Thursday, August 08, 2019

Introduction To Colored Pencil Mastery Class

For Beginners and Intermediate Artists

choose your preferred date: Aug. 23, 25, or 30, 12pm Noon-4pm

Students will learn how to get started with colored pencil drawings on Canson Paper, choice of paper color and usage, how to transfer a simple image to the paper, and important techniques on how to lay down the colored pencil for the maximum effect they are looking for. Students will discover the power, and both the simplicity and complexity of this versatile medium.

For more information, prices, materials needed, and info on your instructor, click here

Michael's, Napa crossings South, 308 Soscol Ave Ste A, Napa, CA 94559

Monday, August 05, 2019

An Open Letter to

by Gary Stamper is a UK web-based services platform designed to connect buyers with service providers. ... Bark claims they are the best place to easily hire the right person to get all the tasks done professionally.

Frankly, I am not impressed. Here's why:

Dear Bark,

Did you know 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age in the US every day?

According to the AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day, and this is expected to continue into the 2030s.

And you are totally ignoring this market!

As a Life Coach who works with the psycho-social aspects of retired men, helping them find meaning and purpose in their lives, BARK completely fails in helping me reach my customers.

Not only that, but you have also ignored my previous requests to open this market up, where LinkedIn rectified their problem with retirement searches by adding retirement search capabilities within 3 days on my contacting them.

Come on, people....time to wake the **** up!

And then I found this: BARK Reviews

My bad.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos: The Power of Surrender

by Gary Stamper

There is a war going on and you may or may not know about it. It is being fought on the internal and external planes of our existence. It is the war for our consciousness and the stakes could not be higher.
As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, more and more of us are becoming increasingly aware of how difficult these times are. We can see the changes all around us and they are not all good. For the first time in our history of this version of humankind, we stand on the precipices of extinction or totalitarianism. It is easy to see our situation as hopeless and for us to feel powerless in the face of the problems before us.
 But we also stand on the edge of the greatest awakening humankind is ever seen.
It is the 21st-century version of the oldest battle on the planet: the battle between “good”’ and “evil.” Only now, with our new awareness arising, many of us realize that it’s much more complex than that.
We are now beginning to realize that there is no “they,” that we are they, and they are us. We’re the ones who have brought us to these sharp-edged precipices, and there is only ourselves to blame. We are complicit through our lack of responsibility, our laziness, and our willingness to be bought off by material things and unnecessary comforts. We have allowed ourselves to become divided, to believe we are separate, not one, and we have largely lost our humanity, our connection to each other.
We are taught, and we have accepted, to blame others for our situation. It’s the international bankers, it’s the government, it’s the corporations, it’s the blacks, it’s the whites, it’s the other religion, it’s the money system, it’s the industrial-military complex. Actually, all of these things are just different versions of control that is interconnected. The control is very deep and goes back thousands of years. It is ingrained in our psyches, and we allow it to exist by our lack of awareness and our willingness to be controlled.

How Do We Free Ourselves?
First, we need to free ourselves from the beliefs that we will win this battle or the belief that the battle can’t be won. Ultimately, it is not winning or losing that matters. It is the struggle that matters. By surrendering to whatever emerges. Surrender is not the same thing as quitting.
Osho, the Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher, told a story about surrender in The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol. 4, chapter 4: Let Go of the Branch:
The man was so surprise, he almost lost his grip on the branch. “Please God, you are wrong, I really mean it; I will believe.”
“Oh no, you won’t. That’s what they all say.”
The man pleaded and argued. Finally God said, ”Alright, I will save you. Let go of the branch.“
“Let go the branch?” The man exclaimed. “Do you think I am crazy?”

Osho explained, even when we have nothing to lose we are afraid to surrender. The man says, “Let go of the branch? Do you think I am crazy?” Hanging onto this branch in the cold wind, and his grip every moment becoming weaker and weaker and still he is not ready to surrender.

The problem is not somewhere outside; the problem is within us. We have to be saved from ourselves. In surrender, we drop the enemy that is us. In that very dropping, the inner darkness disappears. When we surrender, in that very surrender something happens and our inner light starts burning, our inner light starts becoming clear. Clouds disappear.
We want to change the world, we want things to be how we think they should be, while in reality, one of the great secrets is that we are the only thing we can change. Our desire to change the world, and how we go about it, is often situated in our need to be control freaks.
In an article called Let Go of Control: How to Learn the Art of Surrender, by Dr. Amy Johnson, on the blog tiny buddha, she says there are three things she knows about trying to control things:
  1. We try to control things because of what we think will happen if we don’t. In other words, control is rooted in fear.*
  2. To control is also a result of being attached to a specific outcome – an outcome we're sure is best for us, as if we always know what’s best. When we trust that we’re okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don’t need to micromanage the universe. We let go. And we often open ourselves all sorts of wonderful possibilities that aren’t there when read attached to one “right” path*
  3. The energy of surrender accomplishes much more than the energy of control. I suspect it’s slightly different for everyone, but here’s what control mode looks and feels like for me. My vision gets very narrow and focused, my breath is shallow, adrenaline is pumping and my heart rate increases. My mind shifts from topic to topic and from past to future very quickly, and I have little concentration, poor memory, and almost no present-moment awareness.
She goes on to say, “so the great irony is that attempting to control things actually feels less in control. When I’m micro-managing and obsessing over details, I know I’m in my own way.”

The Practice of Surrender
Like most of the major changes in our lives, surrender is not something we can usually just decide to do on the spur of the moment. Just as the man on the limb in the story above could not let go, even though he realized he would eventually not be able to hold on any longer, there are too many obstacles in our way for us to suddenly just decide to do it. There is cultural conditioning, fear, ego, as was also pointed out above, there are the control issues we all find within ourselves. We use controlling thoughts negatively in relationships, within the “what if” situations, with our health, in love, and in all aspects of our lives including immediate threats like climate change that seem totally out of our control.
It’s no wonder we cannot learn to surrender. We have come to believe that we can control anything outside of ourselves, and it is an illusion. We do, however, have the ability to choose our thoughts and responses to everything.
So let me suggest a couple of ways we can begin to learn how to surrender:
  • Using the words I surrender as a mantra, we can create a simple shift in our thought patterns that have the possibility of letting go of the session and move into the natural flow of whatever momentary thought pattern we find ourselves in.
  • We can also use I surrender as an affirmation about a particular situation. Simply apply it to solve your challenges, and say it as if it is already true.
  • Pay attention when you find yourself in a stressful situation that you cannot change, and consciously allow yourself to surrender.
No matter how you surrender, whether it’s “let go and let God,” by creating affirmations and mantras, there is a certain peace that comes with complete helplessness.
Here’s the difference between surrendering and giving up:
  • Surrendering comes without drama, while giving up almost always feels like dramatic exasperation and putting the blame on others who must surely be at fault.
  • Surrendering is a decision that allows you to remain engaged. When we surrender we have chosen our role, and giving up is more like a way out.
  • Surrender brings a sense of peace even in a painful situation, where giving up feels like a loss, incompletion and unfulfilling.
Surrender isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of great strength, and the ability to surrender and drop the conflict around a particular situation can change your life.
And maybe even the world.
An excerpt from the poem “Surrender” – by Rumi
Very little grows on jagged rock.
Be ground. Be crumbled,
so wildflowers will come up
where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
Translation: Coleman Banks

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

10 Useful Tips for Men On Creating A Great Dating Profile

by Gary Stamper

With so many internet dating web sites and millions of users, it's hard to get noticed by the person you find yourself attracted to. Here're some tips to increase your chances of success manifold, in internet dating.

1. Make your profile stand out
Make your profile stand out in the midst of thousands of 'me too' internet dating profiles. It is usually a good idea to search for profiles of your own sex, to gauge the competition. You could even learn a thing or two from viewing profiles of other people. Use humor in your profile. It works very well. Women especially love men who can make them laugh.

Gary’s tip: I know a woman who actually used intimidation to eliminate potential partners she knew would not be able to meet her. Impressed the hell out of me! You should be at a place where you are probably looking for someone who’s fairly fearless.

2. Be honest
Be truthful about your situation. Don't hint that you're a millionaire if you're not. You'll just attract the wrong people and waste your time. If you're married or have kids, say so in your dating profile.

3. Don't appear desperate
Don't appear like you're really desperate for a date and have no standards at all. Set a partner criterion that isn't too broad. If you're looking for partners between five feet and six feet two and religion, ethnicity and race don't matter, it means you're only looking to get laid. At least, that's what you're conveying.

Gary’s tip: Not too broad? I say narrow it down! You know exactly what you’re looking for.

4. Write about yourself
Provide enough information about yourself. What are you like as a person? Which movies do you like? What sort of books do you read? Fiction or non-fiction? Mention your hobbies and interests in your dating profile.

Gary’s tip: Let’s get deeper: What’s your philosophy on life and your spiritual beliefs? Better to eliminate those who don’t meet your wants than to waste time on them, only to discover later that they’re a TV evangelist. It’s a numbers game, and you want to narrow down your, and their, focus.

5. Be specific about what you're looking for (or not looking for without going negative)
Write about the sort of partner you're looking for in terms of outlook, qualities, appearance, religious beliefs etc., if they're important. Also, by being specific, you’re subtly letting someone know that if they don’t meet that parameter, they’re probably wasting their time (and yours).

Gary’s tip: Duh! Of course your parameters are important, unless you’re desperate or asleep! Hopefully, you aren’t either, so ask clearly and concisely what you’re looking for. This requires knowing yourself. Example: “please be evolved beyond fundamentalist consciousness.”

6. Be positive in your profile
Often people will write, 'No freaks' or ' No messed-up people'. This isn't the way anyone would see himself or herself. It shows that you're cynical and see people in a negative light. Be non-judgemental and show that you are. Be receptive to bringing new people into your life.

Gary’s tip: But…be discerning. Like a good breathwork session, always think “this or something better.”If you want someone who doesn’t drink or smoke, say so.

7. Choosing your dating profile user name or headline
Your user name plays a critical role. It is the difference between people clicking on your profile name and viewing your profile or moving on to the next one. Avoid using your full name. You could use your first name with some numbers after it. Something that shows you're romantic or have a sense of humor would work if these are the qualities you possess and want to project.

Gary’s tip: The headline is even more important than your user name. Something catchy and clever will create curiosity. Spend a lot of time with this.

8. Don't be afraid of the Internet
Even in today's times many people are afraid of using the internet for creating dating profiles or searching for prospective dates. As long as you follow basic safety norms, there is no reason to be paranoid. The internet gives some degree of anonymity. Use this till you're reasonably sure who're you're dealing with,

Gary’s tip: The internet is the safest way to meet people if approached correctly. It lets you get to know something about the person before you meet them. ALWAYS meet someone new in a public place with lots of other people around.

9. Internet dating profile pictures
The picture is probably the single most important aspect of your profile. Pictures are known to increase profile views and messages received more than anything else. Use a recent picture. Be fair to the people who may want to get in touch with you. Once you start meeting people in person, you’ll understand why this is important.

Gary’s tip: Pay to get a professional photo taken, even if it’s at WalMart. If you don’t care about yourself, why should someone else care about you?

If the real you is different from the picture, your date will likely be disappointed. No one likes the 50-lb and 5-year suprise! You can always use some image editing software to enhance the picture, though. This is something most people in show business do for their portfolios, ad campaigns and movie posters. Let your picture portray someone who's positive and receptive. Smile!

Avoid webcam shots. They turn out lousy. Group shots are a no-no. It shows you weren't serious enough to even get a picture taken. Use a close-up, not a long distance shot. Most dating sites will remove your image if it's a sketch or a cartoon character. So there's no point going that way. Use nudity only if it is permissible as per the terms of service of the dating site you're signing up with and make sure it's tasteful. Also consider that the images you use can go into circulation elsewhere and may wind up haunting or humiliating you.

Gary’s NSFW tip: Even if you’re on an adult site, guys, stay away from “dick” pics. If they want to see it, they’ll ask. I can’t believe how many men will use one as their profile pic, proving that you think with the little brain. Stay away from adult sites unless that’s what you’re looking for, and don’t look for a peach in a lemon grove.

10. Log in often
After you create your profile, log in often. Most internet dating websites sort listings by last logged in date. That way your profile is seen more often.

Gary’s other tips:
·        Internet dating is a numbers game, and you’re going to kiss a lot of frogs (figuratively speaking, of course). Be prepared for this to take time, and take time away when you feel burnt out. I would go on for 2-3 months, and take a month or two off, temporarily tuning my profiles off for a while. When I’d come back, I’d change some things…my photo, my headline…
·        Pick your dating sites carefully, where you think you’ll find people who are most like you. Exceptions: and Zoosk, just because of the sheer numbers!
·        Join more than one dating site.


Gary Stamper is also a life coach and is the co-creator of the couples' workshop "Discovering Your Sacred Purpose as a Couple.":

Monday, March 18, 2019

5 Reasons Your Retirement is Going to Suck

“It Takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~ E.E. Cummings

This is not an article that’s going to chew you out for being poor or broke when you retire, although that really does suck.  Let’s not fool ourselves: while having money will not be a negative once you are retired, there are a lot of people out there that have  401k’s, pension and retirement plans, and money in the bank who are still going to be miserable after they retire.

I’ve never been rich, but it seems that no matter how much money people might have, there’s never enough. So let’s take money out of the equation, because, let’s face it, you either have it or you don’t and this isn’t an article to try and fix that as you approach retirement or if you’re already retired. 

the 5 Reasons

1. You don’t really know yourself. You’ve spent 20 to 30 years doing jobs for someone else. You traded hours for dollars, maybe by choice, maybe because that’s all you could do or find. Maybe your purpose was your marriage, your children, keeping them safe and providing for them, but it wasn’t your job. Your job may have been a means to an end, with your family the end, your purpose. Now your kids are grown and taking care of themselves and their own families… Seriously, how’s your marriage? Who are you? What do you believe in? What fills you with joy and wonder? If you can’t answer these questions, it’s past time to find those answers.

2. You’re looking back, not ahead. You loved your job. You loved the sense of fulfillment it brought you, the money was good. You were great at it! You loved the people you worked with. They were your friends… and one by one they left or retired, and they were replaced by younger people you didn’t understand and who didn’t understand you and didn’t care. It’s all changed, it’s different, and so are you. The business has changed… and so have you. Maybe it closed its doors, or maybe you got to retirement unscathed, or maybe you were let go or furloughed before you could collect your full pension. You may be angry, bitter. Is that who you want to be? Is this what defines you? How can you fill this huge void in your life that gnaws at you every day? No one’s going to answer these questions for you.

3. You’re just F***ing bored. You went from 100 mph one day to 0 mph the next. It‘s called retirement. Yes, you had hobbies… two! The train setup in the basement and golf. Two weeks later you were bored to tears in the basement with what used to be a fun hobby, but now the kids are gone and it just feels lonely and unsatisfying… boring! The guys you were golfing with are now playing with new partners who are not retired and with whom they can do business with, and what used to be a fun second “hobby” has turned into something the wife just wants you to do out of the house because you’re driving her nuts, too! You know you need to make changes, but you just don’t know where to begin.

4. Could You Be Any More Lonely? You’re retired and single… maybe you’ve recently divorced, or worse, maybe you’ve recently lost a life partner, your mate, the person you were planning on spending the remainder of your life with, and now that’s gone., and so are they. A senior dating site? Get real. I need two years to grieve through this and then I’ll be two years older than I am now. I’m on anxiety medication and have started what is likely to be a very long relationship with psychotherapy. Not what I had in mind. I have to admit to myself I honestly don’t know myself very well at all.

5. You Will Have Health Issues. Let’s face it: At some point, we’re all going to have health issues, ranging from annoying to life-threatening, and even if you just slow down, one day you’re going to stop. I hate to break it to you, but our eventual deaths are inevitable. For now, you need to factor in your current health, as well as any foreseeable serious issues you are likely to encounter in the future. Many health issues cannot be predicted, but based on your current health, you may be able to make educated guesses about your health in the future. This will affect your lifestyle and where you want to live, in addition to your wallet. This is also part of knowing yourself.

 Many of us get along pretty good in life as long as things are running fairly smoothly. We may even consider ourselves “happy” even though we may not have the “perfect life” that others seem to have. However, when things go wrong or get difficult, watch out. But when we focus on meaning and purpose that’s larger than ourselves, we no longer need to pursue happiness. It comes naturally, even in the face of temporary setbacks and discomforts.

As a Life Coach Retirement Strategist, it’s not my job to give advice or provide solutions, but, rather, lead you to your own realization of what you probably already know what you should be doing, however deeply buried it may lie within you, because who knows you better than you? As my client, I believe you already have the answers. My job is to help you uncover those answers, but you have to first ask for help.

You are where you are, but you can get to where you want to go.

Gary Stamper is a Certified Professional Coach and the founder and creator of Old Dogs New Tricks, a website that supports men in being compassionate badasses after they retire. He is also the author of Awakening The New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior, a book about evolutionary consciousness and spirituality.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hunter S. Thompson’s Letter on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life

In April of 1958, Hunter S. Thompson was 22 years old when he wrote this letter to his friend Hume Logan in response to a request for life advice.

Thompson’s letter, found in Letters of Note, offers some of the most thoughtful and profound advice I’ve ever come across.

April 22, 1958
57 Perry Street
New York City

Dear Hume,

You ask advice: ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do! For to give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal— to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself.

I am not a fool, but I respect your sincerity in asking my advice. I ask you though, in listening to what I say, to remember that all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it. What is truth to one may be disaster to another. I do not see life through your eyes, nor you through mine. If I were to attempt to give you specific advice, it would be too much like the blind leading the blind.

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles … ” (Shakespeare)

And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect— between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming.

But why not float if you have no goal? That is another question. It is unquestionably better to enjoy the floating than to swim in uncertainty. So how does a man find a goal? Not a castle in the stars, but a real and tangible thing. How can a man be sure he’s not after the “big rock candy mountain,” the enticing sugar-candy goal that has little taste and no substance?

The answer— and, in a sense, the tragedy of life— is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. Every man is the sum total of his reactions to experience. As your experiences differ and multiply, you become a different man, and hence your perspective changes. This goes on and on. Every reaction is a learning process; every significant experience alters your perspective.

So it would seem foolish, would it not, to adjust our lives to the demands of a goal we see from a different angle every day? How could we ever hope to accomplish anything other than galloping neurosis?

The answer, then, must not deal with goals at all, or not with tangible goals, anyway. It would take reams of paper to develop this subject to fulfillment. God only knows how many books have been written on “the meaning of man” and that sort of thing, and god only knows how many people have pondered the subject. (I use the term “god only knows” purely as an expression.) There’s very little sense in my trying to give it up to you in the proverbial nutshell, because I’m the first to admit my absolute lack of qualifications for reducing the meaning of life to one or two paragraphs.

I’m going to steer clear of the word “existentialism,” but you might keep it in mind as a key of sorts. You might also try something called Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre, and another little thing called Existentialism: From Dostoyevsky to Sartre. These are merely suggestions. If you’re genuinely satisfied with what you are and what you’re doing, then give those books a wide berth. (Let sleeping dogs lie.) But back to the answer. As I said, to put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.

But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors— but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires— including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.

As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal), he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life— the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.

Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN— and here is the essence of all I’ve said— you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life. But you say, “I don’t know where to look; I don’t know what to look for.”

And there’s the crux. Is it worth giving up what I have to look for something better? I don’t know— is it? Who can make that decision but you? But even by DECIDING TO LOOK, you go a long way toward making the choice.

If I don’t call this to a halt, I’m going to find myself writing a book. I hope it’s not as confusing as it looks at first glance. Keep in mind, of course, that this is MY WAY of looking at things. I happen to think that it’s pretty generally applicable, but you may not. Each of us has to create our own credo— this merely happens to be mine.

If any part of it doesn’t seem to make sense, by all means call it to my attention. I’m not trying to send you out “on the road” in search of Valhalla, but merely pointing out that it is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it. There is more to it than that— no one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.

And that’s it for now. Until I hear from you again, I remain,

your friend,

Saturday, March 16, 2019


March 10, 2019forecastingintelligence

“All in all, a new, highly complex and destabilized ‘domain of risk’ is emerging – which includes the risk of the collapse of key social and economic systems, at local and potentially even global levels. This new risk domain affects virtually all areas of policy and politics, and it is doubtful that societies around the world are adequately prepared to manage this risk. Due to the high levels of complexity, the scale of breakdown and systemic nature of the problem, responding to the age of environmental breakdown may be the greatest challenge that humans have faced in their history.”

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