Alice Olive Paula

The Versatile Blogger Award and a few things about myself…

Paula's Pontifications receives the Versitile Blogger Award

It’s award season, for sure! I was very sick (I think it was the flu) for roughly 17 days straight recently. Hit with fever, body aches, and belly aches. I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to feel better. But I do, and the past few days I received encouraging and motivating feedback from the members of the blogging community. In addition to the two awards given to me last week, I was blessed with another one yesterday: The Versatile Blogger Award!

This award was passed on to my blog, Paula’s Pontifications, by Madeline Laughs of Spread Information ~ Stop the Madness blog, which “supports the fact that everyone has a story to tell.” Thank you, Madeline Laughs and Spread Information!

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Display the award logo on your blog. Check!
  • Thank and Link back to the person who nominated you. Check!
  • State 7 things about yourself. Check!
  • Nominate 15 bloggers for this award. Not in this post. I have many fellow bloggers to recognize and will dedicate a post later this week to them.
  • Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back. See above.

Seven things about me:

  1. Alice Olive PaulaAs a young(er) woman, I was often told that I reminded people of Olive Oyl. More accurately, that I looked like Shelly Duvall’s character in the Popeye movie. Remember Popeye? Now, people tell me I look like Alice (Milla Jovovich) from the Resident Evil films. I don’t know. I don’t get it, really. How about you? Hehe!
  2. I love scary movies. Why? I have no idea, but I read that it may have something to do with my need to stimulate a part of my brain that is normally not stimulated. However, I admit I took a VERY long and much-needed break from them in my recent past. I wonder why?
  3. While a graduate student, I was also a member of AmeriCorps and worked at a community corrections facility (also referred to as a half-way house), where I taught male and female inmates GED, ABE, Life Skills, and Computer training, among other things. The organization I worked for also has a WordPress blog. Check it out!: Community Educational Outreach.
  4. As a little girl, I dreamed of becoming an architect. I wanted to design and build things. That dream didn’t come true. Instead, my studies focused on writing and communication and adult education. Today, I design and build (and sometimes rebuild) websites. They call it information architecture, and I love doing it and learning more about it every day.
  5. I play the saxophone and the violin. Well…I used to play them. I’d like to start practicing again and maybe take a few lessons along with my son. I think he wants to play the trombone.
  6. One day I would love to live near the mountains and the sea at the same time. I have lived in the mountains of Colorado, Maine, and Maryland. I have spent many vacations on the coast and near water. I love both and can’t decide, so why not treat myself  and my family to both at once?
  7. I don’t like writing about myself. I like writing. Just not about myself. I’m slowly getting over that fear.


The hummingbird and a new design


Artwork by Arlene Ness, 2006,

Thanks to Angela at Blog Mommas and the drawing her daughter created in October 2012 (below) as a symbol of my blog, I decided to create a new design for my blog and next book using an image/illustration of a hummingbird. (And then I might get it tattooed somewhere on my body. Who knows?!?)

I have been fascinated by hummingbirds since I was a teenager. My stepfather and mom kept a feeder hanging from a post on the outside of our screened-in back porch. It never failed. We would be visited frequently in the mornings and late afternoons by at least one hummingbird. And because there was a barrier (the screen), the birds seemed unaffected by us staring at them through our binoculars. We were able to get really close. Their colors, movement, and peacefulness always awed me.

The following is a blog post written in September 2009 on the blog, “A Light in the Darkness.” Do you think the hummingbird is as appropriate for my writing and motivation as Blog Momma and I think it is ? ~Namaste!

Blog Momma Blog of the WeekHummingbird Symbolism

The hummingbird symbolizes many different concepts. Because of its speed, the hummingbird is known as a messenger and stopper of time. It is also a symbol of love, joy, and beauty.

The hummingbird is also able to fly backwards, teaching us that we can look back on our past. But, this bird also teaches that we must not dwell on our past; we need to move forward. When the hummingbird hovers over flowers while drinking nectar, we learn that we should savour each moment, and appreciate the things we love.

The hummingbird has powerful spiritual significance. In the Andes of South America the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection. It seems to die on cold nights, but comes back to life again at sunrise.

Hummingbird is the creature that opens the heart. When the hurt that caused us to close our hearts gets a chance to heal, our hearts are free to open again.

With hummingbird consciousness, we learn the truth of beauty. Our life becomes a wonderland of delights in flowers, aromas and tastes. We laugh and enjoy creation, we appreciate the magic of the present moment, and the magic of being alive.

Hummingbird teaches us the medicinal properties of plants and how to work with the energy of flowers to heal ourselves and others.

Hummingbirds teach us fierce independence. They teach us to fight in a way where no one gets hurt. They teach us courage. Having the courage to refrain from creating new trauma by communicating non-violently toward ourselves and others is an important part of healing. Recovering lost parts of ourselves enables us to become healthily independent.

It is not commonly known that the fluttering wings of the hummingbird move in the pattern of an infinity symbol – further solidifying their symbolism of eternity, continuity, and infinity.

By observing the Hummingbird, we see they are seemingly tireless. Always actively seeking the sweetest nectar, they remind us to forever seek out the good in life and the beauty in each day. Amazing migrators, some Hummingbirds are known to wing their way as far as 2000 miles to reach their destination. This quality reminds us to be persistent in the pursuit of our dreams, and adopt the tenacity of the Hummingbird in our lives.

(Content source:

(Artwork by Arlene Ness, Image source:

Elephant Journal – My New Writing Gig

elephant journal logoIn a quest to expand my reach and touch an even greater audience, I pursued an apprenticeship with Elephant Journal and landed it!! I begin next week. Here is a little bit about Elephant Journal and the purpose of the online magazine. I hope you all decide to follow Elephant Journal either on Facebook or Twitter or both!

yoga | organics | sustainability | active citizenship | enlightened education | conscious consumerism | buddhadharma | ecofashion | the contemplative arts

elephantjournaldotcom is your guide to what we like to call ‘the mindful life’: yoga, organics, sustainability, genuine spirituality, conscious consumerism, fair fashion, the contemplative arts…anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet.

A wish tree, a wish, and renewed hope

Wish Tree in The Sculpture Garden

I was given a chance to make a wish today.

It honestly never fails. Just when I want to give up believing that goodness truly exists in this world, I am sent reminders that I shouldn’t give up. Not yet, anyhow.

Friday evening, I received messages from two women who stumbled upon my blog and were moved enough to purchase my book. They just wanted to thank me and let me know I had given them hope and a reason not to feel alone. One woman described me as someone with “spunk.” I liked that. It sure beats being called crazy or someone who refuses to let go. I am spunky, lively, and spirited. Yes! All of those things I thought had eluded to be.

Saturday evening, I shared my Washington Times article with my mother. She was so happy. She has seen me struggle over the past 18 months with reclaiming my voice and couldn’t wait to share my column link for Living Inside Out Loud with her friends and co-workers. Nothing beats making Mom proud no matter how old we are.

Snake head - Ai Weiwei Circle of AnimalsSunday morning, my son, husband, and I decided to go into DC to visit the National Air and Space Museum and The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall. My son likes the interactive exhibits at the Space Museum. While he and his dad learned about drag and lift, I relaxed on some benches nursing an aching lower back. (Nothing serious; I think I over did it in yoga the day before.) We walked to the Hirshhorn next and went through the Dark Matters display. The highlight was Ron Mueck’s “Big Man” piece. My son kept pointing to the penis asking why it looked so big. My only answer was that the artist must have been inspired to make it that way.

Next, we walked through the center courtyard where we checked out Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads exhibit. In the year of what animal were you born? (My son wasn’t born in the year of the snake. He just thought it was cool and wanted a picture next to it. That’s Dad in the red cap waaay back there under the rabbit’s head.)

Wish Tree Filled (or fulfilled?)Leaving the Hirshhorn, I suggested we walk through the Sculpture Garden to get to The Mall. Normally, we would walk around the garden. Today it enticed me to enter. So we did.

And there it was. A tree with little item tags hanging all over its branches. What in the world was I looking at? I read the display and realized that this is why I came downtown today. I grabbed a pencil and a tag, wrote my wish, and tied it to a branch. Maybe my wish will come true. I hope so.

About the Wish Tree taken from The Imagine Peace Tower website:

Yoko Ono’s interactive artwork WISH TREE (1996) has been integral to many of her exhibitions around the world in museums and cultural centers where people have been invited to write their personal wishes for peace and tie them to a tree branch.

“As a child in Japan, I used to go to a temple and write out a wish on a piece of thin paper and tie it around the branch of a tree. Trees in temple courtyards were always filled with people’s wish knots, which looked like white flowers blossoming from afar. All My Works Are A Form Of Wishing”. ~Yoko Ono

Yoko has collected all the wishes – currently totaling over a million!

They are to be housed at the site of the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER.

Make your own Wish Tree for you and your family and friends.


My book’s title, cover, and Eve

Cover image: Escaping The Boy (copyright 2012)

During the spring of 2000, my last semester as an undergraduate at Frostburg State University, the professor for my course, Literature of the Environment, was going through the process of getting her latest manuscript published. She is Barbara Hurd, and her book is Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and the Human Imagination, which I recommend highly.

She shared with students the struggles and frustrations she was experiencing battling editors to determine a title for her book. (Yes. She wasn’t FREE to say, “This is what I want MY book to be called, and this is what I want the cover to look like.”) I remember thinking how unfair. Why would anyone want to spend all of that time creating something so personal just to have some marketing “expert” TELL YOU, the creator, what to call your work and with what image it should be associated? Not fair. Not fair at all! (If you go to Amazon, you’ll notice that the cover for the Hardback is VERY different from the cover of the paperback edition of Stirring the Mud. I wonder if Dr. Hurd had more input on the paperback design? Hmmm? Doubtful.)

Fast forward to today and to Kindle Direct Publishing (the self-publishing program I used). The artist has TOTAL creative freedom and TOTAL responsibility for the final product. It’s a beautiful thing. I could have paid someone to edit beyond basic copy edits, I could have paid a marketer to come up with some catchy title options, and I could have paid a photographer and/or graphic artist to design and format my cover design. But me, I am stubborn and have that I-can-do-it-myself attitude. After all, this could be my only chance to publish, and I want it to be what I want it to be (even if the end product isn’t as beautiful and perfect as a marketing guru or professional photographer and designer could make it.) But it is Mine, all Mine!! Hehehehe!

The first step was deciding on a title. I had been calling it “The Story of a Sociopath” with the subtitle of “The Birth and Evolution of a Narcissistic Sociopath.” Upon reflection, I realized the title needed to be shorter, with a forward drive, and the ability to capture someone on a personal level. (Thanks, Jody Miller!) Many iterations later using this as my criteria, and my title was finalized: Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath.

The next step was to make the cover design. I have limited experience with Adobe Creative Suite and graphics. Most of that experience is with Photoshop. To make it easy on myself and for my book to remain familiar to my dedicated readers and followers, I chose to use the image of the statue of Eve, which has been front-and-center on my website for months.

But where in the world is Eve? Really. Where and when did I take that picture? (And yes, I took that picture, Boy, not you, so rein in those lawyer hounds.) I photographed Eve in October 2008 in Pere Lechaise Cemetery located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, France.

While the boy visited the graveside of Jim Morrison for an agonizing second time during our short visit to the capital city, I made my way north along a tiny path that led me to a narrow and steep concrete staircase blanketed in ivy. Upon reaching the top and final step, I saw her. Eve. And she moved me. The day was overcast and misty from rain. I was sad and frustrated. I missed my son (who was only 3 at the time). Eve comforted me. And confused me. Is she ascending or descending the steps? Is she moving forward and reaching for the apple or stepping back having decided against it? I snapped the picture just as the boy found me.

One thing is clear about Eve: she has a choice to make. What will her choice be and will it be the best choice? What choice will YOU make?


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