The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Yes, I’m Listening….

The last few weeks of my life involved a move to my new home and gearing up my new business.  Sometime in early January, I was tiring of 16-hour work days in front of the computer, using drag and drop technology to build my website and event registration instead of reinventing the wheel and doing it all myself.

(Thank the Universe for those who build plug-ins for use via donation – you’ve saved my bacon once again for a price my new business can afford!)

And about 10 days ago, my blood pressure sky-rocketed, the excruciating pain and heart palpitations started up again and I thought,

Uh – Oh.

Now, I’m a Creative Workaholic – loosely translated, this means I go through intense periods of work-work-work and just as intense periods of I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-move-and-need-to-rest.

In the past, I silently waited for permission from those around me as to when I was allowed to rest and recoup from my latest creative period (or 36 hour work stint – your choice).

Trust me, those around you rarely, if ever, give you that permission.  If they love you, they will ask you to please quit trying to save the world, pace yourself and get a boring 2-4 hours a day job that consistently brings you a paycheck.

In short, they’ll ask you to be someone other than who you are.

If they make money off your contributions, they will assure you a rest period….just as soon as you finish this and that for them…and qualify for two-weeks vacation.

Either way, even though I’ve had glimmers of the truth over the years and felt like I really tried to live my life in tune with my natural talent and personality, I never really got the message until the stroke.

Instead, I acknowledged the message with a, “Oh yes, doing what you love and works with your own personality is the way to go and just as soon as I can afford to, I’ll try it.”

Not now – post-stroke means any time I deny my body what it needs, it shuts me down and in a hurry, I might add.    I cannot stray far from the path the Universe is urging me towards before I am very obviously jerked back to the reality of what my current limitations (gifts?) are.

So after a grueling month of computer grunt work (it is grunt work – necessary for what I want to do and yes, I can do it fair to middlin’ – but grunt work  nonetheless….), emailing to those who said, “Let me know the minute you start your classes, so I can sign up” and hanging flyers everywhere within a 30 mile radius of my location, I waited…

and waited…

and nada.  No interest, no sign-ups, no glimmer of even a speck of difference in the Universe. (I forgot to mention, I’m big on what I do making a difference, even if it’s only for one person for one nano second in time…)

Then I log in to delete my old blog, reconsider and instead write 4 posts and wouldn’t ya know – more followers signed up that day than ever, got some comments and some “Likes” (thank you very much) and was in turn gently nudged over to the blogs of others who are creative and smart, which I’m gathering is the Universe’s way of getting me to come out from my hermit’s hole and try being around humans again.

Three hours of “Hey, this is fun, I could do this all day without breaking a sweat” netted more feedback, expanded horizons (new people to get to know) and glimpses of beauty (new creative blogs to follow) than weeks of intense, purposeful, “productive” work.

(“Productive work” is a phrase that sticks in my craw – anyone who uses it invariably does not understand or approve you or your work)

Yes, Universe, I’m listening – – and I vowed to take more frequent breaks, concentrate on finishing my book, blogging and let the Universe lead me where it will.


Because I chose to participate in the non-productive this morning -writing- instead of diving into website building and class presentations, the “Let’s go for coffee” phone invitation this morning was greeted with,

“Hey, that sounds good.  Meet you there at 10:00?”

instead of ,

“Oh, I’d love to, but I have to* get some boring geek stuff done today.”

By noon, I’m back at home, loading up a new event registration (guess the grunt work paid off somewhat).   The idea that has been brewing within me for nearly 8 years is coming to fruition, simply because I tossed it out as something I’m passionate about at my coffee date.

I’ll be giving a lecture on Rebuilding Community Resiliency on February 18th.   With plans for other future lectures.  And building a platform for others to lecture and share their special talents, while allowing businesses and organizations to put their real estate to profitable use when they aren’t using it themselves.

(My chatty-Kathy personality simply loves making income from talking, my sustainable heart is pleased at putting local resources to good use and I love providing opportunities for others.   Could it have gotten any better?)

Thank you body and Universe for reminding me to keep on track – – and to be good to myself.   To follow my own work patterns and contribute my special gifts to the community, not just offer what I can do, but don’t necessarily love.

Only took a stroke and a few close calls to train me….

*have to – If this phrase is regularly in your vocabulary, do your best to get rid of as many instances of it as you can.  Of course, phrases like, “I have to roll in the dirt, because my clothes are on fire.” are exempt from deletion.

Community Acupuncture

Acupuncture is my hands-down favorite form of health care.   With diminishing budget and cost increases at the clinic I’ve gone to for nearly 8 years, I had not been able to go in for a treatment for quite some time.

Then I found Springs Community Acupuncture.   Two visits with Becca under my belt and I’m again amazed at how much regular ‘tune-ups’ enrich my life.   And I’m excited to know I can get those tune-ups without breaking the budget.

Springs Community Acupuncture is part of the POCA co-op (People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture).   Founded on the principal that acupuncture should be affordable and accessible to all, this co-op of clinics use innovation and sustainable business models to serve their local communities.

With on-line scheduling tools, walk-in options and a sliding scale of $15-$35 per treatment, I’m doing my best to spread the word about their clinic.   Fast, Friendly, Caring and Economical, I just can’t find enough wonderful adjectives to describe it all – –

If you live in the Eastern Colorado area, I highly recommend this acupuncture clinic.   If you do your best to follow Shop Local guidelines of 100 miles or less,  then you’re within range  if you live in any of the following areas:

Black Forest, Calhan, Cripple Creek, Divide, El Paso County, Elbert County, Elizabeth, Ellicott, Falcon, Florissant, Hugo, Limon, Lincoln County, Matheson, Monument, Peyton, Ramah, Rush, Simla and Teller County, Woodland Park.

Starting Anew

This morning I awoke with the urge to quit working on my new website and instead spend the morning writing.   I intended on making TamrahJo my new home and pen a farewell Bally Bin thank you with the link to find me elsewhere in cyber space.

I couldn’t do it.   For reasons not completely known to me at the moment and against all branding advice from the experts, I cannot let BallyBin go.

As you probably know, I’m a Generalist – Jack of All Trades, Master of Few or None.  Life is too short to spend it’s entirety on one subject, to my way of thinking.   I settled upon my new business name and did my best to weave all that I am into it.   For in the end, aren’t all businesses just the extension of those who run them?

Separating out the two seemed to me a schizophrenic way of doing things – and since what I have to offer my community doesn’t fit simply into one category, it all seemed fine and good to just use my name, and make sure I had really good navigation tools on the website.

I logged in this a.m. to take care of ‘closing blog’ business and found I was loathe to.   Bally Bin still makes sense to me and seems like the comfortable, cozy space in which to post my home, garden and sustainable lifestyle articles.

If you were looking for computer classes, tutoring, website design/hosting or writing services, please visit Tamrah Jo.

If not, here’s where the next chapter in my life begins…


For the past few days, I’ve pondered upon recording the home and lifestyle changes I’m embarking upon – from full-size oven to solar cooker – from electric bill to solar lease payment.    Somehow, it feels as if I’ve been stretching and growing towards this moment in time all my life – and others, it seems as if everything is happening so fast, I’m neither preparded nor loin-girded enough to cope with it all.

My time of sorrows started in August of 2005  – so perhaps I’ve finally cleared my seven years of biblical-Job-existence.  Though I must  confess, I never had to endure sores or boils and it’s impossible to lose all your slaves when you don’t have any.

Numerologically, it appears that I’m finishing the last year in a 9 year cycle and my job is to sweep away the residual negatives of the past and prepare for the new, set to start next August –

Perhaps it is so – who’s to argue with a millenia-old tool for self-improvement?   But I feel as if I must start now.   That, in a way, I’ve been quietly starting for years.   Perhaps, every hope, dream and excitement over some new DIY article from Mother Earth News over the past 30 years has now slumbered long enough and is ready to burst forth from quiet pondering to explosive action.

Hopefully, it’s awakening in my unlearned hands doesn’t lay waste to my new home ….

For so long now, I’ve tried to learn to keep my “What if’s” and “Wouldn’t it be neat?”  to myself – – for a variety of reasons.   My mother, bless her heart, was raised without indoor plumbing, shared a bed with two sisters and knows first hand what it’s like to depend solely on a garden for nourishment.   She has no interest in “going back to the land” – though her flower garden is a beauty to look at.

Other friends and family members believe off-grid living to mean no computer, no TV and beating your clothes on a rock out by the creek to get them clean.    Not all, mind you, believe it to be that drastic – but enough that while my wagon was hitched in tandem to others’ journeys, my dream of evolving towards as much self-sufficiency as I can was nothing more than that, a dream.

A vision of “Someday….”

And now, Someday appears to be arriving.

Through a series of losses, I find myself and my life a relatively bare pallet – canvases waiting for me to create anew.

And while I’m not destitute, I have been downsized, both through circumstance and choice over the years.   Self-Employment with a new business in a new area also means a very conservative budget for new projects.

If nothing else, my journey into creating a new existence on a shoe-string budget, should be interesting and will demand creativity in cost-effective measures.

But even with the slight niggling of fear over my new adventure, there is a freedom I feel now, one I haven’t felt for years.   A freedom to experiment and fail.  For afterall, if my initial attempts fail, I shan’t get fired or laid off – I’m not so mean as to do that to myself.

While I’m not glum enough to believe I have nothing to lose, grief has given me moments of feeling that way over the years.    And perhaps, those moments were enough to propel me towards the freedom and creativity a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude can provide.

Out with the old, in with the new – even if it isn’t December 31st.

Freedom of Food Choices

A few years ago, in an attempt to avoid becoming involved in politics, I told a dairy owner how the battle regarding legal access to raw milk would really be won:

“When 80% of the population prefers raw milk over pasteurized, then legislative bodies must heed the voice of the people.  I’ll contribute to the movement by educating people on the benefits of raw milk and the drawbacks of pasteurized.”

Grassroots movements are, to my mind, the only way to bring about lasting change.   The law just tags along in the wake of social reform.

I see now how naive I was.  I stand corrected.

I should have joined the Raw Milk Association of Colorado then.


I awake to find yet another story of more small dairies raided by local authorities because they dared to give customers what they want – raw milk.  While complying with the local laws.   Which were so broad in nature, they are open to interpretation.

Problem #1

Our complex society contains an equally complex legal system.   Given our desire for “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, we’ve raced around for more than 200 hundred years, forming new laws whenever it seemed one of the Big Three were being threatened by individuals or groups.

In our quest to be safe, secure and free, with the legal backing to punish those who engage in activities harmful to others, we’re slowly wrapping our heads in a plastic bag.

Which, you’ll remember, your mother specifically told you not to do…


Katherine Mangu-Ward’s article, Why Buy the Cow? references three dairy farms who have been the target of bureaucratic raids this summer.  All were going forth with their business, secure in their knowledge they were satisfying all laws and regulations, only to find out they weren’t.  Supposedly because the laws where they live are not specifically, item-by-item clear.   In other words:

“Ignorance of our Interpretation of the law is no excuse.”



As more folks learn the benefits of raw milk, customer base grows.   Instead of proper legislation and regulation reform occurring to support local business, individual freedom of food choice and safety for the individual, we actually see more raids, more destruction or confiscation of private property and all other kinds of personal freedom violations.

Even when no one has gotten sick or filed a complaint.   This tells me Bureaucratic backlash against Grassroots movements does occur.  Around the raw milk industry it happens frequently.

So much for social change via legal,  non-violent means. (First Amendment: Right to Petition)


Where do you draw the line between public safety and individual choice?

How do you fight to preserve your chosen way of life when you have followed the laws, harmed no one and still the local powers that be see you as a threat to society? (Grazin’ Acres Shutdown)

For those who cry for more Safe Food laws and regulations, I’ll remind you there are already remedies in place.

They are called Civil Litigation and Boycott.

If you purchase directly from a food supplier and end up ill, due to their carelessness (not your messy kitchen) then you sue for damages.   If that financial blow isn’t enough to either get their attention and result in improvement or shut down,  then a Boycott will put them out of business.

(I’m pretty certain there are no Federal Bailout funds for small, locally owned dairies. Warning! Boycotts wield the most power within a Free Market, which is quickly disappearing…)

For those who wish for more Food Safety I ask, “When are you going to take some personal responsibility, too?”

I’m convinced there are many benefits from raw milk, but I also took the time to tour the farm and know my supplier.   I observed how their animals were cared for and what kind of living conditions they had.

After all this, had I become ill, I would have had a comin’ to Jesus meeting with my supplier.   Asked them to pay the doctor bill, if applicable. Then made a choice of whether to continue doing business with them or not.

I can do all that by myself without wasting tax-paid services to go do my work for me…

Right now, I can still do that.  You keep whining ‘keep me safe, keep me safe’ I’ll lose that choice….Please quit whining.

(Whining really grates on my nerves…)


If you’ve lost a loved one to food poisoning, then perhaps you’re thinking, “She just doesn’t get it.  If she had lost someone, she’d be taking this seriously.”

Well, newsflash, I’ve lost a son.   He was 17. Killed by bacterial meningitis.   He saw a doctor on Friday and a doctor on Monday morning, with phone consultations on Saturday and Sunday.   Monday morning he got some shots and was sent back home.  Quit breathing about 2 hours later.   Went into a coma.   Spent a day on life support and was brought back from the pearly gates 3 times before I was told there was no hope.

I was assured no mal-practice took place, via a coroner’s investigation.

Who cares?  I took him to folks with a license proclaiming they are legally permitted to  ‘practice medicine’.   I knew what I was getting into.

You don’t see me storming the nation’s capital shouting, “Hey!  I’m tired of all this practicing.  Can you please make it illegal for these folks to be in business unless they damn sure know what they’re doing?   Can you please pass another law so people will quit dying?”

People get sick and people die.  Yes, we would like to prevent it.  Yes, we have an emotional investment.   But please quit blindly calling for laws that cannot possibly prevent all death and illness, but will severely hamper our freedoms in their quest to attempt to.

Sheesh…how many times do I have to say it?

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin, Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin


Research Notes: I was aware of news stories of illness traced back to a goat milk-share farm in Colorado around late June, early July.   I wanted to find an update on that investigation.

A google search of the keywords, “raw goat milk farm in Colorado, July shutdown” produced:

6,740 links in .26 seconds.  The first 11 revealed three bloggers screaming about food safety, 6 watchdog groups relaying information about raids and seizures on personal food stores, and 2 organizations calling for action before our freedom to eat the way we choose is lost.

I like Google.   It both tells me when my search skills need polishing and also gives me an idea of what the national climate around a subject is.  It highlights who knows how to tag, keyword and Search Optimize and who doesn’t.

Those who fight for Freedom of Food Choice are not only good at footnoting their articles, but they also know how to properly SEO their stuff!  Thus ending the allegation that those who prefer raw milk are “uneducated, illiterate country hicks.”