christmas Celebrate the Sacred: Buy Nothing

buy noyhing christmas toolkit

Think of the gift you could give to yourself this Christmas if you just bought nothing.  No mall madness.  No long waits in crowded shopping lines for checkout.  No more feeling like you just cannot get in the car again.  No Christmas Eve desperate shoppping at Walgreen's.

Yes, join the anti-consumer protest against excess and BUY NOTHING this CHRISTMAS.  Keep Jesus' birthday sacred, holy, meaningful and calm. You won't have to feel like throwing up in January when Christmas' credit card bills come.

Why Buy Nothing Christmas?

We all know we live in a culture of excess.  Shop, shop, until you drop, right?

Wrong.  The gap between the rich and the poor grows wider all the time.  Pope Francis compares this hurtful gap to killing and uses the Thou Shalt Not Kill commandment against it.

Buy Nothing Christmas was started by the Canadian Mennonite Group.  This religion has a long history of taking action to help those in need and working for peace and justice.  It is a way of acknowledging the crisis in the global economy.

Can you admit that spending money, money, money is a false way of living that keeps us from authentic lives?  Does your spouse really need or even want another sweater, bottle of cologne, or newest technologic gasket?

This Christmas Gifts From the Heart

Here are some alternative gift ideas from the info kit of the Buy Nothing Christmas organizers and from other activist orgs who are supporting this boycott. Check out these simple, free and low-cost alternative suggestions.  I particularly like, and plan to make, poems for loved ones, Linux (it is free or under $3.00--go here:  and personalized calandars. Naturally I wilso browse at my favorite thrift store for used books, Christmas aprons and table decorations, or maybe a wonderful ornament.  And here are more ideas:

 really like the notion of creating homemade collages for loved ones.  I made some for my children and it was a creation that came from a heart full of love.

Here's how to make this mindful gift:

Turn out the lights and listen to the silence as you think of someone you would like to give a collage to.  What qualities does this person have?  Why do love them?  What are their hobbies, interests, passions and issues they care about?  Meditate on this and wait for intuitive ideas.

Now go through the house and gather magazines.  If you don't have any, you can buy them at most thrift stores for about a dime each.  Then get a cup of coffee oor other favorite beverage, put on some Christmas music or music that reminds you of the person you are making this for and begin.  Go through each magazine and rip out any art, pictures, photos, or words that remind you of your gift receiver.
When you have a big pile of torn pieces, get a large posterboard or even a piece of cardboard, some white glue, maybe some paint, stickers, little decorations like stick-on stars or hearts, markers, and anything else that seems to fit.  Get a pair of scissors and begin to trim your pictures.  Crazy scissors from art supply stores are fun here.  When everything is neatly trimmed, spread some of it out on your posterboard and begin thinking of your design.  What do you want to put where?  Do you want to glue some of them to colored paper backgrounds.  Do you want to paint some or all of your work surface?

Go wild.  Ideas will begin to get you excited.  What do you want to say to the person you're giving it to about who you think they are, the things that turn them on, the special positive qualities they have. etc.  Maybe you want to go through some of your own photos and use a baby picture or a recent shot that really shows something about who they are.

There's more.  How about something from the Buy Nothing Catalog.  Go ahead and use that picture of a hug.

Or maybe they would like to get into the spirit of this new holiday tradition with a Buy Nothing Christmas poster.

Further reading about geting out of the consumer culture to sanity and reverence for life.



 Pinterest Anti-Consumerism

Become an activist against consumerism.  Go here to get started.

So What's Wrong With Your Life?

What's Wrong With Your Life  Click here

Dear Pope Francis, I Think I Love You and I'm Not Religious.

                            Pope and his biker buds before he got rid of his Harley.

Ever since Pope Francis sold his Harley to donate the money to a Rome homeless shelter, I have gotten the impression that he was not going to be a regular old fart pope.  Yeah, he still says women can't be priests, but what's it to me personally?  I lapsed from my Catholicism decades ago.  Still, it would have been outstanding if he had opened that forever closed door to women. And  I wonder if he'll invite back all the gay and lesbian church members and tell them all is forgiven.  Forgiven for what they'll be sure to ask.

But check this dude out is all I can say.  Any enemy of greed and capitalism is bound to become one of my new heroes.  He is the real thing with a working vow of poverty even if he is Mr. Big of the "One Holy Apostolic Church.".  Get this, he won't even live in his lovely palace at the Vatican. No, he lives in a nearby apartment.  He also gave up the expensive car and drives around in a funky Ford Focus and a 30-year-old Renault.

 He can attack the "idolatry of money" all he wants because he is putting his lira where his mouth is. Now he is saying that the nuns' convents and the priests' rectories might be put to better use as shelters for the homeless.  A man after my own heart.

I can almost put aside my bitter resentments towards a religion that would not allow birth control while some of the poorest countries in the world had families who had more kids than they could afford  to feed.

There's a new sherriff in town and he has having none of his men living lavish lives like big mob guys.  He suspended the "Bishop of Bling,"  the German bishop
who spent $42 million on expenditures such as a $20,000 bathtub, a $34,000 conference table, and a $4 million chapel.  It is not business as usual in the Vatican.

While the Catholic Church remains a bigtime money-maker,  there is no fear of Church members rising up and demanding financial transparency. The Catholics always have been mum about their incredible wealth, but because of the bankruptcy cases due to the sexual predator priests, we do know that  cost them over $3 billion and counting.

Guess it's a reminder of the "tyranny of money."  It does seem though that with the departure of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, Cicero, IL native born not too far from Al Capone's old house,  no one is revealing anything like the $200 money laundry scandal that was exposed while he ruled the roost. Yeah, Marcinkus was another one who must have had his fingers crossed when he took his vow of poverty as a young priest.  The press said he behaved more like a "Wall Street adventurer" than a prominent, upper echelon member of Vatican officers.  I mean he could have passed as a made man with his custom-built cars, a Avana cigar stuck in his mouth, a crew of sexy  blond secretaries, and his poker-playing buddies.

But I give this fire brand his due and who cares if people are attacking him and calling him a Marxist, a Socialist, and things I wouldn't want to repeat.  Just read a little bit of his 84-page Apostolic Exhoration "Evangeii-Gaudium."  Listen to these beautiful idealistic, soaring sentiments:
"The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ."

You tell these heathen idolaters, Francis.  And again if you think he's over-reacting and that the gap between the boys with the toys ("whoever dies with the most toys wins" --popular bumpkersticker a few years back) and the poor, I invite you to readthe 200-some page "Ending Hunger in America" report released Tuesday.

Enjoy that Turkey boys and girls.

But Are You Grateful to be Grateful?

Are you grateful for what you have, who you are, people you love who love you, sobriety and being clean, and more?  Stop reading right now and write the top 20 things you are grateful for.  Here's my list to get you started:

I am grateful for:  (not in order of importance)

1.  My beautiful, healthy, loving children.
2.  The rest of my extended family.
3.  God's help with my grief for recent death of mother.
4.  My loving friends.
5.  All the great books that my higher power brings to my attention through synchronicity that are exactly what I need at the time.
6.  Sobriety/being drug free.
7.  My cat who gives me love and whom I can love back.
8.  A roof over my head even if the heat and hot water are iffy and the place is a mess.
9.   Humanity's continuing evolution.
10. The power of prayer and meditation.
11.  My good health at age 64 despite many years of abusing my body.
12.  Healthy, organic food I can afford (and food stamps).
13.  Enough money for my simple needs and wants from Social Security Disability.
14.  The fact that with H.P.'s help I had one year smoke free on 11/16/2013.  (You can do it too!  I never, ever believed I could do it.  What helped also was a powerful book called "The Little Book of Quitting," by Allen Carr.  Order it for one cent from here)
15.  That I can get everywhere I need/want to go by walking and bike and don't need a car.
16.  My meetings and the sober/clean people who attend them.
17.  My intuition and sometimes knowledge of God's will for me.
18.  Diet Coke and coffee--my fuel.
19.  My adult son living with me.  He keeps me from getting too set in my ways and I isolate less.
20.  Thanksgiving dinner that I  only have to make cranberries for and not cook meal.  Thank God for siblings!

Happy Grateful Day to You.  Don't forget at Thanksgiving dinner to go around and have people say three things they are grateful for.


If you can't think of 20 things to be grateful for, download this--The 2014 Hunger Report

Surrender, Dorothy or How Long Do You Have to Go to Meetings?

Answer: Until You WantTo Go. It's official. I have the personality and thinking patterns of an alcoholic. I haven't wet my whistle in some time, but I found out today that I fit right in with the other misfit sober drunks in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Doctors and psychologists have described alcoholics as suffering with a superiority complex coupled with an inferiority complexes.. The result is a desperate grandiosity to prove self-worth. We want to show the world we're better than they thought we were, and they didn't think much of us. We want to do big, important things that will give us more than our fair share of fame, wealth, prestige, security and romance. Some of us once wanted to be King of the World. After being sober a while many will settle for prince or princess of the world unless the honesty required to stay sober has taught them some humility. Take me, for example. I am now willing to give up the notion of writing the greatest American novel ever, and becoming a literary giant. I will "settle" for having a stable of bestsellers and being interviewed on TV by David Letterman and Charlie Rose. Naturally, I hope that the right publications will give my books glowing reviews, and fill my fat head with far-fetched tribute phrases to keep me warm on cold nights. But enough about me for now. This is a true story of the Pandora's box of wet dreams, greedy, self-important, delusional thinking that some early A.A. members opened after Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) became internationally famous and respected for its ability to get even lost causes sober. A.A. helped restore these early members to a functional place in society, business and family life that they had long given up hope of ever seeing again. They were amazed at this miracle, and some figured there had to be a way to cash in on this great success, especially after Jack Alexander's March 1, 1941 article "Alcoholics Anonymous" ( in the Saturday Evening Post. This very positive article about just how successful the A.A. program was in getting drunks sober became hugely popular. Their was a national and international surge of interest in the A.A. program. In 1941 A.A. was six years old and there were approximately 2,000 men and women who belonged to it, as compared to the 2,000,000 recovering people in A.A. worldwide today. The article stressed how A.A. seemed to work because one drunk, now sober, helped another. Service was and is the foundation of the fellowship. (Meanwhile, some 70 years later there is new research proving have what makes A.A. work: helping others.) John D. Rockefeller took an interest in A.A. when it was new and struggling. He did contribute to the group's early support. But Rockefeller stressed to group members the importance of A.A.'s paying their own way, and not looking to be supported in their endeavors by outside contributions A.A. took this advice to heart and created Tradition Seven: "Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions." This tradition, as well as is one of the 12 traditions or principles of A.A. are still followed today. The A.A. members learned the hard way that they needed Tradition Six: "An A.A. group ought never to endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose." Getting back to the Pandora's box that was opened and the results which eventually led to the inclusion of this tradition, all hell broke loose after the Alexander article hit the streets. At this time there were some 2,000 members, mostly all former falling down drunks and some skid row bums who had achieved sobriety through the program. They were back behind their executive desks, driving their trucks and taxis, waiting on customers and generally succeeding at earning an income. Their families loved them again, and most forgave them, especially as the disease concept of alcoholism became well known. Alexander did point out the theory of some that alcoholism could be compared to having an allergy. An alcoholic had a similar negative reaction to their allergen, alcohol. Or, as the old joke heard around the church basements of A.A. meetings goes, "Yeah, I had an allergy to alcohol. If I drank I would break out. I broke out in bars, clubs, restaurants, at home and even at work." A great many of these sobered up drunks took A.A.'s new popularity and earned respect to heart. They felt that A.A. could do more for the world than just get a few drunks sober here and there. These recovering people got together and decided that now that A.A. was officially a success it could do more. Why not unleash the full potential of A.A.? They reasoned that they should go into business, and/or finance any enterprise in the field of alcoholism, They felt they had a responsibility to pay it forward cause whose time had come. Some of the plans they came up with for how to get more deserving folks into the A.A. program were: 1. They would build their own hospital chain. (Don't we have some of those A.A.-based chains today? A.A. itself might not finance or control these hospitals, but a person who went in for rehab would soon learn treatment was the A.A. way or go out and drink again. They are offered no alternatives or choices.) 2. They would educate the public about alcoholism, and rewrite school and medical textbooks. 3. They would gather up the derelicts from Skid Rows, sort them out into groups of those who were losers and didn't have a chance and those they thought could get well. They would make it possible for these chosen few to make their livelihood in a rarefied, if somewhat quarantined, confinement away from all temptation. These new businesses would make large sums of money, and finance other good works for alcoholics. 4. They quite seriously pontificated about changing the laws of the land in line with the view that alcoholics are not bad people, they are sick. This would stop drunks from getting thrown in jails. Judges would parole them into the custody of A.A. members and groups. (This actually is the case, as anyone who has ever received a D.U.I. and been mandated to attend A.A. meetings can tell you.) 5. They further saw themselves branching out into dope addiction and criminality despite the stated and well-known to them "primary principle" of A.A. which was written in the A.A. preamble as, "Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." Pretty clear to many, but not all, of the recovering people.. 6. They reasoned that A.A. could cure anything. Hadn't it turned their own lives around? They would start A.A. groups for the depressives and paranoid mentally ill. . A.A. could handle misfits, crazies, those estranged from society and other misfits the sicker the better to prove the point. They reasoned, by God, if alcoholism could be licked, so could any problem if it used the A.A. program. 7. Some of them envisioned an utopia where laborers and capitalists would love one another. 8. The absolute honesty they must practice to remain sober, might even be applied to those in politics and a clean-up there. 9. They enjoyed their newfound happiness and just knew they could teach others how to get and stay happy. 10. They would endorse products and even take the opportunity to do P.R. for liquor companies that were requesting such representation to show the irresponsible drinker the virtues of moderate drinking. Although most did not touch a drop of alcohol, and none would ever achieve moderate drinking status based on the well-known fact that you can't turn a pickle into a cucumber again, somehow the liquor companies thought they were the people to speak to the irresponsible imbibers. Being endorsed by A.A. and recommended by sober group members would build their company's reputation and esteem in the public's eyes they believed. Dreams die hard, of course, and it took some very bad experiences to get these early A.A. members, some still a bit mentally and emotionally under the influence, to realize the error of their ways and end the grandiose plans. They knew that the proposed A.A. liquor company reps could well end up drunk, resulting in an undesirable alteration in public opinion. They ended up taking the name of A.A. off halfway houses and clubs where there had been a few too many relapses to continue without tarnishing A.A.'s good reputation. Some members went to Bill Wilson, the co-founder of A.A., and asked about becoming alcoholism counselors in hospitals where they could receive a salary for their experience, strength and hope. In fact, Bill himself had been invited by one hospital to work in this capacity. He had seriously considered it and was excited at the prospect until he realized he could not cash in on his A.A. experience without doing harm to the program. (Many hospital A.A. counselors today don't seem bothered by their consciences though.) The honesty and humility that these early members of A.A. learned from the 12 steps, brought them to the realization that they were, as the kids say today, tripping with their crazy ideas and plans for A.A. Recovering people didn't flock to become hospital founders or even sobriety counselors, and A.A. remained untarnished by greed and hubris. A.A. members know they are all one drink or drug away from a total relapse. Their sobriety, they learn in twelve step programs, is contingent on their spiritual condition. The members of A.A. in 1941 finally accepted that they were tripping and that their ideas were based on character defects they needed to have removed. One man who was invited by a distillery to represent the company went to Bill W. and asked if he should do it. It was a case of merely having to hear one's self speak lunacy aloud to another and finally having the lights come on. He didn't do it, of course. I got a kick from this story of human weaknesses, character defects, greed and extravagant pride because I could relate. I never wanted to be a worker among workers, or a cog in the wheel. I always wanted to be the star of the show and most of the production. In his article, mostly a glowing tribute to A.A. and its members, Alexander felt compelled to mention the general emotional immaturity of the alcoholic until he begins to grow up by working A.A.'s 12 steps. I wanted to find the cure for cancer, but without taking all the tedious science and medial classes and doing painstaking research. If the truth be told, I most wanted to be a literary lion with a long trail of bestsellers and appearances on David Letterman and Charlie Rose. Writing was hard work though, and I wanted to find an easier way to become a famous, wealthy author that didn't involve so much time and energy, well, writing, for starters. I wanted fame and wealth to come and strike me like a lightening bolt. I thought about the interviews that enterprising reporters would do with my family, friends, former acquaintances and coworkers who all agreed that they just saw that flash of rare brilliance in me and knew I would shine someday. I really liked imagining those interviews and the letters to the editors of book review publications about my early signs of extreme talent.But right now I needed to take a nap. If I had been an A.A. member in the ear
ly days, I imagine I would give high-priced speeches on the secrets of finding sobriety despite the fact that I only learned the secret was to surrender when the shards of my life were down around my ankles and I wasn't fit for human companionship. Who wouldn't surrender when it got bad enough? Hitting bottom is a rude, rude wake-up call to either grow up or die. I would have been chasing that A.A. gravy train though even if I had to do it still half in the bag and thinking pathetic mush. I would have liked to educate the masses on how alcoholics should be treated in this society. I'd rather teach than be a doer, that's for sure. The ugly truth of this story is that I did once take that I also wanted to cash in on A.A.'s success by working as a certified substance abuse counselor for ten years. In this capacity I used little of what I learned about Counseling Psychology in graduate school, and mostly answered patient questions about the length of my sobriety, my personal story of losing all and regaining my life, and sharing humorous anecdotes about some of the insane things I did while high. These conversations brought me a decent income and some status, even as the two hats I wore grew heavier and more cumbersome. Finally, I decided I never drank or drugged as bad as most of my patients, and I could afford to have just one drink. That led to my losing everything sobriety had given me. I lost my husband, custody of my children, became homeless, unemployable and ill and lost the hope that I could ever return to the beautiful sober life I had enjoyed for 15 years. These circa 1941 recovering alcoholics seem not to have had to ride their delusions into relapses, and I imagine that when they looked back at their thinking during that time they could only attribute this fact to the grace of God. Many hospital treatment programs cash in or seem to on A.A.'s reputation by using their 12 step program as a treatment model and getting all patients, and clients into mandatory meetings as soon as they stop throwing up and shaking after detox. But Alcoholics Anonymous is not responsible for this commercial abuse. A.A. should not be regarded as greedy and money-seeking on this account. They still only get the one dollar or two at most that members put in the basket at meetings to cover literature, and the expenses of keeping the thing going with paid staff workers who are non-A.A. Who or what will next attempt to get rich quick on the 12 steps is only a matter of waiting to see. I believe I have been restored to sanity and just want to leave this world a little better than I found it and I don't plan on getting any public accolades for doing so.