Blog: 20th Anniversary Of Londons Times Cartoons. How Did That Happen?

 

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the launch of Londons Times Cartoons and the time has zoomed by most of the time, and felt like walking through thick molasses at other times.  It almost seems like a dream, sometimes mostly entertaining and at other times a vivid nightmare.  In many ways it seemed like yesterday that I was back on my hometown in Ms, broke, without a job and no government assistance. My only resources were my wits and they were running dry.

I had been helping my mom in her final days of  cancer and selling television ads for a small television station whose employees reminded me of the characters in the sitcom WKRP Cincinnati. I’m not sure which one I was but definitely one too.

A friend owned a tin shed on the outskirts oftown; sort of like a small warehouse full of rotting cans of vegetables on makeshift wooden shelves he’d built on the wall in sort of a rural spot between two counties.

A can would explode every once in a while due to its contents fermenting and it being way past its expiration date.  My friend had also installed electricity, plumbing (but no bath or shower) and a phone line.   I bathed in the cold-water only sink.  I washed my stray dog Thor in it as well. Within months Thor found a friendly calico kitten meowing from a low branch outside who I also adopted. Somehow we managed.

Friends would come by and bring me meals or take me out to eat.  Those were exciting, fun, and frightening times.  I was but a tin wall from the outside elements.  For most that time I had no car. I slept on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag.  I bought and way overspent for an IBM Clone PC from a guy near Hot Coffee, Ms who bought old computers and fixed them.

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His garage was full of computers, parts, and tools.  He was asking $800. We settled on $600. I know now it was worth about $150, but for back then it was a bit of a workhorse and I was so naive about technology I hadn’t a clue that he probably would have taken much less for it.

The tin shed had a fenced-in acre and a half yard that overlooked I-59, the main road to New Orleans or in the other direction about 20 miles from The Free State Of Jones.

It was March 19, 1997, and I was a very late bloomer due to a number of issues and events, but the main one being a lifetime of un-diagnosed Autism and punished for it, mainly by family but also by community.  The family press release was very much like Joe Kennedy’s of Rosemary “Severe issues,  she needs to be locked away.”  As we learned much later, she was probably Autistic with mild depression.  She was extremely bright as her brothers.

The big question was,  “Could I ever get past those demons?  Could I ever get past being unwanted and put away in an attic bedroom with each of my friendships parentally controlled” and my being unwanted? Could I get past the pTSD and low self-esteem it caused?  Who was I to think I could be at the helm of a cartoon project (or any project for that matter)?

They say time flies when you’re having a good time. I can remember most of those times not being so fun for me.  In fact I was not sure if I would make it. By then my heart was giving out but I didn’t know it.

I also had vanus (a severe form of flat feet) but had been a long-distance runner and even completed two marathons from Lafayette to Crowley, La. in 1978 and 1979. When finally diagnosed at age 60, the doctors said I had been running (and walking) on “a bag of bones”.  I was fitted for orthotics which I wear daily. Vanus is inherited at birth.  My dad had it, but I was never checked for it until age 60. Lee noticed it first and saw it on a doctor’s site poster when I was getting a brace for tendinitis. The orthotic inserts have allowed me to walk without hurting for the first time, and even do high-mountain hikes with Lee. I’ve learned to love nature and wildlife.

Dial-up Internet was slow.  There was no Google, no Twitter or facebook, nor was there any social media.  There were forums and Yahoo!  Since I was a novice at the Internet, I didn’t know.  I bartered my way through the whole thing.

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I contacted cartoonists who had paved the way long before me.  While I could draw, I couldn’t draw to the level of which I wanted to to project in this project.  I wanted it  to be a “Dali meets The Far Side”,  a cartoon which could be appreciated as art. Sometimes that worked, sometimes not.

I can remember the most generous people with their time were Charles “Sparky” Schulz,  Leigh Rubin (Rubes) and also helpful were Dave Coverly “Speed Bump”, Jon McPherson “Close To  Home”  and several others.   It seemed the bigger they were, the most generous with their help.

So as per Sparky’s suggestion, I wrote the concepts and dialogue, and assigned them to my illustrative partner who rendered them.   He only did black and white for a long time but within a year I talked him into color.  That year a California tee company paid us $10,000 for the rights to 12 color images. We thought we’d arrived.

Though I made a number of barters, I don’t think we made another sale for another 4 or so years so we just kept creating cartoons. I continued to write them and tweak several I’d written years before.  I had a shoebox full from early college days.  My parents talked me out of doing anything with them so I kept them hidden away and finally used them.

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We made a few sales to academic publishers which never paid much but every little bit helped.

I was living out of my suitcase, which was a good thing since every now and again I was evicted. Friend’s couches or extra bedrooms became “my best friend”.  I always had to pay something but never much. I never needed a lot of space; just enough to type and talk on the phone.  God bless those who gave me a chance.

By the year 2000, we had close to 3000 cartoons (mostly color), but the unpredictable and dangerous lifestyle was taking its toll.   I had my first major heart attack in 2001, and another one in 2010 with three surgeries.  In between that time I had a vagus nerve stimulator implant installed to assist my vagus nerve to work properly.

In 2008 I met my later-to-be amazing wife Lee Hiller. She was (and is) a constant support.  She was with me during the 2010 surgeries which were touch and go. All the while she has been developing her own line of designer gifts LeeHillerDesigns.com and taking incredible nature photos (many on gifts) in our National Park in her blog titled HikeOurPlanet.com.  She’s an incredible person and talent.

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Londons Times Cartoons had been the Google  #1 ranked offbeat cartoon for 3 years. It has now been for the past 12+ years (since Jan 2005).  It is usually Bing’s #1 ranked too (though it tends to fluctuate there down to #4 or so). I’m happy with that given that on both engines there’s about a half million competing offbeat cartoons.

We put a counter up on my cartoon site in Jan. 2005 after Google first named it #1.  We were eight years old.  It shows we’ve now had about 8.9 million visitors worldwide.  That boggles my mind still. It is very easy to say “Look what I did all by myself” but that’s not how it  has been at all.  I have been but a cog in the wheel of amazing illustrators, managers, tekkies, vendors and Lee all of whom took the time to contribute to a project that had but a slim chance.   Alone,   I would surely have walked away from computers and try to learn something that didn’t require them.

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This year I learned I also have type-2 diabetes and she has gone right to work on helping me figure out a lifestyle diet that works. While it continues to be vegan, the portions are different as is some of the food variety.  We’ve beefed up the exercise/hiking (or we’ve  “soyed it up” as we don’t “beef” anything).

Today we sit with a gorgeous view of Hot Springs National Park from our office.  We see just about every type of flora and wildlife imaginable outside our window. Hawks and falcons fly by often. Squirrels greet us at the window along with a variety of birds and insects.

All the while we create our gift ideas using digital design on our computers.  While my cartoons are fun to put on items so are my “Famous Historical Quote Designs” which came much later.

We are going hiking later today on our favorite trail known for its deer and woodpeckers (and much more).

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Nature has been very good to  us and provided healing, not always so available in cities (where we have lived most our lives).

A well-known quote in the Autism world  is “The Internet does for Autistics what Braille has done for the blind and sign-language has done for the deaf”.   So I accidentally also found my tool for living, by being a part of the cartoon industry.  I would probably have never learned the Internet; as the Interest wasn’t there.   I developed a bit of interest when I returned to college at age 50 at WGU.EDU.  I learned a lot and Lee has taught me a great deal also.  I would have never have known it to be “my lifeline” as an Autistic.

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I was trying to sum things up and our good friend, Sally Jane Paulson in Norway did so for us with a Harper Lee quote she happened to post today.   I believe it tells the whole story. It’s  at the top of this story.

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Rick London is an author, gift designer and founder of Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times.  He is active with outdoors and environmental, animal, Autism and Veteran’s causes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The golden child and scapegoat in the Trump family.

Study of scapegoating (whether family, politics or business), but particularly family, as that was my experience. I was/am Autistic but not diagnosed until age 62. As a child, I was very different so rather than having me diagnosed, my NPD family put me in an attic bedroom physically alone and away from the family. They controlled my friends. More and more I understand why the Geneva Convention considers this kind of isolation (for POWs) banned and cruel beyond belief. It is said to make waterboarding seem like child’s play (and I do believe that). I see now, in Donald Trump’s own words that he was not very fond of Tiffany and she was abused (sexualized) as an infant. Sadly, most scholarly psychiatrists lump this type narcissistic behavior with pedophilia and other sociopathic conditions. The perpetrator loves the power and/or money too much and has zero empathy. They live to hurt others, but can seem to be the most charming person in the community (and most sane). This is a great blog, and I highly recommend reading “The Sociopath Next Door”. Thanks all. Rick ………Please keep reading Lucky Otter’s blog and do watch the important video.

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Because I am fascinated with child roles in narcissistic families, this video was interesting to me.    I’ve suspected for awhile that Tiffany (the daughter of Trump and Marla Maples, his only American-born wife) is the scapegoat among Trump’s children.  He never talks about her, seems distant from her, and doesn’t seem to idealize her the way he does his other children, particularly Ivanka, who is obviously the golden child.

This video explains more.   Trump admits himself that physical appearance is extremely important to him, and he’s disappointed in Tiffany’s appearance.   Tiffany also isn’t a successful businessperson like the rest of his adult children.  She tried to make it as a singer instead, but things didn’t go well for her and she didn’t get a recording contract.

What I find extremely disturbing is the way he sexualizes his daughters.   In this video, Trump is shown being interviewed about the infant…

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Why Has Barron Trump Been Isolated By His Parents? by Rick London c2016

Isolation Of Autistic and/Or Disabled Children: Who Will Be Elected To Live Alone On The Top Floor?

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If anyone doubts that Trump will commit war crimes, I assure you he will. Any parents who would isolate their disabled and/or Autistic child in an attic or solitary floor alone is creating a scapegoat. That will be Barron’s lifetime role. The torture it induces, neuropsychologists generally agree is similar to a captured soldier of war. Maybe this is why Trump thinks John McCain is “a loser” for being a prisoner of war. That’s a weakness, a strong message sent to Donald by his father Fred.

Being Autistic but somewhat high functioning in some areas, my social-climbing parents built an “attic bedroom” aka “isolation chamber” for me to live when I was 6 until the age of 17. I was “at war” with my family, and didn’t have a clue. Though I was never tested for Autism, they knew something was very wrong, hence the geographically odd and isolated location of my bedroom, and opposite treatment of my siblings (and me). All I remember is “being in trouble”. All I can remember in conversations from my older sister was “You’re in trouble now”. “Why do you behave this way?”, etc. She was brainwashed, it appears, before I was even born. There was never once a conversation with her.

My brother tried at times but I could tell was very uncomfortable around me all his life.

At age 11, I saved both their lives from a burning housefire risking mine in the process in the smoke-filled burning building. That story was completely deleted from our family history. Fortunately, I still have several neighbors on facebook who are still alive and remember my entire oddity (including the fire) keenly.

My cries usually went unheard or heard but ignored. The worst part was the isolation (this same isolation has been banned for grown trained military every Geneva Convention). Like Barron, I was far away from the core family unit. It was important that other family members did not see or hear what was being told to me.

The attic “bedroom” was no architectural mistake or my imagination. Three years later my parents sold the house to build a larger one just a block away.  It also had a larger attic bedroom (with more distance from my two siblings and parents who were altogether in the other end of the home. Guess who was assigned the “attic chamber”?  Yours truly, in a second home.  This was clearly premeditated.

I told a favorite aunt, still living, about it. and she said, “We did make mistakes back then and didn’t know much about Autism.”  She’s old so I didn’t argue, but hung up thinking, “A mistake is when one stumps their toe. A premeditated horrible crime that usually goes unnoticed is when you spend (back then $10k was a lot of money for a distant attic bedroom).  At sixty-two, it still gets back to me when my siblings bully me from afar with gossip and lies (that is bullying  an autistic).  That is not “a mistake”. That is not having a backbone in adulthood to put a stop to it so it doesn’t pass to another generation. Too late with my family. It already has.  But they will remember me as “the hated one” but the whistleblower of a large somewhat prominent family, who has been a “Golden Child Mill” for many generations. For the NPD, that takes a lot of scapegoating too.

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At age 6, when I cried for “an answer” as to why I couldn’t live normally with the rest of the family, the “excuse” was “I was a very smart/loved/creative child and “needed that kind of space”. My father even covered my walls with great college football pennants to enforce the “benign innocence” of his nefarious plan.

Truth is, my parents encouraged and finally demanded my own siblings to bully me as did they. It was more of a warning. If they didn’t, they could be next. Often scapegoated children are “released from the hate” by their siblings and community after the parents are deceased and the child becomes an adult due to most knowing they were actually playing into “the family politics”. I was not given that luxury. I hope Barron Trump is.

Today I learned that Barron Trump is possibly Autistic; and if not, has a similar condition. Having abstained from watching media lately, I didn’t know the story had been running worldwide. Not that the media is the final arbiter of health and cognitive disorders, but I took it upon myself to find videos and study them carefully. I’ve attached several. This was no surprise to me as I could see many common traits in friends and myself that Barron seemed to be experiencing.

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This is very similar behavior to what Melania Trump told Parenting Magazine regarding Barron alone on the top floor. “He is very creative and loves to spend a lot of time alone.”

I was an embarrassment to my birth family and inconvenience as I imagine is Barron may be to his. I was gaslighted by my parents in the “isolation chamber” as they were creating a “human garbage can” aka “Identified Patient” (a black sheep was born); Black Sheep (or scapegoats) don’t just happen contrary to popular belief, they are created by NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disordered) parents. Autistics and/or other disabled or unhappy (or odd) children are usually chosen to be the “black sheep” bad kid.

Given, I am not a neuroscientist or neuropsychologist and I cannot make an accurate prediction of Barron’s condition. But I can assure you, if you watch the video, you’ll clearly see he has many of the most common characteristics of an Autistic child. It may be something else, but it definitely hurts him badly, and rather than address it, his parents have decided to hide him away and claim vaccinations cause Autism (which has been debunked over and over by the medical profession). In any case, due to his “oddness” as Trump would find it, he’s been chosen to be scapegoated. That is a tragedy.

What is clear is that Barron has a flaw that motivated his parents to hide him in their attic which is quite lovely, the top floor of Trump Towers, but some of the most effective “prison camps” are “quite lovely”. It makes them seem so innocent.

My prediction is they will have one or two more children but they will be “golden children”, and Barron will often be compared to them and everything that goes wrong in the Trump’s life will be Barron’s fault.

A lot of press is now coming out about Barron’s plight. The very fact that he would live in the White House and leave his son is beyond cruel. It is true torture. He is a “prisoner of war” at Trump Tower.

I don’t like the word “Symptoms” as Autism is not a disease but a condition, but here is a video that shows it, and GOPs shouting at him for “misbehaving”. Running for office is probably the cruelest thing one could do to their son, moving him alone to a large floor is beyond cruel.

Trump is also a “vaxxer” believing the already debunked crap that vaccines cause Autism. Michaelangelo, Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Jefferson, Mark Twain, and many others had it (before vaccines were invented).

It makes Trump’s non-apology to the disabled reporter even that much more repulsive. He is truly a sociopath. A “father” who does not defend his disabled child from abuse is not worthy of description. A mother/apologist who agrees with “Dad” is not any better.

I post this not as a “feel sorry for me” as I’ve told my story before. I don’t feel smarter than anyone else for “recognizing it”. My wife also recognized it before I did (in Barron’s case too…I only suspected it).

This is a “get ready for a rough ride”. When NPD parents will do this to their children, what in the hell will they do to those not related to them.

Whether Barron is struggling with Autism or some other condition, clearly Melania Trump is right. This should be a wake-up call to #stopthebullying.

My sad prediction is that when Barron is old enough to understand some of this, he will no longer be what is known as “narcissistic supply” to his parents and they will most likely divorce.  Most do when they base their entire marriage on the hatred of one of their children.

You’ll never see this hate.  In public, he will look like the most loved, pampered child on the history of this planet.   Please use your brain.  If this child lived in “rougher territory” and belonged to other parents, he’d already be taken away and in “children services”.

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It is time to give disabled and/or children (and adults) with cognitive conditions the same first class citizenry we give others. Otherwise, none of us are free, and the scapegoating continues for more generations until someone with a backbone stands up to the bullies. I am standing up to the bullies.  Are you too; rather than “following the money”? It’s never too late and you’ll have little if any regrets during and at the end of your life; you’ll have nothing but regrets if you don’t (stand up to them).


 

Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer.  He is best-known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts launched in 1997.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rick London is Autistic and founder of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts 

Tree Stump Revenge The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

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I think much of my philosophy has not changed since I was a little kid regarding anger and revenge.  I didn’t think then and I don’t think now that it solves anything. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in standing up for oneself when he/she hears rumors, lies and other such nonsense, and do ones best to set the story straight.  To always attempt to present the truth, if not for others, for oneself. And I do that much better today than I did growing up.  Growing up, I didn’t know I was allowed to “tell my real story”.  I thought it had “already been written”.  

In some ways I was correct, but knowledge is power, and the more one discovers about oneself, the higher their ability to communicate the truth; regardless of past “facts etched in stone”.  The truth can make those crumble like a stale cupcake.

My idea of a tree stump vs. a chainsaw is somewhat personal.  Though I believe the tree stump should indeed be angry at the chainsaw, he should also be open to forgiveness, that is, if the chainsaw might tell the truth of what he/she did. In any case, that old tree stump should never, ever give up, and this one didn’t (to the chainsaw’s surprise).  The chainsaw shows complete awareness of the wrong he did.  And he surely is surprised that the stump is still alive to tell his story.  But stories of such pain should always be told, no matter what has been presented by others in the past.  The truth nearly always prevails.

Now, Lee and I know our trees.  I know that sounds corny, and makes us sound like treehuggers, and in many ways we are (both corny and treehuggers).  We absolutely love our trees.  We are fascinated with the ways our wildlife seems to know exactly which tree makes the best home and takes action to build one (to house an entire family).  These animals love their families and one can tell by the extent to which they go to find food for them and feed them, groom them, and in many cases sing to them.

And the tree, which usually has weathered many storms, does not mind being a free homestead of many generations of animals so that they might be safe.

When we lived in the city, none of this entered our minds.  Now that we live in the forest, it can’t help but enter our minds.  We (humans) have so much to learn from animals regarding unconditional love.  They generously teach it, even though they seem to be aware that we are not completely familiar with it.

But each time we meet with these creatures, we learn a little more about unconditional love, and we become better people for it.  And the trees stand tall and proud, making sure unconditionally that these wonderful creatures stay safe.

Want to see this cartoon on gifts, tees, mugs, cards, mousepads, aprons, bags, caps and more?  

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Rick London is the founder of Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoon and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons which he launched in 1997.  

 

 

 

 

 

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I love Dire Straits….probably one of my favorite bands of all times.  Marc Knopfler can make his guitar talk in a language I understand.  About two decades or more ago, not long after the song “Money For Nothing” was recorded, Marc was on a talk show. 

I much enjoyed listening him explain the inspiration for the song “Money For Nothing”.  Back then, stores like Western Auto were on just about every Main St. USA.  Each had dozens of televisions in the front windows with the screen facing the parking lot out front.  And more often than not, MTV was on the set.  

The Dire Straits were playing in some college town and in the concert prior to that they blew some fuses but it was too late to run by and get them replaced so they decided to wait until the next town.  Upon shopping for the right fuse, they Knopfler found himself overhearing a conversation between several of the workers at teh Western Auto and the conversation went something like, “That ain’t workin’ (then pointed at one of the tv sets) and added, “Money for nothin’ and the chicks for free”.  

There was more to the conversation but you get the picture.  Knopfler couldn’t help but chuckle and started writing down everything he heard.  

He said at the time, he was not sure he could make a song out of it, but if he could, it might just be a hit. 

He said within a few weeks, “Money For Nothing” was born and they were rehearsing it for an upcoming concert and studio session. 

And what a hit it was.  

My Dire Straits parody cartoon coillectibles are popular and retain their value well. They’are also affordable. 

You can take a look at them or………….

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The Story Behind Jethro Tull Aqualung Parody Cartoon And Gifts By Londons Times Cartoons

 

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I believe that everyone has milestone “oldies” music that stick in their minds forever.  Occasionally one might erupt during a vigorous shower, a hike in the forest or even a long walk down Main St (or off a short pier). 

Aside from the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There”, I can just about count on 76 fingers the others (I ate a lot of Monsanto products before going organic vegan) other such songs that packed a powerful punch on my psyche. One of those songs that seemed to “change my life” at the time, was Aqualung. I imagine some of the lesser played numbers on that album such as “Teacher” “With You There To Help Me” and “Locomotive Breath” were also major influences in my own love of music and my motivation to try to learn new songs on my cheap little guitar.  I loved playing it but was not very good.  I became relatively better later in life, but still, in my mind, not stageworthy….though I did play in some garage bands in my younger days and played a few times in public, both bars and in the park as a more matured adult.  By then, I knew to keep my mouth shut, given that my singing voice had not improved much at all since age eight (if any).  But my guitar playing became fairly good. 

In my sometimes complex autistic mind, I often wondered the the musician’s real story behind every song I loved.  So many incidences could have been the impetus for Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung”.  I became so curious I saw that Ian Anderson had a website and I wrote his email, only to predictably hear nothing back.  I wrote several more times before I realized I was going to have to guess the scenario by my own volition. And I knew since I probably wouldn’t get it right, I could probably make it a bit absurd using artistic license.  But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Collectors enjoy our “The Story Behind Jethro Tull “Aqualung” cartoon gifts and collectibles. 

You can see the entire collection by clicking on “Shop Now” below (though there is no obligation to shop but to simply browse if you like (for as long as you like).  There’s a lot of neat items, a little something for everyone; and most of them are quite reasonably priced.  

Hope you find something interesting; and if not, please share with some friends.  

To see the Aqualung collection of gifts, tees, mugs, phone cases, home decor, glassware, and much more – 

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Please Don’t Tell Me How To Grieve By Rick London

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Today on social media, I saw a friend instructing others, basically how to react to bad news, or as we often call it in our culture, “grieve”.   I was astonished this extremely bright man, though, I assume meant well, didn’t have the facts. Not even one of them. 

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     He sounded just like my college yoga instructor.  “Turn off the news.  Breathe deeply.  Now exhale.  See you’re still there…”. Yada yada.

     So much research has been conducted and proven since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross penned her blockbuster “On Death And Dying” about a ½ century ago, that her book looks more like an instructional manual for one who has never shed a tear.

     My friend who “was trying to help” hadn’t gotten the memo that everyone reacts to bad news and/or grief differently.   Some elements that can affect the way we grieve can be our sex, whether we are adults or children, how many are in our home, our education, our health, and a zillion other factors. In other words as far as our behavior of good news or bad, this is not a “one size fits all world”.

    2013, for us, my beloved wife Lee and I, has in many ways not been positive.  We love each other dearly and that is positive, but we are still trying to process what happened in Newtown, how to some owning a non-common use gun (which is not protected in the 2nd Amendment) is more important, no…. WAY more important than the lives of 20 children (really babies), and that 3 in the Boston Marathon audience perished and many more maimed for life which happened this week.  There was no reason that Lee and I could see, or still see, that that had to happen (nor Newtown of course). 

    So what we do is, even while working, is watch the news.  Yes we switch between the three major networks because to us, that is how one gets “the real story” and not just the slant one wants to hear. We learn everything we can.  We read newspapers and periodicals worldwide on the Internet.  

    As most who know us, in whatever method we decide to grieve and/or process,  we usually head toward the mountain trails and forget about everything for several hours.  When we return, we intuitively have a better option of how to deal.  Nature is a positive force for us that way.  But it might not be for everybody.  And we understand that.  Some may need to sit still.  Some do yoga.  Some watch tv.  Some watch The Comedy Channel.  Some visit friends and talking about it (or not).

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    Again, it’s not a “one size fits all world”.   If someone instructs me that I must turn off the news of Boston and breathe deeply again, or I’m not doing it right, I plan to turn it up and full volume and hold my breath.  I bet I can talk Lee into doing the same.

 

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer who founded Google’s #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts in 1997. He and his wife Lee Hiller-London live in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they enjoy nature and hiking. They are active in environmental and animal causes.  Lee owns several nature photography shops including on nature and wildlife posters Lee HillerPhotography.