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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Mind and Spirit’ Category

Claire Wolfe

I can’t help you with that.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

In the 90s and into the early 2000s, I sometimes wrote about ways to avoid using social security numbers. Going without an ssn (as many of you know from having tried it, as I did for many years) was always challenging. It also put the un-numbered in the position of being an outsider in society. Still, back in the day, you could do quite a few common things without using a universal government ID number.

Since 9-11 that challenge has become much harder, well-nigh impossible for anyone desiring to live a semi-normal 21st century life. Some succeed. Joel’s a perfect example. But he’s also an example of the extreme sacrifice and creativity it requires. Joel’s existence is as precarious as it is gratifying, and can’t in any way be called even “semi-normal.”

Me? As I got older, I eventually found being numberless more than I wanted to live with.

Several times a year I get messages from people who are trying to live numberless or, even more laudable, trying to keep their children unnumbered. They want my advice on how to overcome this problem or that. I got one of those messages the other day. This is my reply and will be the only reply I ever again make to such requests.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Sunday links

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Vin Suprynowicz interview will continue as scheduled sometime tomorrow. Meantime, some tab clearing …

  • The dangers of tasers. Better late than never, I guess, and the info about the post-tase brain fog is something to think about.
  • Very impressive, resourceful, and brave little girl. Her father taught her well. It’s too bad her hell is just beginning.
  • Speaking of a child’s (and a family’s) hell, the Washington Post has an unusually even-handed story about how that Idaho toddler shot his mother to death. It being a story about Idaho and guns, I note that the D.C.-ites (without apparent irony) assigned it to a foreign affairs correspondent. (H/T. LA)
  • My first response to that widely reported claim that 2/3 of all cancers just come out of nowhere, sorry, complete coincidence, no way to prevent them, was okay, so the initial mutation might come out of nowhere, but what is your body equipped to do about it? I’m not the only one asking such questions.
  • The liberation of aging.
  • Cops try to bust man for smoking pot. Crowd forms a human shield to prevent them. (Via Wendy)
  • Kevin Wilmeth resolves to continue to remain in “outrage fatigue recovery mode” in 2015. Good resolution, Kevin. 2014 was a rough one for too many people hereabouts.
Claire Wolfe

Thanx and Linx

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Just a quick note to thank you all for hanging in there and keeping things going while I’ve been hermitting more and blogging less. The Commentariat is alive and well!

Thanks also for making up (big time) for lost time on Amazon. Seems everybody was just doing their Christmas shopping at the last minute this year. I was worried when November flopped, but you’ve made December very good, indeed.

I also owe somebody a thank you for a gift that arrived this morning, an Opinel No. 8 carbon-steel folding knife (Amazon link for it). Has an impressively sharp blade and a little collar that twists to lock it open or closed. Very clever, very smooth to the hand (unlike many folders), very French. The ID of the “Santa” remains a mystery; the only note in the package thanked “me” for my order. But the universe of people who have my address and know I like knives is a small one.

I might guess “Santa” more easily than I could ever guess last Fall’s “Rockefeller.” (In fact, since Rockefeller went to such remarkable lengths not to be known, I’ve been trying to respect his or her wishes by not trying to find out. But I remain astounded and grateful for R., the two Big Anons, Family A, D, PSM, and all the magnificent benefactors who’ve kept that nice, dry roof over my head during the wild pineapple express storms we’ve been having this season.)

But … onward.

Have a few happy links to start working up some good holiday cheer.

Dog swims 1.5 miles through a storm then figures out where to meet up with her lost person. Her human thought she had drowned.

You know how the Oxford Dictionary people always announce the new “words of the year” long about December? Well, the Canadians at The Syrup Trap are waaaay ahead of them. They’ve already announced the words of the year for 2015-2035. :-) (Tip o’ hat to Canadian MJR)

While this next item may not exactly be in the good cheer category, it’s something that might give you comfort while you listen to that drearily bombastic uncle hold forth at Christmas dinner: boredom can be good for you.

And over at The Zelman Partisans Y.B. ben Avraham and Sheila Stokes-Begley have been telling the Hannukah story in terms you don’t usually hear it. Check out their passionate, eloquent, and unfortunately cautionary tales. I would not call their stories happy, but they might be inspiring and are absolutely informative.

Claire Wolfe

Trek to Raymond, Part II

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Part I here.

One Raymond, Washington, resident expresses his enthusiasm for the town’s new status:



Washington state’s new recreational cannabis law is known for being a little less “wild westy” than Colorado’s. The Rocky Mountain High state rushed its implementation and has had some problems. Washington (which only legalized private liquor sales shortly before it legalized pot) went about things more slowly and bureaucratically.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

A trek to Raymond, Washington

Saturday, December 20th, 2014


You might think the above photo is terribly boring.

You would be wrong.

You’d know exactly how un-boring it is if you drove past that large blue building with the impressive air-handling equipment. The wafting aroma of cannabis will follow you for a quarter of a mile.

I recently made a little expedition to a town in Washington state that’s turning out to have quite a story. That building is part of it.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Cleaning out the closets of the mind

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

When I moved into this house, nearly 18 months ago now, I didn’t have time to do it right. So many urgent things had to be done — and I’m talking bleach-the-mold-off-the-walls urgent, rip-entire-walls-out urgent, tear-off-rotted-rooms urgent — that many niceties got neglected. Boxes went unpacked. Stuff got stuffed … wherever.

Besides, after having lived small for 10 years (between Cabin Sweet Cabin and that crumbling fifth-wheel in the desert), I had just spent the previous three years in house with an attic, a basement, and a garage. This house … not so much.

Then there was the teeny, tiny problem of closets. This place had not a single one. Not. One. Closet.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

After being so rudely interrupted

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

… by WordPress eating the last third of this morning’s blog, I thought I’d quickly check back in for a little catching up.

It’s definitely looking more and more like batten-down-the-hatches time for tomorrow. Aside from winds gusting into the 70s and 80s, it’s wet, wet, wet and about to get wetter. This afternoon I took a drive outside of town and at high tide (we’re heavy on salt marsh and tidal estuary hereabouts) the water was already only inches from rising over the roadway. By tomorrow’s high tides, things could get messy.

The windows of my house overlook a wetland that in winter usually has small channels of water running through it. It’s a solid lake now, broken only by a few grassy hummocks. Another inch or two of rain will make it a solid river.

Yeah, definitely battening time. It feels great to know I’ve got heat, food, light, and water on hand. As long as the trees and the hill behind the house stay put, what more could a body need?


I was nearly done with this morning’s maundering when WordPress gobbled it, anyhow. So I’ll let that go for a while.

I just wanted to add that other books I’ve found helpful (as well as entertaining) are Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking and Sam Harris’ Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. (Sam is no relation to Dan from that earlier blog, but they do know each other. Oddly, Sam — the famous atheist — is less of a skeptic than Dan, whose book 10% Happier is now my gold standard for “skeptic spiritual seeking.”


And on the subject of Amazon links, because Karen and Ellendra asked, I tried to find that bounty program I thought I’d seen for those of you who sign up for that flat-rate $10/month plan for Kindle books. But either I imagined it or it’s gone now. So for heaven’s sake, if you’re thinking of signing up for that, just do it. It’s great of you to think of me, but it’s not a biggie.

However, if anybody downloads the free Kindle Cloud Reader (for non-Kindle devices) using this link, it’s a $1 bounty credited to my associates account.

If you give Amazon Prime as a gift this Christmas using this link I’ll receive a $10 bounty. (This is strictly for gift purchases, not your own Prime memberships.)

Sign up for your own 30-day free trial of Prime membership using this link and I’ll receive a $3 bounty even if you cancel.

Now, if all you need from Amazon is a little holiday fantasy and humor, check out the links Dana dropped into comments the other day. Don’t miss the hilarious product reviews.

On a more practical note, if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the freedomista-survivalist-gun-owning-pet-loving-bacon-consuming-book-reading person on your list, last year’s seven-part gift series might offer inspiration. (The link goes to part VII; scroll down for links to earlier installments. Probably a few broken links by now, but you’ll find what you’re looking for.)


Stay warm and dry wherever you are!

Claire Wolfe

Dispatches from the Hermitage

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

It’s been howling and pouring for the last two days — and now the weather folks are telling us the news: a big blow is coming! (That news story is California-centric, but its map is not.)

We’ve been having this-and-that warnings all week. High surf warnings. Travel advisories. High-wind warnings. At one point the Seattle area was under 14 different warnings at the same time. Portland, about the same. The pineapple express, usually semi-rare, has been running on a regular schedule this season. Even with the big storm less than 24 hours out, meteorological models are still arguing with each other about whether we’re expecting hurricane-force or fizzle. But what we’ve already gotten is impressive enough.

Of course, no matter what I can say about this part of the world, somebody else always has more drama. And welcome to it.

Whatever the weather where you are, may you be safe and cozy from it.


The howling woke me at 2:30 this morning. The wind was lifting decorative plaques on the outside wall just over my head, then slamming them back down against the siding with various thumps, chitters, clangs, and chatters.

Nevertheless, I woke feeling an uncanny peace. Normally I can’t meditate in the middle of the night, but my breath, and a nice, relaxed focus, came easily. I just went with it.

Eventually, both dogs and the cat realized I was awake and wedged themselves against me — kitty to the right, Ava to the left, and 50 pounds of Robbie lying on my feet.

So serene. So warm. So pleasant — until my legs demanded a little more circulation.


I’ve finally found a book that’s seriously helping my hermitting. A book from an unlikely source. Its author, Dan Harris, is, of all things, an ABC news guy (Nightline and Good Morning America).

He lives in New York City. Loves to travel the world. Had a loving, upper-middle class upbringing. Was raised hippie-artsy-liberal. Has been fiercely ambitious in a cutthroat career. Is happily married. Has a junkie’s craving for thrills and danger.

In short, he ought to be my opposite. I should have nothing in common with him. But OMG, the guy shares some major part of my brain!

His book is called 10% Happier.

More precisely, it’s called 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.

That his opening paragraph reads: “I initially wanted to call this book The Voice in My Head is an Asshole. However, that title was deemed inappropriate for a man whose day job requires him to abide by FCC decency standards” … just makes it better.

He started out as an insecure, thrill-seeking young reporter (in over his head and knowing it). Then, with religion having become political, anchorman Peter Jennings chose Harris to be his religion reporter. Harris had zero interest in religion. He spent his early years on the beat mostly doing snarky stories about evangelical Christians. But then, in a winding course having to do with people he interviewed, he gradually became intrigued by, then interested in, then serious about, meditation.

Where the totally unexpected brain-sharing comes in is that Harris, like me, is not only a skeptic, but he’s somebody whose hackles rise at the merest hint, the slightest whiff, the faintest breeze of woo. Or of pseudoscience. Or unlikely claims. Or phoniness. He takes nothing on faith and believes nothing that can’t be either scientifically proven or empirically replicated. His BS detector goes off … well, about as often as mine does. And mine goes off so often and so loudly that I can’t even read most “spiritual” books or listen to most “spiritual” gurus without wanting to gag.

I have long been stuck with a combination of feeling intense “spiritual” longing and total fed-upness with overblown claims, fantasies, wishful thinking, lies, threats, myths, cheesy money-wheedling (whether ala Sedona or ala TV preacher), false fronts, spiritual fads, sentimental glurge, and airy wafting. This has made it really hard for me to progress spiritually — because spirituality is always wrapped in layers of such stuff.

When people try to pitch their belief systems at me (or even when I pick up someone’s “spiritual” book on my own, hopefully seeking), my response is: give me the facts. Not quotes. Not statements of your (or anybody else’s) personal belief. Not dire warnings about what your god will do to me if I don’t comply. Not gooey stories about guardian angels giving kittens to little girls dying of cancer. Not speculations about “astral bodies” or reincarnation or eternal souls. Not high-flown, but content-free, language. Just point me toward the facts that back your position and if I discover that those facts hold up under dispassionate examination, then and only then, will be interested in hearing more.

I had begun to conclude that I was never going to learn anything useful about matters of the spirit. I had become so soured and stubborn that, no doubt, I was rejecting some decent “core” stuff because it was wrapped in such thick glops of you-know-what.

Well, so did Dan Harris. But he got past the glop and got somewhere (and not by lowering his standards, either). Now I’m getting somewhere, too.


At this point, WordPress ate the rest of my post. So I’ll be back later after I recreate what got lost. Will — I hope — post that and some Amazon links people have requested this evening or tomorrow a.m.

Claire Wolfe

Some stuff I’ve been saving up

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Before I shut down for the day to return to hermitting, here are some links I’ve been collecting for you.

And to get you in the Christmas spirit:

Via Borepatch: “The Carol of the Bells” writ rather large.

This 2014 commercial for the British store Sainsbury’s apparently infuriated a lot of people. I think it’s lovely. The only infuriating thing is that the guys in this famous WWI story went back to killing each other the very next day.

Claire Wolfe

Sunday musings

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Yeah, as jed mentioned in a comment, it’s definitely been too quiet around here. I hope that means everybody’s having a relaxed, peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.


Tomorrow is the hump day in my two-month retreat. Mixed results so far. I’m glad I’m doing it, but instead of peacefulness, I’m actually feeling quite a lot of stress and anxiety. Partly that’s over decisions I need to make. Mostly it’s just a lot of “old stuff” coming back on me. Really, really old stuff. Like things I thought I’d moved past years ago.

Boring to go into, but I find myself longing for busy-ness.


It doesn’t help that the only real heater in the house has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Both times in the middle of the night. When the temps outside have been in the low 20s. And on weekends. I swear, it’s a conspiracy.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Be thankful

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

… that our forebears were such an unruly, ungovernable bunch.

Kevin D. Williamson is good. His last line is great.

Claire Wolfe

Patterns and trajectories (observation from the hermitage)

Monday, November 24th, 2014

I’ve finally reached the point of not tearing everything out.


This is going to be a cowl (aka a neckwarmer), like a warm, woolly scarf but without the annoying dangly bits that fall off your shoulder and catch on things.

I’m not knitting to make things, though. I’m doing it for meditation.

« Read the rest of this entry »



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