Posted by: Noni | July 19, 2020

A Rose by any other name

Over the years I’ve had different names, labels and titles given to me. 

Willam Shakespeare

When I was born, my parents selected Alison Marie Young as my name. Tragically, my father died when I was just a toddler. A few years later my mother remarried and my name became Alison Fletcher. Unfortunately that marriage ended in divorce.

Years passed again and I became Alison Richards, this name change was done officially since I was adopted by my mother and her new husband. A mere four years later, I got married and took the last name of my husband, Grootendorst.

After failing to make a doomed union succeed I got divorced and I reclaimed the name Richards.  I lived with my next partner for nearly ten years. I could have taken the name Donovan but since I’d had so many different identities already changing again didn’t make sense. 

Ancestral heritage is reflected in our names. Titles are given to us at birth or acquired through marriage but do they say who we are? More accurately they indicate who our ancestors were or who our spouse is. 

But does that name belong to us? I’ve recently questioned my identity, my name, because when I came to publish this series I didn’t know what name to use. None seem to belong to the person who I am today.

The only name I’ve given myself is Noni and that’s because I was very young, still in my thirties, when I became a grandmother. I didn’t want to be called Grandma or Granny or Nana because they sounded incredibly old. I didn’t see myself as haggard and grey so I searched online for alternative names for grandmother. 

I came up with Noni, which is a variation of the Italian Nona.  It’s the only name I’ve e ver given myself and the one I feel the most comfortable with, the one that fits me the best.

Throughout our lives we collect nicknames or titles like; sweetheart, pumpkin, doctor, lawyer, your honor, punk, teacher, waitress, officer… but really, is that who you are? Or is that title that someone’s appointed you? Did it come from years of study or decades of friendship?

Our identity is a personal thing and it’s the same thing with language. At birth we’re given the language of our parents. If you live in China and your parents speak German you’re probably not going to speak Chinese as your 1st language. You’ll likely learn German first.

Maybe you’ll pick up Chinese at school or off TV but each of us are given a specific set of communication tools, our mother tongue, when we’re young and they contribute to making us who we are. Our language becomes part of our identity just as a name does.

The first language we learn, we learn intuitively. We learned by mocking, mimicking and copying. We just pick it up. Children learn languages naturally. There are an unlimited number of languages that a child can learn to speak.

With the language we speak from birth, (because we absorb it naturally) history, origin and culture doesn’t influence our learning it. The logistics behind the language are assumed.

When we study the way we communicate (mostly non verbal) we can appreciate the importance not only selecting exact and specific wording but delivering it with tone and physical emphasis.

Through our experiences, words can take on new meaning. We attach memories and import to words. With lyrics or prose we can be emotionally moved from words. We adopt favorite expressions. Some words have more meaning for us than others.

This is true also with names.

For me, my name just doesn’t fit. because it’s not my name it’s a name that was given to me. So in the end I decided to start using the name Alison Noni and I answer to both.  For some reason Noni is the name I feel most comfortable with. Maybe we should have a tradition where on their 13th birthday everybody picks their own name. That makes absolute sense to me. 

I remember when I was a kid and hanging out with my gang of girls. We would be playing house, or school or store and we’d all change names.  Everybody would have a different name. Heather would use the name Beth and Anne would use the name Margaret. It’s strange how we always want to have something different than what we have. Maybe that’s because the name that’s been given us doesn’t necessarily suit us, or fit us.

Perhaps our name was passed down from one of our grandmothers, or from our aunt? It may have suited them; it belonged to them, but it doesn’t necessary belong to us. 

It’s really interesting how these labels that we put on people also affect our perception. When I was selecting names for my children, leafing through a book I’d come across a name and think, Ugh!! I can’t use that name, that person was horrible!

A name can become favorable or distasteful based on our past experiences with someone of that calling. Like the flip side, [she] was so sweet, that would be an ideal name for my daughter….  

Entire families have been split by agreement over a name. It’s subjective, like art, either you like a name or not. I find that most often our opinion is based on identifying with our past experiences. I had a friend called Napoleon and I wondered why his parents would give him a name associated with a negative complex for short people. Funny thing is, he was short! 

Some names take on a bigger context through their historical importance. When we hear names like William the Conqueror, Alexander the Great, Benedict Arnold and Julius Cesar we think about their character and deeds. 

In the end I picked names that I thought had a nice sound. I had a challenge finding ones that went well with the last name. Also important are the initials. I love that my initials from birth are a name in and of themselves, A.M.Y. (Amy).

I attempted to pick names for my children that had tradition behind them. The concept of naming rituals in indigenous cultures appeals to me. Some name their children after elements in nature.  It makes sense since you’re connected to that moment in time, like with the name Running Bear or Rising Sun. Much like the moment of your birth is documentation of that time in history.

When you go through a search for names many details can affect your selection. The choice of spelling can affect an outcome in numerology. Mixing two names together can create a tongue twister or give secondary meaning. Imagine poor young Richard Head when a local bully insists on calling him Dick. 

The naming traditional has been going on since beginning of mankind. We need to call each other something, “Hey you” doesn’t work with 30 kids in a classroom. I understand names are a necessary way of identifying ourselves. When you refer to somebody in a conversation you say, “The other day I saw Jack.” or “Last week I went shopping with Mary” so people know who you’re talking about. If you say, “I saw that guy the other day” it’s less specific.  

I understand the purpose of the names, I understand why we use the names but the way we get them seems to be quite archaic.  I find it odd that they’re given to us instead of us selecting our own. I think a name should self appointed the same way, when we get to a certain age, we start picking our own clothes, choosing our own style and deciding how we want to wear our hair. 

We go through an early period where our parents are molding and shaping us. Then in our teens we begin becoming our own person. I think a coming of age ceremony should also include a naming ceremony where we choose a name for ourselves.

Many ancient cultures had traditions where young men go into solitary for rites of passage to manhood. They embark on a quest to find themselves. After 10 days of fasting in the desert or a month alone in the jungle to prove independence they return with a new identity. Whatever they’ve chosen for themselves is anchored to their experience with reality in the present not someone else’s hope for what they may become. 

No matter what our name is, some will like it and others will scoff at it.  I don’t think we should be worried what popularity the name affords as long as we’re happy with it. 

I’ve always liked the name Alison and was happy that my parents selected a name that couldn’t be turned into a bad joke or misrepresent me through association with someone else. Growing up, I didn’t know any other Alison to compare myself to so it never took on a tainted nature. 

After having so many different last names, a time came in my life where I decided that they were meaningless. Some may argue that our surname or family name is more important than our first but family bloodlines aside; it’s who we are inside that matters most.

As Shakespeare once wrote:

What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose,
by any other name would smell as sweet.

A name is what you make of it, it doesn’t make you.

~ Noni

Posted by: Noni | July 17, 2020

Serendipitous Inspiration

Chapora Goa, India

Sometimes we find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Last night I lay in bed thinking about how I’ve been procrastinating on finishing a project. I identified fear as the primary explanation; fear of rejection, repercussions/retaliation, alienation and a cursed blend of both fear of failure and success.  I‘d held many secrets over the years but it wasn’t until an investigative journalist inadvertently exposed my identity that I felt compelled to create documentation, both to protect me and to expose my truths.

On May 1st, 2019 I landed in New Delhi where I would embark on another of many life changing adventures. I had hired a cameraman from Kerala who would also be my guide/interpreter as we filmed in spectacular locations around India. On July 18th we parted, Ragesh for home in Kerala and me with over 20 hours of footage, caught the night bus from Mumbai to Mapusa.  

A daunting task lay ahead. It would take weeks to review and assess the material before preparing it for publication. I had pre-arranged lodging in Goa for the 3 month long monsoon season. Unrealistically, I thought that would be plenty of time. Now, one year later, the project is in its final stages but I’m unhappy with the website, don’t feel satisfied with the visual presentation of the content and am overwhelmed at the amount of work yet needed bring it to an acceptable state.

Living in a foreign country during the global Corona Virus lockdown has been a unique opportunity for me. Daily observation of the locals, following governmental policies, studying medical and logistical response to the pandemic, monitoring global news (from an Eastern perspective) and analyzing data from international sources has proved to confirm my position that the entire world is choking the grips of power hungry billionaires. I know now, more than ever, my stories resonate with important truths that beg to be heard. 

I prayed for a sign that I was on the right track. Insecurities were crippling my passion and drowning my convictions.  Despite a leaning towards being an anti-vaxxer, I knew I needed a proverbial shot in the arm.

This morning I got it, a double dosage.

I woke up well rested and tidied my desk as water boiled for coffee. The power had been off all night so I hastily plugged in my electronics to recharge. I picked up a booklet which sat atop an accumulation of receipts, post cards, cryptic notes scribbled on scraps of paper on the corner of my desk.

World Heritage Series, OLD GOA

I had purchased the World Heritage publication last summer while touring India. My plans were to spend monsoon season holed-up in an apartment in Shiolim, near OLD GOA, where I could review recordings and edit text transcriptions. The booklet provided a sneak peek of the southern state I was scheduled to move to. 

Unfortunately or not, a series of events derailed the 3 month strategy putting the project on a much slower trajectory.  Delays, broken commitments, weak communication and unfair transactions with collaborators gave me a harsh lesson on business practices in India. The setbacks gave me the chance to reinvent and reform my marketing and social media strategies.

I opted to push aside new deadlines in order to enjoy Goa’s festive tourist season but what I didn’t forecast would be further delays when COVID19 infected the planet. I lost additional momentum for the storytelling project when I shifted my attention to the global pandemic. 

The past 4 months have been packed full with investigation, research and verification but with minimal satisfaction. Eventually I lost interest in reading propaganda and articles from the United Nations (et al) on their plans for a New World Order. The futility of the situation frustrated me.  Each day I spent increasingly more time retreating into nature and less time actually writing and working. Pointless exchanges on social media swallowed up huge chunks of time. I found more and more problems and less and less solutions. 

Besides the obvious upsets brought on by the lockdown, I experienced a series of emotional upheavals in the past year including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety and fear.  They were not COVID induced but rather the results of dredging up my personal story. 

I had set the intention to rise early this morning and do some writing. I examined the booklet about Historic Old Goa and realized a full year had passed and I still hadn’t visited. I settled in a comfortable chair and sipped my coffee as I read about the history, architectural styles and Christian indoctrination bought by the Portuguese.  

Skimming the introduction and a section outlining the history of Goa, one particular name drew my attention, Ibn Battuta.

Ibn Battuta visited Goa in AD 1342

A flood of images and memories surfaced from my time spent in the United Arab Emirates. During 2008 and 2009 I had lived in a Dubai housing development appropriately named, The Gardens. It was a well established community with recreational areas, swimming pools and ample green space surrounding the residential blocks. My apartment was located within a 5 minute walk of the famed Ibn Battua Mall which offered everything from grocery stores, to restaurants, to movie theaters. 

I sat staring at the name in the book. It brought me back to a critical turning point in my story. The beginning of what was to become a nightmare for me. Dubai was where I met the man that would set me on a journey of love, betrayal and espionage. I considered the connection to Ibn Battuta a gentle nod from the Universe that I best get back to my writing.  But before I put the booklet down I was driven by curiosity to see who the publishers were. 

Good Earth Publications, New Delhi

I was momentarily taken aback as I read the name, Good Earth Publications. It didn’t sound like an Indian designation. Instead, my uncle Bruce sprang to mind. Bruce Young wrote a book in the 1970‘s called Hotel California.  The essay was the culmination of years of research plus a year of investigation directly in Mexico and neighboring Guatemala.  The contents, controversial both then and now, exposed manipulation by the United States government, powerful businessmen and the Central Intelligence Agency who through various contractors who were believed to be controlling oil resources south of the border.

After my first trip to South America I returned to Canada to pursue research of my own into dealings of mining companies who were devastating both the Andes Mountains and Amazon rainforest in Peru. In the course of my investigations I was reminded of the book and prompted to revisit its contents. I searched for a copy of the book online however none were to be found so in May 2017 I contacted my cousin John to see if he had a copy of his dad’s manuscript. 

I had vague memories of its contents having read it nearly 40 years prior. I wanted to confirm the possibility that uncle Bruce was forced to self publish because he had named names and called out the major players in a corrupted industry.

It must have taken Bruce Young tremendous courage to self publish especially after the tragedy of losing his wife.  On January 7th, 1976 my aunt, Brenda Young, was murdered in the family’s shop in North Vancouver. The Good Earth sold hippie fair; feather earrings and leather pouches, and a colorful collection of artwork, accessories and clothing from Mexico and Guatemala.  My uncle also named his publication entity, Good Earth. 

I come from a long line of journalists and writers. My grandfather relocated his wife and 4 sons from Scotland to Canada after the war. Harry Watson Young was a longstanding editor for the daily paper in my hometown of Victoria.   I was heavily influenced by the success of my elders and considered the coincidence of publisher’s names to be a nod of support from my long deceased uncle. If he could overcome tragedy and opposition to complete his task, so could I. 

I’ve always followed my instincts in times of indecision, while listening and watching for guidance from the Universe. Today I received two messages, one to remind me of the deception and heartbreak in my story and the second to bolster my confidence to complete and share it.

It’s as much a work in progress as I am so I better get busy and get it done!

Follow this link to discover Ally’s Thali on (video storytelling website)

The first 3 of 30 chapters are available now. Enjoy!

This morning’s inspirational moments demand release of the next three episodes.  Stay tuned…

~ Alison aka Noni

Posted by: Noni | July 5, 2020

The New Normal  – A Poem

Confined by fear and uncertainty. 

Billions cowering like well trained dogs.

Masked, distanced and conforming as instructed.

Lashing out at dissenters …those, murderous, selfish beasts.

Hoarders snatching from each other’s loaded carts.

Less fortunate begging for meager rations.

Social media the venting ground. 

Algorithms silence legitimacy for consistencies sake.

Citizens betrayed by those they trust.

Together We Can, Be safe/Stay home, Black Lives Matter.

A barrage of slogans clogging our feeds and our minds. 

Swallowing a pill called Democracy.

Our votes an illusion cloaked in the deceit of election.

Candidate Blue or Candidate Red; same Puppet Masters.

Billions enslaved by a few. 

Days playing out like a sci-fi thriller.

Bio warfare, DEW’s, social engineering; …weapons of the elite.

Rigged systems, electoral fraud and decayed education fuel our demise.

Social media amplifying fear, division and suspicion.

Conspiracy Theory, Fake News, Russian Bots and Chinese Trolls.

Injustice sparks public outrage.

Balled up fists and cardboard signs collide in futility.

Mainstream News masquerading as impartial authority.

Celebrities with megaphones regurgitating hypocrisy. #MeToo.

We share a prison made of our own stupidity. 

Rub the sleep from your eyes. 

Turn on your critical thinking.   

Search for, and arm yourself, with truth.

Question everything, verify all.

Never give in, to the new normal.


Posted by: Noni | July 1, 2020

Announcing, Earth One Media

Please see the full story on my new website.

The vision for EARTH ONE MEDIA took over 5 years to become reality. (Although, it will always be a work in progress)

The soft-launch of the website was May 29th, 2020. It has been reviewed by a select group of participants and is being updated accordingly with a revised layout and simpler, quicker accessibility.

Don’t neglect to check out the video stories as well. 30 episodes were recorded all over India in summer 2019.

This about page shares the full history and current status of the organization.

The first 3 Episodes of Ally’s Thali (an Earth One Media production) have been posted for premiere viewers. One new episode will be posted each week and be sure to make a membership (free) so you can comment and join the conversation.

True Stories filmed in India

Be sure to leave a comment, like and confirm that you are subscribed.

Posted by: Noni | July 1, 2020

Multi Lingual Mastery

Thank you Denis Dossmann for sharing this meme. When I read it I was overwhelmed with such a sense of wonderment and pride. I could read it without hesitation!

In 2012 I suffered a stroke that affected my memory and mental acuity. The Neurologist suggested I take up a musical instrument or study a language in order to re-train and exercise my brain. I choose French and moved to Montreal for full immersion. It took 14 months of full time study then another year and a half of practice before I became bilingual.

Learning a second language after the age of 50 holds challenges (sans les problèmes médicaux) without brain injury.

I continue to push myself into new territory having also learned basic Spanish while living in South America.

Today I’m facing new barriers because Hindi, the main language in India, has a completely different alphabet and structure. Can’t read it like French or Spanish which use A-Z along with a few accents.

Damage to both ear drums makes it even harder with hearing loss and tone limitations…. I have no idea what the words are supposed to sound like. Trial and error can be exhaustive but eventually I am able to reproduce proper pronunciation.

Language has broadened my horizons and given me a gift of cultural understanding.

It’s never too late to learn new tricks.
The rewards can bring more than you expected.


Goa, India
Posted by: Noni | June 12, 2020


I was invited to attend a bird festival in Goa earlier this year and the adventure turned into a productive project to promote eco tourism and conservation.

I’m blessed to be able to participate in such important events and my love of nature and especially my feathered friends resonates with each word I speak.

Please enjoy this beautiful masterpiece created by a team of dedicated artists who have made outstanding achievements at capturing the marvels of Nature.

Posted by: Noni | June 8, 2020

Earth One Media – Rabbit Holes

From Vancouver to Los Angeles to Dubai to the Amazon jungle, I was led on a journey because I listened for instructions from the Universe.

Introduction to Ally’s Thali

My first attempt to document these events was back in 2010. I created a website, a lead character (NONI), avatars and artwork to entice an audience who would guide me on a quest in search of prince charming. 

I called it Noni’s Happy Ending and the idea was to explore and travel until I found a suitable ending for my tale. I opened myself to all type’s of possibilities.  I listened to encouraging speeches from my well meaning friends who assured me that I would find a lovely ending for my story. I deserved that, so much of my life had been drama and tragedy; it was my destiny to find my happiness.

Or perhaps I still had lessons to learn?

I wasn’t ready to tell the story; I still had lots of healing  work to do before destiny would deliver my knight in shining armor.  Eight years later I finally realized that life is not a fairy tale. Life is fucking reality. It was time to let go and move on.

I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I didn’t want to feel embarrassed or stupid about what I had done, or more correctly what had been done to me. It was over. Living in fear of retaliation or discovery was killing my spirit. It was time to reclaim my freedom. It was time to take control.

My plan was to purchase a small parcel of land, build a simple home and plant a sustainable garden. During the 6 months that I had lived up river from Puerto Maldonado, a small village in the Peruvian Amazon, I had learned about the medicinal power of many plants. 

I decided to create a healing center.

I had been shopping for land in Ecuador. My dream was to create a healing and meditation garden that featured traditional medicine plants from around the world. After much searching I found a plot of land on the northwest coast of Ecuador that was ideal.  Esmeraldas met my desired ultimate dream offering both beachfront and fertile farmland for plant medicine cultivation.

The location was perfect for food production as well since the soil was incredibly fertile due to having an estuary close by.  I was dumbfounded to find oceanfront property, at an affordable price, conveniently near a natural bird sanctuary and with Mangrove trees at the shoreline.  Bonus points also for perfect neighbors! A small technicality prevented my purchase; it was considerably out of my price range. Since Trump’s presidency the dollar was higher and stronger than ever. Ecuador utilizes US currency and a modest land transaction was going to cost me to lose several thousand on the exchange from Canadian currency.

So, instead of borrowing the difference or negotiating a smaller plot of land, I came up with a brilliant plan.  My idea was to travel to India and spend 6 months writing a book about the failed relationship that I was determined to keep a secret. For years, literally years, I had listened to people exclaim, “You should write a book! Your life is like a movie!” 

I figured my story was like an ace in the hole. I could easily earn back the cost of the project and a nice sum to set my plans in action for the meditation gardens.

I didn’t need a bunch of people telling me, it’s full blown Technicolor, no doubt that my life is like a movie.  Let’s go down the rabbit hole shall we?

Oh, speaking of rabbit holes, do you ever feel like the Universe is trying to send you messages? Well, mine seem to show up as murals in places I live.  After many months of tweeting with the hash tag #followthewhiterabbit I checked into a hostel in Northern Peru to continue laying low. 

The previous 6 months I had been living in a remote sanctuary in the Amazon jungle. Upon a recommendation I booked a volunteer experience in a tiny seaside village where I would help out with reception and housekeeping at a surf hostel. The arrangement was that if I worked for 4 hours per day at the reception desk I would receive accommodations and a staff meal. 


The arrangement was a perfect since I was on limited budget. Volunteering would allow me to stay longer without spending too much money. When the manager of the hostel showed me to my sleeping quarters I was dumbfounded to see that a mural of Alice in Wonderland was painted on the front of my room.  There, right on the door was the white rabbit himself!

It was incredibly comforting to receive a message from the Universe which seemed to be telling me I was in the right place. I moved in happily. 

There have been many more signs since that one, each coming at a time when I was in transition from once place to another. I kept listening intently to make sure I was doing the right thing.  Sometimes when we’re focused on something we keep seeing it. Like when you’re trying to quit eating sweets but everywhere you go, all you see is deserts and candies. I realize that Alice in Wonderland is an internationally renowned story and the fact that it showed up at the place I was staying could have been random coincidence but I don’t think so. Especially since I rented a small apartment in India where I had planned to edit and package my videos. When I entered the hallway to my new “hideout” in Goa I found it to have a white rabbit painted right inside the doorway.


I once again was reassured that I was in the correct place. I decided to extend my stay in Goa to complete the project there. I unpacked my backpack for the first time in almost a year. It felt good to have a place for my toothbrush and cupboard for my clothes but the top perk of having my own space again was the kitchen.  Oh, how I love to cook!

I posted a message on a Goa Life Facebook group seeking help in editing the content that I had collected over the years. I was excited to have invented a new storytelling technique but afraid it could potentially fail.  

Fear was the all too familiar emotion that flashed its frightening face throughout this process. The trick was to slay those fears and move forward confidently. People use words like courageous and brave to describe me but I didn’t agree, I’m driven by sheer stubbornness and the desire to expose the truth. I refuse to be silenced any longer. I am done being manipulated and will not conform to the social engineering or media influences.

There are 2 things you can never hide, eventually they show up and shine light, the sun and the truth.

Copyright © 2020 Alison Richards, All rights

Introduction to Ally’s Thali

Posted by: Noni | January 29, 2020

Crocodile Ceremony

When a friend called to invite me to a ceremony for crocodiles I had no idea what to expect. We spent the morning in the wetlands of south Goa searching for rare and exotic birds then ate lunch and drove to a small village outside Margoa to meet the locals who would share their annual ritual with us.

Wetlands near Margao, Goa

We arrived in a quiet farming region with a small lake and irrigation channels where the annual ceremony would take place. The event was scheduled for 3 pm but like most timings in India started a few hours later.

Typical dwelling for agricultural or fishing families

There was only a handful of attendees but I was to learn later that besides the locals I was amongst the world experts on Crocodiles. The first step was to clear a spot beside the dyke and start bringing mud up from the river.

There was a journalist from Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and a filmmaker who were also documenting the ritual.

The farmers shaped the mud to form a crocodile after which they decorated with shells; using straw to depict the claws. The crude form was then adorned with flowers and offerings were prepared while prayers recited and incense burned

The men used shells and flowers to adorn the mud sculpture
Local family names are called from a book to verify their attendance. Those who don’t participate are held responsible for any future attacks.
They tied knots in an accounting string that shows each family who were represented. (All males)
An egg was placed in a hole at the top of the crocodile but apparently in past they used live chickens.

We also visited a site at the other end of the village where another group had left their offering.

No one knows how long this puja has been used or how many people’s lives have been spared but there are still random occasional attacks.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness these precious moments. Since last May I have be privy to a plethora of experiences that date back hundreds or thousands of years. The culture and history of India is fascinating and marvelous and I have learned many valuable lessons from this exotic land.

Please share and subscribe.

Namaste 🕉

Posted by: Noni | December 22, 2019

Looking back at 2019

One of my most incredible experiences in 2019 was teaching in India. I didn’t come India to teach. I came to write a book. I surprised myself by doing both.When I first arrived in India my camera operator was delayed so I decided to volunteer at an English school, 2 hours by train from Calcutta’s Howrah Station was a rural village, Panskura.When I arrived it was a fews days before Ramadan and I was being hosted by a Muslim family. After one day to settle in I was immediately thrust into classes. We had two age groups of students.Over the next 3 weeks I learned a great deal. With mix of half and half Hindu/Muslim I was given instruction on both belief systems. My students enthusiastically shared their culture and traditions.I even got lessons on the rules for CRICKET. The final day before leaving, a couple of the girls came to take to the small farmland they came from. I didn’t realize that they lived over an hour away from the school.

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