Joseph Ducreux, The Meme, The Man, The Legend

Guise of a Mockingbird c. 1793
Joseph Ducreux was a French painter and nobel in the court of Louis the XVI. Subsequently, he continued his career at the end of the French revolution successfully. He is known for his portraits of Marie Antoinette and Louis the XVI. Not many today know that he also painted many self portraits.

Most of us have seen his self portrait titled "Guise of a Mockingbird" c. 1793 floating around social media attached to a meme.  He's not the first artist to take on the arduous task of painting a "selfie", but he likely is the first to do so with humor.

Joseph Ducreux painted many beautiful portraits during his life. Not all of his selfies were humorous, but I want to take a few moments to appreciate his laborous venture of himself. Maybe Joseph was bored with the usual regal poses he was tasked with to capture. Whatever the reason, it has captured the world's attention 300 years later.

Le Discret 1786

Le Surprise 1791

Yawning 1783

The Narcissist Rewrites History

I grew up with a Narcissist mother and one of her favorite tactics to use against us was the silent treatment. Diabolical and sinister, the silent treatment is one of the worst forms of abuse. It banishes the victim from the abuser's thoughts and life. It's as if you no longer exist.

As long as you are being ignored, you never were and never will be. It takes care of apologizing, admitting blame or any responsibility and failures. It's an instant win and clean slate without the difficulty of having a discussion. All the while, your attempts to ward of the rejection and being ostracized feeds their need for supply, or rather attention. It's a double edge sword that rewards the narcissist in every direction you fall over yourself.

If you've ever been on the receiving end of the silent treatment you know how painful, debilitating and crazy making it is. While you beg, cry, apologize for everything under th sun for the last 2000 years and lash out to end the abuse, they are smug and quite satisfied with the returns they're getting from their silent investment.

It's more than their ability to reap attention or dodge an apology. It helps them rewrite history. By mentally and emotionally blacklisting you, the narcissist is able to project their failures with you, onto you and send you into oblivion never to be heard from again. As long as you carry their faults and they can banish you, it's as if you or the problem never even happened and they can move on with a clean slate.

My mother would ignore for weeks, sometimes months. In the meantime, she was busy projecting all her shortcomings onto us to whom ever would listen. We ended up being the crazy ones. We were called selfish, ungrateful, crazy, even criminal children that victimized her. Her, a loving, sacrificing, caring mom and we walked all over her. Whatever the incident was that brought about her silence, we took all the blame. She projected all of her abuse onto us and we were accused of not only our reaction to her, but everything she did and said leading up to it.

This was the pre-emptive strike: the smear campaign during the silent treatment to protect herself in case we ever opened our mouths to others and told of her abuse. Everyone was already informed by her, Mother Theresa, that we were nuts and deceitful brats. Mom with the win! Without us ever even realizing it. Except the 'shock and awe' isn't an immediate subsequent matter.

That came much later, sometimes years later when someone would let something slip, something she had told them during one of her bouts of "talk to the hand". She needed an excuse as to why I hadn't come around in a long time when asked by neighbors or friends ( she didn't have many friends. One I think. Maybe two) Rather than say I was busy with family and school, or even to tell the truth about her ignore game, she jumped at that opportunity to smear me. The lies they weave about you? Good luck trying to live them down.

My first taste of her many campaigns was when I was asked about my drug dealing and addiction days. The person who brought it up was happy for me I was finally clean. Yea, sit on that one a minute. That was actually a milder lie she used. There were many much worse than that.

 In the throes of my drug dealing, I was addicted to tranquiluzers.  Oddly enough, I wasn't riding dirty with tranqulizers. Apparently, I wasn't smart enough to become addicted to and use my own product. When asked about that discrepancy, as addicts tend to sling their own monkey,  she had to change gears and confide in these people "Judah never was very bright". Don't bother confronting them on their lie. They deny, deny, deny.

So once we were blessed to have her speaking to us again, we weren't allowed to ever mention it. EVER. She was our mother so she couldn't ignore her young children forever. She could have been subject to a CPS investigation. A narcissist would rather be thrown in a burlap sack with rabid squirrels then deal with the embarrassment of CPS showing up. If your narcissist is a lover, friend or extended family member, you may have been dropped on your head for good. Unless he/she needs supply then you're back to square one. And during your silent punishment, you better believe you are being smeared to someone, somewhere if not your entire circle of acquaintances and their 3rd cousins and, quite possibly, everyone at the grocery store they shop at.

When she was back on speaking terms with us, it was well understood and heeded that to bring it up was a mortal sin and could result in far worse. So following the agony of being ignored, we had to pick up as if it never happened and carry on still reeling, still crippled under the heavy blow to our minds and emotions.

Make no mistake, she was well aware of her failures. She knew her shortcomings and wrongs, but had no ability or room in her prideful heart to admit them, work through them and start again. It worked to her benefit, her oversized ego and got her supply to rewrite history rather than learn from it and grow.

To a narcissist, they are perfect, they have to be and the image of being perfect is much more important than actually believing it themselves. If anything goes south with you, they take it internally as a failure on them. Their perfection they need to believe and need everyone else to believe, suddenly has cracks. They cannot and will not tolerate it. Because we are only objects to them and not human beings, they, not you, are the failure and this severely clashes with their narcissism. Therefore, all evidence of that imperfection in them must be destroyed. Cracks are patched up and they whitwash over them as if those cracks never existed.

When we got older, however and caught onto her tactics, we would wait for her to come around then hold her accountable on her behavior. She responded in shock, horror even, would instantly go into victim mode and tell us the entire event never even happened. If that didn't work, she would change all the events into something no where near what actually took place. It was a no win for us either way. You can't reason with crazy.

The silent treatment gives the narcissist the ability to rewind and start over with their maccrabe of crazy water colors in a nice clean white room. At your mental and emotional expense, however. While you stumble away with their knife embedded in your back, bleeding out, they joyfully begin anew. Happy little clams that have lived a clean, near perfect existance. It would have been perfect had you not screwed it up for them by existing.

A Stubborn Woman

I can't tell you how many times I've been called "strong willed" or "stubborn". I simply reply with, "I know". It doesn't mean I'm unreasonable. On the contrary. I'm more than happy to comply with logic and reason and give up reins in any situation, but if neither are present, I'm just not bending.

You may have been characterized the same way. Where does it come from? Does it come from pride? Overestimating oneself? Fear? Maybe a combination of all? Who knows, but I do know I wear those badges with honor.

I spent 40 years of a prison sentence (childhood and marriage) being walked on, lied to, used up, abused and taken advantage of. I had no will. Instead, the will of others were forcefully imposed on me. The only control I had were my own thoughts and feelings until even those were gaslit into oblivion.

But the day came when I would take it no more. Because I had kept quiet,  the intensity not only increased, but the number of imposing people did too. Then I walked away. You can imagine the hell that broke loose when I did that.

Since the day I discovered my will, I have put it to good use as every turn. I know what I want. I've spent an entire lifetime dreaming about it from cells. I know what it takes to get it.

I'm sure you do as well.

Once you've grabbed your independence and set it all in motion, don't allow anyone to try to hem you in by telling you you're too stubborn or strong willed. It takes a hell of a strong will to escape whatever nightmare you came out of. It takes incredible stubborness to not give up and to keep fighting anew every single day to prove everyone wrong.

No one was in that prison, but you. Only you know and understand the depths you had to crawl out of. Don't conform. Keep fighting. That stubborn willfullness means you're capable...

Victimhood Is A Death Sentence

Everyone suffers. Everyone becomes a victim of something to some degree in their lives. Everyone will face incredible battles, but not everyone will stay in that crucible.

Sadly, not many make it out. Most stay stuck and give themselves over to being incinerated by a fire they themselves keep stoked rather than take the painful climb out.

Suffering, trauma and difficulties are simply a part of life. There is absolutely no escaping them. They will come and they will go. It is unavoidable. While it's sometimes easier to marinate in the mire of affliction, we are handing ourselves a death sentence to do so.

It eats away at the mind, soul and body consuming us until there is nothing but a shell awaiting death. We tell ourselves we're victims, and often times we are. We lock ourselves in an echo chamber lamenting what has happened to us. We surround ourselves with those who agree. Yet, all this does is keep the embers hot and smoldering.

Soon, it becomes our excuse for every failure, every sadness, every bad decision and every consequence. We become bitter, angry, resentful and entitled. All of this becomes a vicious cycle of nothing less than self harm.

 But it's not just us it affects. It lashes out and burns everyone around us until they have to distance themselves out of self preservation. Our victimhood hurts everyone.

Inspite of all we've suffered, there is a rare treasure we miss because we're so locked into our suffering. No sword is formed and strengthened without the fire. No gold is purified and turned into something of immense value without the fire.

Fire, purifies and strengthens. It burns off all the impurities that make the object common. It teaches, it molds and shapes. It makes us pliable. Ever talk to older folks? They are a wealth of wisdom! How did they become so wise? It wasn't of the good times! It was all the times they suffered.

Wisdom only comes by way of trauma and affliction. Strength only comes by the fire. We can have a head full of knowledge, but only suffering molds it into wisdom and teaches us how to use it. What we become after the fire is life. It is absolutely Life.

There is nothing pretty, respectable or redeeming about being a perpetual victim. But climb out to strength and Life and you are now more beautiful and more valuable and carry with you a chest full of priceless treasure that makes you very rare.

Make Yourself A Badass

You are your best investment.  This is something I've come to learn is true. Whatever you put your mind to, you can accomplish. But often times we want instant returns with very little investment.  Any investment takes time and great patience. It takes dedication and hard work. In our instant gratification society, this can be difficult to do.

We see it all the time on social media. We love to tell the world about all our great plans, but in truth, rarely do we actually do any of them.

Investing in ourselves is not a theater stage. It's not splurging on ourselves with pedicures, new outfits or hairstyles. It is a serious matter. Raising our value and self esteem happens with us first when no one is looking.

We have to stop talking and start doing. 10 years is coming anyway. We might as well get to that 10 years mark much better off than we are now.

How do we invest in ourselves?

1. Take any and every opportunity for self betterment. There is never a loss in that, only gain. Get into shape, run a marathon, learn a new trade or craft. Take classes to learn something new. There is always something we can do to better ourselves.

2. Start a savings account, preferably one which pays high interest. Unfortunately, not every bank offers interest. Theregore, I have a separate savings with Goldman Sachs apart from my usual bank. Goldman Sachs gives 1.34 APY.

 Some banks also offer "keep the change" programs. Whatever you purchase through a debit card the amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar and sent to your savings. Over time, this builds exponentially especially if you're like me and use your debit on almost everything to track spending.

3. Learn about finance. There is a ton of information out there to help. Ignorance is not an excuse. I took an online class through Yale University. It was tough, but after 35 hours of learning, study and exams, I got my certification in Market Finance. It was well worth the money put in and has helped me greatly.

Especially during this down time due to Covid, there's no reason not to start investing in you for the future. Financial Aid is available for online classes for those who are eligible. For many, it's not going to cost anything, but time and dedication.

4. Start looking for ways to generate extra income, not so we can buy more stuff, but rather, it can be used to reinvest in and better ourselves.

5. Minimize life. What I mean is, know your finances and start making cuts where you can. Start understanding the difference between what you need and want. If it's not a necessity than either find it cheaper or cut it all together. You want to have more coming in than what is going out.

6. Start investing apart from a 401K. Make that extra money work for you rather than sitting on it. It can't do anything if it's in your mattress. The best way, I found, to investing is do your research while getting your feet wet in trading.

This is incredibly easy to do with so many apps now. Many companies offer 0$ balance minimum, 0$ trade and commission fees. This is where you get your feet wet.

Investopedia  allows you to use a simulator for stock market trading by signing up for. They'll give you 100K in simulated money to help you learn and gain confidence.

Smart Asset Will help locate a reputable financial advisor in your area

7. Set goals. Goals need to be financed. Read #2 again.

The only one who is going to make you a successful badass is you. The only one who can stop you, is you.

Ancient Norse Music Resurfaces

Norse music was very interesting, to say the least. Like any music, it reflected society, customs, traditions and way of life. It exploited the northern lanscape and was used for entertainment, rituals and communication carried by the wind across vast stretches of mountainous terrain. 

 The old norse sometimes used a style of throat singing. Throat singing is very common among ancient cultures from Scandinavia to South Africa and everything in between. It can only be speculated that early cultures took influence from animals and nature in general. An ancient traveler who encountered the Old Norse named Ibrahim ibn Yaqub al-Tartushi, wrote:
I have not heard an uglier singing than the people of Schleswig. It is a humming coming from their throats that's worse than dogs barking
Clearly, he wasn't a fan, but this style of singing has done anything, but fade into history. From old norse influence do we have genres like Death Metal and Black Metal. We have also inherited norse folk and tribal music that, over the last several years, has become increasingly popular.
Below is a song for healing taken from ancient rune stones. Whether it was meant in context of a sacrificial ritual for healing of the sick or battle wounded, it makes for an interesting sound. Right down to costumes even of the dancers, Heilung went hardcore ancient Norse tribal.

Go big or go home, right?

Warning: Listening at higher volumes may result in sudden beard growth and/or the police being called on you for suspicion of human sacrifice.
hanga dýra mingja 
 sôse benrenkî, sôse bluotrenkî, sôse lidirenkî; ben zi bena, bluot zi bluoda, lid zi gelidin, sôse gelîmida sîn
Hang the animals   Like bone-sprain, so blood-sprain, so joint-sprain: Bone to bone, blood to blood, joints to joints, so may they be mended. May it be of help

2020 Valborg

April 30 - May 1st is Valborg. The beginning of Spring. While this ancient holiday is not so well known anymore, there are many who still celebrate it across Scandinavia, Germany, UK and the US.

So, during your bonfires, revelry, honoring Loki the trickster with your own pranks and toasting to all the Valkyries, be safe.

Svanrand (Names of the Valkyries) song

 Glad Valborg