It’s OK To Be OK

Jonathan and I enjoyed a dutch-treat lunch at the neighborhood Hy-Vee supermarket’s deli the other day. We both ordered veggie-burgers, thick-cut fries, and lettuce salads. The prices were higher than we expected, but not exhorbitant. The salads’ greens had the normal amount of crispness with no sogginess; the fries were crunchier than expected; and the burgers were more moist than regular veggie burgers. The waiter was pleasant and helpful. Jonathan and I judged our meals as better than average but not exceptional. We felt that we got our money’s worth–no more and no less.

My friend and I agree that the act of living an unremarkable day having a hearty, but otherwise unremarkable meal is a good way to spend our time together. Jonathan said, “OK is OK”.

As I ponder the ordinariness of the time we spent together during and after that lunch, I agree that OK really is OK. Nobody was trying to one-up the other. Neither of us were trying to be someone we aren’t. The meal was delicious but not of five-star quality. Neither of us were expanding our comfort zones nor climbing out of our behavior boxes. We were just going through an OK day in an OK manner. You might say that we felt comfortable in our own skins.

While I’m a firm believer in personal development and self-improvement; I don’t believe in going overboard. There is a tipping point where self-improvement morphs into escapism. A person can easily become entrapped within the personal development paradigm. This causes many people to lose sight of their core selves. This is not to say that I advocate harboring apathy about the world and complacency about one’s own well-being. Far from it–a steady pace towards the never-ending goal of becoming the best version of oneself is how I try to live life.

In our berserk world where we are told that we must behave in exceptional ways. We are supposed to suffer defeat and grieve in certain ways. We are supposed to love in institutionally proscribed ways. We are expected to constantly strive towards some idealized state of perfection. We are supposed to be our authentic selves, whatever that means.

The fact is that we are imperfect creatures. We evolved to hate, love, experience suffering, and feel joy. Isn’t all of this the point of life? Isn’t a nice aspect of being human simply being content with ourselves?

As in any journey, one must pause for rest and recreation. All work and no play make Jay a dull boy. I don’t feel compelled to seek out the Hollywood hero lifestyle. Some days I couldn’t care less if the sunrise and sunset are picture perfect. Sometimes an unremarkable lunch with a trusted pal is all that’s needed to make me feel grateful to be alive.

If all of this seems somehow “woke” to some members of a certain political belief system, so what? Wannabe rulers invent perjoratives with the idea that it’s not OK to be OK with working towards making the world an OK place for everyone. Sometimes we forget that we need all kinds of people in the world. Sometimes, we need to cut ourselves and everyone else some slack. It’s good to remember that life is impermanent. It’s good to remember that life doesn’t have to be so serious and regimented.

It’s good to be OK with the ways of the world. If you discover you’re in the wrong story, it’s OK to leave. As long as we are not harming others nor disavowing other people’s rights to seek joy, nobody really gives an absolute F about us anyway.

In the end, it’s our mindset and prejudices that make up our worldview. Our beliefs make things ugly or beautiful. Our lives are lived within our minds. We can give ourselves permission to be OK with being OK.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes former professional tennis player, Michael Chang. “As long as there’s pasta and Chinese food in the world, I’m OK.”

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“When virtue is lost, benevolence appears, when benevolence is lost right conduct appears, when right conduct is lost, expedience appears. Expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.”–Lao Tzu

We can reverse-engineer Lao Tzu’s verse to discover something important to rediscover for daily living. We moderns live in the shadow of expediency. There’s nothing inherently wrong with expediency. Our modern world depends upon deadlines being met and people being punctual. However, expedience is not the sole ingredient of a happy, successful life.

Societies around the globe long ago figured out codes of conduct. We call them laws, statutes, moral codes, and proceedures of governance. Although we might bite at the bridle of laws, a chaotic world is a recipe for ultimate disaster. So we continuously work out legal parameters for living within our nations.

To live within the boundaries of lawful behavior is well and good. Such an outline is the minimum expectation for individuals who wish to live peaceably in a relatively harmonious manner in the world. Right conduct is a low bar in the matter of civilized behavior. In most instances, obeying the law should enable a good, wholesome life.

This brings us to the optional or extra-credit part of life–benevolence. Here is where we are given the option to go beyond our willful ignorance of troubling aspects of life. It is a matter of experiencing a general friendship with humanity. It’s not looking away from people who are in genuine need. Benevolence is a generosity of the spirit that goes beyond traditional “feel good” emotional reactions.

Once one recaptures benevolence in life, then the tricky concept of virtue can be addressed. Keep in mind that virtue is based upon the preceding concepts of benevolence, moral guidelines, and expediency. Virtue goes beyond moralism and certainly is not sanctimonious. Virtue is generally defined as the beneficial manifestation of valor, courage, and behavior. A virtuous person is considered to be one who has incorporated excellent qualities as the default mode of her/his character.

This type of person has done so in the absence of virtue signaling, making a show of her/his generosity, humble-bragging, and sanctimonious proselytizing. Virtue might be further defined as internal strength in synergy with noble character. Virtue is oftentimes poorly imitated, and less frequently encountered in its genuine form. When we encounter a virtuous person, we instinctively sense that quality.

Like most people reading this post, I have had the good fortune to have encountered a few genuinely virtuous individuals. To know someone with this quality is to experience a reality check but not in a humiliating nor toxic manner. A virtuous person inspires without sermonizing. We only need to observe that person’s beneficial behavior and how closely it aligns with her/his words.

There is an ancient, term from Eastern Wisdom for such virtue–Metta. Traditionally, it is an offshoot of one of the “Ten Perfections of Buddhism”. Metta is usually translated as benevolence, kindness, universal friendship, and a loving nature. The shorthand term is “loving-kindness”.

A person is not required to convert to Buddhism nor declare any special vows. Metta is the act and mindset of caring for others without judging them. One need not agree or disagree with their personal opinions and attachments to view. Metta is akin to universal love that transcends religious, political, ethnic, economic, and social barriers. By mindfully, authentically cultivating Metta, one may discover true happiness and joy while being glad for another person’s happiness.

Today, being “World Metta Day”, is a good day to begin one’s personal experiments with this concept if this is something that intrigues you.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author and holistic health advocate, Amy Leigh Mercree. “Metta can only be founded in its most sympathetic and authentic form when it comes from the most humble and truest of intentions.”

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My Colours

There’s just something emotionally light about a flower arrangement in a room. The colors are especially refreshing when the arrangement is placed inside of a minimalist room. The textures and colors add measurably to the overall appeal of the place.

The world is a spectrum of colors; and that is something that helps make us so special. There are even two ways of spelling the word in English: color and colour. In addition, the word has different spellings according to each language. There are more colours than colours of a rainbow. This is a beautiful thing.

A visiting cousin once commented that the various colors of the walls in my house put off a retro vibe and made him feel nostalgic. I was rather surprised because I originally chose each of those colors because they looked fresh and contemporary. This proves that colors bring out different feelings in different people. This might be why we have favorite colors and why those favorites might change through the years of our lives.

Throughout my own life, my favorite colors have shifted somewhat. They were reflected in my cars’ finishes. My first car, a Chevy Camaro, was red with a matching red interior. Another car was an orange Honda Civic with a black interior. I owned two brownish tan cars, A Chevy Vega wagon and a Datsun 310 coupe both also had light tan interiors. There’s also the grass-green Vega with a green interior that was mine for a couple of years. I swerved back to red with a VW Quantum (Passat) Syncro wagon with black interior. My current car is a white Toyota Camry with a medium grey interior. I guess I’m ready for anything with those neutral tones. Then again, my unobtainable dream car would be a red Ferrari F40.

Judging by the various colors of my cars and the walls of my house, I tend to favor warm colors–mostly variations of reds and yellows. When it comes to blue, bring on the sky blue and lapis lazuli, but only as accents. Oddly enough, I chose dark shades of green for the walls in the bedroom. I try not to associate the greens with the undependable green Vega sedan.

Regarding wardrobe choices. I dress rather conservatively because understated colors simply “feel” comfortable. The exception to this “rule” regards shirts. Some days, I am drawn towards cheerfully toned polos or tees. On other days, stark white or pure black are the only choices to consider. Today I’m wearing a burgundy red, long-sleeved, Henley pullover with indigo jeans.

A friend once said that our minds and bodies wear the colours of our souls. The highlights, tints, and shades reflect our inner beings. This may or may not be 100-percent true, but the statement seems to have a little bit of merit. If that is the case for today’s burgundy red shirt, I’m supposedly feeling ambitious, powerful, and wealthy. Upon further reflection, there are some ambitous feelings, I have personal power, and my wealth, though not financial, is measured in other ways.

Now that the Northern Hemisphere is entering the springtime of the year, we will be exposed to the various colors of trees and flowers in the natural world. When we take some time to spend in the great outdoors we will experience the vibrancy of the natural world. We may even become inspired to write a little poem, paint a picture, or to fall in love. All we need to do is to feel the colors of our inner being.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor and comedian, Kevin Hart. “I don’t want enemies. I want friends, and I want them in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and loving whoever they want to.”

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March Equinox 2023

The old iris bulbs near the back door sprouted late last month but have not grown beyond a few inches tall. They await the March equinox, when it will be more safe to extend upwards. Within a few weeks, the dogwood bushes will bud with their pinkish-white blossoms. Soon the elm trees will litter the yard with thousands of tiny brown husks. Not long afterwards, the neighbor’s silver maple will drop helicopter seeds onto the street and my front yard. This happens every year like clockwork.

There is a celestial harmony during the two equinoxes. The ancient peoples used to enjoy ceremonies commemorating the transitions from one season to the next. The equinoxes mark the rough equality of night and day. The March equinox in the Northern Hemisphere brings the spring thaws which means muddy boots and allergy symptoms. For the most part, people seem to be in happier moods, too.

“Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the Sun and the Earth. Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love when it was a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the Sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and the equinox!”–D. H. Lawrence

Spring also means the onslaught of severe thunderstorms, destructive winds, and tornadoes. I used to enjoy the excitement of stormy weather, but the thrill is no longer there. I just want the happy parts of spring because I’m less flexible and move more slowly as I age.

It won’t be much longer until the lawnmower comes out of hibernation. Cutting the grass is a chore I don’t mind unless the air is hot and humid. At the end of a spring day, I smell of dirt and grass clippings. There’s something satisfying about tidying up the yard. I always hope it will remain nice looking; but storms often spoil that satisfaction after a day or two.

Meanwhile, today marks the March equinox. I hope that the season will be auspicious for everyone.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century French surrealist author and poet, Louis Aragon. “And there are loners in rural communities who, at the equinox, are said to don new garments and stroll down to the cities, where great beasts await them, fat and docile.”

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Transgender Struggle

As a transgender child, my friend Shane felt alone and isolated while living in our small Nebraska city. she searched for people like her because she believed she was the only transgendered kid in this part of the state. Thankfully, her mother and brother fully supported her well-being. They never let Shane forget that she was loved. Despite her loving family’s efforts, Shane could barely wait to leave Nebraska. Today, she lives in Toronto, Ontario. She has found a vibrant, close-knit, extended family of allies.

As we pay attention to the state of human rights these days, we notice how transgender children, adolescents, and adults are mistreated. What is especially troubling is how some parents treat their LGBTQ children. It’s shocking how some parents toss their young children out of the home and force them fend for themselves. What happened to showing your children unconditional love? This is an especially heartbreaking problem across America and much of the rest of the world.

To add further harm, politicians, religious leaders, and radical activists push for discriminatory laws and rules that work against the basic human rights of transgender people. This cruelty is purposely designed to score points in the political game. Transgender people face misunderstanding and discrimination in the first place. Making them political footballs is especially egregious. Such cruelty is deliberate.

Shane tells me that being transgender is not limited to medical classifications, procedures, and psychology. It is a spiritual state of being. To accept her own transgender qualities has been a beautiful process of discovery. The basic necessity of loving oneself for who one is, really is key. This love must be fortified in this world of bullying and political machinations.

People who know Shane personally, know that she’s articulate, cavalier, fun, outspoken, and a bit impatient. She participates in the theatre community, does a little bit of fashion modeling, all the while being an advocate and activist in the LGBTQ community.

For transgender people, wherever they live, it’s important to let them know they are not alone. They should not be afraid to step out of their anonymity. Transgender individuals have human trials and tribulations that are difficult enough on their own. They have hobbies, jobs, and interests like everyone else. To add discrimination and cruelty into the mix is unconscionable.

Someday, hopefully soon, there will be a time when people are not subject to discrimination and violence for simply being who they are. It’s not so much about conventional gender, transgender, and so on; it’s about accepting people regardless of gender and orientation. There are amazing people who just happen to be transgender. That’s a good thing. Straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people are people–period.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes activist, actor, and fashion model, Rain Dove Dubilewski. “When I walk down the street in a dress, people think I’m transgender. The issue isn’t that I’m embarrassed to be thought of as transgender: the issue is that people treat transgender individuals so violently, especially if they think it’s male to female.”

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So Awkward

At the funeral reception for one of his cousins, Jonathan overheard a conversation about the deceased person, Ron. A sister asked the acquaintance when he last conversed with the person. The acquaintance stated that he and Ron discussed his vacation to Tuscon, Arizona. At the mention of the city, the sister burst into tears. She said she lives in Tuscon. She felt hurt that her brother hadn’t bothered to stop by for a visit. The awkwardness of the moment was palpable. If there’s one basic social faux pas one wishes to avoid, it’s causing more tears at a funeral.

Hearing about this inadvertant mistake caused me to feel sorry about the sister and the family friend. There was no graceful way to back out of the painful situation. All anyone could do in such a scenario would be to sincerely apologize and allow the sister to cry.

I can feel incredibly awkward at times. When that happens, I feel like that clumsy, gay, red-haired 13-year-old I once was. I had little self-esteem because of the teasing from some of my classmates. Aside from not fitting in, I still felt passionate about certain topics in school. I did my best to participate in class discussions during lectures. Sometimes kids accused me of trying to become the teacher’s pet, even though that was the last thing I wanted to become. I eventually realized that nothing I could do or say would convince others to cut me some slack. I was my own person with quirks and attributes that my schoolmates didn’t like–so be it.

Despite the positive self-talk, I rarely felt at ease in my own skin because I was never part of the “regular-kids” clique. There was that backdrop of being shy and awkward even when interacting with my friends group. My best friend Duane said he often felt the same way but he was able to channel the feelings into caring for his disabled brother. Duane said that he resigned himself into the fact that some people are just cruel and meanspirited.

The adolescent angst subsided considerably after beginning college. In fact, I can only recall maybe one or two awkward situations that I caused during those college years. This is probably because everyone was more focused upon studies and preparation for the adult world. At least it seemed that, as a whole, the student body was more open-minded and empathetic than the world at large. Any perceived failings and shortcomings were not condemned. There were more meaningful interactions among ourselves. That said, there was still a residual feeling that I was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. I had to make a conscious effort to go beyond that mindset.

A major takeaway from my awkward youth is that I pick up on when others feel shy and awkward. I try to reassure them when they extend beyond their comfort zones. Nowadays, this usually happens at large parties or social gatherings of strangers. Sometimes admitting one’s own awkwardness makes for a good ice-breaker. Two awkward people engaging in conversation about awkwardness creates an instant bond.

All things considered, it’s helpful to remember that everyone has experienced awkward situations. Unless the incidents were major, other people won’t remember them. Others are busy regretting their own mistakes and awkward happenings. Life is too short to spend ruminating about past mistakes. We can utilize our awkwardness as a guru that points us in the direction of wisdom.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor, designer, and television personality, Carson Kressley. “I wasn’t always this confident. Growing up as the awkward gay kid in a small town in Pennsylvania, you’re constantly told, ‘Don’t be yourself, don’t be proud of who you are.'”

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Meanderings Whilst Cleaning …Floral Friday

The ideas for today’s flower projects popped into my mind while vacuuming the living room carpeting. The thoughts were triggered by the need to temporarily move chairs so the vacuum cleaner could pick up dust bunnies and crumbs. I decided to assemble the arrangements then pair each with a different, somehow relateable object. This could be called moving mental furniture.

The first grouping brings yellows together. A yellow Gerbera daisy is rooted in the vintage Shawnee bamboo planter. A memo clip holder is festooned with a faux Gerbera for visual balance.

The “Glassroots” folded art glass vase was produced in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a recent thrift store buy, so I wanted to dress it nicely. An old Polaroid digital camera and a less old Canon digital camera flank the arrangement.

The perforated blue modern vase contains a small posy of springlike elements. The hand-carved, sandlewood elephant I purchased in Bengaluru, India compliments the airy theme.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes YouTuber, Casey Neistat. “Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.”

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