A Patient Veteran, A Beloved Wife, A Sweet Irish Setter And Now My Life by Rick London c2016

By now most know Lee’s and my love for animals.  For much of my life, that meant domestic animals such as dogs and cats, and the occasional iguana or hamster, but for the most part dogs and cats and horses.

animal collection elephant

I had surmised by the time I was ten or so that I may be the biggest animal-lover in the world, thanks to my late friend Dickey Randolph who, though six years older than me, took the time to teach me about dog care. I got my first Irish Setter from him.   And though I will never forget Dickey’s kindness and goodwill (we stayed friends until his untimely death several years back), I know now it was dogs and cats I loved.

I mention that as, I’d never had anyone explain anything that important to me in detail, that stuck with me throughout my lifetime, and became one of the most important parts of who I am; and most likely began my quest as being a vegan as I am now too.

Part of that “memorable miracle” with Dickey was that I was a disabled, but not diagnosed child with Autism (and now of course an adult with autism).  I was quite hyper, didn’t make good eye-contact, and my attention-span was dismal.

He didn’t care, nor did  it bother him in the least when he returned from Viet Nam, a multi-decorated hero, and very good man.  His guidance led me to the curiosity of nature and animals, and Lee took me to further explorations into the forest to see it in all its glory and how animals behave.  I never get bored with that and it has a very healing nature, very similar to the dog I got from Dickey, “Rusty”.

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I didn’t hate cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, but I dined on them.  Along with overcooked veggies that was my staple until college, at which time McDonald’s took over as “the family kitchen”.  I look back and wonder how I ever lived through that, and in reality, almost didn’t.  I was still 35 years away and two major heart attacks from “seeing the cruelty” in what I was doing.

amusing shoes vegan autism

Having owned one of the first health food stores in Ms. with a $10K loan from the now defunct (like my health food store) Bank Of Hattiesburg, with a preacher from Glendale, Ms. who was later bought out by an ex-math professor at USM, I had an early curiosity of health foods, yoga, running etc.  It never occurred to me that something as simple as animal protein (including dairy and eggs) was not only holding me back, but eventually killing me, and how I didn’t die on at least 4 occasions has stumped all my surgical specialists.  I am a blessed and grateful man.

I went full-fledged into that business.  Most of my “education” came from salespersons with high-school degrees and books written by outdated writers.  Food science was moving forward as fast as one could turn a page.  The animal sciences were not far behind.  I was dedicated to trying to eat right, take the right herbs and vitamins, run marathons, and you name it.

I have since learned that cooked vitamins might as well go in the toilet.  To my knowledge there is only one firm that makes 100% organic vegan raw vitamins and that is “Garden Of Life” which we buy in powder form from Amazon or Ebay.  It is amazing and one can tell the difference immediately from the ones we see advertised on tv often which have had all/or most of the nutrients and more importantly live enzymes cooked out of them, so they are useless.

I learned that herbal tinctures, in most cases are far better than the tablets or capsules as far as potency. I also learned that organic and wildcrafted are every bit as important.  In addition I learned that “organic” in China would not pass for edible in the U.S. (for herbs and vitamins).  There’s still much more to be learned.  Not all of it works. Some of it is nothing less than miraculous.   More learning.  It’s neverending.

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Click To Enlarge

Enter Walmart, a new “box store” to the town and exit my store, an old overpriced relic.   I sadly closed my doors in 1981

So I spent some time educating myself regarding food sciences and animal science.

I was married in June 2010 to my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller of Hike Our Planet)who became a vegan one year later. I had already read the health benefits and how it helped the planet but that still wasn’t, for whatever reason enough for me. However I did go mainly vegetarian for a year before my conversion to veganism.

animal collection beaver pillow

It was impossible to watch Lee’s positive changes and not want that for myself.  I didn’t know if it could happen but I was surely willing to try.  She’d lost about 90 or so pounds and about 20 years of age.  I was astounded and still am.  But that was not her goal. It just happened.

She was very patient with me as my evolution kept going with at least some dairy or cheese and finally I said, “I’ve had it”. I thought she’d be surprised but she was not in the least.  She said, we’d both cook alternate days and eat as much raw as we could, and that is just what we did.  I had no idea I would not only actually like it, but crave it, and the thought of my old “food” never even crosses my mind.  I truly don’t think my body could absorb it.  Lee kept looking and feeling better and her mood became very kind. It was not an act.  I’ve seen lots of acts.  This was a natural evolution.  I wanted that too. (Still working on it  LOL).

The life changes are dramatic.  Forget the goodness to the planet, and though I am tickled to death that it happens, there is nothing that would take me back to my old eating lifestyle. I say that because there is no such thing, really, as a vegan diet. Veganism is more of a learning/lifestyle philosophy.

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

Well, Lee retained the good looks, common sense and brains, and I got to feel human maybe for the first time.

Because nobody gets it perfect (I was told that would happen by Ed Begley, Jr.) on Twitter….. (It’s a long story)….I’ve decided not to become a militant vegan, and that fits me well. While I would love the planet to all turn vegan, I also know as Ed told me, “It ain’t gonna happen”.  I would love to live the rest of my life on the planet not killing any animals, but again, it’s not going to happen.  Even in the making of my computer animals are killed.  Lee and I kill insects for instance on our hikes, our ride to the grocery, etc. but not on purpose of course.

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Click To Enlarge

So I wish the Gandhi-wannabes good luck, and let me know how that turns out.  When curious persons are ready, they usually ask us questions. Lee has come up with the idea to have them start with a Meatless Monday which is now a worldwide movement.

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As time goes by and they are still interested, I often direct people to YouTube to watch Sir Paul McCartney’s “Glass Walls”.  Any time I’ve growled or gotten snarly, they ran they other way and ate more meat, with guilt, more meat, nevertheless.  They didn’t want to be much like me and who was I to blame them.  So I changed, and hopefully so did they.

armadillo tee

Meantime I’ve put together a collection of my favorite animal cartoon gifts and tees and I have a lot more in the store collection.  A percentage of each sale benefits various animal and/or vegan causes.

Also for yet even more entertainment, there’s plenty on my cartoon website.

zazzle orgnanic tern

Happy laughing…and eating….and hopefully shopping!

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from an abandoned tin warehouse in rural Ms.  He is married to his best friend and hiking buddy, his beloved bride Lee Hiller-London who owns the nature photography blog Hike Our Planet. Though of course cetaceans are animals (Dolphins, Orcas etc.) Rick keeps a separate section for his ocean mammal friends (gifts).

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Enlightenment, Anger And Forgiveness by Rick London

Upon my enlightenment of what happened to me (early in my life) up until age 60, I became angry.  That is normal (many scapegoat children-turn-adult) never lose that anger.  Even more,  never even discover what happened to them, as it is “the family secret” and all participants who choose to engage “play a role” and play it well for their own survival.

 One of the main roles is to help “build the hierarchy” of the dysfunctional family model, by helping the parents scapegoat the “weak child”, hence removing responsibility of their own dysfunction and projecting it onto the scapegoat (and if that model scapegoat is created at a young enough age) i.e. vis a vie triangulation, isolation, etc. it works quite simply.

Of course there are numerous downsides to this type “family model” that are far too numerous to mention. One is the deception and manipulation mentioned above.  The family generally then turns to their community and screams, “See what a madman we have?  No wonder our family is in turmoil”.  Of course it is all based on deception and untruths. 

And though it “works”, this model harms a lot of people (even outside the family unit) as well as the children (not only the scapegoat child).   All models from the golden child to the lost child are angry (at whom, they are a bit confused/misguided) but that’s merely a fact of the NPD family model (they all think they are angry at the scapegoat). Sadly they are not.

Mix in a heaping tablespoon of  Autism Spectrum (with which I was born),  didn’t only make life difficult, it made it impossible.   Believe me when I tell you, Clark Kent couldn’t have changed into his Spandex and flown out of there without some heavy duty kryptonite burns.

Jung and Satir’s psychological and psychiatric papers are chock-full of these dynamics which are the “fingerprints” of any NPD family.  Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) penned his 2nd book “People Of The Lie” on this very family model.  It is much more commonplace than people know.

So how to heal?  I’ve been reading a great deal on that, and consulting with several top professionals in that field.  I am also now hooked into several large networks that allow me support, and the ADA has assured me they would assist in any external issues that might arise while I attempt to begin my life, possibly for the first time;   and of course my wife Lee is a tremendous support.  Together we are walking through this.

Anger and fear are actually healthy responses to “my enlightenment”.  In fact, I’ve learned that had I not had such emotions, I should be worried.  It would mean I had likely gotten to the point of dissociation and void of all feelings (which would put me right back in the mud, wallowing with the narcissists and their“flying monkeys”)  who continue to occasionally pop up (I choose not to engage with them anymore, however; and that is healthier for both sides

As Katy told Boon in “Animal House” when asked to be his date to the toga party, “I’ll write you a note. I’ll say you’re too well to attend”.  And actually, just as promised from various therapists, once I purged the anger and blogged it, the anger subsided. Have I forgiven the culprits yet?  Of course not.  I know, I know, forgiveness is “the solution” to many things, and I agree, and feel I will forgive one day.

 But if I give a “fake performance” (just to show “how spiritual I am”),  and not feel the anger and “loss of innocence” if you will, that’s exactly what it will be, “a fake performance”.  Fake performances were the very foundation of what I had to do in that original family unit to survive. I refuse to be involved in that kind of behavior ever again.

So forgiveness is on my agenda in the future, but not forgetfulness. It is every bit as important to remember who did these deeds to me, and who enabled them (and who continues to enable some of them) and never, ever allow them in my life again.  They do not deserve that honor.  To be forgiven?  Yes one day.  To be forgotten would be naive and myopic.

Will I write a book (and/or screenplay) regarding my life? I have been approached by several very capable people “interested parties”, and am tossing that idea around.  I’d say “probably so” but I don’t want to do so while my moods are still volatile.

First I want to allow those around me who really love me (Lee) to help in the healing, which she has been doing, and that doesn’t go unrecognized, and continue our hikes as I’ve learned late in life that God’s handiwork aka nature is a healer like no other I’ve ever seen.  Lee agrees, and together our hikes are like magic. 


In college, my first time around, I was not a great student. Now of course I understand more clearly as to why.

I could barely read, and, I actually had never read even one entire book cover-to-cover until age 27, and again, now I have a greater comprehension as to why that occurred too.

A combination of struggling with both autism and scapegoatism, hindered my ability to do so. 

When I finally learned how to read properly (using a ruler or other similar object), it made things much easier.  And though I loved some of the great nature/spirituality writers such as Emerson and Thoreau, I didn’t fully comprehend their core message until experiencing it.  In fact I used to snicker at some of it, sadly.  Now I know how much smarter/wiser they were than I will ever even hope to be.

Lee on the other hand is and always was an avid reader and comprehends what she reads.  Using her instincts, one birthday she got us both Kindle Fires.  Suddenly, due to the brilliant background lighting and large font, enabled me to read and absorb the words (without using a flat object to keep the letters from jumping all over the place).

And though I realize the autism will never go away, I am slowly learning to accept it.  It is in fact a gift after all (I had always heard otherwise). It is why I am able to do a lot of the things I am able to do (especially on the creative side).  In my diagnosis, which was done by the top neuropsychologist in Arkansas, (and allegedly one most respected in this whole region) who does most of the neurological evaluations in this state as she is that respected, and has sat on the Ar. State Autism Board about 35 years who wrote a letter to my GP (which is the result of the evaluation).  She says that even my work is autistic in nature.  (I gave her the URL of my web site). 

Ironically, Lee’s guess and later my guess was Asperger’s.  She noticed numerous “Aspie” movements/gestures etc. for several years.  It took time but upon deep assessment, finally so did I.  But we found out I am much deeper on the Autism spectrum than the Asperger’s spectrum. And though Asperger’s is considered a type of autism, not everyone with autism has it.  I got lucky and have both.

As each day passes, I learn just how lucky and blessed I really am.  I have what I need; more than I ever desired.  I am alive and, though on some days struggling with health issues, I have survived and I am strong.

I am a survivor, of things that (I am told) most people don’t survive.  I don’t say that in glee.  I say that because that is one of the main reasons I blog this topic, very different than my cartoon/humorous stuff, which I find equally important.  Laughter was not easy on many days.  I have been writing cartoons for 18 years.

I notice on days I am able to find humor on which I could rely for a laugh, sometimes that is all I needed to make it through the day.

But I also needed information like this (on this topic). 

It is not fun to write, and sometimes it isn’t easy to write. But for me, it is very necessary to write.  I’ve already been told of several families who have been helped.  Young lives who won’t have to go through what I did.

Several families have opted for professional help rather than ego-driven narcissism/power etc. to greet and welcome in life.  To them I say, “God bless you” and please do keep the faith.   All that pain, made this day worthwhile for me, and I hope and pray that in your own journey toward recovery, both of us will be able to look back and say, “Now what was that that was bothering me back in July of 2015? I don’t even remember”. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which have remained Google #1 ranked since 2005.  He is active in such causes as autism/Asperger’s, animals, children and the environment.

Deep Dish Pizza The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

I like pizza and I like philosophy.  Not just any pizza and not just any philosophy.

I thought I liked Chicago Brick Oven Pizza until I tasted my wife Lee’s homeade vegan from scratch pizza and I know none other comes close.  A loving sharing part of me feels she should open a restaurant and its as if the devil on the other side of my shoulder says, “No, that’s just for the two of you”.

Fortunately, Lee’s run her own restaurant, and knows that if one wants to live ones golden years in happiness, at least in our case, one does not want to run a restaurant.  She used to tell me the same thing (about my Cajun dishes) and at times I entertained it, and then remembered, I’d worked in the food service business many times, and it was even a rough job in my youth, I can only imagine what it would be like today.

Besides both of us love being out in nature and waxing philosophical.

Over the years I have observed some interesting and exciting things about Lee (other than her uncanny ability to cook, particularly bake).  That part makes sense to me though she could have easily missed the gene.  One of her ancestors was a famous baker in England and there is no doubt she did inherit that gene.  I thought I knew how to cook; and spent many years in my youth in New Orleans kitchens, invited by famous chefs who “showed me their tricks”.  Of course I didn’t learn a lot, but enough to grow up to be able to cook okay, but nothing like what Lee knows how to do.

Lee is also (to me) eye candy.  I never get tired of admiring her beauty.  In the old days attractive women were titled “dishes”.  As years went by and the womens movement grew, so were men that were deemed attractive.  And of course pizza with thick crust is called deep-dish pizza.  Hence the above cartoon.

Another thing the two of us love to do is wax philosophical as I mentioned.  We can either be at our living room office desks and a topic will arise that just must be discussed at that very moment.  I used to not understand the urgency. Now I do. We’d forget the subject otherwise unless we wrote it down.

And though for the most part we both enjoy solitude and silence while hiking in the forest, both of our ADHD kicks into overdrive when we see some type of wildlife or plant/floral growth that is unique and just waiting to be photographed.  She’s been teaching me how to do that and I’ve learned to love photography.

We even love those “National Geographic Moments” that happen so fast, there’s no way to capture them in the lens.  One happened a few weeks ago; and it was funny as we’d not seen an owl in a long time.  Lee touched one of our big favorite oaks and as if to talk to the forest, asked it to show us a great big owl.  We walked another quarter of a mile and I wrote an “owl quote” about barn owls being stoked.  Then we heard a loud squawk.  We looked about 15 feet off to the left and there was a large blue jay squawking loudly on a tall rotten tree stump.  Lee started snapping photos of it.

I didn’t see the large bluejay but I saw an even larger bird, much larger on the ground.  I asked her, “Are you taking a photo of that crow? I think that might be the biggest crow I’ve ever seen…no wait, it’s got to be a hawk…too big for a crow..”. I looked again and it was an owl; am guessing between 40 and 50 lbs.  Watching it “take off” was astounding.  It had to “fly” about 50 ft along the forest ground before gaining enough wind to truly get into the air.

We were in great wonderment at the bravery of the bluejay.  Bluejays are the “warning signalers” of the forest.  They warn other birds and chipmunks etc of birds of prey.  Usually from a distance.  This bluejay was only about 10 ft. away from the large owl which could have devoured it in one gulp.

Then we remembered Lee touching the tree and asking to see an owl.  The forest responded.

Clearly, skeptical me thought it was a fluke.  Last week we were on another hike on the same trail.  We remembered we’d not seen a deer in about 5 or more months, and we used to see them all the time.  She asked the forest “for a deer”.  Suddenly there was one of the largest deer we’d ever seen right in front of us about 30 yards down the mountain.  It “modeled” for us so that we could take about 10 minutes worth of photos of it.

Nature is an amazing thing.  Since Emerson felt we (humans) were/are a part of nature, there is no reason it should not respond to our requests.  Emerson, though a college student in New England lived at Walden Pond in a home he built across the lake from Thoreau.  He loved it every bit as much as Thoreau and actually put up the money to buy it (it was not their first choice of properties).  Emerson’s parents, however had other plans and he was made to return to college.   But his love and fascination of nature never ended.

It is a philosophy that speaks in another language, yet one we all understand.  We are humbled and honored to be a part of it.

Deep Dish Pizza is available on all sorts of gifts and collectibles.  To see more view or……

shop now buttonr resize

 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons which he launched in 1997 and his funny gift shop Rick London Gifts.

It’s High Time To Laugh by Rick London (My New Line Of Watches) How? Why?

Before much recorded history, there was “fun fiction” called Greek mythology. 

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      One of the most read and famous stories was the one of Narcissus. 

      He was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leiriope, was an extremely good-looking Greek youth. His beauty ultimately led to his death…if I remember my Greek mythology studies in college I believe he was staring at his reflection in a pond fell in and drowned. 

      I only mention that because, to me, today’s new narcissism is the blog.  Not as intense, but let’s face it.  We humans have a little bit if not a lot of vanity.  We buy products that make us appear younger, unless we are under eighteen and trying to buy beer.  But those fake mustaches look rather silly, and really not worth the trouble. 

     We also now blog.  When I started on the Internet, we all shared our thought’s and opinions on forums and in chat rooms owned and managed by others.  But it gave us our “vanity fix”.  We got the word out, at least our humble opinions right into mainstream media. Ok maybe right into Yahoo! Chat but it sure seemed big time.

      Now I’m like Narcissus staring into an empty page that tells me its a humor blog called “RickLondonSyndication”.  Now tell me that’s not impressive 🙂

     I used to blog a lot and then got busy designing products and writing cartoons and could never seem to find the time.  The other truth is I could never seem to find anything interesting enough to share publicly.  Though it may seem to others that what my very talented nature photography wife Lee Hiller-London and I do is quite glamorous, we are much more often running errands and spraying Deep Woods Off Spray on us before hiking because we tend to get bit a lot.

     But she told me I should blog about some of my cartoons and/or products (cartoon watches in this case)  and I like that idea, even though I don’t know that I will always be accurate as the impetus/motivation of a lot of them come from a series of events, and some from just sitting there, or even meditating in the bathtub.

     Last week she told me one of our main manufacturer/dropshippers “Zazzle” had added a number of new products and one of them was beautiful humorous unisex watches.   Lee and I had just experimented with stopping wearing our watches last month, and I was beginning to miss mine.

     Several events led to the end of my wearing a watch.  I like to buy cheapies because I tend to break or lose watches whether they are Timex or Piaget.  So WalMart watches it was. For awhile anyway, until I went “wrist-naked”.

      Then I saw what I could do with the vintage mens/womens watches provided by Zazzle.  I can add my cartoons on some, my love quote graphics and quotes on some, and even add some to my famous wisdom quote shop.  This could be hot.   So I was off to the races last week, creating at least 10-15 watches per day (I digitally design them on my pc and Zazzle provides the software).

      So here I am hyping myself, my watches and my talent as if it is something I just take for granted.  Please note that I believe God has been very very good to me. I live in a town that is paradise.  I have a wonderful wife.  My businesses make a living.  I’m fifty nine, but I’m not in bed all day.  I work, I hike in the mountains, I admire the beauty of nature and commune and actually talk to the animals in the forest.  But yesterday we were in the forest on a mountain far, far away, and I realized, “Hey Rick, no watch”.  Then I thought, “Rick, you could buy one of your own”.

     “Whoaaa, I thought to myself.  My watches admittedly look good (sticks toe in reflecting pond)….but would WalMart ever let me forget that I bought one of mine and not theirs?

      Does it really matter?  Am I the only person on the planet who feels guilt that long ago I told Walmart I loved their watches and would always buy them there.   Do I think they will now go under because Rick didn’t buy his next watch there?

     I hope you like my new Rick London watch I will be buying next week.  I will post a photo of it, but shhhhh….please don’t tell WalMart. 

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zazzle gift watches

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Rick London is an author, musician, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 in an abandoned Ms. tin shed/warehouse.  LTCartoons.com has since become Google and Bing’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts

 

 

 

  

America The Divided by Rick London

      Those who know me well, know I don’t judge a person by his/her politics, religion, race or any other petty nonsense.  I try my best not to judge anyone but the times I miss the mark, I just judge on character. And that’s okay. It’s not perfect but it’s human.   I learn to not only tolerate but celebrate differences of opinion.

    If everyone believed, voted or acted like me, we’d live in a very boring world (and my wife thinks “probably a bit immature one too”) I’m sure.  Most my posts are intended to be humorous. Occasionally I will create something I see as “a truth”; and test it here. Sometimes it ruffles feathers and that’s a good thing. I never personally attack anyone who visits my page.  I invite social discourse, disagreements are fine and if they play by polite rules of conduct, I don’t care what their philosophy is.  They are welcome to stay and debate until they are out of breath if they are enjoying it.

       I do not post it to be YOUR truth, I post it to see if you recognize anything in it that rings true to you also. If you don’t, it does not anger me in the least. If you do, I smile a bit.  Today I posted what I saw on several Osama Bin Laden videos and “his vision for America” when he was alive.  It appears 9/11 but was step one in a series of steps to “divide America” so that it would “implode from within”.  It would (hopefully) cause huge financial burden. It did; bigger than he ever imagined as we almost immediately went to war; where he wasn’t…in Iraq.

     But his evil instincts were correct. GW Bush bought right into them as did so many of us (me included; so I was not preaching from a high horse). But I’ve seen, researched and know enough now to know what he wanted. To create a far left and far right; so far apart (especially fiscally), that America would be the Un-United States Of America.  I tried far left and far right and saw the never-ending battle of pushing the other side further into their corner, and they pushing me further into mine.

      Then it occurred to me “the middle is where the fence is”; and there is no mending fences unless one is brave enough to move to the middle (they can stay Republican or Democrat or Liberal or Conservative) but drop the knee-jerk extremism that Bin Laden so much prayed for (and even joked about in his cave interview with Peter Bergen); and many of his solo videos (and audios).  I will now always be a centrist who loves America (all of America). I will not judge on accidents of birth, status, or any other ridiculous notion.  America is a very special country. Don’t believe it? Just read the Constitution. Do you think I could do what I do in any other country?  Not even close.

       Our brilliant Constitution guarantees that I can, and (ask my wife Lee) some of the most powerful lawyers in the country have tried to make me stop (on more than one occasion): the same lawyers who have tried to make SNL stop, Mad Magazine, and other barometers that remind us if we are still living in a free nation (or not).  When they are gone,  so are we (at least a free America).  Most of us don’t think of satire or parody that way.  But The Fair Use Act speaks of its importance.

        I don’t care for whom you vote. That’s your business. I would never go to your page and tell you how very wrong you are if you named a candidate for whom I did not care.  I would hope you would be mature enough to share the same respect.  However, I don’t necessarily want you to vote for my candidate.   He might not be for you.  Yours might not be for me. Never try to bully me into voting for yours; you can be assured I will give the same respect.  All I ask of you is to consider what Osama Bin Laden’s biggst dream for us was. A divided America.  And so far, he’s getting his way.  Let’s get less extreme in our views, whether left or right; otherwise,  Mitt Romney is right; his death is really no big deal to be celebrated…..his dream lives on.  Finally, Thank God for our U.S. Military; and we are particularly thinking of the US Navy Team 6 who took out the most evil man on the planet, the man who killed so many of our innocents and did a very successful job of dividing our nation. Now its our job to fix our nation.  We can never ever let him have his way, even in death…especially in death.  There is a tendency to kill the messenger.

       I encourage you to watch his videos on YouTube and you will see what I mean.  It’s not me you’re angry at. You are as angry at him as I am; as he created the environment to make a far left and far right exist, fight each other to the point where they each was/is the target enemy whether it is black, white, gay, straight, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Bhuddist, Wiccan, Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative and any other label people use to justify their differences.  

     The bottom line is that we’ve been taught over the years by well-meaninged teachers, parents, ministers, tv talking heads etc. that those who believed, voted, acted etc. different than us “were the enemy”. Nothing could be further than the truth.  But changing that is easier said than done.  We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that; and, it is not the case. 

      It may (as psychologists call it for many of us) take behavior modification.  That could mean therapy. It might mean simply changing your mind. It may take research.  It will take what it takes, but let’s do what it takes, so that Bin Laden does not get his way. 

     I have gotten to the point where I know that the person who votes differently than me is not my enemy.  The person who has a different faith or belief or philosophy than me is not my enemy. I know that a person who competes with me doing the same kind of business is not my enemy.  The irritable irrational weird uncle or relative is not my enemy.  Al Queida is my enemy because I am an American, like you, and they want to kill me, and you.  Those other people simply may be irritated at me, or you and that’s fine.  There’s a big difference.  Work on yourself as I am working on myself. I continue to head toward the center because that is where the fence that needs mending is.  And together, left, right, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, black, white, etc etc etc. working TOGETHER in a democracy that our Constitution provides is unbeatable.  In fact, even in “this imperfect union” if we begin to mend the fences that Al Queida almost successfully severed, that is perfect enough for me. It will be a process and there will be bumps.  I am okay with that.

     Nobody has to change what they are, in fact please don’t change what/who you are. That is sacred and to be cherished.  You are one of God’s children. But in some ways for America to work again, we may all have to change how we think and act; and not as dramatically as one thinks. Simply recognizing extremism from the far left and far right as it comes our way, and not fight back, simply let them know that sanity exists in the middle. In fact, those in the middle who accept everyone (and they have every right to stay left or right if they do not want to be part of the solution) and we can accept that. Not everyone is going to be a part of the solution. Life is not perfect nor do we live in a perfect world. But I truly believe there are enough good people out there who are sick of what we have seen over the past decade or so, the extremes (who are out for themselves, not the betterment or future of America) and its okay if they don’t to participate in the rebuilding of America.  What is important is that we do.

      Let’s no longer justify our differences by labeling each other and/or demonizing another human being who thinks or believes different than you or me as Bin Laden so desperately wanted and came so close with his evil but clever manipulative power to make happen.  Lets celebrate our same-nesses on this one year anniversary of our brave Navy Seals turning him into a rancid piece of sushi.  Goodbye to bad garbage. It’s time for America to heal.  Be a part of the solution, and I’ll do my best to do the same.  Thanks all….and I mean ALL. You are our neighbors and friends. And that’s enough for us.

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Rick London is a freelance writer, songwriter, designer, and cartoonist who lives and loves America and lives in the glorious Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his wife nature photographer Lee Hiller-London.  They are both active in environmental, animal, children and veteran causes.  Rick founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons in 1997 and Google’s number one offbeat cartoon gifts in 2006. His wife runs the popular nature wildlife blog HikeOurPlanet.com and LeeHillerDesigns.com. London recently launched his cartoons on funny hoodies at his PlanetHoodie.com shop. Follow them on Twitter @RickLondon & @LeeHillerLondon  Rick London’s facebook fan page is http://www.Facebook.Com/LTCartoons.

How To Survive Depression When You Don’t Have It; & A Few Thoughts After 15 Years Of Cartooning & Design by Rick London

March 19th, 2012 will mark the 15th year of my “creative venture that couldn’t be done”.  Amazon Kindle just put up my 15th anniversary compilation book, but the 13th anniversary continues to sell better. That’s okay. It was never supposed to happen. In fact I wasn’t suposed to be able to do it.  So many said so. And that’s why I smile as I type this. 


My 15th Anniversary Book Cover (Click To Enlarge)

Walther Bagehot once said, “The greatest pleasure in life is in doing what people say you cannot do”.    

    Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Edison, Einstein, Thoreau, Emerson, Galileo, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Dali, and many other writers, artists, and, you name it, have similar themes that run through their most famous quotes that is, “There is great pleasure in doing what everyone said couldn’t be done”.

 I’ll preface the rest of this blog with, “I don’t put myself even close to a league of any of the aforementioned giants, please trust me on that..I’m not that grandiose”. I can honestly say, that most of them were “spiritual mentors” and/or were and continue to be influences.

I was born into a family in which I was expected to be “heir to the throne” of a family business; a family real estate business.

I used to joke that when I was born, the nurse put me in my mom’s arms and said, “Congratulations, Ms. London, it’s a Realtor.”

Slow Realtor (Click To Enlarge) by LTCartoons.com

That used to cause a resentment for me, but now that I see the whole picture,  and why God, the Universe or whatever caused it to happen, all I can say is “thank you, thank you, thank you.  I couldn’t have dreamed this life.  Is it perfect? No.  But it is very very good, and I really could not have imagined it.

I was no good at real estate (nor much else) as I had a rare disease that affects the vagus nerve and there was no treatment (had it all my life) in which the vagus nerve, the largest nerve in the body, does  not function, or barely functions.  It is often misdiagnosed for depression, mental illness etc.  It’s neither.

I was told I had garden variety depression for 28 years and treated for it.  I didn’t have it and no treatment was helping me improve.

About 1998, I read an article in New Yorker Magazine on clinical trials for a new implant called theVagus Nerve Stimulator or VNS made by a firm in Houston called Cyberonics.  It had been approved a decade earlier for TRE (Treatment Resistant Epilepsy) but was not yet approved for TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) which is a misnomer as it is not depression at all, but merely mimics it.  It is estimated that about  20 million people have it who think, as do their doctors, that they have depression or schizophrenia or bipolar or “name your poison” but they don’t Most of them have never heard of VNS and very few of their doctors have either.

I had to wait another seven years to get the treatment and do a lot of pre-planning.  Some of it included contacting Cyberonics and getting a caseworker before FDA approval.  The other was let the doctors know the meds and talk therapy was not working so they would try a variation of many different ones, just to be sure it was not depression, as eventually (if it really is depression), it would improve with at least one of the variations. It never did.

On January 25th, 2005, I woke up from the surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Little Rock.  A week later, all the “depression” was gone; mainly because it had never been depression in the first place.  I am not certain which was more painful while fighting the disease before having the implant, the disease itself, or the punishment from a very superstitious culture who felt people didn’t get such diseases unless they had distanced themselves from God.  I had to live with that pnishment from so many ignorant people on top of fighting the disease which was being incorrectly diagnosed and treated as such.  

I was very lucky. Not many in the U.S. received the treatment when the FDA opened a very short window for it.  The large pharmaceuticals and even the American Psychiatric Association, and insurance giants fought it vigorously, and with that much power, the FDA made it virtually impossible to get, unless someone can shell out $50,000.  So only a few of us got it when it was covered. It is still not impossible to get it (even covered if one needs it), but they must be willing to try nearly every modicum of treatment for depression there is and have a Cyberonics caseworker monitoring his/her progress or lack thereof.

I have no resentments from that though.  Had all that not happened, I would not have been able to “do the impossible”; all the things people, including family, said “he’ll never do”.  “He shames us” was the word I often heard from mutual friends of my other blood family.  “He’s lost his way. If he’d just go to the right church and really pray”.  Some of the armchair diagnosis was so ridiculous that they were almost funny, if they’d not been so sad. It made me wonder how they treated their own family who ran into issues in which the doctors did not have answers.  Thank God I had the common sense to move close to one of the top 12 research hospitals in America, University Of Arkansas Little Rock.  St. Vincent’s is on their campus.  Had I not, and not received the VNS implant, I am positive I would have left this planet at least a decade ago.  I am a very blessed man.

 

So what were the consequences of finally getting the right diagnosis and treatment?  I returned to school and learned a great deal about business information management, digital design, and IT marketing.

I took LTCartoons to heights that no other offbeat cartoon has even come close.  Of course in any case where someone starts “looking good” like I did, there were many others behind the scene. I will elaborate later.  In just eight years LTCartoons.com became Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts on the Internet.  Then MS opened Bing and within a week we not only were ranked #1 there too, but own the whole first and most of their second search page.  We have remained #1 on both ever since and it is now 2012; seven years later.

 

My main site LTCartoons.com now has 5500+ mostly color cartoons and my various online stores showcase app. ¼ million licensed gifts and collectibles bearing our imagines.  I say “our” because that was what I was talking about…others making me look good.  Most cartoons we see today in the paper are teams these days.  The lone cartoonist still exists, but the teams are just as prevalent.  I am the concept guy, writer and “blueprint guy..that is the designer of the cartoons, describing details etc and assigning each to the appropriate illustrator) who I know can render it best.  Then I begin digitally designing the products.  I have our main manufacturer 3Drose to thank, Zazzle, Amazon and Printfection to thank for that.  Also who would have thought Amazon and Sears Marketplace would be my primary partners? If you’d told me that even a decade ago, I would have suggested therapy (for you).

I have a very sweet kind wife who loves me as I love her. We have a mutual respect for each other too and many similar interests.  Yes we have issues on which we disagree but the positive far outweighs the negative.  We are in similar businesses (both design) and though she’s a nature photographer and mountain hiker, I am not a photographer, but an avid hiker and nature lover so we enjoy many long mountain hikes together.

My Beautiful Wife Lee

 

We both share a love of God and a similar perception of Him.  We don’t push that philosophy and/or ideals onto others, but that adds more bond to our bonding.  We both care about life, all life, human and animal.  We’re both vegan and eat organic foods most of the time.  We started mid-life (as well as hiking) but hey, better late than never.  And for it was after 2 major heart attacks and for her after surviving cancer.  So we are proof that it is never too late to start anything new.

I have two books out now. Londons  Times Cartoons 13th and 15th anniversary and both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sell them as well as many independent book stores around the world.  Lee has a beautiful photography book out “The Nature Of Love” with similar sellers.

Around 1994, I read a very good book on the psychology of creative entrepreneurialism that I think was called “Blue Thunder” or something like that.  I read something in it that I really didn’t believe at the time. I was forty years old. It said that almost anything you’ve done in your life and career up until age fifty doesn’t even count because the mind of modern man and woman really doesn’t develop enough (for the majority of people) until age fifty, at which time we are all infants in whatever path we  are taking), so take it slow, but take it surely.

I now not only believe that, I know that to be true.  I might add, many of my friends have either retired or semi-retired at age fifty or sixty; or, slowed way down. I look at life in an opposite way.  I believe it is a time to try what you were frightened to try when you were younger. I don’t mean be careless or reckless but try something different.

If you’ve always wanted to go back to school, there’s no excuse not to now.  There are plenty of grants, low interest loans and accredited online colleges now.  Skydive. Plant a garden. Start a business.  Have no money? Start an Internet business. Don’t know how to start an Internet business with little or no money?  Go to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble sites and type into their search engines “How to start an Internet business with little or no money”.  There are plenty good ones written on the topic.

I started mine 15 years ago this March 19th with about $300, and no home or car.  I now have a home and car and don’t have any idea how much my Internet business are worth, but I imagine a good bit. My wife and I don’t have debt because we’ve paid for everything. We use debit cards rather than credit cards and save all the interest our peers are paying out each month.  We scaled down. We live smaller but we live a lot happier.

 

 

At first these changes were very difficult. All change is difficult, even positive, especially as we get older.  But as time went by, and we started seeing the advantages, there was and is no turning back.  Life is not about keeping up with the Jones’ anymore. What a sad waste of time. Life is about service, fun, learning to love oneself, and trying to live in the most spiritual way one can, and that part I can’t explain as that is personal between oneself and his/her perception of God.  Good luck everyone.  Whatever it is, if you take it a step at a time, and are okay with some obstacles and/or rejection, you are well on your way to whatever you ever wished or dreamed.  Really.

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I am a goofy vegan mountain man who loves life, my work, my wife, and the mountains of Arkansas. I founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) & Funny Gifts in 1997 and it has been #1 on the Internet since 2005. I love to design. I don’t only design offbeat cartoon merchandise, but serious famous quotes gifts at my RickLondonWisdomShop.com and LoveQuoteGifts.com which contained my licensed images of famous persons with their famous quotes on gifts, tees, mugs etc.  My two cartoon books are available at Amazon.com (on both coffee table and Kindle) and Barnes & Noble.  I like dogs. I like cats. I love wildlife, nature, hiking and anything outdoors. My beautiful talented wife Lee (see above) is a talented nature photographer and has the blog HikeOurPlanet.com  I don’t have depression.  I’m very blessed Thank you G-d.

Twas The Hike Before Christmas by Rick London

Hot Springs Mountain (Click To Enlarge)

Twas our hike before Chrismas, I was out with my spouse


All the creatures had burrowed, except one lazy mouse,
In hibernation were our miniature bears,
You could’ve opened a jar of honey, they wouldn’t have cared.

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

On the trails our hiking boots left their tread marks in the dirt of the path,
The squirrels high in their oak trees, which they called their beds,
Where Goat Rock Trail ended there was a deep gap,
If you fall just pray your bunjee chord doesn’t snap.

When out on the trail there was one bloody splatter
Lee turned around to see what was the matter.
Onto the trail there was such a crash,
It was me on the ground, my knee had been smashed.

My left knee looked like the ear of Vincent Van Gogh,
I looked at the cliff several thousand feet below.
It was close to the last place we’d seen some beautiful deer,
Maybe my mojo was gone, I’d quite drinking ginger beer.

Wounded Knee (Click To Enlarge)

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

I told Lee it was nothing than just a small nick,

But my knee was torn up by a sharp white quartz brick.
Hiking vertically home was my previous aim,

Now if I could only stand up was the name of the game.

Lee had just snapped a thrasher or wren,
My commune with nature had ended its Zen,
From perfect utopia to the pain of the fall,

It was like Forrest Gump hitting “the wall”.

I looked toward the Universe and asked “Why, why, why?”
I had to get home to make my vegan stir fry.
To pull the skin on my knee back together I’d need Super Glue
But Lee assured me Hydrogen Peroxide “would work for you, fool”.

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

I pulled up my pants to my knees, Lee snapped a shot of this goof,
I told her I was fine. I can be so aloof.
I spoke of natural healing, I can be so profound,
Told her “I’d be fine” while she was thinking “MAN DOWN”.

Now that my tendons and ligaments have all gone kaput,
It started with my ankle and traveled to my foot.
All I could think was “Where’s my ice pack?”
But I wouldn’t find it until I got back.

I weigh a bit much for Lee to have carried,

We both have GPS cell phones…could have called St. Joe’s,

But that’s a big hospital and continues to grow.

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

I was far from deceased & my living will states who’s bequeathed.
But like I said earlier it was just torn skin on my knee.
I looked down the mountain and felt kind of silly.
The terrain was quite steep, more than just hilly.

I looked up at Lee and thought to myself,
I could fall again, I’m taller than an elf,
With 1/2 a spirulina bar I had to be fed,

I’d be so embarrassed found on North Mountain of a Wounded Knee dead,
Have tumbled so often I feel like a jerk,

I’m now 58,  no longer a young turk.

As I complete these words I attempt to compose
I hope that when finished interpreted as prose.

I looked in the sky not a bird or it’s whistle,
Just a few jet chemtrails resembling a missile.
A few miles later I saw such a sight,

Soon home and bathroom, hydrogen peroxide wins the fight.

Rick London c2011

Click To Enlarge

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I’m a goofy (uncoordinated) vegan mountain man who enjoys nature and hiking with my wife,nature photographer Lee Hiller=London.  I love animals, kids, nature and such. I founded Londons TimesOffbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts in 1997 which has been Google’s #1 on the Internet and now Bing as well.  I like to design shoes, gifts and clothing in such stores as my Rick London Designs (and I have a few others) and I also founded the 1st (and still only) offbeat cartoon shop that is dedicated to all 100% organic cotton tees (using soy non-toxic dyes) called Rick London Organics.

Bullying, Politics, Herman Cain, Joe Paterno & You Name It..It’s Here by Rick London

              I just read a Twitter post about bullying written by a guy I know to be a bully.   The government of Iran wants to blow us up.  Herman Cain probably chases women, and is sort of sure who President Obama is and what Libya is.  Jerry Sandusky is very ill and a criminal.  Joe Paterno went from hero to great disappointment and possibly a criminal along with the ex President of Penn State.  Syracuse has come out with similar allegations.  Let’s not be surprise but there could be more.  Ironically I’m not that much of a news junkie and certainly not a political animal.  I love nature, hiking, and watching Netflix movies with my wife. I occasionally make people laugh with my cartoons.

        On the other hand…………………….

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      Our economy is on the skids, and politicians are circling the Presidental wagon. Rick Perry says “Whoops” in a cute way in which he does not pronounce his “W’s”, but we’re in big big trouble when Ron Paul has to give him the answer to an easy beltway trivia question.  The thirty year old Natalie Wood case is being reopened. Famous Hollywood Couples are announcing not only their divorces but “What the marriage meant to them” on Twitter.  Newt’s wife likes Tiffany’s.  Newt “did it with women” for our country.  One has to ask, did she yell “Oh Newt baby Sign me with you John Hancock” at, um…the end of the act?  Michele Bachman applauds our founding fathers for freeing the slaves.  She’s anti-socialism but got one of the largest social farm grants ever (then voted against it).  Romney passed a health care bill more socialist than Obamacare while in Ma. (but says now “that kind of bill only works in states). Oh.  LOL.  Uh, Mitt…this is the United States. 50 of them. Ok, never mind.  The whole thing, Democrat and Republican is the keystone cops we’ve come to expect

      My homestate  of Mississippi voted on a bill called Personhood. Fortunately it was unanimously voted down but had it passed something like a wet dream and one could have found oneself life in Parchman or even the chair. A miscarriage could have meant solitary confinement or something like that.  God knows what a menstrual cycle could have gotten ya.  I don’t even want to know.  Kudos for Mississippi for knowing better than insanity.  Much better.

John Huntsman is quiet….and sane; and is actually the only one of the candidates on either side who has stated publicly exactly what the job description of President is.  Can you imagine..a candidate that actually understands the job. I know, I know…he’s not exciting/charismatic enough but has cute daughters.

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     Obama is smart but not in the least when it comes to economics (excellent on snuffing out big time terrorists and my hat’s off to him for that).  Congress is dismal.  Occupy Wall Street is worldwide but can you imagine the greedy 1% suddenly begin throwing money to them out their high-rise windows in complete shame and guilt with tears running down their eyes? Ain’t gonna happen.  Life is compromise and both sides will one day learn that.  Maybe the hard way.  Hope not.       

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       I am a designer and write cartoons and blogs and am sometimes asked, “What goes through your head?” (see above paragraph).  And even when the items in the above paragraph (to borrow a phrase from Herman Cain “are twirling through my head”), there is always the chance of creative or writer’s block.

      When that happens, I have learned over the years never to mention it, at least not on social media or in public.  When I used to, I found myself surrounded by the dregs of society known as “life coaches” willing to sell it back to me (for a nominal fee starting at app. $5000), but I get a lot of their cool cd’s and workbooks).  So it’s a tough decision.  When questioned what they have done on a creative level etc.  I’m often led to their “free ebook”.  They have a similar demeanor of an Elmer Gantry or a moat of crocodiles surrounding a once creative human in a moat who could write and swim but suddenly has writers and swimmers block.  The only difference between a crocodile and a life coach is the crocodile has not learned to charge exorbitant fees for eating you alive.

         So I have these online shops you see and they sell my designs on products like tees, mugs, mouse pads, aprons, etc ., and its starting to get busy again.  I asked myself why, as I could tell many were buying gift items.  I never used to shop for Christmas or Hanukah gifts this early, but some started in the summer.  Why?  It’s simple.  Best prices and service (which still exists as I decided to keep it all the same all the way through the 2012.  But also many like to get it out of the way. Keep in mind these are usually folks who’ve not been bankrupted previously by the crafty lifecoach. 

        When (again thanks Herman) my mind begins twirling with all the things around me, I think of why I’m grateful. I have the most wonderful wife in the world.  Our home office eclipses the most beautifully mountain in the Ouchita Range (possibly the world). We hike it and others when we want to. Our quality of living is very high, cost of living very low.   We have no debt. Our cars are paid in full.  We both are published authors and have our own brand businesses. 

      Are we smarter, more talented, better than anyone else? Not in the least.  I mention that because people sometimes ask “our secret”.  Its far from being a secret.  I can only say, “Start where you are; even if its at the bottom. That is where I was.  Learn. Ask questions.  Stay persistent.  Keep working.  And when something sidetracks you (and it will); forgive yourself and go back to work.  On several occasions over the past year, Lee and I found ourselves entrapped in “helping someone else build their empires for slave labor”. We gave them every opportunity to offer some kind of compensation.  They totally ignored they were doing anything wrong….our answer?  We totally ignored them. 

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     We don’t mind helping others succeed, but help us back.  It need not be money. It can be promotion, co-branding, etc. but please, please, understand fully what that means.  It can’t be what you want it to mean, or what some life coach taught you.

     Otherwise, Lee and I design some of the most unique (we think) gift items on the planet. So its okay if we go it alone (we have a great deal of fun).

      That is the way it should be for you too, but please be advised,  chances are good it won’t happen overnight.  I’ve been at it 14 years and Lee has been at it 2 years.  There are many sleepless nights and lots of fires to extinguish and still much to learn (for us). 

And we both started at middle age.   So can you.  Now get to work but first visit our shops and buy things so you’ll know even better how its done.  J    See, I can act like a life coach too.    

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I’m just a goofy vegan mountain man who has developed a few talents (though that is a matter of opinion). I’m a freelance writer, cartoonist, and designer. I write music; and my wife Lee Hiller-London and I are active in childrens, animal, and environmental causes. I founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which have remained Google’s #1 ranked on the Internet since 2005.  I founded the world’s only famous love quote shoes & gifts called Shoes That Amuse (USA Today Like’s ’em), and Wisdom Quote Shoes & Unique Gifts at my Rick London Wisdom Shop. 

 

 

How To Be Happy…Really…Just Don’t Listen To Me…Or AnyBody Else by Rick London

by Rick London c2011

I believe if someone truly had the “happiness recipe”, their financial worth would eclipse that of Bill Gates & Warren Buffet combined. They’d be so rich they could march in the 99% in torn jeans and an unshaven face in a rustic temporary cabin that he’d paid off the corrupt city administration to set up (permanently).

But of course…I digress.

I don’t have the key to happiness nor am I in the 1%.  And happiness is far from a “one size fits all business”.

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I have some friends who travel and no matter what else, they are happy.  Some other friends are more than content to go to church on Sundays or Synagogue on Friday and share their spiritual experience with others, and they are constantly smiling.  Some of my friends seem happiest when they are working and away from their families, and others feel a sigh of relief to be away from the office (or wherever and with their families).  Again, this is not a one-size fits all world when it comes to figuring out what makes one happy.

And it changes, at least in my own experience.   And I am fortunate to have a soul mate who seems to find happiness in many of the same things.

We are happiest when our health is good.  Ok, that’s a universal.  So we’ve researched and are trying everything possible to try to be as healthy as we can. We don’t smoke or drink. We commune with nature via mountain hiking or just strolling to the park and always come back with a smile (even if we headed there with a frown). Nature is a quick cure and recipe for (at least getting rid of “the grumps”).  We both feel a deep spiritual connectedness in our Ouachita Mountains.

We laugh.  But we don’t laugh for laughing sake.  There are many “feel good psychologists and life coaches” who tell us to laugh”. I believe that is a big mistake….not to laugh laugh at inappropriate times (and things); but to recognize when something is funny to us, and let go.  Again that’s not a one size fits all world. Humor is subjective.  Just because someone likes one comedian, TV show, newspaper or webcomic, does not mean you will, and vice versa.  The importance of knowing when/why to laugh is important because it helps us know more about ourselves and our own boundaries.  And knowing and conquering the “hidden demons” in our psyche is half the battle.  Good humor is one of the greatest weapons.

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Having faith seems to be universal.  But don’t get me wrong.  I am not promoting one religion over another; or any religion.  I know many atheists with plenty of faith and same with agnostics. I know many who claim to be the most religious with little or no faith.  They are generally the ones who preach the most.  I always want to tell them “Don’t Preach To Me, Show Me With Actions”.  Words mean very little to a spiritual educated adult.  We learn and “are sold” by example, not by how “religious you are”.  Jerry Sandusky was very enthusiastic about his church.  Most of us understand the value of words vs. the value of actions.  We’re not fooled and we’re not impressed (with mere words)…which are often diametrically opposed to actions).

Another point I’m (trying) to make is we can’t find happiness by trying to absorb or copy someone else’.  It truly is an “inner job”. Those looking outside oneself will most likely do so until time runs out and we don’t want that.

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Trying one’s passion is of the utmost urgency.  I don’t have to tell you that. No matter what you are doing and how much you are making, you have a dream that you’ve stuffed way back in the corner of your mind.  I don’t mean quit your day job, but give that dream the respect it deserves.  Study it on the Internet or through books.  Take lessons. Do whatever you have to do to make it a part of your life.  In my case, almost at midlife, I finally did that and I love the creative process so much, it truly feels like play, much more so than work, and people actually pay me to do it.  It almost seems unfair, but Lee reminds me that “it makes people laugh”, so I suppose it is a service, creates jobs, etc and is somewhat important in the entire scheme of things.

In any case, it gives me much greater satisfaction than numerous jobs I’ve had that paid considerably more.  And same is true with Lee and her hiking/photography/design business at Hike Our Planet.  It gives her a great sense of joy which is very contagious and we feed off each other in a fun creative manner (some call it brainstorming).  We call it “just plain fun”.

Finally, nobody’s perfect.  My words don’t always parallel my actions, but that is my goal; and I know my moral compass is in a good enough place to where I’ll never go so off-track as to the horror show at Penn State.  The name of the game, I believe, is not to be perfect (Emerson, Thoreau, Mark Twain, Picasso) and so many others have warned us many times, “Looking for perfectionism?  Look somewhere else because you’ll never

find it”.  It’s all about progress, and a healthy respect for others seeking progress, not perfection.  And for the most part,  I stay happy.

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I am just a plain nutty vegan mountain man who loves my wife, hiking, the mountains and pie (if it’s vegan).  I founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 which has been Google #1 ranked since 2005 (hey that’s 7 years now) for offbeat cartoons and funny gifts.  And I like to design shoes, clothes, gifts and such in such shops as Shoes That Amuse and Wisdom Shop.

What Becomes A Legend Least? Fur, Dentistry, And Old Friends by Rick London

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  Lately, it seems, so much can happen in a week, sometimes monumental things that can turn one’s life upside down; one has to wonder if it is bad karma, rancid caramel, Cara Mia Why (you have to be old enough to remember that oldie song pun),  or just life.   As I talk to other friends who prefer their lives to be as drama-free as possible, I am convinced it is “just life”.

       Though I realize from the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and some of the other masters, events “that happen to us” are really neither bad, nor good; but how we perceive the experience.  Emerson, possibly the first of the transcendentalists claimed we could more or less train our souls to “let go” of our bodies and look down at what occurs, both “good” and “bad” with amusement.  I admire Emerson’s writings greatly, but he wrote them before people got shot with sub machine guns in the streets, and mechanical dental care.

      Though I was not shot by a submachine gun, I was shot several times with Novocain, and even under the influence of nitrous oxide, I was unable to use Emerson’s little tricks and did not find it amusing in the least.  The pain was as I’d remembered the last time I had dental work. I had to wonder if waterboarding could be so horrid.

       Did I mention the fact two teeth had to be surgically extracted and the open wound became infected within a couple of days?  So I was back at the dentist last Friday to take care of that issue.

      Did I also mention that Dr. Eddy chews tobacco and spits when he works.  I keep thinking when he says “Spit”; he’s going to spit at the same time just to make the patient more comfortable.  Doesn’t work.   He is an excellent dentist and a graduate of the University Of Tennessee dental school back when it was the #1 dental school in the country. I guess he does the tobacco thing to “instill confidence” and “make the patient feel more comfortable”.  Perhaps if he’d added a bluegrass band in the background, I’d have bought into the “theme park dental room” but only top 40 pop and country hits played over the overhead speaker system.

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       That was not the worst of my week.  A very close friend suddenly informed my wife and I she was going into the fur business; which is a big no no with me, my wife, my friends, and hers.  We did everything possible to discourage her; that it involves animal cruelty beyond words, but to no avail.  Even the fact that the entire country of Israel has now banned the fur trade, Ireland is scheduled to ban it this year, and Harrods (owned by some guy from Qatar) is the only department store that sells fur in London. The market trend tells the story. In any case,  we didn’t quit loving our friend, or vice versa, and again, I can’t imagine floating through the air in an Emersonesque way, watching innocent creatures crammed in cages, often skinned alive, and taken to market; all in the name of vanity and hubris.  It hurts to discover a friend had such an agenda, didn’t give us a clue, and then went forward with it.  She plays the victim at every turn; and possibly is. She showed no signs of a need to be cruel to animals in order to profit until she started an association with a famous singer, now pretty much on her way down; she never made it that big, but now people barely remember her. Our friend is enamored by her and is very successful, for which we are proud. She’s a hard worker.  I imagine this will be her downfall, and it won’t be a pretty one. Karamel Korn, karma or whatever is a b****.

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       With so much negativity around someone what do they do?  One thing at a time. To nip the dental problem in the bud, it was simply a matter of going to the dentist, let him inflict his pain and spit his tobacco, take my prescribed meds, and relax in my living room. Oh, I can work a bit because its at my computer.

      How does one handle an animal-killing friend?  They simple let-go and grieve the loss of that friend.  In a lot of ways it feels like a death in the family, and in other ways it feels like a total betrayal that someone so close to us would enter such a dirty nasty business.  Fur is an outdated product and nobody has a valid reason to wear it in this day and time, except to pump up their very low self esteem and overblown ego, and is willing to do so at the expense of torturing animals that are mothers, babies, etc.  Aside from feeling like a death in the family, it also feels like such a relief, not having to deal with that kind of deception and insanity. And that is, what it is.  Animal cruelty for profit.

      My dentist is cruel merely by the accident of his profession and I have come to expect it.  He does his very best not to be and sedates me as much as he can while drilling, prodding, etc to make it hurt less.  A furrier is cruel merely on purpose, to skin the precious fur off that innocent animal that causes the same kind of pain as if a human had his/her skin peeled off. 

      A year from now, I will wonder what all the pain was about the week of September 28 through October 5, 2011.  I will have a whole new set of issues, problems, etc., and what I’m concerned about today will be but a vague memory.   But hopefully, if nothing else, I will have all my teeth intact and in good shape. 

      And I will be grateful that my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London and I live on the edge of the most beautiful park in the country, Hot Springs National Park, where, by law, not one single animal can be abused, touched, shot, skinned or anything else.  When Theodore Roosevelt created the National Park system, he was thinking of people like our ex-friend. He knew human hubris would always exist, and innocent animals with no voice did not have any legal rights or defense against them.  Thanks to him, now they do.  Our animals, who we consider our friends and neighbors, will have their fur intact for their entire lifespan.  And about a million people annually visit to see them and the gorgeous forest that is their home, and ours. 

      Have you ever heard of one person receiving that many worldwide visitors to see them wearing an animal fur?  I didn’t think so. A woman today, showcasing an animal on her body reminds one of a woman walking down the street smoking.  It is impossible to tell which is more gross; one just knows they are both very gross.  The woman in the fur is simply a woman with low-self esteem, overblown ego, and waiting for Godot.   The animals in our forest truly are “What Becomes A Legend Most”.  

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Rick London is a freelance writer and designer living in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts which have been Google’s #1 ranked since 2005.  His offbeat cartoons site features 5000+ images and his stores featuring funny tees and gifts over 1/4 million items.  He also founded Shoes That Amuse, the world’s only famous love quotes shoes and gifts.