Life Says Hello

This is a decidedly non-SL post.  Yet, the self-reflection, the parallels cross over, join on.

Have you ever had a moment – in *any* world – where you randomly connect with a person, have a pleasant conversation, and get the sense that – through this person who you fully expect never to see again and who also has absolutely no clear idea of who you fully are – life has just dropped a reminder to you about precisely that:  who you fully are.  Or if not quite that obviously, then a reminder of the possibilities of what might be.  And then just as suddenly, the randomness of the person, the situation and the conversation ends, and you reenter the ebb and flow of the immediacy at hand. 

You could say it was very much a subtle and abbreviated rendition of “peeling back the layer to cast a light on the many layers beneathe.”   But the one doing the peeling in this instance, of my own layer, was me.  I confess, this is something I’m usually much better at feeling than articulating.  But while it is difficult for me to describe the sensation, I can describe what happened.  In all of its polite non-spectacularity.  Yet, somehow, in some way, I definitely got the sense that Life Said Hello…and more than once.

So I’m on a plane, snug in the window seat with my book open and curled back, ready to hunker down for the flight to Maine for an extended weekend with friends.  A petite woman very quickly and quietly sits next to me.  I like how efficiently this woman sits down in her seat.  No fussing.  No thrashing around of jackets or carry ons, no jostling and inspecting overhead compartments, no flicking lights and air vents on and off.   She’s dressed for comfort, as am I.  Jeans, casual shoes (she in sneakers, me in low-heeled ankle boots).  And it amused me to see she wore a tshirt that was burnt orange in color, since I happened to be wearing a jacket that was burnt orange in color.   Aside from the difference in our heights, we looked as if we had called each other up first thing in the morning to see what we were going to wear.   

So she settles smoothly back into her seat, pulls out an apple fritter from a bag, quietly munches and then asks, “So what brings you to Maine?”  Before I know it, our topic runs the entire length of the flight and covers everything from politics (she’s a devoted Republican who admits to be experiencing real angst; I’m an Independent, yet we manage to hear each other out), Gen X, Gen Y, value systems, family, to the reasons for our travels and moreso dreams.  She’s fascinating.  She’s a subcontractor (her own company) with prison systems, focusing on the security designs and layout of mess halls and food/recreation areas.  Before that, she was the only woman in an all male company that provided this work.  For the last 15 to 20 years of her career, she walked behind the prison walls a good chunk of each work day.   This tiny powerhouse of a woman, who – at first glance, even second glance – doesn’t come off as a powerhouse.  Walking among the hard core.  We all have different and interesting careers and experiences, no doubt.  Still, I found Laurie’s (her name, which I didn’t learn until the very end of our conversation) fascinating.  What she does, how she thinks just didn’t fit her “first appearance.”  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  It was a reminder to me of how you just never know…of how we instinctively evaluate each other based on what we see, arrive at some determination and possibly even belief, and then engage with the person indepth and discover how we got some things terribly right, other things terribly wrong, and may have missed other things entirely.  And viewing the worlds through “my own eyes,” as we all invariably do, it did beg the question:  what might her first impression of me have been…and how right, wrong, inbetween was she?  Put another way, how do I say hello to life.  How do we all.  In any and all worlds. 

Hello Life, smiles.

In that moment, the world was on a plane.  And the conversation morphed delightfully.  From the tangible, logical, practical, to the virtual of dreams, and the boundaryless space where dreams become real.  That’s an exciting piece of space.  Laurie’s dream, life plan, vision, intent (pick your favorite word or swap in your own) is to create something purely for its aesthetic value and not for its functional capabilities.  She dreams of reinventing herself from the soullessness of concrete prison slabs and metal bars to the beauty and life in nature.  To do this, Laurie plans to go back to school – Berkeley – when she’s 60 (in 5 years) and study landscape architecture.  She plans to earn her bachelor’s.  Her second one.  She already has one, along with an M.B.A.  Does she care that she will be 60? Sitting among 18 year olds?  Not one bit.  She laughs heartily and visibly delights in the thought.  The thunderclap in my brain shook me hard to the realization that Laurie doesn’t put antiquated cultural limits on herself.  Hello.  A big hello there from Life.  First or Second or Third.

Instead of marching to the beat of institutionalized norms, Laurie is one of those remarkable persons who knows herself so very well…the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful.  She has an incredible degree of self-honesty.   That, and the fact that she really likes herself, creates in her a person who doesn’t make excuses for herself.  Her fundamental belief, as she shared with me, is that all of us have within us the foundation we need to be able to stand into our own legs.   It’s not to say that things are just handed to us because we exist.  It is to say that applying our capabilities, applying ourselves from the standpoint of integrity, is the thing.  It is to say, for her, that when she is 60 and wants to go back and start all over again, well, smiling, Laurie will do just that.  And I have no doubt, she will be just as successful – in whatever manner Laurie will then measure success – and have just as much fun doing it all over again.

When I landed in Maine, I found myself watching the world in a different way.  Nature’s honesty there is so all-encompassing, it beautifully fosters the listening.  It encourages moments to observe people and interactions underneathe the surface…realizing how wonderfully varied and different we all are and at the same time how we are all so deeply connected by the instinctive desire to blossom, to be, to love, to share, to embrace, to dance, to live…beyond the confines of institutionalized norms and limits that may very well have a purpose, but that shouldn’t necessarily be self-defining.  (Ironically, while in Maine, I found a sweatshirt that said “Rules Prohibited.”)

Laurie is a tiny, softspoken smiling, warm woman who happens to work with the prison systems.  But that’s not who Laurie is.  Laurie is a dreamer who manifests the dream.  She was – during that brief chance meeting, and remains – a reminder of the power of life in any world, of the power of honesty, and the power of belief. 

A powerful reminder of the gentle yet very real strength in a smiling, tender Hello.

Hogwarts at Liquid Heat

Taking a cue from Ribbons‘s blog on Hogwarts in Liquid Heat, I grabbed the taxi and checked it out.  

When you arrive, be sure to pick up the free navigation HUD near the entrance to Hogwarts.  The HUD helps you handily navigate through the Liquid Heat sims, which I believe total four in number (I haven’t yet gone through them all).  But the ones I did get to led me through Hogwarts, which, as an aside, was “…voted as the 36th best Scottish educational establishment in an online ranking, outranking Edinburgh’s Loretto School” (per the Hogwarts entry on Wikipedia).  

Inside, you’ll find dungeons, the movable staircases, the ever delightful floating-candles dining room, and more.  On the grounds, you’ll see a gigantic virtual replica of the – well, yea, virtual – Quiddich field (complete with pose balls for viewing a game) and an incredible liquid lava mountain (I don’t recall a lava mountain in Harry Potter, but that’s not to say it wasn’t mentioned).  

Along the way, I came across a few headmasters wandering through the castle, along with a few Slytherins.  If they’re not busy role-playing, they might take you on a tour of the grounds.  

Just tell them Harry sent you, winks.


(Hmmm…I wonder if Hogwarts at Liquid Heat has any new or emerging fashion designers for the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace…)

Yo Ho, Me Hearties!

A Pirate’s Life For Me Maties…All Hands on Deck in Shengri La Joy, Arrrrr!



Shiver me timbers and set a course on September 19th for Shengri La Joy where yar will rabble rouse with good mates and saucy wenches.  This merry Piratical Rave is courtesy of Shengri La sim owner Commodore Shenlei Flasheart and her merry crew, including first-mate DJ extraordinare DJane Qee Nishi.  Aye, all hands on deck on the grandest of all pirate ships provided by Lia Woodget of the Black Spot Shipyard. 

Here be yar compass (slurl) for the festivities:  Shengri La Joy Piratical Rave .  Aye, and check out Commodore Shenlei’s blog for more plunder, including free piratical poofers and a fun “talk like a pirate” translation link! 

…and while yar be swabbing the decks with wild drink and dancing, be sure to take a gander at the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace (which provides free land for six-months to new fashion designers).  It be in eyesight, me maties, just over the horizon, arrrrr!

Shengri La Vintage Marketplace for Emerging Fashion Designers

Believing in the Power of Your Dreams

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt (a very wise soul)


Shengri La is a five-island corporate complex owned by the Fashion Research Institute (FRI), Inc., a Delaware corporation.  Shenlei Winkler – FRI CEO and the creative force behind a number of hugely successful fashion lines – has generously created the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace to showcase emerging fashion designers.  

Shenlei’s reasons for doing so are powerful (as listed on her Shengri La Utopian Micronation blog). 

In Shenlei’s Words:

Why we’re doing this – when I first came into Second Life, I met an optimistic, warm, sweet woman who became one of my best friends in this mad maze of pixels.  Lexa was an ardent supporter of my early efforts to get established as an avatar apparel designer, and her support extended beyond just saying nice things.  She went so far as to buy land for me and carry the tier on it for my very first store.   Because of her support, I was able to  move on from my first 512 meter plot of land to become one of the top earners in Second Life with my brand Prim & Proper.

I am paying her kindness forward, and to this end, my company, the Fashion Research Institute, Inc. is providing space for 20 emerging avatar apparel designers on our Second Life Shengri La sims, free of charge to them, for six months.

The Shengri La Vintage Marketplace for Emerging Designers is curated by Michele Hyacinth, who is responsible for managing the design selection process and overseeing the marketplace.   To apply, send Michele a notecard with your name and best time to contact you in world.  Include a couple of sentences about the work you’re doing or hoping to do, and if you have any snapshots, add those to the notecard too.  Then send it along to Michele, and she’ll be in touch!

Best of luck to you, and may your wildest dreams come true!

~Shenlei Winkler
Fashion Research Institute, Inc.
Acting CEO
Black Dress Technology, Inc.
Shenlei Flasheart in SL

How very cool is that!?!  So, if you have this dream, drop a notecard to me.  Let’s turn this dream into reality.  

Shengri La Vintage Marketplace in Gorgeous Shengri La
Shengri La Vintage Marketplace in Gorgeous Shengri La

The Shengri La Vintage Marketplace is set in the breathtakingly beautiful Shengri La sim. 

4 … Lightening in a Bottle

Note:  Dale Innis’s Meaties” is the original story from which this attempts to build.  Cradled between leather-bound covers, drawn on cave walls, digitized.  In all ways, the form has been released.


“This windmass is new to the world.  This – ” he gestured with his jaw to the tornado “- this wasn’t a common sight.  Not until recently.”

She pulled her eyes away from his – the eyes she had seen in her window – and steered her vision past the aristocrat, who remained completely mummified in cement.  Near the encased form, Flowering Heaven slept soundly.  Kennedy smiled inside; the dragon certainly didn’t do anything halfway.  The Suburbanites and the Unicorn were another matter.  They wandered aimlessly, slightly agitated and confused.  She thought she heard them squeaking “ooo-whay es-ay our-yay od-gay ooo-whay es-ay our-yay od-gay ooo-whay es-ay…” until she lost their ramblings as they blended back into the dustcloud at the base of the tornado.

With some trepidation, Kennedy studied the whirling mass that rose into the sky.  (Or was it falling from they sky.  Did the perspective really matter, she wondered.)  It rotated fiercely and quietly.  Ominously so.  It almost seemed to be waiting.

“You…,” he said quietly, but loudly enough to break through her thoughts, “…are new to this world.”  

“I suppose,” she nearly whispered, entirely aware of the undertone in his voice.  It was gentle yet filled with intent.

He floated on a glimmering wisp to her.  He was tall, with a broad frame that she could see contained a great deal of strength despite the fact that he moved quietly.   He controlled his power well.  In spite of his large size, he sat like a murmur next to her.

Vystar paused and evaluated Kennedy.  She met his gaze and held it.  She saw in him the eyes that contained the origins of universes and time and space.   She released an inaudible sigh.  And then it happened.  Kennedy watched as sundust and moonstars streamed out of the corners of his eyes, and flowed into rivers of sparkling, miniature universes that wound themselves into a translucent cocoon around Vystar and Kennedy…she, who released a surprised breath.  She, whose eyes peeled back wide with wonder.

“Here, it is a different world,” he murmured.  “Filled with possibilities, where anything can be made to happen.  Anything can…be.”  He paused and studied Kennedy, the edges of his face lined with memories of days before, days now, days to come.

“We Whispered In as explorers.  Like you…new.”

“Newt,” Flowering Heaven growled between snores, then snorted with obvious self-satisfaction.  Kennedy turned in the dragon’s direction.  Her mind flooded suddenly with understanding.  “Newt,” she whispered slowly.  Vystar smiled softly, then continued.

“We could do anything.  Be anything.  Create.  Re-create.  Redefine.  Define.” 

“Still can,” the dragon interrupted sleepily.   “Just…well…” then trailed off.

“Just…just what?” Kennedy asked.

Vystar seemed to weigh the moment, coursing over her being, searching out…something.  She could sense it.  But didn’t know what.  Before she could ask or think of how to phrase what was purely instinctive, his voice gently filled the silence.

“Just the atomic culture,” his lips tightened, his eyes swept over Kennedy and worked to ignore the cluttered adverts in the background behind her, the endless cookie-cutter stripmalls of sameness stacked onto the horizon like an advancing army, “somehow it’s seeping in.  For some, it’s more than seeping.”  He nodded to the aristocrat.  “That tornado is tied to the aristocrat’s story.  Somehow.  She was here.  But she was very much there,” he gestured in the stratosphere to the lip of the atristocrat’s window. 

Kennedy shook her head slightly as if that would help her to understand.  “But isn’t that true for all of us.  That no matter where we go…there we are?  Along with our values?”

“And your little dog, Toto, too,” Flowering Heaven snarled at Kennedy.  She pulled back slightly, entirely unsure why the dragon’s words dripped with sarcasm.  Vystar waved a hand at the hostility, brushing it aside.  Flowering Heaven huffed and puffed before curling tighter around himself, before mumbling “MF” in a low voice that trailed away from the conversation but that wrapped around the dragon like a blanket.

“It’s complicated,” Vystar sighed.  “We aren’t empty shells when we come here.  Not in either world.  That’s true.  But…” he paused, “The will to create a new culture is coded into this world.  Think of it as digital DNA that links to – we think at any rate – that it links to the creative impulses in the atomic world.”

Links to the heart, Kennedy thought immediately, instinctively.  As if seeing her thoughts, Vystar eyed Kennedy even more deeply in that moment.  His pupils dialated. 

“Something is happening,” he murmured, then added, “Look at the aristrocrat.”

“She’s not here.  And she’s not entirely being there either,” Flowering Heaven grunted, unable to disengage from the discussion.

The three sat in silence until Kennedy finally said, “I hate to ask the obvious…then where is she.”

Agile and powerful like a lion, Vystar pushed off of the ground.  He released his form – a butterfly’s wings flapping – and caused the universes to undulate around them.  He seemed to have arrived at a choice.

“We’re going to find out.”  His voice was level, deep.  “When it comes to change,” – he held his hand out to Kennedy, encouraging her to place her hand in his – “nothing is more difficult to change than belief systems.”  He smiled gently at her.  “Even when the possibility for revolutionary change is coded in.  And it is here.”

“Oh bleh,” the dragon yawned, “The aristocrat somehow lost the freedom to challenge herself.  Simple as that.  And dragged in all of those atomic world prejudices, sensibilities, labels, group think, social structure.   Dragged it all in here.  Like a dump trunk.  It was to much for her.  It crushed her.  She lost the freedom…”

“That can’t be entirely true,” Kennedy said.  “The freedom is here.  Everywhere.”  Vystar paused and smiled softly.

“It’s the will.”  Vystar’s voice and Kennedy’s voice weaved together, in unison.  “It’s the choosing,” Kennedy said while studying Vystar’s open palm.  She put her hand in his.  They stood together, facing each other.  Under the surface, Kennedy’s blood pushed through her veins.  She knew she wasn’t suppose to be able to feel that.  But she did.  Through her very digital DNA…and atomic DNA.  Both.  She marveled.  And wondered.  And gazed into the universes he presented.

“Okay,” she said breathlessly before corralling her insides, “how are we going to find her?”

The corners of Vystar’s mouth lifted.  The edges of his eyes crinkled.  “Religio,” he whispered. 

“Excuse me?”

“God.  Belief system.  A rose by any other name, it’s all the same.  And we all have it.”  He squeezed her hand, so very small compared to his.  He extended his arm, and with his free hand, pointed a finger to feather all the glistening universes that spun, expanded, contracted, expanded again around them.  He landed his fingertip on the brightest, biggest system.  He winked slightly at Kennedy and said, “We’re chasing dogma.”

And in that instant, Vystar and Kennedy whispered along the universes.