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There is a real Garden of Eden; a place where serenity and life, all life, co-exist yet today in America. One watching the news, combing the Internet hyperbole about the State of the Nation or simply attempting to survive in the resultant chaos of ignorance, corrupt government and power greed, may doubt that, but it is a fact. I just spent a month there, healing. And, being further educated, a life-long process if one is attuned to it. Perhaps, it's part of the Divine Evolution of things.

A portion of the Eden of which I speak, though, is another state, the State of Mind. No, I'm not going to get all metaphysical on you, but that, too, is a fact. I read a profound statement yesterday. Not sure of the source; I believe it was on an auto-signature on an email. It said, "If you have bad thoughts in your mind, it's because you put them there." It was, for me, like a stamp of "genuine" on a realization that came to me at the edge of Chugach. Chugach dwells in Alaska, in the heart of a National Forest nestled at the feet of the Chugach Mountain chain, a part of the Brooks Range which is part of the Alaskan Range. It's difficult to ascertain sometimes where one range ends and another begins as Alaska consists of mountains, forests, snow, ice, and strolling glaciers and their silt-milky wild rivers. And, in summer, the most magnificent display of wildflowers my eyes have ever encountered.

We, in the lower forty-eight tend to think of all Alaskan natives as Eskimos. The native peoples are somewhat offended by this labeling as it is like calling all Native American indians, Apaches. The natives of Alaska also had individual tribes and cultures depending on the region in which they dwelled. The Chugach peoples of southcentral Alaska comprise a collection that touches the heart and spirit as well as the mind. They illustrate traditional beliefs of a unique group that blends Yupik Eskimo, Aleut, Athabascan and Tlingit cultures. The word "Chugach" may have derived from the Alutiiq meaning "people way over there" as Cook Inlet separated them in the Kenai Peninsula region thousands of years ago.

It was said that these native peoples lived "on the edge of human habitat," including the now Siberians and Canadians, all referred to as Eskimos. They believed strongly in the Spirit of Nature and that all living things had souls. If a tree was felled or an animal was taken in the hunt, they blessed it for its sacrifice and not one sinew was wasted. They still live that way in most areas. I shudder to think what must go through their minds when they see trophy hunters invade and shoot wolves from airplanes for sport. Native taxidermists in Alaska do most of their work on already old, injured perished animals then used in educating the people in museums and cultural centers. Only the transient whites kill animals for pelts, profit and fun.

Having arrived in Fairbanks on Summer Solstice replete with festival honoring the heavens and the sun bringing the short growing season, I returned to Florida on this past Thursday after exactly one month of daylight, very cool temperatures and re-learning the art of layering clothing. And silence! Silence, but for the calls of the forest creatures. One month in Eden.  

I de-planed in Sarasota still donning my two sweaters, my new Alaskan fleece jacket and very cool Alaskan Bush hat. Exiting the airport, I ran into a wall of lingering 96 degree heat, 98 percent humidity, the darkness of a night sky and NOISE! People almost rudely milling for their luggage, their transportation, exhaust spewing from the shuttle busses and sirens blaring on US41. It was that "back to earth" feeling. I could almost feel the tiredness already creeping back into my soul. That is, IF I let it.

But a travelogue, a history lesson, a nature treatise, or glaring opposites  of a spectrum are not the subject of this column. The subject is simply this – I learned something. Our world of stress and hard times is self-created to a point. Communally created to another point. We ARE responsible for the thoughts we put into our minds, what we choose to think. That's not to say we need sit around in a meditative trance, ignore the wrong doing, or remain eternally blissful and calm. That is not even humanly possible. Yet, it is to say we must learn to deal with it productively.  

I discovered what the world lacks more than anything, including jobs, services, resources, security, God in our lives, or government OUT of them is respect. Plain old simple respect. Respect for each other, other cultures, the earth, the animals, the weather, the religions, or lack of them. Every bad or evil thing stems from lack of respect for SOMETHING.

In Alaska, I learned that respect and love are not two different things. They are the same concept and cannot exist one without the other at least in degree. To maintain a political tone to this column, I'll phrase it this way. We may not love or respect an element or part of our government, a non-functional congress for example, but to have any order we must at least respect our Constitution and go about change with good and positive thoughts in our mind rather than our power resting on the failure of another.  

We should ALL strive for the same things in the end by knowing what our Constitution is all about, then honoring it whether we agree with everything or not. There's nothing wrong with individuality, either. We only must respect everyone's right to that same individualism regardless if it is different than ours. I'm speaking in a species voice here, not just an American’s voice or an individual's voice. I truly believe that we are all but fibers in a huge Universal web designed by a Supreme or Divine Force. If one fiber or strand is destroyed by the actions or thoughts of another, the entire system, as we know it, goes down fiber by fiber. Just think about that a while.

Alaska IS our last American real frontier. There are some precious wilderness areas in the continental states and the oceans, too, though threatened. If we do nothing else as a generation, we better demand, collectively world wide, no matter the cost, their preservation or we'll leave our progeny a wasteland where even simple survival will be a drastic challenge.  

These are the kinds of subjects I'd like to discuss, even debate, here for the good of all with input welcome. I'm frankly amazed, at what entered my head on a simple trip to simpler times.

Be safe,
Susan Haley        


 **Susan Haley is the published author of three books, several articles on networking, an award-winning poet, contract copy editor, and book reviewer for AME Marketing. She is a columnist for The Florida Writer the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, and serves as Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. She is a frequent contributor to the Fox and Quill and the Infinite Writer e-zines and the political columnist for Fabulously 40 and Beyond out of San Diego.  

The audio version of her novel Rainy Day People was awarded in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various newsletters and local papers, and is Founder and Designer of a Spiritual website dedicated to Nature. Her third book, Amber Returns to Maine and Other Songs of the Soul was released in March 2010. All are available on

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Jul 25, 2010
    • Welcome back! :) I would love to see your pictures. Can you post those here?

      The writing is definitely on the wall - we have to use another form of energy. It is such a shame that wind and solar hasn’t been pursued seriously before now. To think that a few making big money from oil has stopped our forward progress is certainly a lame reason to keep destroying pristine lands. We all should respect our living home. It seems that it is taken so for granted. I know I worry about what we will be leaving for our kids and grandkids. Imagine if the only wild land they would see would be in history books?

      You are so right about respect and with respect comes responsibility. Maybe it is time for the people to take back our own responsibility and let the politicians see us in action giving respect to our home and pursuing new energy forms. Funny to think that solar and wind energy are new forms for the scientific community that has come so far that I tend to think that humankind can do just about anything. What a wonderful thing to be striving for positive thought energy. We do create what we imagine. It is the first step to anything and everything.

      Have you ever looked at the wilderness and then thought about everything that has been produced from it? Literally every single product came from our beautiful home. We need balance. . .

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jul 25, 2010
    • Respect...... I like that! Can you imagine what would happen if for one day only we all went forward with respect. Hmmmmmm the possibilities!

      I would love to hear more about your tripheart

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Nerissa wrote Jul 25, 2010
    • Positive Energy YEAH what a wonderful world it could be. I can envision it and it sets my mind free, free from all negativity. Thank you and God Bless you and everyone in this great world! I too would love to see your pictures.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Denise Richardson wrote Jul 25, 2010
    • heartAwesome, simply awesome, I love the staement about the Garden of Eden being in the state of mind and this is so true i try hard to remain in that state of mind. I try to keep a Garden of Eden state of mind on a daily basis, thank you so much for sharing this post I hope many come to read it and find happiness in it.heartheartheart

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Jul 25, 2010
    • Thank you all for such kind and accepting comments to my ramblings. It’s very comforting to me to realize many share my, what I call “soul songs“. Beautiful comments, all.  

      I’d be happy to share highlights of the trip when I can get the photos developed and scanned for jpg format. In the interim, my daughter-in-law is keeping a beautiful and professionally done travel blog called “The Haley Hiatus.” It covers their travels since leaving home on the 1st of February on a year long sabattical from their jobs in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  

      My son is very conscious of losing his dad at the young age of 55, so they were determined to do this grand tour while alive and healthy. They saved diligently for it. Fortunately, they are both professionals, he an architect and she an attorney with no children, so such a thing was possible. For most, it isn’t. Believe me, they are most grateful and feel blessed. The url for the blog is: which may have to be copied and pasted as I’m not sure how to make an active link here.
      Sometimes Karen gets behind in postings because of lack of signals in the wilderness, but the Alaska posts I was part of start with Fairbanks. All posts of the entire trip are archived on the left column.  

      Me, a widowed-young, middle-class worker, and a starving artist writer, am most fortunate that they also make it possible for me to do things I could not otherwise do. Knowing my avid devotion to Nature and critical thinking about Spiritual aspects, they feel it is my just reward when health issues call for a “real” healing. Nature in the Divine sense, heals me.

      I feel it’s my responsibility to follow my heart and share relevent ponderings and conclusions, not push or preach, or use as a stage to blow my own horn and writings, but just share as seeds of thought. I sense a readership here of caring and intelligent people open to ideas I’d want them to ponder for themselves. Plus, I relish your input and ideas too.  

      My goal is seeking reverance for our earthly home, not kudos to assuage my own ego or elevate book sales. I’ve lived too long to worry about ego or recognition. I write for those who choose to read or happen by my work. I owe you and all my readers a debt of gratitude.  

      I especially want to thank our founder, Yana Berlin, for so generously supporting me here at Fab 40 even when my health issues cause me to miss deadlines. She is a special friend to all of us.

      Please feel free to share thoughts or ask questions. I’ll do my utmost to answer them.


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Ladisheets wrote Aug 2, 2010
    • Susan

            I enjoyed your insite so much. I live in Alaska and love it here.I am glad you found so much peace on your trip.
      Living in that Garden of eden frame of mind is what i try for everyday.                Your writing is wonderful.

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