I Want to be Free

Photo: ‘Freedom in the Wetlands Brush – Silver‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

It seems just about everywhere you look these days people are saying they want to be free, or they want their freedoms. But, I’m wondering if everyone has the same meaning of what freedom is?

Freedom
n. The condition of not being in prison or captivity.
n. The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
(From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

For example, my parents raised me and my siblings with the idea that every person has a right to their opinion, but they do not have a right to their own facts, or truth.

Freedom has a connection to truth, just like rules determine freedoms. In other words, when we treat others with respect then they in turn would treat us with respect. On the other hand, if we feel the freedom to treat others without respect we’re not going to get as far as if we used kindness.

I get it, sometimes we just want to go off the usual path and do something we are not allowed, or experience something because we can, but not because we should or that it is the right thing to do. I believe there is a time for everything when put into right perspective.

Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.

Zig Ziglar

If you do what you need to do when you need to do it, then the day will come when you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Zog Ziglar

True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.

Saint John Paul II

Forgiveness and Obedience

Photo: ‘Where Have You Been‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J CasellaThe moon hides behind the clouds of the morning sky in the forest.

I think these words are both simple yet profound, because they are easy to understand and agree with, yet not so easy to live:

Forgiveness is releasing the other person from the debt that they owe you. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was permissible. It does not mean that you must be their best friend. It does not mean that you even must address the person directly. Forgiveness is freeing your heart to live and love in the measure God created you.

Obedience can have a negative connotation in our culture today because everyone wants to be “free”. We interpret freedom as doing what we want to do. In the spiritual life, freedom comes when we are obedient to God’s will. Obedience comes from a Latin word which means “to listen”. When we listen to God’s voice and are obedient to Him, we find true freedom … Sin can be defined as “I want what I want right now.” Holiness can be defined as “I want what God wants when He wants it.” Obedience to God leads to holiness, which in turn leads to happiness, which we all seek.

Our lives are a work in progress.

Kindness

Photo: ‘Tenderness‘ Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella

Many times we, including myself, tend to judge people based on how we see a situation before or without being fully educated about the matter or understanding fully the people involved.

When people hurt us with their words or actions, especially family members or co-workers for example, or people we spend a lot of time with, we tend to take it personally.

I have found that many times what is important is how we respond rather than how we react. In other words, to be always forgiving with kindness to others, even when they are not kind to us, brings many dividends in the long term.

Like the unconditional love of a dog. The more you lead them with love, the more they love back. It’s about who is at the end of the leach.

Likewise, kindness doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be truthful or matter of fact, rather the words we use and how we present the information, putting others before ourselves, makes all the difference. Because we are all a work in progress and need each other to make it in life.

I’m sure you’ve heard the words to not judge others unless you want to be judged. I tend to favor The Golden Rule of treat others the way that you want to be treated.

Always try to see people as God sees them, and don’t be so quick to judge.

Life is short. Let’s be kind.

Email is the Original Social Media

Photo: ‘Rooftop Winter Sunset – Impressionism‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

With my last blog post, I talked about how using blogs and MeWe are an alternative to the big tech option of information suppression social media. This post I would like to add how Email is the original social media, and I make the argument how you could not have a world without Email.

Before blogs and social media, Email was used as early as 1972 and rapidly grew in popularity as computers became a common feature for consumers. Many of us, and I still do today, had several groups set up in our Email contacts who we share thread discussions back and forth. From this came the Email list providers, which allow us to broadcast our messages usually outbound, however the subscribers can reply privately if they choose to. And when I communicate to bloggers, we often are using Email to discuss truly important things that we wouldn’t say in public – or make plans – as not everything is in public.

Ask yourself how many times a day you check your Email account. Now compare that to the number of times you check your social networking account. With Email, you build a permission-based list of people that want to hear from you. Isn’t that what all of us do on a social media network (with a little difference in permissions, depending on what service we’re using).

Not only can Email be more secure when used properly, with social media your messages could pass by too quickly and disappear, or be suppressed, into the news feed before you even notice (this can now happen to your inbox unless you have the right webmail service). With Email, readers have to either open or delete the Email, and can save items in their inbox for further action, giving your emailed message more impact. Email may not have the buzz, but it still has a lot of power.

People also make the mistake that Facebook is the largest social network to date, in reality, the largest social networks are Email. That is if you agree if Facebook, as a private community of your friends, is a social network, then so is email. They both have the same requirements:

1) profiles (emails have signatures),
2) Ability to connect to each other (the act of Emailing, and often responding,
3) Do something useful (Email users share information, and sometimes collaborate).

Finally, Email is still a highly important mode of communication, while we often complain about keeping the inbox clean, research indicates people still trust Emails from friends and people they know – this will only continue as the Email address becomes more valuable than the phone number or street address.

The DIgital World, Respond or React.

Photo: ‘Red in the Wooded Winter‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

In the digital world of social media, websites and blogs, mailing list providers and servers, there seems to be an increased amount of delatforming, suppression, and censoring, by companies known as ‘big tech’. Many people seem to be reacting by staying on the platforms either thinking they are not going to get suspended or they are waiting to see how long it will take. My thinking instead is it’s best to respond to big tech by being pro active, and deplatform yourself.

When enough people leave these platforms the big tech will feel the squeeze on their bottom line, which will not make their investors happy. This is why it is important to find a website or blog platform that uses it’s own servers and promotes your privacy and safety, or at least is independent of the big tech business, and don’t forget that email is the original social media.

For example, although I’m on MeWe because of it’s ‘privacy bill of rights’, I still have several groups who email with me directly. And it’s important to do all this through a privacy browser like Vivaldi, instead of using an app where big tech can peep with their prying eyes. This is the one thing about MeWe I don’t understand, however, that on mobile the website leads you to use the app when I think that is less private than going through the browser from their website.

And having your own space on a blog is the way to go, because you can still link your thoughts and responses if needed with other blogs and articles. The main take away is that as long as you follow the rules and TOS you should be fine, however, I feel that because these big tech businesses are removing others who just want to speak freely, then it is best we all move to another platform who allows this, as God made us to be social creatures as long as we respect each other.

Keep Your Focus

Photo: Winter Sunrise Through Silhouetted Pines – Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella.

This beautiful moment in time came and went in less than twenty minutes, yet it is one of those moments that you steal some time to notice God’s creation, that He is still in control.

The thought that came to mind, though, before I clicked the camera shutter, was how without this sky the trees are back to the ‘reality’ of everyday. That you have to look through these trees to see the full picture of colors and cloud formations.

The same thing happens in everyday life, that if we don’t keep our focus on what is important, we can become distracted by the ‘eye candy’ in front of us. That it is okay to appreciate the beauty of life to remind, those of us who believe, that it is not all about us but through His love.

In any event, I hope whatever this moment in time brings to mind for you, that you find it meaningful even if it is as quick as it came and went, from my camera to you.

Your E-Mail Address and Your Identity

Photo: ‘Speedy Delivery’ Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella

Where you live online has become more important than your street address offline, unless you have packages delivered to you. Specifically, your e-mail address says more about you, and moves with you, than any other identity we can have. Because whether or not you have social media accounts, a website, a cell phone / text number, or the bills and banking for your home, you more often than not need an e-mail address to have them.

I also think it be important to have both a free mail address for your everyday lifestyle interactions, and a custom domain e-mail address for communicating with ‘live’ people in your life. With your own e-mail domain, unlike free-mail providers, you can easily move a domain to a different provider if need be. You can’t do this with your house or the address with which you live. And, in the United States, domain names count as intellectual property – they are legally protected. As with free-mail domains, you are forced to change your e-mail if the provider changes.

So, this is why I say that if your identity is important to you, and that people find you directly before using a search engine, that your e-mail address makes this easy to contact you straight away.

Artists, Photography, and Blogs

Photo: ‘Union League Club Chicago‘ – Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella

Social media was intended to be a place where good people of all walks of life are free to express themselves and share opinions authentically. With the widespread censorship we’re currently witnessing runs contrary to this purpose.

Likewise, it is a false myth that our data is what we have to give up to have a great online social experience. Both Vivaldi and MeWe are “free forever” because privacy is not something anyone should ever have to pay for.

This is why I say that this Vivaldi blog, for me, is like Blogger without the ads, and with more privacy. If you have a blog with at least a contact form, and your posts become visible on the search engines, people who share your interests will start to contact you. And very often they’ll be people who don’t use social media.

Now I said on my first post for this blog that I would stay away from talking about my professional interests, but I have to make an exception this time, because I find this too important not to talk about. As an art photographer, I find that many artists use social media to sell their works and gain followers. But they forget that what makes your art distinctive is to be yourself.

So with all that is going on with social media now (with the exception I think of MeWe), we see artists changing platforms. I say why not walk away from social media and make your voice on a (Vivaldi) blog. Many times Artists say they can’t blog because they don’t know what to talk about, but they forget all you have to do is be yourself, just like your art.

So, if you are an artist, or photographer, I invite you to look into the business model of Vivaldi, that, like a photo sharing site, lets you see the image properties of photos on the web.

The key is to be intentional on how you use these platforms. Use technology to stay connected, but do so on your own terms.

The Secret to Finding True Rest

While growing up, several members of my family would take a nap in the middle of the day. It was called a ‘power nap’ that would help you to be alert and focused for the rest of the day.

But another concept that I was brought up with is how there is a difference between sleep and rest. In other words, when you sleep you ‘recharge’ your human battery, so to speak, but sometimes you still need to rest your body even though you have caught up on your sleep.

I’ve been seeing more and more people running around and being more active, and saying that even though they get enough sleep how they are still tired. Well now you know, the key to finding true rest is to also make time to just rest your body as well.

Photo: ‘Trees and Branches in the Fall’ Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella

Do You Lie To Yourself?

Photo: Autumn Landscape Wetlands Bridge - Color Nature Landscape Photograph - Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella
Photo: ‘Autumn Landscape Wetlands Bridge’ – Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella

While growing up I used to lie all the time, until about my college days, because I had low self esteem, short of the long, and I wanted to be accepted by everyone. Then I realized how exhausting it was to remember what lie I told to what person. The other danger I found about the lie, is that you can become a chameleon towards issues, which over time causes people not to trust you because they don’t know where you truly stand.

Most people rationalize through life. My late father always talked at the dinner table about how his co-workers always took the path of least resistance, and rationalized it. So, while in college, I asked him what he meant by this and why he often talked about it. He told me that in life you have to know where you stand, or you will fall for anything. When you stand for something, people come to trust you or know whether or not you fit into their orbit.

A lot of this caused my going deeper into my Catholic faith that taught me how it’s not so much about my being accepted, as much as it is how much I give to this world to make a positive difference through being truthful and transparent, and being the best version of myself that God made me.

People Don’t Like What I Say

In this digital age we have many choices from social media, to e-mail and mailing list, and even blogs, to write our thoughts. But the thing I often hear from people is they have fear of sharing their thoughts because people won’t like what they have to say.

Now I know that some platforms are censoring what people are posting, and yet others are losing their jobs or are publicly humiliated for what they share online. However, the important thing for me was to find the platform that allows me to share what I need to, and not worry about what other people think who read it, and dump the others.

The reason for sharing your thoughts is that it not only helps to form our own opinions, but that we all have a right to our own opinion even if we don’t have a right to our own facts. It doesn’t matter if others are reading what you are saying, because you need to do this for yourself first.

The title of the picture for this blog post is ‘Conversations at the Preserve’ because along the path of life what is important is to spend time thinking and talking, even if it is only with yourself. I have been (and you will be) surprised that when people in the real world ask for opinions how much (you and) I will have it, and speak it, well thought out already.

Vivaldi