Category Archives: Social Networking

WAKING UP – over 30 FREE Audio Sessions

Just sharing this with anyone who feels like they’re undergoing a spiritual transformation, or awakening. If you’ve been feeling out of sorts with the world, thinking there’s so much wrong out there and nobody’s doing anything to help sort it. If you’re wanting to do something to improve your life and the lives of others, that doesn’t involve money or material goods. If you know there’s something missing in your life or that you should be doing but just can’t put your finger on it. If lately you’ve been experiencing flu-like symptoms or feeling tired but the doctor says you’re fine. If you start feeling disconnected from the daily grind of life and feel there should be more to Life than working, paying bills and dying. If you suddenly feel like what you knew and believed in or followed in the past now no longer holds meaning for you. If you are starting to realise and are willing to accept that perhaps you were wrong in your past beliefs and lifestyle choices and it is time to change that around completely. If you’re beginning to see past the lies, subterfuge and fabrication put out to the populace by mainstream media. If an event or circumstance make you feel your eyes have been opened to the real truth. If you are just beginning your search for that elusive something in your life.

All these, and much more, are the symptoms of Waking Up. Everyone has their own way or time of spiritual awakening. Some are resistant to it, others are not even aware of it. Others choose to ignore it as poppycock New Age nonsense. Those that have Woken Up know that you can’t Wake someone else up, they have to realise they’ve been sleepwalking their whole lives, and want to wake up themselves.

Waking Up is not a one-time event, it happens gradually and evolves over time; like a tree, once the seed is planted and roots take hold, the first shoots appear and then eventually a sapling grows which matures into a tree. Flowers bloom, die, bloom again.

We are all on our personal Journeys. Everyone’s story is unique and different.
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If you’re the least bit curious about what this all means, then simply register with Sounds True and avail yourself of over 30 FREE Audio Sessions with the world’s leading spiritual teachers and speakers during the entire month of May this year. My favourite teacher is Eckhart Tolle , whose book “A New Earth” was what woke me up last year.

Here’s the blurb about the audio sessions, taken from the Sounds True link:

A growing number of people are beginning to see things in a radically different way. In other words, more and more of us are starting to “wake up” spiritually—to discover an entirely new identity beyond the usual sense of who we think we are.
But what is spiritual awakening, really? How does it happen—and what are the consequences? Is it possible to attune to this dimension of experience at any moment?

In Waking Up, Sounds True publisher and founder Tami Simon speaks with over 30 of today’s leading authors and teachers who will share their personal understanding of spiritual awakening—how it takes place, what changes (and what doesn’t), and how their experiences can inspire and inform our own realization.

Here’s that link again. Please do visit and listen to at least one or two of the speakers. You never know where that may lead you.

Social Observations: The New Religion

I was just scrolling through my Facebook feed, having read another shared post about the latest Apple vs Android debacle, followed by another one about some pastor who’s asking his congregation for a few million dollars so he can buy his own private jet…and suddenly my mind just made a connection between the two hitherto unrelated posts.

Apple fans have long been against Android fans, even more so against Samsung users, as Samsung is Apple’s main competitor. To say they hate each other is perhaps putting it mildly. I’ve owned both Apple iPhones and Android mobiles, so I can appreciate both sides of the coin. But I’ve lost friends on Facebook because I dared compare the long, snaking queues to buy the Apple iPhone 6, back in September 2014, to the bread queues of the Recession. Yes, really…one of those so-called “friends” on Facebook called me a hypocrite for using an iPhone and liking tech devices and gadgets, while at the same time “slagging off” Apple for pandering to consumers’ greed and egos.

It’s widely accepted that diehard zealots of Apple are members of the “Cult of Apple”, and that they will defend Apple’s products with their lives. Even when shown hard bare facts that some of Apple’s products are not as good as their competitors’ products, or not worth the bang for their buck. Even when shown how Apple devices are made using what’s tantamount to slave labour, in Chinese factories where workers never see the light of day and where suicides are a common occurrence. These Apple Cultists will gratefully swallow whatever expensive, non-essential new piece of bling Apple spews out.

I went to see what the big fuss was about, when the Apple Watch came out recently. (I wonder why it isn’t called the iWatch, with the “i” prefix, like all Apple’s other products?). The Apple rep at the store was waxing lyrical about this and that, even though I pointed out that 1) it doesn’t take or make calls 2) it doesn’t take photos 3) you can read your emails, sure, but you can’t reply unless it’s with a short previously prepared message 4) it’s going to pose a real driving hazard because drivers who get pinged while driving will be taking their eyes off the road to look at their wrists 5) why the obsession with counting heartbeats and steps? If you’ve been running, or if you’re excited, of course your pulse will be racing. So what? 6) Apple claims there’s a watch for everyone. Wow, like Joe Bloggs the hardworking blue-collar worker with a wife, 2 kids and another one on the way, can afford to fork out $500 for something that a $50 watch can do better? And, in this day and age, who can afford to splash out on a $24000 gold Apple Watch? When the same $24000 can feed Joe Bloggs’ entire family for a whole year?

But, as with iDiots, there will always be some rich people with no care for their community, environment, family, but only for themselves, who will buy that $24000 Apple Watch.

Just because they can. And just because it has the Apple logo on it, that they can show off. The world can go burn in hell, for all they care. It’s their money, they can buy what they like with it. What global warming? What climate change? What rainforest? What drought? What hunger? What poverty? What homelessness?

So…

Back to where I first started. If we were to compare Apple and Android to religion, then you could say that Apple is Catholicism, and Android is Protestantism. (Meaning no disrespect to Catholics and Protestants here, just using the religions as analogies).

Apple considers itself The Best, The Most Righteous, Catholic God, while Android fans are Protestants because there are so many different brands out there, all with their own good and bad points, but they just can’t agree amongst themselves so the schisms keep happening.

My two cents’ worth? Don’t follow the blind leading the blind. Find your own way, make your own path, follow principles that sit true with you and you alone. Buy products or follow brands that are ethical, guilt-free, GM free, organic, sustainable. Don’t just follow the Emperor, for the Emperor has no clothes.

And you know what else? If you really sit down and think about it, you don’t even really need a mobile phone. Not even the most basic model. People were perfectly fine before mobile phones came along. Now look at us. Tied to technology, not for any useful purpose, though, just to distract us from facing reality. Stuff you can and should do at the office at work, has now come home to us. As adults, we now have Homework again. Why not leave work at work, and go home and enjoy quality time with your family and children instead? Don’t be a slave to Technology, just like we are slaves to Money.

Me? I love my gadgets, to be sure…but nowadays I’d rather be in my studio making Art.

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Social Observations: Bronies

Today’s post, and tomorrow’s is a hodgepodge of different observations on modern society. Not so much Urban Legends like crocodiles in the sewer, or Bloody Mary etc. Just some things I’ve found out recently, or stuff which fell into my head suddenly in a “Eureka!” moment.

Let’s talk Bronies. The Kid is a self-confessed Brony. He just came out one day and told me he liked My Little Pony (hereafter referred to as MLP). I remembered those sweet little cartoon ponies from the days when I used to watch Care Bears and He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe, and She-Ra. Yup, THAT long ago. So what if MLP was originally aimed at an audience of little girls aged 6.

No biggie. The Kid told me that males who liked MLP are called Bronies (or Brony in the singular), a portmanteau word combining “Bro(ther)” and “(Po)ny”. Female fans are Pegasisters after Pegasus (all MLP ponies have wings). Very young fans are called “Colts”. I guess being a Brony’s Mum that makes me a Pegasister by default.

Being a Brony is just like being a Doctor Who fan (did you know there’s even a Doctor Who Pony called Doctor Whooves? Yes, really, and I’m going to get it for myself). Bronies stand up there with the likes of other cosplay convention nerds (yours truly, minus the cosplay). It doesn’t matter one jot if you’re a heterosexual male, or gay, or bisexual etc. Bronies transcend gender stereotyping, they are simply male fans of MLP who refuse to accept that MLP is for girls only. Cool with me!

Here’s an excellent primer on the subject of Bronies:
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/bronies

And here’s a poster that I just ordered on eBay for The Kid. It’s an amazing 43×24 inch one showing the character Rainbow Dash with a sword between its teeth, against a dark background sprinkled with stars. I think it’s totally rad!

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Freebies! Backgrounds for blending

I always take photos of my artistic creations, for posterity and also to use as backgrounds for future photographic art projects.

Here are some close-up images of my recent run of Gelli Plate monoprinting experiments. Just a hodgepodge of textures and colours. Feel free to take them and use them as backgrounds for your own blending projects, perhaps. Or print then out and arrange them in a mosaic. Or cut shapes out of them for collage and mixed media. Freebies! Enjoy!

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I’m an Eclectic Magpie

Today’s post is just a motley collection of images that appeal to me, curated from my travels in the wonderful lands of Pinterest and Google Images. All credit and copyright remain with the original artist/photographer/designer etc. I always save my favourites to my Pinterest boards (just search for AlyZen Moonshadow), so if you need further information about any particular image, that’s where you should head first.

What can I say, I’m an eclectic magpie. I collect images like the ones below, to help stir up my creative juices, provide a springboard for inspiration, serve as colour or mood boards for future photography and art projects, trigger nostalgia, or just make me feel all sunshiney happy and gooey on the inside. :-)

Enjoy!

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Have a wonderful weekend, all! :-)

Serendipity Shows The Way

ser·en·dip·i·ty (sĕr′ən-dĭp′ĭ-tē)
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

In my efforts to create “perfect” Gelli Plate prints (no such thing, actually), I’d accumulated many, many duds. Or perhaps I should say they did not turn out quite as expected, but I still kept them for the record, and also because they were actually quite beautiful in their own way.

When I first started out on my Gelli Plate adventures, a couple of months ago, I was meticulous in washing my brayer, brushes, stamps, stencils and the Gelli Plate itself after every change of colour. This meant a lot of time was spent at the sink washing and drying. Handy that my so-called “Studio” is in the kitchen-dining room itself. (My other “Studio” is in the junk spare room, which is currently occupied by a brooding box of baby Japanese Quails).

Nowadays, I don’t clean my tools and implements quite so often. Instead, I employ a technique I’ve seen many Gelli artists use, of “inking off” or “rolling off” i.e the act of removing excess paint from the brayer/dabber/stamp/stencil/Gelli Plate etc by rolling/dabbing/stamping onto another substrate. Some use copy paper or newspaper, which they then throw away. Others use art journal pages, to keep as a record of what colours they’ve used.

I use the same paper as the one I’m printing on. I lay out a sheet to be printed on, onto my work surface, and I also at the same time lay several other sheets of the same quality and size, somewhere close by, to receive the “inking off” or “rolling off”. It keeps the brayer clean by pulling off excess paint, so I can then load up a different colour without getting mud. It cuts down on the time I spend washing things at the kitchen sink, and gives me more time to spend on printing.

After several practice sessions with Gelli Plate printing, it dawned on me that I sometimes liked the results of the “inked off” sheets better than my actual planned prints.

Hmmm…I may be onto something here.

Recently I’ve started to turn my Gelli Plate monoprints into handmade mini Art Journals. You can read about that here. When I found myself short of a page or two, I used one of my “inked off” sheets, and found to my surprise that the results were very, very interesting and exciting.

So, as Serendipity would have it, I now find myself Gelli printing more and more papers, and at the same time having fun “inking off” more papers. I “ink off” both sides of my paper, because I know they’ll be used to make more mini Art Journals, so both sides have to be painted. I’ve also stopped overthinking my designs and I don’t even plan what stencils I’m using next, or where I’m placing them, or even if they’re crooked. I just “go for it”!

I’ve always been fascinated by handmade books, and in the past I’ve dabbled in bookbinding, so making up these mini Art Journals marries my love for 3 things now – Gelli Plate printing, mixed media and bookbinding.

Oh, and add to that Serendipity (I just love happy accidents and randomness) and I’m a very happy bunny! :-)

Here are some of my Serendipity prints:

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Apathy Must Die

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I was once in a class where the lecturer asked for the meaning of Apathy. No one answered, so I put my hand up and said “Don’t know, don’t care”. Which was funny and also ironic at the same time.

But now, as I’ve grown older (and more mature, I hope!), I see that my flippant reply may have been rooted in ignorance and naivety.

Why? Because Apathy is the greatest weapon of mass destruction the world has ever seen. Never mind wars or crime – what you don’t stop, will continue. What you ignore, you condone. What you don’t speak out against, you approve of by default.

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Jane Goodall stood up for primates. And it’s thanks to people like her (and Dian Fossey) that wild primates and gorillas even have a future today. Someone has to care, otherwise these creatures will go the way of the black rhinoceros.

So, take up a cause or a dozen. Fight against injustice, cruelty, greed, oppression, discrimination. There are hundreds of just causes out there. You just have to care.

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There is really no excuse for anyone to say “But I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?” Because you Can. Look at the image above…what do you think will happen if you, and all the other “little people” refuse to listen to the voice of insanity, and just leave?

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Some may consider the works and words of Dr Seuss childish and aimed for an audience under the age of 6. But in reality, just like the stories of Winnie The Pooh by A.A Milne and my favourite, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, there are many, many nuggets and gems of good Life’s Lessons to be learnt from them.

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The sad thing is, most of society today have been conditioned by TV advertisements, billboards, the internet, radio etc to do only one thing – BUY. Consumerism is the biggest occupation or pre-occupation on earth, subscribed to by 90% of the population. We go about our daily lives purchasing things that we hope will make our lives more fulfilled…not realising that material things will never fill an emotional void. We ignore what goes on behind the scenes – slave labour, child labour, sweatshop scenarios, etc etc etc, or, if we are not ignorant of that, we convince ourselves that all that suffering is for the greater good.

You wouldn’t buy a Blood Diamond, would you, where innocent lives are killed for the sake of increasing the wealth of a few uber-powerful families? So why do you queue up around the block to buy the latest Apple iPhone?

Yes, the gleaming skyscrapers of Dubai are wonderful feats of architecture. I’ve always wanted to visit that city for its buildings. But recently I found out, to my utter horror, exactly how these wonders of the modern world are constructed. Slave labour. That’s how. Here’s Wikipedia’s entry about it, there are dozens more articles about this atrocity.

Imagine thousands of foreign workers from poor countries enticed by false promises of good pay, job prospects, clean housing…and when they arrive, their passports are taken away from them, they are forced to live 12 to a room in hovels, forced to drink unclean, salty water, forced to work up to 16 hours a day in the searing desert heat, for mere cents.

And up above, in the dreaming spires, a few thousand feet closer to heaven, the rich and beautiful flaunt their wares and eat, drink and make merry. Without a care about the plight of the people who built the very floor they stand on.

Ask yourself – in a city that is so full of wealth, where millionnaires abound, why must their buildings be based on the sweat and blood of poorly paid servants? Can these millionnaire Sheikhs not afford to pay their workers more for their labour? Oh, don’t tell me they’re too poor to afford a few dollars more per hour per worker, too poor to provide clean and hygienic housing, too poor to provide desalinated drinking water?

And what are we doing about this? People say these rich Arab countries are too powerful to go up against. So must we just accept the bullying that goes on? Or must we speak out and continue to speak out, until our collective voices are too many to be stilled? I’m speaking now.

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Another great quote by a great man. Ignorance is not bliss. Neither is Apathy. If you want to see a change, you must first BE the change. Even if you think your voice is too small to be heard, speak out anyway. Someone will hear you. Someone will agree with you. Someone will show you the way.

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And we stand by and watch wars being fabricated by governments, in the pursuit of material gains (oil, diamonds, minerals), and swallow the false background stories they dish out to us?? Why??

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It happened in Plato’s time. It happened in our grandparents’ time, our parents’ time. It is happening to us now. And it will continue to happen unless we stop it.

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This quote is by far the most powerful I’ve come across. And it is by the most hated man on earth. But it is 100% accurate. We are like the proverbial frogs in a pot of slowly boiling water. If we don’t take action now, it may be too late. And sadly, for a lot of people, Apathy has already won.

Remember, what you allow, continues.

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I will leave you with this quote I found on Google, that made me smile and at the same time acknowledge its double-edged sharpness.

Unmasked (Facebook, It’s On You)

How, you ask
Does it feel
To be unmasked
After years of living
In another skin?
Does it feel like
Freedom?
Is it liberating
To not have another
Face to hide behind?

Listen, I say
If my life was so easy
I would have never
Needed to create a
Second Life
And if I’d never done that
Then there would not have been
Any need for all this palaver
No need to
Reveal myself
And place my life in danger
Put my neck on the line
Literally

With me
What you see is
What you get
Always has been
And always will be
It was never about the person
It was only about the name
I was
And still am
AlyZen Moonshadow
And I built a new life
Under my new name
– call it my homemade
Witness Protection Plan

I made friends
I met my chosen family
I made Art
I created my own brand
Under that name
And I was proud of
Who I was under that second skin

Until yesterday, when
As a cruel joke, perhaps
(It was, after all, April 1st)
Facebook decided
In its almighty
Impotence I mean Omnipotence
To browbeat me
Into revealing my real name
Dear benign malignant Facebook
Decided my 5-year-old persona
Wasn’t real
Wasn’t permitted
Decided I had to come out
And say my true name

Talk about an Exorcism!

So now the deed is done
The great reveal revealed
Are you proud, Facebook,
Of having made
A victim of domestic violence
Strip herself almost bare
And made it that much easier
For her abuser to track her down
And carry out long-held threats?
No, wait…
Facebook, You have just
Become an abuser yourself
Make no qualms about that

Now I have to start over
As not many of my friends
Recognise my new name
The one I never really used anyway
The one I don’t associate with
Now I have to
Run around doing damage control
Try to plug and repair
The holes and craters in my life
That Facebook created
When it decided
To murder me

Yes, if one day I am found
Murdered
And my child
Abducted
Let it be known now
That Facebook did it.

#mynameis
AlyZen Moonshadow

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Hanging up my (Facebook) boots

Today is April 1st. And apparently the joke’s on me. Facebook has decided to make me its latest victim of its half-baked “real name” policy. After apparently backing down last October about users having to use their real names, due to the great outcry by the world’s LGBT community, and then again this year when Native Americans spoke out, the great cogwheels of Facebook have proven impossible to stop. On and on they go, crunching underfoot millions of users who dared, for one reason or other, use a name they were not born with.

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I’m not LGBT or Native American. I am not a drag queen, celebrity or some other famous personality. I have no financial clout, no millions of followers, no influence over Mark Zuckerberg or anyone at Facebook. I’m just someone who, for personal safety reasons, does not use her real name online. (There’s an abusive ex-partner and the threat of murder and child abduction in the background, but let’s not go into that here…but if I’m found dead and The Kid abducted, Facebook is to blame).

This morning, when I tried to check my Facebook Timeline, I got a message saying I had to change my username to my real name. Not only that, if I wanted to keep my current username, I was required to provide 2 forms of ID, one of which has to have a photo and my date of birth.

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“AlyZen Moonshadow” is obviously not my real name. I’ve only been using it for the last 5 years, as a professional name for my mobile photography art and design. This very blog is under that name. My email, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Etsy, eBay, Society 6, Red Bubble, Zazzle, Fine Art America, deviantArt, ArtHog, Room, Bridgeman Studios, Kess InHouse Designs pages/profiles ALL bear the name “AlyZen Moonshadow”. On Facebook I have never been known by any other name. “AlyZen Moonshadow” mobile photography Art has thousands of hits on Google. I have over the years carefully built a reputation or brand under the name.

And yet Facebook is demanding that I use my real name. As if “AlyZen Moonshadow” is less real than “John Smith”. I’m not sure if someone with a grudge against me reported me to Facebook, or whether my time just came up. After all, to implement this insane real name policy, Facebook has to employ hundreds of people to look through every one of its more than 1.35 billion users, so it could be months or even years before your name came up for scrutiny.

I searched online for others who had had the misfortune of becoming similar victims of Facebook. Jay Smooth (obviously not his real name), a famous DJ and blogger, tweeted an engineer at Facebook, Jeff Ferland in February, when his account got frozen, and in return had his Facebook account reinstated pronto, with an apology for the inconvenience. You can read about it on Lux Alptraum’s blog here.

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Lil Miss Hot Mess, one of the LGBT protestors who had had his account frozen during the Facebook LGBT fiasco, is still waiting for reinstatement, 6 months later.

Lil ole me, on the other hand, who is no one in the big bad world, and who has no strings to pull, won’t stand a chance. My request for reinstatement will simply go into the slush pile and never see the light of day. I’ll have no choice but to let Facebook beat me into submission.

Facebook is Big Brother, with emphasis on Big – big marketing, big advertisements, selling your personal details to other companies for big profits, claiming your photos and artwork posted on its platform as its own, Facebook does everything in a big way.

And when Facebook fails, like now, it does so in a spectacularly big way too.

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So I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for my Facebook account to get reinstated under the name “AlyZen Moonshadow”. I’ve tweeted some people about my plight, sent some messages on Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn, letting friends know the reason I’ve suddenly vanished off the face of Facebook, and telling them to make others aware of what’s happened to me…but in the end I’ll just have to put in my real name.

I just hope my friends still recognise me when they realise my username is different now.

And if anyone finds me dead and my son abducted, Facebook is to blame.

I think it’s high time to hang up my (Facebook) boots for good now…what’s Ello like?