What A Long Strange Road Its Been…. Anniversaries 18 & 21 by Rick London

milestones

I am a sucker for milestones and anniversaries.  Especially long period of time ones sometimes bring a tear to my eye.  But a happy kind of tear.

March through June are both fun and emotional for me for that very reason.  First and foremost this June 18th is Lee’s and my 8th wedding anniversary.  (She’ll be proud of me for remembering that LOL).

We married in a old stone chapel in the Ar. Mountains to which one had to hike, there was no road to it.  She found it on a solo hike 9 years ago and came home yelling, “I found our chapel. I found our wedding chapel).  Until she took me there (by foot), I hadn’t a clue what I was about to find.

SONY DSC

      Our Wedding Chapel 

It was a charming 100 year old stone building in the middle of nowhere.  Nature surrounded us.  It was/is us.  We hike back to it each year.

 

lee 222222222222

Favorite Pic Of My Beloved Wife Lee Hiller-London

When we chose that day (it was our second pick), the 19th being our first, we had no idea

it wautism 222222222as Autism Pride Day or even that I was/am Autistic.  Lee sort of had a clue given she’d worked in high-tech many years around the world in the early days of technology.  She’s still a wiz at it, even given all the changes. Back then HTML was considered high-tech.  I still love her more than ever.

By the way I was not diagnosed for autism until 2015 at age 60.  It was hidden from me as a child (was not diagnosed) and I was given an “attic bedroom” far away from the family core; quite a frightening way to live, with autism,  at age six-age through age 17 (basically imprisoned with controlled friends).  I am vocal about it because, a lot of parents, later entire families, and finally entire communities disown their autistics (or different) children. My greatest hopes are to help lessen this obscenity. I know I cannot alleviate it.  But it is a form of torture and I plan to speak out.  Whenever the opportunity avails itself.

Future children/later adults need not suffer like that, now that we know what it is, and was. It is well past time to get past the years of character assassination of “those who are different”, and often those of us who are autistic, fall into that league.  Autism is who we are. It’s not a disease or ailment. It’s like being green-eyed or left-handed.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with it any more than there is neurotypical people.

Monday, March 19th is also the 21st anniversary of the day I launched Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997.  Most folks by now know the story of my living in a tin shed with no heat or air and only cold running water (for over a year).  Electricity was installed and I bought a big old used IBM Clone 396 computer for several hundred dollars and a book “Internet For Dummies”.  And my trusty rescue dog “Thor”.  I had $300 more or less.

thor44444444444444

Thank you to all the wonderful souls who have been with me through this journey.  There were times when I was certain it would not work, I’d stop knowledge of what I’ve learned, or people would simply forget about me.  None of that has happened, and the works I have done have grown dramatically.

     Thor The Wonderdog

I’ve published 4 cartoon compilation kindle books and one coffee table one available at bookstores worldwide.  I have about 4500 full-color cartoons on my website.  I woke up one day in early January 2005 and my site was #65 ranked on Alexa.com. While that didn’t last long, it stayed the #1 ranked offbeat cartoon (on both Google and Bing); it sometimes fluctuates to #2 but that’s okay given there’s about 10,000 offbeat cartoon properties competing for that spot on any given day.  However 8 million people had visited my main website and now it’s closer to 8 million and 188K.  It surprised me (possibly more than it does anyone else).  It all definitely went beyond my bucket list.

Click To Enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oldmanHemingway once quoted, “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”  I might add, “…And write several more really funny books to be humbled by the blessings I have received”.

And if all that were not enough, we’ve got Amazon Prime and Netflix and the occasional GMO-Free Popcorn.  Life is good.

 

 

To see my main site ranked Google & Bing #1 Offbeat Cartoons click here.   Most suggest to then click on “New Toons”.  You can find our most popular recent strange cartoons on Instagram here.  To shop there’s several stores. Let me suggest this one which is Rick London Gifts full of comic tees, mugs, cards, bags, jewelry, home and office and plenty of other stuff.

 

Just Say No To Life Coaches & Just Do It & Other Roads To Happiness by Rick London

Another year has just about ended, and I feel good, even though I feel bad too (I will explain that in a moment).

Lee and I were watching a Netflix Pixar animated film the other night and I ran straight to bed and didn’t get up until the next day. That was 6 days ago and I’m just starting to feel better. I won’t go into the torrid details, but let’s just say they were mostly “toilet details”. Not so great.

Click To Enlarge

The weather has been cold and damp. And then there’s the tummy ache (not too long after recovering from tooth surgery). I’ve not been able to hike (or even do Tai Chi).

So its during times like this that I slow way down and be grateful. So how do you be grateful? This is not a one size fits all “be grateful” world, I have found. I may be grateful about one thing, that would make someone else bored, and vice versa.

Not long ago, I learned from men and women much wiser than me, that a lot of being grateful is taking action doing what I love doing. For many, I know, that is easier said than done. Many my age, or older, or younger, have never “done” what they love to do, and have acquiesced to the fact that it “ain’t gonna happen”. Either a well-meaning parent forced them to major in business when they were more cut out for creative writing, Maybe they set up their own obstacles. Maybe they looked at peers who were “already legends” and said to themselves “no way”. There are a million excuses and I bet I’ve used 999,999,999 of them. What’s my excuse for not using a million? I couldn’t think of the last one. 🙂

But doing what one loves to do does not necessarily mean “your career”, though of course its nice(r) if that be the case. Kafka was an insurance clerk while he authored his books. In other words if one starts where they are, rather than trying to conquer the world the first week, month or even year (though it could happen), and stop worrying about what others think of “their new hobby” or whatever one wants to call what he/she is learning, then one is well on the right path.

If there is not enough information on the Internet on how to launch and run whatever venture in mind, there are always Internet classes (or local college classes); I took Internet classes at a real accredited four-year college and was very pleased with how pragmatic the education was. That was not the case in my earlier years of college at state universities. It was not all their fault. I was a late-bloomer; after years of being a blooming idiot.

Can’t afford college? There are plenty of grants, scholarships and loans for adults returning. That’s how I did it. But academia is not for everyone. There’s mentorships. A lot of well-trained professionals will take you on if your story is convincing and you only ask for a little of their time.

Most books in libraries are now online, and there are plenty of used books for pennies on the dollar at Amazon and other online bookstores.

Click To Enlarge

Our generation was flooded with clichés’ which meant well, but didn’t tell the whole story. “Just say no” and “Just do it” were but a few. Both were easy to repeat, but for many they were not so many upon which to take action.

I think they should have been written more like, “Just say no to drugs, alcohol and/or promiscuous sex. It will not always be easy. There will almost always be peer pressure and the need to fit in. This is only a temporary situation. In the long run, if you say “No” to these powerful negative forces which can impact your life forever, you will be forever grateful and happy that you “Just Said No”. I think kids and even adults could much more have easily understood those steps.

I would have written Nike’s “Just Do It” to “Just Do It A Step At A Time. Don’t jump into anything without knowing what it is. If you are planning to run, don’t run a marathon the first day. Learn how to train for a marathon first. If you are starting a business, learn a bit about it. Don’t worry about the results. In fact don’t worry about anything. Just do what you have learned and if that doesn’t work, learn another way to do it. The information is out there. And now with the Internet, it is out there at the click of a mouse. If you “Just Do It”, you’ll be happy doing it. But if you’re always focused on the finished line, you’ll forever be sad”. Of course Nike would never be able to fit that into an ad, nor would the ad be feasible.

Click To Enlarge

I ran two marathons in the late 1970’s. On the 1st one, I was focused on the finish line. I barely finished. It took 4.5 hours and over 2 months to fully recover. The next year I trained the same way, focused on the scenery and other runners and had fun, finished in a little less than four hours, and less than a week to recover.

I find the same is true of anything in life. And if you can do whatever it is you want to do with a friend, its that much more fun. I am fortunate that my wife Lee Hiller is my best friend and I love her dearly. Though are businesses are not identical, much of the way we create our products and market them are the same. We are both nature/wildlife lovers so we both have yet more fun while she’s working in the forest (with her camera) and I’m running around like a kid chasing animals. We teach and learn from each other on a lot of topics.

Today there’s a new breed of snake-oil salespersons known as “life coaches”.  They charge anywhere from several hundred to thousands for their videos, audios and ebooks, claiming to have “the answer to life”. Trust me.  They don’t.   They generally steal, edit, and regurgitate great quotes from the early literary and philosophical masters and take credit.  Some are so brazen, they don’t even edit and still take credit. In any case Wordsworth negated everything they do before they even existed with his famous quote, “To begin, begin”.  It’s really no more complicated than that, and don’t let anyone tell you it is. It’s simply NOT.

If “doing what you love” at mid-life can happen to us at mid-life, it can and will happen to you. Simply start where you are and “Just do it…but remember….first you…etc etc then you etc etc” 🙂 and enjoy! The best is yet to come.

Click To Enlarge

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’m a goofy vegan mountain man trying to do the right thing and occasionally I hit the mark; more often I don’t.  I love my wife nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller London who  creates the blog Hike Our Planet.  I enjoy cartoons, and founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which have been Google’s #1 ranked on the Internet since 2005. I like to design clothing and shoes and do so at Wisdom Shop which has gifts with famous wisdom quotes and Shoes That Amuse, which has shoes and gifts with famous love quotes.  Oh, and I recently opened a shop with a lot of famous caricature cartoon gifts and clothes called The Rick London Fame Shop.  If you shop with me, happy shopping.  Every one of our 1/4 million items are vegan-friendly and come with a 100% 30 day money back guarantee.

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”.

Click To Enlarge

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.

Click To Enlarge

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.

Click To Enlarge

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.