BTFD

You all already know where I think this market is headed. However, the twitter streams are full of folks that are ready to declare yet another rally to new higher plateaus. Most investors don’t seem overly concerned about things. I certainly have not detected any real panic in either the sentiment readings or in the price action of the market.

There are still some pretty serious technical issues afflicting the market that have not been alleviated by the recent pullback. A myriad of indicators such as Put/Call ratios, Bullish Percentage indicators, volume studies, et cetera, are indicating weakness to come. I believe that the path of least resistance is to lower prices, and that the process has begun. Those are my personal opinions however, and that plus $3.50 will get you a Grande Soy Latte at Starbucks.

Anything is possible short term in this era of daily Central Bank injections of “monetary morphine” in the form of POMO. This stock market “crack” is in essence creating yet another asset bubble, this time through mispriced risk premiums in both equities and bonds. The chase for yield in a lower bound interest rate environment is the catalyst, but that is not the topic of today’s post.

You see, bubbles can go on for longer than even the most stubborn contrarian may be able to wait. Timing such reversals is treacherous at best and suicidal at worst. That’s not my point either. My topic du jour is of the incredibly obvious, yet to-date not talked about fact that the Fed’s open market operations since 2009 have created a unique moral hazard. This will act as dry tinder to the next real correction in the markets, whenever that may happen – and it WILL happen.

In the study of Psychology there is a theory of operant conditioning that was formulated by B.F. Skinner. Skinner’s theories were based on principles such as reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Skinner created experiments using rats that would provide positive and negative stimuli creating learned behavior responses.  His Law of Effect was in essence that responses producing a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again, and responses producing a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again.

I would argue that the Fed has done the same with us folks in the investor class. Just like rats we are conditioned that buying any dip no matter how small will be rewarded with profits. Conversely, selling stock short or betting on stock prices to fall will be punished with severe losses. This keeps the herd moving in the same direction, but it inflates the bubble higher and higher. This learned behavior response is manifested in two phenomena currently observable in today’s financial markets: BTFD and Pavlovian Short Covering (let’s call it PSC for shorthand). Unless you have been underneath a rock in the fetal position since 2009 then you already know what BTFD stands for, but if not I’ll tell you here.

BTFD stands for Buy the Fucking Dip. The first time I saw it referenced was in a YouTube video that appeared at least a few years ago. Since then, BTFD has become somewhat of an accepted truth. After all, anybody that has bought ANY dip of ANY size over the last 4 years has made money with very few exceptions. BTFD has certainly made many of its disciples very rich and that is one of the strongest positive reinforcements a human can receive. Not only does it reinforce the behavior in the initial participants, but it has created a tractor beam of groupthink. As more and more people have benefited from the learned behavior, the strength of belief has spread far and wide and its practitioners have been emboldened.

The flip side of the reinforced behavioral response is Pavlovian Short Covering. This is the act of reflexively covering short positions at the first sign of a return of strength to the bull side. This learned behavior is based on negative stimulus exerted upon bears time after time over the last 4 years. The tactics used to elicit this PSC is mainly through extreme, and some would say purposeful, manufactured violent short squeezes. Often these bear traps are sprung in the dead of night. Index futures rise in overnight trading creating a rush to cover short positions into the opening bell. Other times at key moments when the market is threatening to roll-over, there is an almost “magical” news item that comes out creating the squeeze. Sometimes, there’s no news at all, but a certain mysterious “hand of the Patron Saint of Bulltards” comes in and ramps the futures from certain failure. This hand of God typically lifts price up and past key areas where bears generally cover their short bets to avoid further and certain excruciating pain.

Any and all of these scenarios trigger PSC, and once it begins, a feedback loop comprised of weak handed short sellers and conditioned dip buyers combine into a glorious symphony of Federal Reserve operant conditioned rats.

Now this is all fine and good until somebody pokes an eye out. This conditioning is based on experience and results that have been extremely effective in the bull-run off the 2009 S&P lows. At SOME POINT however, (I would say that point has already arrived, but some will disagree) the trend changes, and the great Bernanke Bubble pops.

When this happens, the extreme conditioning response cultivated over the past 4+ years will serve to exacerbate the eventual declines. Initially bulls will not sell their positions when the market weakens and may instead continue to aggressively buy the dip. After all this has worked like a charm in the past – why change now? Bears on the other hand, gun shy and wary of all of the relentless traps, will not be eager to short, thus creating no fuel for squeezes.

Combine all this with the fact that there are currently many crowded trades due to the narrowing participation of stocks to the recent rally (see Market Halitosis for more on this). If things turn south the low volume on the exchanges will make declines more severe. Also, there is the very real possibility that if things get really ugly then the High Frequency bid will evaporate, further lowering liquidity. Thus the unique set of stimuli creating these learned responses will eventually be the fuel that enables real conflagration to erupt. This will be the point that everyone realizes that the new phrase to learn is STFR or Sell the Fucking Rip.

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Refusing to See

 

Refusing to See

They all turned away,

refusing to see

clear signals.

Hubris and ego,

recency and complacency.

~~~

Stop and think for

one moment.

~~~

Understand where we have

come from and where

we are headed.

~~~

History never repeats,

but it rhymes.

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These Are The Times

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Shimmering radiance
of full moons glow.

Never more alive than
those moments when

I peel back the layers
of rote habit.

Prodding my inner core,
allowed to feel

my real emotions.
Not protected but

at least I am not dulled.
These are the times

that I feel connected,
universal.

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The Island

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View of Alcatraz taken from the Bay Bridge

 

Heavy inversion layers

tamped down emotions

solitude of thought.

~~~

Days like these weigh on my soul

testing my psyche

in ways you can’t know.

~~~

Where does the self doubt come from?

Was it there since birth,

or learned behavior?

~~~

On an island in my mind,

watching the waves lap

and envelop me.

~~~

The sun tries hard to break free

 Focused beams puncture

through the mist and shine.

~~~

If only I can absorb

the sun’s loving rays

deeply in my heart

~~~

I can learn to love again.

The lessons of life

that guide me to peace.

 

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A Silence So Loud it Hurts

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Grey mist replaces what once was bright.

A Silence So Loud It Hurts

A silence so loud it hurts.
Bottomless depths,
absence of light.

Drawing all feeling towards you.
Black hole gravity pull
will never relent.

What will be left when I am gone?
Echoes of us
shadows of love.

Colors drain from the picture.
Grey mists replace
what once was bright.

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In The Arms Of Mother

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Held closely
in the arms of mother nature.
Her watchful gaze,
like a warm embrace that surrounds me.

Nothing bad
can happen here, you at my side.
Constant presence
guides me, providing gentle comfort.

Blowing breeze
swirling up through the canyon walls.
Calling to me
with the beautiful song of your love.

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Impressions of Her

Impressions of Her

Impressions of her

indelibly painted,

sweeping expanding images.

~~~

Savoring the time

never knowing.

Grace comes and goes.

~~~

Could a dream

be what I saw?

How can I know for certain?

~~~

With every shared whisper,

every exchanged glance,

her essence gains gravity.

~~~

Until she appears

before me.

As if by my side

for eternity.

 

 

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Weekend Charts: Reality Check

MaxxPayme:

This is a well articulated case for some type of market correction soon. I encourage you to read this post if you are interested in technical analysis.

Originally posted on NorthmanTrader:

reality-checkDespite playing a bear on twitter for a while now I’m primarily a trader who seeks out good risk/reward entries and exits. I can’t influence the macro and so there is really no point in raving against it. Yet my bearish view on the macro remains informed by a relatively solid understanding of the workings of finance, capital investment, economics, debt, and currencies on the one hand and a long studied view of how society at large is evolving. And the picture continues to deteriorate despite the many claims to the contrary. This bull market remains one of central banks who will never leave, buybacks at all time high prices to augment failing organic growth and algos chasing stops. It is a system based on liquidity excess and while i’m looking forward to trade from the long side the risk/reward is not favorable until some of this excess has been…

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What is Love

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Love is having someone to run their fingers through your hair while you sleep.

Love is completely messing up and still receiving forgiveness.

Love is long walks together in silence.

Love is a big hug that never wants to end.

Love is willingly putting the other before yourself.

Love is multiple trips to the hardware store to get that project done.

Love is missing the other in their absence.

Love is not wanting to be anywhere else but right next to your lover.

Love is passionate disagreement, and make up sex afterwards.

Love is sacrifice.

Love is compromise.

Love is acceptance.

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Do you REALLY have a disorder???

MaxxPayme:

Well written post about a topic that hits close to home for me personally. My own struggles with adhd have impacted my life but right now I have chosen not to treat my condition with medication.

Exercise and therapy are my current methods of trying to manage. While not always successful, I prefer not to succumb to over-medication.

Originally posted on The Culture Monk:

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By Kenneth Justice

What does it mean to have a disorder?

According to a psychotherapist I had coffee with recently, “children who are hyperactive should be tested for having ADD or ADHD”.

And how do you identify that the child is hyperactive?” I asked

Well, children who have a difficult time sitting at their desk in school, or staying focused on the task at hand would be examples of hyperactivity” she said

To which I ask….REALLY???

For years I have been challenging the way we live in Western Society; I think many elements of our culture suck;

—-) Too much time is spent in front of the television

—-) Too much time is spent in automobiles

—-) Too many doctors are prescribing pharmaceutical drugs like candy

And,

—-) Not enough time is spent focusing on healthy eating habits

—-) Not enough time is…

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Hidden Treasures

hidden treasures

hidden treasures

 

Hidden Treasures

What you keep

hidden away from view

is the summation

of all that is beautiful

in you.

~~~

Your special smile

and what you do,

a beauty that lies below

that precious few knew.

~~~

Poise and warmth

a glance askew

make me feel cheerful

as seldom do.

~~~

On this day

you must not be blue.

Warm greetings and hugs,

happy birthday to you!

~~~

I promised my co-worker who is one of those “talk about my birthday for months before it comes” types that I would give her a special gift on her birthday. Well, this is the best I could do, hope you like it!

Happy Birthday Mercedes.

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Child of Mother Earth

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The full moon pulls

exacting it’s revenge

for having been separated

From Mother Earth.

~~~

Emotion runs strong

blood courses through

look to the heavens

for answers to your prayers.

Tides recede eventually.

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Mother

For my obligatory mothers day post here is the video of the epic Pink Floyd song Mother.
Sometimes our relationships with our parents can be complicated. This song encapsulates this dynamic plus it’s just a great song.

Enjoy the day! Peace.

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A San Francisco View to Remember

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Shot of Golden Gate Bridge as seen from across Fulton Street

This picture of the Golden Gate Bridge was captured while I was out on a long walk last week.

What makes this picture interesting is that it was taken from across a major thorofare and this little sliver of a view would normally not even be noticed or appreciated if you were in your car driving.

There were many other great pictures from this walk that I may put together for another post but enjoy this slice of San Francisco for now.

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What is it that you desire most?

I am certain that many of you have already seen this video but it encapsulates the essence of what I am trying to cultivate in myself. The attitude that my individual actions can radiate and have a ripple effect. I hope that you take a moment to watch this and let it’s message sink in.

Peace to you all.

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Steps to Take

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Ascension to crest the summit

takes efforts borne not on wings.

Gradual progress is needed

steady plodding steps.

~~~

 Lessons need to be learned

control must be applied.

Discipline and self awareness

are keys to progress.

~~~

With time my goals will be met.

By embracing the challenge

the task will seem less arduous.

~~~

Belief and faith can lighten my burden

but friends and family can only lend a hand.

In the end it is my road alone,

my steps to take.

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Sorrow So

MaxxPayme:

Since I have been a bit busy of late without too much opportunity to post regularly I have reblogged a selection from Kendra Ballasteros’ blog. She is a gifted poet who deserves a try if you have not read her words. You can also find her eloquent poetry on Twitter:
@divorcequeen

Cheers! MP

Originally posted on kendraballesteros:

So I let the sorrow
set in like a sharp,
pointed arrow. I wallowed
in it & swam in my own
tears. I felt the crush of
a thousand worrisome
thoughts & sat in them
for some time. They’re mine.
Opening the door meant this too
must enter – in order for the release.
Palpable shadows as I led myself
to the gallows. Giving it away I can only pray. But a funny thing happened as my reality crashed in. The sorrow brushed my cheek for but a moment
and left again.

View original

The Flying Dutchman

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Image courtesy of http://www.picstopin.com

 

Churning currents violent

undertow. Surface calm

frigid green depth.

~~~

Briny choking pressures

filling nostrils, exploding

tears of pain.

~~~

Buried treasures, murky

leagues.

~~~

Solitude my companion,

my shipmate.

 

 

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Confidence to Spare (change)

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Image courtesy of BrainyQuote.com

When I am feeling a bit out of sorts about life I need a sense of perspective. There is much to be thankful for in life but occasionally we all need a reminder about what truly matters and where we all fit into the greater scheme of things. My self worth has taken a few beatings of late and it is easy to lose confidence.

Confidence has never been a strong suit for me. This, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Saying this because at times in my life I have put up a facade that fooled many into believing that I had my shit together and that I was confident, if not cocky. People have been drawn to me at times and on the surface I seem to be fine. People like me.

Lies, all lies I tell you. Over the past year therapy uncorked the bottle that contained my true emotions and the stench that has bubbled out is a true testament to the lack of confidence that I have lived with.

The human mind plays terrible tricks at times. Fooling us into believing that we have no ability, when we are able. Or that we are unlovable when we are in fact loved.

Confidence falls prey to these cognitive slights of hand as well and if you were never given confidence from a young age it can be a hard belief to instill later on.

One method I am using to combat this tendency of mine to lack confidence is a process called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. This is the act of logging your negative thoughts and emotions using a process called a thought record.

After your negative thoughts are recorded, the process calls for going back and examining them. Providing facts to support and refute. You start to realize how much your thinking can become skewed and how far from truth that perceptions can stray.

Another method I use to combat my lack of confidence is to volunteer as well as to give to the less fortunate. This works for me because I get that crucial perspective about how much I have going for me.

Even when I feel inadequate I am not only worthy but able to effect positivity in others through my actions.

As an example, the other day I was getting some vegetables at the produce market down the block. As I was walking home with my bag full of food a homeless woman with a worn paper cup asked if I could spare some change. I knew I had some coins from the change from my purchases so I stopped and started digging them out.

During this time, she mentioned that she was begging in order that she could raise a few dollars for something that she needed. I stopped and listened to her and empathized with her. Telling her I understood that times are tough and then I gave her the money she needed which was not a big deal.

What happened next was, however. She looked at me with surprise at my gift to her and smiled wide. She said:

“I like you, you are good. Can I give you a hug?”

And hug we did. It was a lovely exchange and I got the feeling she got as much from the human touch and interaction with me as she did the money that I gave her.Her spirits were uplifted and so were mine. Immediately I felt better about myself and about my place in the world.

That homeless woman and her hug not only gave me confidence in myself, it let me know that I had confidence to spare.

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Remembrances Of The Yuba River

The Yuba river

The Yuba river

 

Shadows stretch languidly
fluid rivulets groove into granite.
Time passes with no words.

Echoes reverberate against box canyon walls.
Foam spray on mossy stones.
Driftwood collects in swirling eddies.

Dappled stars twinkle and dance on waters surface.
Scent of pine duff wafts.
Calm pools teem with life as
water skeeters flit and skip about.

Breathy breezes and puffy clouds.
Cans of cheap beer chill at rivers edge.
Eyes closed but calming ripples
fill my mind.
Falling deeply into summers trance.

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Soothing Hues of Grey

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Mists blow on high.
Rustling leaves,
morning’s quiet blankets.

Soft melodies stir
unbroken loops
in my mind.

Soothing hues of grey.
Calmness and peace
wrapped in embrace.

Never to release.
Forever in your arms,
secure in love.

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I Have Created a Monster

Sometimes she gets me so angry. It hardly seems fair when she knows exactly the right buttons to push. It’s part of the challenge of trying to repair a fractured relationship. A fractured trust. My role is not that of the innocent, I admit this. At times I play into the emotions, and help to create the monster that rears it’s fangs. 

Still I wish that things were different.

Find myself longing for simpler times, when we were on more even footing. When we both had careers, and both brought home the bacon. When she could explain to her friends what I did on a daily basis without having to massage things to make them sound more palatable. When she was proud of me, of our relationship.

These days the turmoil is causing hairline cracks. Emotions bubble up at inopportune moments. What would once go unsaid now gets repeated daily, hourly. Frustrations cause mountains out of molehills. She is quick to anger and I am quick to be defensive. To survive this we will both need to learn how to relate to each other better.

The good news is that there is still love. There is still something worth fighting for. She may run out of patience with me and if she did I could not really blame her. The past few years have been very painful for us both. At times I don’t like the man that I have become but at the same time I have been forced to learn some humbling lessons about life. About what is truly important and what is not.

The hope is that these travails may bear sweet fruit for us eventually if we can wait it out. If only we can find the strength to see our way through these challenges. Life does not owe us anything, but if there is any justice in the universe I will get a chance to see this journey through to it’s conclusion and come to realize the greater purpose for the path that I took.

Like tempered steel, with the right mindset our relationship will emerge stronger. Everything happens for a reason. I refuse to give up my faith in this simple belief. 

 

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Weekend Chart Porn

Yesterday I actually spent a few hours looking through some of my favorite chart sets. Things are interesting to me again technically for the first time in quite a while. I updated a few charts and published some of them online on Stocktwits and TradingView. My bio has links to these sites if you are interested in following me there.

Price is Truth is many things to me, and from time to time I may post market related topics because they are of interest. Many of my newer followers found me through poems, or photographs, or writings about my life challenges and I am thrilled to have you reading my words. You may not even be aware that I started this blog to document my market thoughts and experiences. Over time it has morphed into something a bit different but deep down I still have an interest and passion for financial markets and technical analysis.

It’s like an artist that puts her brush down for a spell, eventually she gets the urge to paint again. So I feel currently about charting. To that end, below are a few that I worked on this weekend.

What am I looking at here?

To those who don’t typically look at price charts these may look like chicken scratch but many of them have some notes that you can read to try to figure out what I am doing. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer you. Please note that my analysis is not to be construed as investment advice. Click on charts to enlarge.

VIX weekly seems ready for move higher.

VIX weekly seems ready for move higher.

 

The first chart I have for you is that of the VIX index. This is commonly referred to as the “fear index” since it tracks the market’s expectation of 30 day volatility of prices. It is constructed using the implied volatilities of a wide range of S&P 500 index options. When the VIX is low the market is said to be complacent and when it is high there is fear among investors. This chart suggests that after a multi-year “base” or consolidation that the VIX is ready for a foray to higher levels soon. This would correlate to a corresponding market swoon. Timing would be spring-summer of this year based on the chart pattern.

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Bonds making a classic W bottom. Higher prices likely.

 

The next chart is that of the exchange traded treasury bond fund TLT. This liquid ETF blends the 10 and 30 year Treasuries into what they call a 20+ year Bond Fund. I use this as a proxy for the US Treasury market (specifically the 10 and 30 year bonds). Typically as equity prices increase, bond prices decrease. This is due to market participants wishing to gain greater capital appreciation from rising equity prices and the lower yield to maturity that bonds offer when treasury prices get high. Last summer when the Federal Reserve hinted that they would “taper” or reduce their monthly treasury purchases the bond market sold off and a parabolic bubble began in stocks. The problem is that now the average dividend yield on the S&P is under 2% and the TLT pays out over a 3% yield. At some point Treasuries become attractive again relative to equities since they are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Govt. and it’s ability to force citizens to pay income tax to raise capital to pay back it’s debt. Stocks hold no such backing and are much higher on the risk spectrum. When valuations in stocks are high as they are currently, this is an issue that money managers will consider when constructing their portfolio mix.

Crude completed a bullish fractal and now looks poised for lower prices.

Crude completed a bullish fractal and now looks poised for lower prices.

 

Next up is a chart of Crude Oil. Specifically WTIC or West Texas Intermediate Crude or Texas Light Sweet. This is the benchmark grade for US Oil prices. Europe has it’s own benchmark called Brent Crude. Oil prices are tied into economic expansion and contraction and only a robust economy can withstand rising oil prices without causing a natural dampening of growth through higher input and transportation costs for manufacturers, less disposable income for households due to rising gasoline prices, etc. What this chart is telling me is that oil prices have likely topped out near term and look to at least test recent lower levels around $90 per barrel. This is a chart to continue to watch- if prices break lower this could signal a slowdown in the economy and possible deflationary forces exerting upon commodities.

ES futures (S&P 500) may be carving out a topping pattern with a July low.

ES futures (S&P 500) may be carving out a topping pattern with a July low.

 

The last chart I will post is that of the Emini futures. This is the most liquid of the S&P futures contracts that trade out of the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange). I have had these trend lines in place since last summer without adjusting them and price is looking currently like it may be carving out a head and shoulders top. This is still to be confirmed and frankly that is pure speculation on my part. However, I am basing my theories upon not just the price action in the index itself but in looking at different indexes, sectors, breadth indicators, currencies, and commodities. Only in looking at many different inputs can you hope to gain any accurate timing of the markets.

Based on everything I am seeing, I would not be at all surprised to see a 15-20% market correction this spring/summer to be followed by a decent rally. Once that rally happens we will have a greater idea if the market can make higher highs into 2015 or if the great bull run of 2009-2014 has topped out.

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Spring Rain

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Faint hint of rose
like the fresh breeze
after a spring rain.

Warm remembrances
of when we last
strolled hand in hand.

Perhaps soon
we can revisit the
space held dear
to our hearts.

To be savored
as perfumed kisses
to my soul.

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Lighthouse

image courtesy of whowillyouserve.blogspot.com

Rudderless and adrift

victim to the whims of current and tide.

 

Imminently threatened

to be dashed against jagged cliffs.

 

You are my beacon, 

Guiding me homeward to calm waters.

 

Without your hand I am a lost soul.

No sextant to chart direction in a starless sky.

 

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Introvert Celebration Inside My Head

MaxxPayme:

While I sip my coffee I would love you all to read this brief post that says a lot about how I feel as an introvert. Cheers!

Originally posted on 61 Musings:

Artwork by yoko furusho

Artwork by yoko furusho

It’s late Saturday afternoon.  The rains and high winds have stopped, at least for the moment, and the sun is shining through patchy clouds.  I’m listening to music online, exploring some new singers.  I still like folk and folk rock, hangovers from my youth filled with Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and so many others.  Voices of change, all of them.  Quietly introspective, seeing a bigger picture of a better world.

Why do I love being an introvert?  Because I think.  I think a lot.  My mind is a fascinating place full of so many things.  My interests are varied.  I explore everything.  I take time to stop, listen and understand the fullness of life.  I’m a philosopher.  The world is a beautiful place to me, filled with possibilities.

I can bring tremendous focus to anything I have an interest…

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Here’s Looking At You

About to make a pot of coffee and settle in to read some of you fine folks.

courtesy of GIPHY.com

Here’s looking at you.

Here’s looking at you. Cheers!

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Weekend Micropoetry

Here’s a sampling of some of my recent Micropoetry Tweets. Micropoetry by definition is limited to 140 characters or less when using Twitter so it can be a bit of a challenge to get your message across at times.

Many of these were submitted with the hashtag #Heartsoup where a daily phrase or word is chosen to be integrated into the poem. This keeps it interesting and fresh for the various poets, challenging them to find ways to include the phrase within their words. Give it a shot if you like to write poetry and have a Twitter account, it’s fun and the community is always supportive with stars for your efforts.

If you wish to follow my Twitter account, my handle is @MaxxPayme. I hope to see some of you there.

 

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Resiliency

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Even under less than ideal circumstances

nature finds ways to push on,

to thrive.

There is a great lesson for each of us in this simple observation.

Instead of telling yourself

why you cannot possibly succeed,

perhaps

you should be telling yourself

that if you persist long enough

there is no possible way you can fail.

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Morning Prayer 3/25/14

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On this morning I draw strength and inspiration from others. Those that are kind and those that push through their difficulties and still find time to smile and greet me with warmth. Many are less fortunate than I. Realizing how blessed I am makes me happy. Cherishing my friendships and my family. The beauty around me every day is another source of inspiration. Watching the sun rise every morning is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the Universe. How can I be anything but grateful for the blessing of life and health? My wish is that today I am able to reflect these feelings back into the world and find my peace.

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