The Week of March 11th - March 17th


Introductory words according to Thomas, Co-Founder, Jack of all Trades, and Creative Director of Raven Vanguard

Since I am now a veritable outcast in the business I once helped to found, and Brooke and Dakota continue to treat me as if I am an Old Testament leper, I decided it was about time to stop self-flagellating myself in an effort to compose another Weekly Once-over all by my lonesome without seeking help from another.

So, in times of great world-wide pandemonium, who could I turn to for calming words, introspective words, and enlightened insight? Intuitively, I knew I needed to call upon someone who exhibits a steadfast desire to be exceptional in every little thing she does; someone, like us, who ponders the significance of even the smallest of things, because, like us, she knows that everything matters.

Who satisfies these prerequisites? Why none other than our good friend Julia Kagan. And, same as those contributing Once-over virtuosos who preceded Julia’s turn at the microphone, Julia, who, to me, is better known as Julie, speaks her mind without any form of forbiddance or censorship by me.

So, who is this anomalous person, this Julie Kagan? To those of us who know her (and love her), she is a messenger of empathy, wisdom, and grace; she also happens to be a Mother to two awesome kids, a dentist, an acupuncturist, a mystic, and a yogi. Julie also happens to be a gifted artist, and, as you will soon see, a masterly writer.

I now leave this Once-over in Julie’s quite capable hands as she opens our eyes to the importance of moving through life with our heads held high and our dignity intact.


Words according to Julie, the lawful Princess to the throne in a long lost European Kingdom once inhabited by gypsies, and She having no legitimate connection whatsoever to Raven Vanguard


Now I just have to write. I’ve put it off for far too long; so long in fact now I’m reasonably sure The Moll’s have completely discounted the possibility that I will ever show up for their Weekly Once-over. And, that my friends, is not good friendship skills. To my credit, I’ve had a lot on my plate and also, I’ve been hiding.  Hiding is an interesting condition.  You know you’re there. Everyone else knows you’re there.  But where are you really? And, for the love of god, who are you really? If any one at all. 

So many things pass in a person’s life…childhood, education, socialization, starting a family, career, raising kids, breaking up a family, starting a new career.  Who can keep anything straight anymore?  What a challenge.  How are we all keeping our shit together? Moment by moment, with hope, we move on, moving forward never really knowing how things will transpire, end up or whether we will have to start anew. But that hope, it keeps us alive and feeds us until the next bit of hope arrives and floats us through the next microcosm of time. 

Block theory says that linear time doesn’t exist at all.  Everything that has ever happened or will happen has already come to pass and is spread out through our gorgeous universe, merely existing, waiting for our consciousness to experience it.  I, for one, have mixed emotions about this.  It would be so comforting to be on a train, a path if you will.  A dependable one. However, that is not how I’ve experienced time.  Shit happens!  Experiences materialize, and we are at times at their mercy.  Not to say we can’t have an influence on them or react in a way that allows its imprint to wash over us. 

Our reactions are everything.  And those reactions can be skillful, but sometimes those reactions can be unskillful, and we long for a redo.  To go back in time and replay responses to situations that felt beyond our control.  Now, I write as a vulnerable being.  No shield is protecting me or covering me to hide my humanness.  I only try to relate to the emotional herky-jerky of everyday human existence.  And that is not how I prefer to live my life! 

If you ask anyone who knows me,  I am a go with the flow kind of person! (she says emphatically). (Julie, Tom here, do I get to cast a vote?)  I wish to move through time gracefully, submerging beneath the waters when a storm is brewing, and the rains come down.  At the epicenter of creation that we are all connected to and always have access to if we know the way in.  The trouble is that this conflicts with connection in a way.  A hidden place where no one can find you.  Detached from more.  Not having dealt skillfully in the moment.   Retreating before more damage is done and barricading yourself from what is or what could be.  Sound familiar?  And, so around and around we go, wanting to stay above water and climb the highest heights.  Until we are driven into that holiest of places to repair ourselves and wonder how to avoid life’s influence next time, such learning is gained here.  I must believe this. 

I heard a notable athlete say that his relationship to pain has been his greatest teacher and every time he bumps up against his perceived threshold of pain he learns from it not by backing down but by persevering through it to gain new ground.  You see, I am talking myself into this once again.  It is easy to say and indeed the first step to engraining it into our highly programmable mind/body.  After an event we become somehow shattered, disintegrated.  How do we reintegrate?  How do we pull ourselves back from the departicularization of being blown apart? Identity seemingly destroyed.  Is it all the techniques that are currently being popularized, all the ancient, once again new methods, that have been passed down since time immemorial? Yes and no. It can be boiled down to simplicity and given away to anyone for free.  Move and be quiet.  That is it.  No glitz, no glamour.  No exchange of money. Persevere. Bump into pain and make it your friend.  Make it your teacher.  Experience your life.   No authority will do the work for you.  No teacher, no healer that will integrate your experience to coalesce your subatomic structure to move your body inter-dimensionally along the time-space continuum to get you to that next seemingly linear milestone that we typically address as the passage of time or, simply, “our life.”


Or maybe there is.


I’d like to go beneath the water and open my eyes.  I’d like to see others with there eyes open too.  Floating, looking, happy.  It’s too much of a leap to get from material life with all of its distractions and perceived meaning to subliminal space where it is, where we are. Sometimes I see people bobbing happily to occasionally being submerged yet struggling ever so slightly with it.  Those are beautiful moments, yet rare.  I don’t see that here. Where we are now, it is difficult to transmit possibility in a space where others do not amplify this.  When attention is at a premium. How can anyone concentrate long enough to connect? I find it challenging. Thus, solitude seems essential.  If it is not with someone else and I can only be alone, then I will be alone.  I am always in the process of allowing and forgiving.  Myself and others. Or in the space of accepting.  It’s not easy, and I don’t always succeed.   But, I have to remind myself from time to time.  Resistance is futile, and fighting can only gain so much ground.  Sometimes what you are fighting for is not within the realm of preordained existence.  It is not within the realm of possibility even though there are many possibilities. That is not one of them.  Don’t bet on the horses when the track is closed.  Seems logical enough.  It is an end. 

A new beginning is inherently hovering to move you into another direction.  It is doubtful I am the only one faced with the ever-changing unpredictability of life.  This is the only universal truth of which I am aware of.  Vaguely uncomfortable, change, its opposite, is much worse.  Stagnation.  Stuck in a rut so deep, that is the true hiding spot. It is finding a perfect little hole which pigeon holes you so tightly that it is the shape of your discreet body.  No space to move or breath.  This is the other side of the coin.  How one survives this, I do not know. Its a condition I endeavor to avoid. At all costs. Not a useful space to inhabit.  But there is something to be said for taking time and feeling out a situation. Jumping the gun can be unnecessarily violent in my estimation.  But some people are particularly good at this. Change.  Violent change.  Sometimes even in hospitable environments.  Why?  I want to talk about this.

Why are people driven to move quite so fast and forsake that which is grounded and good?  Why do we feel the air taken out of us after witnessing such an extraction of presence?  Moving on. You can be the recipient or the perpetrator.  Neither is preferential.  Any tearing apart is traumatic.  It is all painful. It is also how we know where and when we exist, how we experience pain, change and the ability to give and receive love and tenderness.  This is where vulnerability enters our lives.  The bridge between the material and immaterial.  The connection between the sacred and profane. The broken-hearted know it all too well.  The walled-off ones experience it privately.  I hope people are overflowing in with love for themselves and others. It is complicated to return to the garden of Eden once you are cast out. It is difficult to stay open and trust that your vulnerability will not be violated.  But what choice do we have?  What alternative is there when all we want to do is live in the present moment at peace with ourself and others?  Hiding from this is not valor.  I want to live standing up, not on my knees.  If I need to fight for myself, I will. And I do.  Everyday. Moment by moment. Hour by hour.  Every action adds up. And there is no end in sight.