Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Call to action... For Independent artists, self published authors and print on demand publishing companies...

I recently had the unfortunate experience of applying for an emergency grant that has been set up by a well known Canadian organization to support and fund the efforts of Canadian authors in times of need. As any artist knows, the struggle to continue to create positive material during times of emotional and financial distress can be overwhelming and have devastating effects on the results of creative works. With this in mind, both governments and independent agencies have for years provided financial support for the artistic community. Unfortunately, it appears that for many of these organizations the validity of an artist’s work is not based on the merit of the work, nor is it based on the positive social impact that the work may have, rather it is based on the size and the power of the organizations that have in the past supported the artist. Speaking specifically in terms of an author applying for financial assistance there is a bias among those who provide such assistance to not support authors who are independently published or who have been published and supported by print to order publishing houses. Many organizations, including government grants have very clearly stipulated guidelines on their websites that stresses this particular bias. In fact, even some well renowned awards will not accept novels as entries that come from self published authors, or print to order publishing houses. Others make it very clear that eBooks are not acceptable either for applications for financial assistance or as entry into competition. Given our current need to create a more sustainable way of sharing information due to the obvious fact that we have used and abused our planets resources for far too long, this bias against print to order publishing houses both confuses and concerns me. If in fact, an author chooses to remain with a print to order publishing house due to personal concern for the environment, then their resources become very limited and their options for assistance even more so. I find this unacceptable in today’s society and feel that it is an issue that needs be addressed and openly discussed in a public venue in the hopes that in the future these organizations will re-examine their priorities. Speaking of my own personal experience, with an organization that I will not name out of respect for the fact that one man’s actions does not reflect on an entire group of people who may truly desire to help further creative ambitions, I was appalled to discover that my email application was both dismissed out of hand and to be addressed in said email by a name that is not mine. I am a published author who began my career over three years ago as a self published author who did initially pay a publishing house to publish my first novel. Since that time, my work has been picked up by a publishing house in the USA that works as both a self publishing agent and a traditional publishing house that accepts manuscripts for submission. What sets them apart however and why I have remained with them is that they offer a print to order and eBook solution to our 21st century environmental needs. They are a small family based business who focus on the authors’ needs and encourages the authors’ responsibilities both with regards to involvement with the creative process and with having a social media presence and ongoing interaction with their readers. I am published through Grave Distractions Publication on contract, as a traditionally published author as was outlined by my publishers letter of reference to the organization that I was applying to. What troubles me is that my application was dismissed on the grounds that I am not considered a professional author as my publisher is in fact a print on demand publishing company. It did not matter that I have published 2 novels in print, 3 novels in eBook format and 1 compilation of donated blogs in eBook format (a charity project that included writings by ten authors), nor did it matter that I work in a socially conscious genre and that the project I was applying for assistance to complete is in fact a book designed to inspire and uplift those suffering from chronic pain and illness so that they might find their way to healing. In fact the merit of my work never came into question only the legitimacy of my carefully chosen publishing company. I am including in this article the guidelines for this organization as outlined on their website... 1. Canadian citizens or permanent residents. 2. Working on a book-length project in the category of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, or children’s literature. 3. A professional writer engaged in the production of literary work for some time (a minimum of 2 professionally published works or an equivalent body of work; self-published and ghostwritten works will not be accepted). 4. Facing an unforeseen financial need (usually a matter of exigency including but not limited to illness, legal issue, or debt problem, rather than an on-going, chronic problem of making a living) that imperils the completion of their project. What follows is a line from the email explaining why my application was rejected... “In reviewing your application we unfortunately conclude that you do not yet at this point in your writing career meet the program’s eligibility requirement. To be eligible for the Woodcock Fund a writer must have professionally published a minimum of two literary titles. It is our understanding that your previous publications were with a firm (Grave Distractions Publications) we would categorize as a print-on-demand or self-publishing operation.” I am disappointed in the blatant disregard of my application and the obvious bias against the company that I have been blessed to be represented by and I would hope that in the future there might be a more open and accepting attitude towards agencies that publish print on demand works. My reasons tonight for writing this article are not to cry out in anguish over my personal failure to acquire the funds I need but rather they are due to my concern for the future of publishing and for the art of the written word. If we cannot find a way to marry our need to create sustainable publishing with our need to continue to support the arts then surely we have failed in one of the most important elements for shifting our society over to a more sustainable way of life. I am blessed to be secure in my sense of self worth, due to years of public exposure as an author, blogger, screenwriter, producer and on-line radio show host. I am surrounded by a massive support network who continues to supply me with a never ending flow of inspiration. My concern is that if such a response could briefly bring me to question my own professional worth as an author, what effect would such a response have on a young dreamer who is just stretching their creative wings? How do we define the worth of an artist, do we judge the work itself, the merit and the potential it has to bring joy into our world or do we judge it on the size and power of the company who promotes and markets it. It is time for us to look into our hearts, as individuals, readers, artists, producers, publishers and grant-makers and ask ourselves what we would like the future of publishing to look like. Do we want it to reflect the creative dream that drives all authors to put pen to paper or do we want it to reflect the greed of those who would continue to rape and pillage our resources in the never-ending quest for the almighty dollar. It is time we spoke up... I implore you as readers, as writers, as publishers and producers, musicians and artists, independent and otherwise to speak out against this... Write poems about it, talk about it in your video’s and on your radio shows ... Blog about it, make songs about it... Bring this issue to the forefront of the public through your various social media networks and demand that this abuse of our creative energy be halted. We are not here to make money for big corporations, we are here to create – to uplift and to inspire and it is time that our governments, charitable organizations and the public supported our passion, our talents and our unrelenting drive to do so. Niki Leach aka Jean Victoria Norloch (soon to be known as Ms. Love)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Birthday Joy

I recently had the pleasure of getting completely spoiled for my birthday – which of course is an awesome experience for any kid of any age...

Two of the highlights of my day were my radio co-hosts on-line birthday bash and Janet Caldwell’s loving tribute poem...

She came to me in a dream
or so I thought.
She was whispering cures
to me, in my sleep, it seemed.

Tales that she brought to me,
when I was so very ill, telling
me that I need not stay here, still.

While singing songs of meditation
that calmed my weary spirit.
She told me stories of health and wealth,
from an ancient wisdom.

She carefully explained . .
how I had made the decision
to hold onto sickness & selfishness.

She taught me that it was my choice
to be free or keep that dreaded disease.
All . . . propagated by me.

How she did this without judgment,
I’ll never know.

I will tell you that because of her,
many healings have taken place, and I
am ever grateful for her love and grace.

I call her Vikki Jean, the name matters not though.

It’s her angelic light that heals,
recovers and rescues people like me.

Thank you, Jean Victoria, Lovingly,
from me to you, on your special day.

Happy Birthday, Sis!

© Janet Caldwell July 05, 2012

To find more of Janet's work you can visit her at her website JANET P. CALDWELL

For those wishing to listen to what was for me one of the most incredibly fun shows we have ever done – with surprise visits from people like musician Jordan Okrend, on-line TV star Ninon DeVere De Rosa and my own personal favorite and the biggest star in life, my daughter Madison just hit the play button.

Listen to internet radio with Everyday Connection Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Thanks to all of you who posted well wishes on my FB wall and to all of you who showed up to share in the love of a special birthday event...

Jean VN

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Good OR The Bad and The Ugly???

The world of media and promotion is strange indeed, it would seem that at times the moral and ethical issues that apply to normal people, living ordinary lives don’t always apply to those we are expected and encouraged to look up to.  The picture that is often painted of the rich, powerful and famous has been for far too long an exaggerated and unfair portrait of perfection.  For the most part however this carefully painted illusion is seen by the masses for what it is; a fake representation of those we choose for a time to place on a pedestal.  Even the artists (musicians, actors etc.) have begun to come forward to speak out against this flagrant disregard for truth.   Our own willingness to blindly accept whatever we are fed is quickly changing as the public gets more diligent is supporting only those things that inspire them rather than discourage.

Yet even as the media and entertainment moguls begin to catch onto this shifting public perception of what is and what is not acceptable in the world of promotion and marketing there is a group of people out there who seem content to carry on as they always have; oddly, for most of them, it is their stated mission to be helping to make the world a better place yet through their actions they may inadvertently be doing more harm than good.

I am referring to the passionate actions of our environmental heroes’, or rather the people we have for so long referred to as such.  People dedicated to the protection of our planet and by extension the welfare of every single species living on that planet including the human race.  These tireless individuals have trudged through the sludge of our industrial revolution, head bent against the winds of change, pushing ever forwards in an attempt to awaken the masses to our inevitable self destruction; and we, the people applaud their efforts and drop our jaws wide in anticipation of the approaching information that they provide.  Much like the baby bird, safe and secure in the warmth of our nests we have rarely questioned their motives, their objectives or their methods.  Only when those we view as radicals commit acts that disrupt our normally ordered lives do we ponder their actions.

For years it has worked, they have managed to successfully ignite the angst and anger of many a neutral person against the insatiable greed of corporate America.  They ripped open the can of worms that is our tortured and rent Earth and bluntly pointed out that ‘look – all the worms are dead’.  They have opened hearts and minds to the possibility that maybe; just maybe, there is more to this whole natural balance thing than we have been led to believe. 

But... have they touched those same hearts and minds?

Have their pictures of devastated farm lands, oil slicked birds, crippled mammals and torched bush ignited their own unique fire of action or has it instilled fear into the hearts of those they reach out to. 

I have always believed that positive reinforcement is one of the most efficient methods of initiating successful action in others; tell people how awesome they are doing and they will keep on doing.  If however you continue to point out how overwhelmingly unpleasant things are people have a natural tendency to back away from (or run depending on the person) whatever it is you are pointing your disapproving finger at.  Momma always said you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar and though she wasn’t always right the woman did have a pretty clear insight into the way the human brain works.  So, knowing this and knowing too that I am no expert on human psychology (no doctorate degree and whatnot) I have to wonder why is it the ‘experts’ out there, the ones planning and implementing the campaigns are not aware of this little flaw in the plan?

Basically what I want to know is...

Why do environmentalists think that by showing us enough of what’s wrong that we the people will do what’s right???

It doesn’t compute, is not logical and certainly not realistic to assume that by showing images of mass destruction that it will encourage people to fall back in love with their planet.  How can one appreciate the true beauty of our natural world when all one does is look at the garbage that humans have come to dump into it?  How about a little more of what’s working and a little less of what’s not?  How about showing us all the amazing things we could be doing by showing us all the amazing things that are already being done rather than showing us what is not getting done and helping us to feel as if we are powerless to change it? 

Does a good Mother not show her child kindness by example; does she not teach her child manners by making words such as please and thank-you a part of her own vocabulary???

If it is true that many of us yet need to be woken up to the changes that need be made within our society for the benefit of that society than is it not also true that this suggests a state of child-like innocence?  If we need to be educated about these issues, and are naive to the truths of our world then shouldn’t those who are doing the teaching not set for us an example of success for us to build upon?

Of course I might be wrong, after all there is no signed and sealed certificate on my wall to confirm the worth and value of my intellect, I must go simply by what I know from my own experiences and rely on the things I learned in life through my own personal trials and errors.  One of the most important things that I have ever learned is something that I have come to understand through the raising of my own child;  that by showing her the value, worth and beauty of a thing I was almost always able to encourage her interest in that thing; I just thought perhaps in the raising of our global family the same rules might apply.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Word is Just a Word...

Or is it???

In light of my recent experiences with censorship it has come to my attention that our society really needs to re-think its priorities.  Today I received a note from a friend saying that she had tried unsuccessfully to post review of one of my books on; she was writing to ask if I could figure out why they would not allow the post...

Here is the brief review...

“Fresh, unencumbered truth, naked feeling almost- a new look on relation-shifts in general.....the kind of book that gets you to a place where you want to move forward to deal with your anger, shadow, shit, stuck situations, re-think the life you do not want to live.... whatever you want to call it!! ...a much needed different perspective of things in our vastly changing time frame.”

Ok soooooo???

What’s wrong with that you ask...

Well unfortunately for us both she happened to use a word that apparently is unacceptable to the pious and upright socially correct minds at Amazon.  Yes my friends, I do believe that the word ‘SHIT’ falls into the category of profanity, which by the way is clearly outlined in the rules at Amazon as NOT being allowable content and I quote “We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.”

Now I normally would not have caught this, except for the entertaining experience of just the other night having a word I typed into the chat room of our on-line radio show be censored by Blog Talk.  I was talking ‘shit’ as I occasionally do when the topic at hand is an interesting one and I realized that the word ‘shit’ came out in the chat room as ***.  Fascinating to say the least that they would have taken the time to set up a programme within their undoubtedly already complex programme (running a Blog Talk station with chat capabilities can’t be overly simple) to censor words as benign as the word ‘shit’.

Which leads me to wonder who is in charge of deciding what is and what is not profanity and how do we distinguish between words that ARE and ARE NOT acceptable? In my mind, twisted though to some it might be, the word ‘shit’ (albeit a crass definition) describes a natural human and non-human function (animals do it too) so why in the world would we deign to waste time with banning it from our language.

I got curious as I so often do and I looked it up... This is what our much esteemed and referenced Merriam Webster had to say about it...

Definition of SHIT

1 usually vulgar: feces

2 usually vulgar: an act of defecation

3 usually vulgar: nonsense, crap

4 usually vulgar: any of several intoxicating or narcotic drugs; especially: heroin

5 usually vulgar: damn

6 usually vulgar: a worthless, offensive, or detestable person

7 usually vulgar a—used as an interjection b—used as an intensive usually with the

shit·ty \ˈshi-tē\adjective,usually vulgar

Examples of SHIT

1.       Don't give me that shit!

2.       Why are you telling me this shit?

3.       That movie was total shit.

4.       There's always some shit going on.

Origin of SHIT

Middle English *shit, from Old English scite; akin to Old English -scītan to defecate

First Known Use: circa 1526

I had to wonder at the number of times they managed to use the word vulgar, but the truth of it is, regardless of the fact that they are quite clear on the fact that it is not the nicest of words they also happened to point on in the process of defining this particular word that it is quite commonly used in everyday language.

Oddly enough, at the bottom of the definition they asked...

What made you want to look up shit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

I didn’t bother to write in and tell them because quite frankly I can’t remember that far back.

Now I am not denying that there ARE several words that the English language could do without but I am thinking that ‘shit’ is not one of them.

What I want to know is when are words like ‘rape’, ‘bigotry’, ‘pedophilia’, ‘hate’, ‘racism’, ‘starvation’ and my all time favorite ‘war’ going to become just as unacceptable to our society.  Those words are used everyday – those words are taught in our schools – talked about frequently – no daily - in mainstream media – those words we have become immune to – numb to... Those words that describe inhuman acts of depravity are words we ACCEPT as being a part of our world and our reality.  Think about the use of those words, the damage, death and destruction they have caused millions of people over the years and consider this – WE ARE WASTING OUR TIME GIVING A SHIT ABOUT THE WRONG SHIT!!!

To sum it up... This kind of SHIT has to STOP...

(If you happen to agree with and support this overly ‘vulgar’ blog post then by all means pass it on, then drop me a line at and I will gladly give you a free promotional e-book version of the book that my friend was reviewing – which by the way, possibly contains the word ‘shit’ more than once (I can't remember)  – but then I guess Amazon didn’t bother to read it before gladly accepting the chance to make money off it.)

Jean Victoria Norloch

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Short Short Story

“Come step outside yourself and walk a while with me along the shore of non-reality; experience for yourself a life not bound by the limits of must have’s and must do’s. Enter a universe where potentialities are the building blocks of all that is and dance under the vast empty space of a blank page. I caution you however, leave behind your sense of propriety, it has no place in a world that has not yet been created...”, the pen coaxes the hand that at one time embraced it willingly to once again caress it lovingly.
The hand responds with wails of agony over the eternal inner conflict that the pens seductive advances have cause. The battle rages and though the hand wilfully resists the uncontrollable urges that are overwhelming it, in the end it will succumb, suffering defeat to the pen that always wins.
Since the beginning of time, it has always been this way.
I think the true mystery of it all is that it is still a mystery...
I’m not sure how long I was an author before I figured it out, it may have been something I have secretly known for years but was unwilling to admit. Certainly I must have scratched the surface of it on some deep unconscious level those many years ago when I accidently discovered I was a writer; I just never had the courage to dive in and explore the black murky waters of an artisan’s mind. Having your work published makes you an author, but being an author does not make you a writer. In this case it is possible that this dirty little skeleton in the closet of the writers’ world is the kind of thing that only a writer instinctively knows should never be spoken of.
A writer’s guilt is not discussed openly within the writer’s guild; after all, there are much more important matters at hand. Who will be chosen for this year’s top literary prizes and who has made the biggest impact on society merely with the sharing of a few artfully composed line of prose are at the top of the list of things we may discuss; I’m not so sure you want to know what’s at the bottom.
Sometimes, if you are attentive and willing to transcend your own interpretations to take the chance on stilling your own mind so that you may hear what the author is really telling you then you may find hints as to the true nature of the relationship between the pen and the pauper. You might find buried in the pages of your favourite wordsmith’s latest expose some tangible, though not so obvious, evidence that the author in question may indeed need but does not always love the pen.
Not that all of us are starving artists in the monetary sense of this overused saying but there is a hunger within us all that for some reason can never be sated. Some people think that the talent makes us wealthy, that our ability to express feeling and paint pictures with words allows us some kind of magical inexplicable ability to connect with the world around us. We are rich with the sights and sounds of the space in which we live and breathe, taking all that we see and hear into our being and then allowing it to flow fluidly out onto paper. It is a wonderful perception of how this art form is used as a tool of expression and the idea in and of itself is inspiring and uplifting. Our art is a gift, our means of bringing light into the world. We are creators of ideas and purveyors of ideals, pulling fanciful forms from the air and spinning webs of intricate words that bring new worlds into being. We cajole and tempt our readers into unexplored paradigms complete with complex characters through whom bookworms can vicariously experience adventures beyond the limitations of reality.
A gift indeed, it is; and a curse...
For when the muse descends it is not in the nature of the writer to deny the pen, nor is it in their nature to find the courage to refuse the eternal torment of the soul that allows us to share the intimate emotion that pulls the reader unwilling into a world that is no longer their own.
What does the writer see when they stare out the window for hours, lost in a world internally born and lovingly nourished into expansive growth for your viewing pleasure?
Do you care? Does it matter? As long as the stories keep coming, is the wellbeing of the source important?
‘Such power and majesty, such imagination’, you say... ‘these are surely things that ought to be cherished and praised’; and I say ‘nay, it is merely how I survive’...
Too often do we dwell on the talents and skills of others and ponder how it is they accomplish tasks that far exceed our own capabilities. You might even be so bold as to ask, as many in the past have done...
How I do it? How I can sit for weeks lost in worlds that don’t exist? I answer truthfully that I only write so that the conversations in my head do not explode out into and invade the life that I live. I would not have my demons interfere with the daily interactions that I am forced to endure with regular people who live quietly, sheltered within the boundaries of society. I have discovered through much trial and error, the more lines I produce, the less likely it is that I will be seduced by the darker side of being. Possession they say is nine-tenths of the law and I am of the mind that they had artists in mind when they invented this quaint little phrase.
The well known images that have invaded the works of a multitude of performers over the years that depict men and women, with heads bent before their keyboards, begging and pleading with their inner being to shine its light on their latest creative endeavour are a most clever ruse. Presented by experts at sleight of hand, they have helped to design the illusion that this thing they call ‘writing’ is something one must slave away at if one wishes to succeed. Discounting the obvious disdain that the average creative personality has for the commonly accepted definition of the word, it is nonetheless, an acceptable misrepresentation of the struggle that society expects from those it naturally shuns even as it pretends to admire. For surely, it cannot be easy to sit down and build out of words such vividly realistic chronicles of tragedy, heroism and self sacrifice. There must be some kind of plan, a layout presented beforehand full of ‘maybe’s’ and ‘what ifs’ that will allow the writer to explore the potential of their creations. It cannot simply that be that the story, as it is told to you, already exists in its’ entirety in the twisted mind of the architect awaiting it’s chance to escape the confines of the brain and leap into existence becoming a part of the culture of the people. No, that would be too simple...
Perhaps better then, and safer for all, to just assume that there is much effort involved in creation and that the eloquence of the moment is a mystical and magical thing that cannot be explained...
We could dispense with the charade and do away with all the fancy tricks that writers use to fool you into thinking that what they do is a challenge, for it is pure and simple honest truth that it is not what they do that causes them distress; it is who they are.
The writer does not see the world as you see it. There is no black and white, nor are there shades of grey from which to choose in any given moment what for them is wrong or right. There is no defined line between the world you believe is their imagination and the world you perceive as our collective reality; there is no certainty that the worlds they claim to have contrived have not existed before either in this realm or another. There is no comfort for them in knowing that the things they share are merely tales that have been pulled from an overactive mind, for in the moment of revelation, there is a deep seeded knowing that they have lived the stories they tell. There is no separation between your world and the worlds you read about on paper. The lines between what is real and what is not are no longer blurred nor are they merely indistinguishable to the naked eye; they have altogether ceased to exist.
In any given moment your teller of tales may be locked in the mind of a killer, pulling from that mind all the sadistic and sordid details of the destruction of its latest victim or they may be walking the beach in brazil, allowing the sun to gently kiss their skin as they breathe in the salty sea air.
And the conversation with the pen carries on without interruption...
“Come to me”, says the pen...
“Not today, there are things that I must do”, answer’s the hand that usually holds it...
“Come to me”, calls the pen...
“I can’t” explains the hand that shamefully yearns to pick it up...
“Come to me” demands the pen...
“No, life calls and you must let me live it” pleads the hand that secretly aches for its touch...
“I am your life” whispers the pen and the hand slowly reaches for it knowing that if it gives into this, it will never again be able to let it go...
Such is the burning fire that is the need to write; a flame that over time may wax and wane yet will always reignite.
Is it any wonder that your world scares the hell out of me; that I cannot understand your daily grind and nine to five routine. Is it such a surprise to you still, after all this time, that I do not ‘fit in’ and that minor details, like the need to sleep and eat, at times elude me. Shocked are you, that if I had my way, annoyances like having to provide for myself food and drink would cease to exist for what good is this energy that sustenance provides if I cannot allow it to again be released in an explosion of creation. Go to work? What? What? Sir you must be mad; what if I stumble upon some inspiration and am not able to jot it down for further exploration? Do you seek my expiration?
It’s ok, I understand your hesitation, as I too have questioned the sanity of this situation...
And that as they say is quite enough of that; I assume however that you get my point as it is in my heart that if you have indeed made it this far you have a much deeper understanding of my state of dis-ease than I previously gave you credit for. In fact, though some may have in the past thought me ill, I think you might agree that it is simply the side effects of attempting to live a life out of line with who I really am. As the freedom to express becomes more a way of life, so too does the sense of calm that goes along with being true to one’s nature. Though my spirit longs for freedom, and will not be trapped by the constraints of societal expectations I will do my best to live a life in line with the moral and ethical desires of our global brothers and sisters; in short I will do my best not to stir up too much shit.
Yet, if I am to make this concession in the interest of keeping the peace...
I want to know two things...
Where do seagulls sleep at night and where do writers go to write?
They hide away, in places where they will not be disturbed and on some level it may very well be that they do need absolute silence to perform the task at hand but when it comes down to it, this removal of one’s self from society in order to complete a collection of written works is more about protecting the people who still live within the confines of that society.
Go ahead if you dare, seek out the illusive writer and if you are lucky enough to find them in the throes of ecstasy that come with the release of all the hidden barbaric passions of their being; reach out to them and try to stop their pen, then stand in awe of the madness you see shining in their eyes.
They don’t know you... they don’t want know you...
You are merely another actor in yet another play that was no doubt written long ago by some poor anguished creature who sought to find a way to come to terms with the division between the world they knew to exist and the world that every once in a while invaded their sacred space.
From whence does such insanity hail? From what dark and dreary depths does such depravity ascend to assault the senses of one who would be brave enough to interrupt the creative process? How does one come to not know the difference between fact and fiction?
These are question that have plagued me for many a moon and I was wondering...
Could you tell me? Because I have been watching you ‘normal’ people for years and I am still not for the life of me able to figure out how it is you are all still so confused...
Humph; and you call us crazy...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


She examined the small circular object in her palm, then slowly reached out and gently passed her fingers over her grandmother’s eyes...
The elders would be here soon to take the body away, there was nothing more to be done. All that needed to be said, had been said, as was the tradition of her people; the final stories had been told, the last of the wisdom passed down and the farewell gift had been given. She turned her back on the now empty shell and passed out into the night, strolling towards the nearby water she had frequently visited as a young girl.
She smiled at the idea that another young one would soon be playing there, creating new adventures out of sculpted sand. With her grandmother’s transition, the home that her parents had grown up in, her own home away from home, would now pass to another young family beginning their new life together; she lowered her head and gave silent thanks to the ways of her people, that even in death there was an offer of gifts to the living.
Strange she thought, as she sat on her favourite rock, that not so long ago the house would be... What was that word? Oh yes, ‘sold’ to the person who had the most ‘money’ to ‘pay’ for it, rather than be given to people who needed it. Those words seemed so foreign to her, even though she was well versed in the histories of her people and understood the concept of money , the words just did not seem to have a place in the world she had grown up in. She looked down again at the circle of metal in her palm, amused that such a rare and unique object had been passed down to her. Her grandmother had explained that once, long ago, they were very common, although most had shiny, polished stones instead of the plain pebble that jutted out from the top of this band, so even back then, this particular piece was special. Imagine, making ornaments out of polished minerals dug from the earth, and wearing them as symbols of... Oh yes, right, they called it ‘wealth’. She giggled at the idea, such concepts, she mused, were barbaric. Was not everyone wealthy? Did the world in which they lived not provide for all?
During the final days before the transition, she had sat with her grandmother, as was the custom of the times, to share stories, ideas and dreams... It was during this time of bonding that her Grandmother had given her the ‘ring’ and told her the story of its origin.
It was a common custom back then for families to gather to celebrate the date of a person’s birth and it had been at one of these feasts that her grandmother’s future had been determined. Although at the time, the practice of formally asking a father for his daughters hand in marriage was outdated, her grandfather had insisted on making the request before announcing the engagement. During the meal he rose from his seat to make his intentions known. Initially, there was much celebration and immediate approval of the union but when he, only moments later, presented his betrothed with the expected symbol of commitment, silence had descended. Her family, having come from a long line of rich and powerful people, were shocked at the obvious disregard for what they considered to be an important element of the ‘promise of forever’, for there, perched on a golden band sat, not the expected display of wealth, but rather a small, rough, unpolished stone... Her father was furious, until the young man, confident in the message of love that his gift represented, slowly and deliberately began to reveal the meaning of the rock.
He explained that many years ago, when he was young child of the age of six, he and his family had lived comfortably in India. His father had been a well paid book keeper for a local Diamond mine in Krishna and for years had done his job, content in his ability to provide generously for his family, without any consideration as to where the diamonds were coming from. Then in the year of 1994, he accidently discovered a discrepancy in the finances of the company and in the process of trying to clear up the odd miscalculation, stumbled upon a disturbing truth. Many of the stones that were being sold by the company were in fact being smuggled in from South Africa; referred to at the time as ‘blood diamonds’ for the fact that they were mined by slaves, the discovery had serious ethical implications. Knowing that his own people had for years been working in unacceptable conditions, underpaid and unable to provide for their families, the morality of his position within the company hit him and he realized he had a choice to make; he could do something about it, if only he could find the courage. Torn between guilt and fear for his own safety and that of his loved ones, he nevertheless sought to dig up as much information as possible. Eventually, with the help of some cousins who were working as cutters in the nearby factory, he managed to hatch a plan of escape. Smuggling a few small diamonds and a wealth of information out of the country was not an easy task. By some miracle the family, having left everything behind except for what they could carry, made their way East across the country to the coast, then travelled up the coast to Pakistan. There, they used the stolen diamonds to buy passage to Canada where they sought refuge in exchange for information.
The small stone, he revealed, came from the yard of their house in India, the only piece of his homeland that he still had in his possession. He had carried it with him, a symbol of all that was good and true about the human heart, a symbol, he said, of freedom. As his eyes shone with unshed tears, he placed the ring on his beloved’s finger, proclaiming to the family that it was the most pure symbol of love that he could offer.
The mood in the room had become subdued, but there was a peaceful feeling of love and acceptance that flowed from the family towards the young man that night and as the evening wore on, some had the courage to begin to ask questions. Long into the night he shared his journey and its outcome with the family. A bond was made that night that would never be broken.
The family learned that it had taken the government a long time to act, and it was years before any kind of serious move was made to stop the torture and abuse of helpless innocents in the name of procuring precious gems. Finally in 2007, the U.N. revealed the results of years of investigation into the diamond trade. The call was put out to governments around the world to intervene on behalf of the slaves; in time diamond smuggling and slavery was abolished but it had taken the sacrifice of thousands of lives and years of civil unrest and war.
In the years to follow a slowly growing awareness had spread across the globe, and over time, people united, with one voice, tossing divisions and petty differences aside. A world wide movement was launched, and seemingly without any kind of leadership, grew into a unified show of solidarity that brought strangers from around the world into alignment with one another. A new age of peace was born.
It was now known as the global shift in consciousness and was accepted as one of the most remarkable times in human history, a defining moment where mankind stood together, after thousands of years of murder, war, starvation and suffering and declared with one voice that they would kill no more. Her grandparents had been there, they had lived during those times, had fought for the freedom of their people and had celebrated with their people on the day when the wars ended and the battle had been won.
That had been 200 years ago; as part of their new found freedom, her people had rediscovered the value of natural foods and had begun to exchange ancient knowledge that had for many years been hidden from the people because of their inability to communicate openly. People grew strong and healthy as the chemicals left their bodies, the balance was restored and life expectancy increased dramatically. There was much that needed to be re-built and there was much joy to be found in the co-creation of a new unified world.
She grinned at the ring as she slipped it on her finger, reflecting on how honoured she was to possess such a rare treasure; a stone that symbolized the hard won freedom of her people, humans, who had finally found the peace they had so long been seeking.

Jean Victoria Norloch

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Three Years Gone - Not One Second Forgotten...

If you would rather listen than read, audio reordings will now be available for blog postings...

Hit Play

It’s hard to believe it; it seems like only yesterday and it me leaves feeling a slight tinge of sadness to think it’s been so long.
It’s been three years to the day that my feet first stepped onto that magical land, three years to the day that I breathed that sweet air of freedom. Fitting I think that Valentine’s Day be the anniversary of the day my life changed forever from one of despair to one of love.
Some might call my perception of this seemingly minor event a bit extreme, some might even call it down right nuts but I honestly harbour no romantic delusions regarding either the land I visited or the people in it; I simply have a very open and honest acceptance of my own mind set and state of being before that fateful trip.
When I left Canada I was tired and worn, embittered by the never-ending cycle of death and destruction not only in my own life but in the world around me. I struggled to find hope for a future that in my mind would inevitably swallow up any dreams I myself or my daughter may have for a life filled with joy. I saw corruption and greed, in the government, in my place of employment and even within the confines of my own family. I believed that money ruled the heart, that mankind was headed down a road of self annihilation. With my faith lost in religions that seemed only to want to control and impoverish rather than to lift up and inspire, I could not see the God or The Spirit that people with light in their eyes spoke of. I knew at the core of my being that it was there, but I could not feel the warmth that I believed was mine by right. Without guidance I wandered through my life lost in my own fear.
I pretended often to be happy, faked it better, I think, than most and for years I managed even despite my many ups and downs to convince my friends and family that I had my life on track and things would in time improve. Inside I was dying, slowly hoping that the diseases, injuries and the abuse prescription meds and cigarettes would do me in long before I would have to answer for my perceived failures.
Then for one brief moment instead of being afraid of being sick, I got sick of being afraid. In a moment of desperation I asked the great emptiness for help and so began the journey that first brought me to Manila and ultimately brought me here.
Now I see hope for a better tomorrow, I see already proof in action of a better today. I believe that there are no longer limits to what either myself or my daughter can accomplish and all that shapes the future for us is the width and breadth of the dreams we will allow ourselves to dream. I see thousands of people working to create innovative solutions to challenges we as a society for a short time believed to be impossible to overcome. I see millions of voices screaming out in defiance of oppression and repression. I see the people not just praying to and worshipping but becoming the Spirit that some religions have so long held tantalizingly out of reach. My faith in God has been reawakened and my faith in humanity is unshakable. I know now that giving up is not an option and the joy is not found in things that are hard won or bought. I know that peace is easily attained once our fear of loss is released and I know that ultimately there is nothing really to lose in the first place.
I also know that had I not taken the time to wonder why even in the midst of such obvious poverty and intolerable living conditions they were still able to smile, I would still be lost. Thankfully I did ask, and they were kind enough to answer in their gentle, guide you by the hand to the water and never force you to drink kind of way, they taught me more about love in a few days than I had learned in a lifetime.
So if you ask me if the land and the people I met are really as magical and powerful as I have often claimed over the years, if you ask me if they really can have such a profound effect on strangers as to regenerate and renew the sprit within I will still say yes. Even knowing all that I know about the struggles that they themselves deal with everyday, perhaps especially because of my understanding of those struggles I would say unequivocally and irrevocably yes, they do indeed shine a light strong enough to save even one so lost as me.
To my Valentine – the people of THE PHILLIPPINES – may your light continue to shine in the hearts of all those who are blessed enough to feel the power of your love.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Jean Victoria Norloch

Monday, February 13, 2012

For My Sister's

Short Poetry reading in honour of all the ladies in my life...


For my sisters...

“What now?” she whispered...
“I don’t know”, I answered quietly shaking my head; “we don’t have many options left”.
“Are they really gone?” she asked, a tear trickling from the corner of her eye.
“Yes”, I answered sadly, “they are gone...”
“Maybe they’re just hiding?” her eyes lifted from the ground hopefully.
“No child”, my voice softened, “they made their choice, as we have made ours”.
“Then what now?” she whispered yet again.
“We keep going”, I shrugged my shoulders and got back on my feet.
“But where?” she pleaded desperately, “where is it we will go?”
“We go into tomorrow” I answered.
I got back on my feet and started walking...
And just as every day before and everyday to come, she got up and walked by my side...

Somewhere, out there
I have a family
Somewhere out there
I have a home
Somewhere, out there
I have a future
Somewhere, out there
Is where I wish to roam

In here,
Is where I found her
In here,
No longer alone
In here
Where she protects my heart
In here
Where I protect her own

Somewhere, out there
She called to me
Somewhere, out there
She felt my fears
Somewhere, out there
She whispered to the stars
Somewhere, out there
Do not doubt, child so dear

In here,
She journeyed far to enter
In here,
And fought for many years
In here,
She came upon me whispering
In here,
Sister please, dry your tears

And this is where the poem ends,
And the story yet begins
As a promise long ago was made,
By an ancient group of maternal twins

Sisters sent to earth,
To wander through the lands
Always seeking those they know to have,
A loving heart and gentle hands

Warriors of old they are,
Returned for one last time
Their battle cry you hear in the soothing tones
Of every mothers lullaby

One asked me where I'd been,
And why I took so long
Another said, ‘no you’re not late’
‘I felt you all along’

The third said she would walk through hell with me,
And since we’re already here
Her word I cannot doubt is true,
So there is nothing left to fear

This is the story of the women of our time,
Who come for one reason and one reason only,
Can you hear the Victory chimes?

They did not come here to give up,
Nor to walk away
They did not come here to lose
They came to save the day

How many different styles have I included in this poem?
As many as the different angels who through our world now roam...
And what would be the purpose then?
To What end do I write?

To get the message out to you,
To shout it loud and clear
For as many different sisters here have come,
All warriors of light
Different though their task maybe be
Always and forever
Side by side they fight

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Travellers On Air

I was recently invited to visit my friend Luis on his blog talk show Travellers On Air...
It was an intensive conversation about Holo-sustainable living that explored openly some of the eco-social issues that people around the world are addressing.

To listen to the show displayed here in two parts just hit the play button...
Part One...

Listen to internet radio with Luis Daniel Maldonado Fonken on Blog Talk Radio

Part Two...

Listen to internet radio with Luis Daniel Maldonado Fonken on Blog Talk Radio

To learn more about Luis and his work you can visit him at