I am…

Who are you?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? I’m pretty sure most people have at one time or another.

Some people tend to rephrase by asking it a different way. They ask, what am I doing here?

There does seem to me to be a connection and answering one may lead you to the answer for the other.

A long time ago I chose to participate in an exercise of self-discovery, where I posed a simple question, “who am I?”

I challenged myself to provide 100 answers to see what would happen.

If you want to try this for yourself, you may want to stop reading now and come back after your list is completed.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to do this exercise now and would prefer to live vicariously through me, please feel free to continue reading.

Since it had been years since I’d done this, I decided to repeat the process. I opened a notebook and listed numbers down the left side, starting with 1 and ending at 100, then began writing whatever came to me.

I found that my answers came in spurts. I’d list all of the relationships I could think of; I am a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, friend… until I ran dry.

Nothing would come immediately, then other answers would jump out, having to do with my interests, talents and skills. Things like; I am a driver, bill payer, artist, writer, speaker, football fan, painter, dishwasher, swimmer, drip castle maker… the list grew considerably.

I’m not saying I’m good at all of the things “I am…”, but, I am them.  A lot of them.

The breadth of my answers surprised me. Hobbies, things I do at church, help I provide my family, things my wife and I do while traveling. A very diverse list began to appear.

Despite the breadth, I was still far short of the one hundred answers I hoped to find. So, I dug deeper and began listing all of the attributes I believe I possess; I am loving, caring, valuable, a dreamer, thinker, conversationalist, reader, sleuth, happy…

Even adding all of my attributes I needed a few more. I thought about all of my spiritual experiences and answers came, like; I am a retreat leader, healer, message giver, website post writer, energy worker…

And what about the obvious, yes…I am human.

Finally, I completed my whole list. It wasn’t without a lot of struggle and not for the ‘faint of heart’ because of the challenges it presented. But, it was a beautiful opportunity to look within and reveal things to myself.

I discovered that “I am…” far more than I initially thought and many of my answers show how deeply I am connected to others in this world. And, it made me want to stay connected. In fact, it made me want to grow and share and be more a part of others’ lives. Not bad for a deceptively simple exercise.

Now for the epilogue.

If you are super adventurous and want to really go deep, try turning the page in your notebook and numbering from 1 to 100 and do it all again, ** without repeating any prior answer**.

“I am…attempting to complete this”. If you choose to do the same, I’d love to hear what you discover.

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Was Buddha Worried About His Weight?

One day I was wondering about all of the diets there are around, so I decided to investigate a little. A quick search of the internet produced thirty-nine diets, identifying their strong and weak points.

It was mind boggling.

How could anyone ever hope to understand all of the differences between them and conclude which would be the best to try, if in fact, you wanted to try one at all?

The specifics of each diet change depending on the emphasis of the plan. Many diets support the idea of increasing fruit, vegetables, fish and plant-based foods. Others capitalize on certain foods groups to counter physical conditions like, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardio concerns or to improve mental functioning. In all the cases I read about, nutrition and safety play a major role, but there seems to be a significant difference of opinion, depending on the expert who is providing the information.

Some diets are notoriously difficult to follow, while others make it too challenging to understand the differences between good and bad food items or some other key components.

In many cases there are supporting statements made to attempt to convince a potential dieter of the values or reasons for the individual plans. For instance, some report that the Paleo Diet says, “that if cavemen didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t either.”

It wasn’t until my mid 60’s that I felt the need for a diet. A gradual increase in my weight each year suggested I would be in trouble if I didn’t make some immediate changes.

So, off I went to Weight Watchers.

Their program stresses adherence to certain point goals (each food is assigned a point value) and highly recommends attendance at weekly meetings, to monitor weight and participate in conversations with other members, guided by an instructor.

I did, in fact, reach my goal and have been mostly successful in maintaining it, within a reasonable range.

What all of the instructors say is, that to be truly successful, you have to change your mind-set about your relationship with food. Merely altering what you eat for a short time, even though it might produce some results, will fail in the long run.

I believe they are correct.

I believe there is a lot more involved that allows a person to achieve their weight goals. Or, for that matter, any goals they might have.

This is where Buddha comes in.

Have you ever seen a picture of Buddha with a large belly? I bet you have. Do you think Buddha spent any time concerned about his weight? I doubt it.

Bear in mind here (BIG DISCLAIMER), I am not suggesting or recommending that you ignore the sound advice from your health professionals regarding any diet ideas they have, especially, if you have an obvious health concern.

What I do want to share is a thought about our ‘beliefs’, especially in relation to what we experience in life.

Considering all dieters, could the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, be their belief about the outcome they would experience, rather than the particular diet they were on?

If you substituted a different concept for dieting (academic, career, relationship, finances…), would it work the same way, meaning your outcome would be directly related to your belief about your outcome, rather than one of the individual steps you took?

It certainly feels to me like an important idea to consider, mostly because it alters the dynamic, shifting it from a conceptual form to one of belief, particularly if the belief is deep seated.

This idea is creating a shift in my mind-set about my food intake and maintaining my weight. What if I had a strong belief that it is not so much about what I eat, as it is about what I believe about what I eat?

That’s something I think Buddha would have something to say about.

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Light Switches

You may be saying to yourself, “a post about light switches, really?” Yes, really. Stick with me and see what you think.

Recently, my family and I went on vacation together in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. It is absolutely gorgeous country, with panoramic views of high peaks, rivers, lakes and heavily wooded hillsides. It is a sure reminder to me that I benefit from time spent in the wilderness. It renews me in a way nothing else does.

But, as with most every trip, before we could get there, there was a lot to do, starting with packing our two vehicles. We’d decided to take them both so it wouldn’t be so stressful deciding which things we could bring.

The downside of this mindset is that we brought far more stuff than we really needed. We’d say something to each other like, “Oh, there’s space, we’ll just bring it.”

As a result, both of our cars were pretty heavily laden, which meant a lot of time and energy to pack them before we left and to unpack once we got back.

We got a fairly early start for us and had already decided to eat at one of our favorite restaurants on the way there. This set us back a little time-wise, but it was worth it.

Upon arrival, we checked out the “cottage” and discovered it was more like a spectacular vacation home. It had four bedrooms, two and half bathrooms, a kitchen, a “great room” (a massive room with beautiful exposed pine paneling, from floor to ceiling, which was about twenty-five feet above us), a screened in porch, nice deck and access to two washers and two dryers. It was simply awesome.

After unloading the cars, we decided it was time to grab some dinner and treated ourselves to a wonderful meal at a local restaurant, before driving 15 miles to the nearest grocery store to buy our first round of provisions. By the time we got back, put away the groceries and arranged all of the stuff we’d brought with us, it was late and we were both pretty exhausted.

I went upstairs to the master bedroom and laid out all of my clothes on one of the storage shelves in the large walk-through closet, then brought my travel kit into the master bath. When I was done in the bathroom I turned off the lights. At least I thought I did.

It was still very bright, so I went back in and tried to turn off ALL of the switches. There are five in total (for one bathroom).

Nope, still very bright. What was going on?

By now I was overtired and not functioning particularly well. And, angry that I could not turn off the lights properly. I walked back into the bathroom, determined to accomplish this simple task.

It was then that I discovered two very large recessed sky lights, which were letting in a major amount of light. They were actually bathing the bathroom in a beautiful soft, warm glow.

My next thought was, “duh!”

That’s what I grew up saying to myself when something incredibly obvious had happened, meaning, “of course, you should have noticed this before.”

I immediately realized this is often a pattern for me, to make quick assumptions, as if they are facts. I know my fatigue was a factor, but, recognized the statement was still true. A part of me closes down and ignores some rather obvious things and I suffer needlessly because of these lapses. It would be so much better to step back when I encounter a situation that doesn’t make sense to me and breathe for a moment and take a whole new clear look at the issue.

This principle holds true for me for so many other situations and I hope to be able to remember the skylight story and the awareness it provided.

Just a funny FYI. The cottage had 55 switches in the parts we had access to. That’s more than double the number in my whole house, including my basement and garage. I’m glad for the ‘switch’ simplicity I have at home.

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Uncertainty

One of the things I find fascinating is that we usually pay attention to weather forecasts, hoping that our favorite forecaster is able to accurately predict what’s going to happen. My personal observation is that they are very often wrong, especially if it really matters, like when you try to plan a cook-out or a day at the beach.

And, believing that the weather is going remain true for any 10-day forecast is, I believe, as likely as winning the lottery.

I thought to myself, perhaps I’m being too harsh. Maybe I ought to investigate and see if there are any accuracy records being kept about the forecasts being made. It turns out that there are.

For calendar year 2020 in my area of the world, there were about twelve forecast networks evaluated and they ranged from 39%, all the way up to 79% accurate. Maybe I was just listening to the wrong forecaster and should shift to the most reliable one, The Weather Channel, in case you wanted to know.

Or perhaps I would benefit from accepting that the weather is unknowable and changeable at the drop of a hat.

It seems to me that we are generally uncomfortable with the idea that some things in life are a mystery. They are beyond our control, no matter how much we want to know the answer or feel a sense of certainty.

And, there is often a part of us that wants to believe that someone else knows and will share the answers with us and increase our comfort level. This seems to be true for the weather and it’s true for many other things as well.

Even though some folks might not be willing to freely admit it, many subscribe to fortune-telling in one of its many forms, like checking out their daily horoscope, seeing a psychic or having a Tarot or palm reading done. When we sense a lack of control over our lives and the outcomes of our actions, we tend to look for someone who can assure or reassure us that we are going to be okay.

I’ve had several Tarot readings in my life and have found them spectacularly accurate. While some others share the success I’ve experienced, there are those who believe they are utter nonsense. I take this to mean, they were not accurate for them or they didn’t hear what they wanted to hear, or perhaps, they just can’t imagine anyone having this type of ‘insider information’.

Well maybe that’s not exactly true, because when it comes to religion, a great number of people believe that their religious leaders, by whatever name, can tell them what they need to know. Not only that, they believe they can tell them what to do and how to act, in order to find the certainty, they are looking for.

After all, the religious leader they follow have received formal training and studied the religious texts and know the ceremonies and rituals of their faith. They must know what they are talking about and be able to provide all of the answers to their followers.

The difficulty here is that the answers provided don’t always create the certainty that folks are seeking. Even within the religious community there are a great number of uncertainties, especially when life becomes challenging and answers become elusive.

So, then what? Where is certainty to be found?

I will share my beliefs with you, knowing you will choose only what feels right to you.

I believe that all answers and all certainty is found within. You have the truth within you. You can connect with the divine, by whatever name you choose, and ask for whatever guidance you need and it will be provided. That has been my personal experience over the last twenty-four years, since I began having intimate two-way conversations with (god), and it can be the same for you. I know this to be the truth, because others who begin their own conversations with (god), tell me it is their truth and certainty.

You are a part of the divine and all that you desire can be revealed to you.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you would like to know more about how you can have your own personal relationship with (god) and discover your own answers, you can check out my book, talking with (god), which you’ll find under the BOOK page on this website.

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Commas

Little things are sometimes big things, or can be, depending on how we see them.

Take a ‘comma’ for instance. It’s so small you might miss it if you’re reading quickly. But, it’s important because as a punctuation mark, its intention is to provide a pause between parts of a sentence. It can also be used to separate items in a list or to mark the place of thousands in a large numeral, like 83,120.

My wife, Maureen, an English major in college, probably knows all of the eight other things a comma can do as it separates parts in a sentence. I confess this makes my eyes glaze over. Which is really okay, because some of my interests do the same thing to her. It seems fair and works for us.

Now back to the comma.

I was thinking about how we could use a comma effectively in our verbal and non-verbal communications.

Imagine that you’re engaged in a conversation with someone and things start to go off the rails. There’s a little heat and you can feel your temper amp up a bit and sense the other person beginning to do the same. Now, imagine being able to insert a comma, a pause between argumentative statements. Your small little comma can save the day and chill things down. All you have to do is stop for a moment and put the comma into action.

Ideally, if both you and the other person did this, you’d likely be able to reset the conversation and find some common ground to restart your dialogue. I realize that sometimes the other person won’t cooperate, but it might be worth using your comma, even just for yourself.

I wonder, what would happen if you disengaged and sat back and thought for a moment? What would they do? Might it be worth trying to see what impact it would have?

I sense the other person would be taken off guard and perhaps, settle down a little. After all, it’s hard to argue with someone who isn’t fighting back.

Or, how about when someone is naming all of the things they think you’re doing wrong. Imagine being able to pause the list until you can catch your breath. That little comma can give you enough time to shift your perspective or get out from under the weight being placed on you.

I wonder, what if each of us could raise our hand as a way of interjecting a non-verbal comma into challenging situations we face?

And, what if the other person had to stop for a moment and give us a chance to consider their words before responding? What might we gain from using the comma this way? Would it create some distance and offer us a greater perspective? Would it lessen the tension and give us a chance to step away?

My personal answer to all of these questions is, ‘yes’.

I see the comma as a small piece of salvation, similar to a reset button. I think it has numerous benefits, not the least of which is encouraging us to slow things down until we’re sure which direction to travel.

Perhaps we can’t influence others to act in ways we find acceptable or helpful, but we can influence our own behaviors and make our own conscious choices, ones that offer us a sense of calmness and peace.

Next time you sense the need for a comma, maybe you’ll want to give it a try and see what happens.

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Baseball Cards and Fireworks

Suppose you own something of value like an antique bureau, silver tea service, vintage automobile, old coins or perhaps, as in my case, a baseball card collection. Would you consider selling or trading it for any reason? If so, what reason would tip the scales so that you would part with it?

I started collecting baseball cards during the 1960’s, initially as much for the gum as for the cards. I’m not alone in this, believe me. It was pretty good tasting gum, at least for the first three minutes, until the flavor evaporated.

Later, when I was more serious about the players and the teams, I’d go to the store with a friend and we’d each buy a pack or two, depending on what was left of our allowances for the week. We’d rush out of the store and rip open the package to see what players we’d gotten. You could tell by our shrieks if we’d scored a great card. If we both had, there would be endless bartering and possibly a trade.

We each had our own personal favorites and tried to get every card in the series. We also had our own personal baseball enemy cards. You might be able to guess, these were the guys who played against our favorite teams and beat us.

We had a special place for those cards. We’d find a way to clip them to the frame of our bikes with clothespins so that when the tires rotated the spokes would bend them in half. It made this awesome noise, which sounded like a machine gun. The best part though was in did a number on the faces of the enemy players.

I know, pretty ruthless, huh? What do you want, I was a kid.

It turns out that my collection was worth a bit of money, not what it would have been in its hay-day, but decent enough. I’d decided early on to set aside my all-time favorites which was everyone on the Yankees team and Roberto Clemente. They were NOT FOR SALE! All the rest, yes, they could go.

For me, I came to that decision because I felt trading my cards for a real-life experience would be worth the price.

Sometimes, I sit back and imagine myself at age 85 or 90. I’m sitting in a chair talking with a reporter, who’s asking me about my life. The reporter wants to know what gave my life value and meaning. My first words would be, my family and friends. I’d follow that with, my life experiences.

I use this image often, to decide my course of direction, so for me, a handsomely printed baseball card just can’t measure up to a real-life experience.

So, here’s what I did. I asked Gale, a dear friend of mine whether she thought her extremely knowledgeable father would help me find a buyer for my cards. She asked him and he said he would.

He and I had several wonderful chats and ultimately, he negotiated a fabulous deal and handed over the cash. He wouldn’t take a nickel for his part in the deal, but did accept a book about famous baseball stadiums, as ‘payment’.

You may be wondering where the fireworks part of this story comes in. Well, it’s right here.

I used the money to book a room in a four-star hotel in Boston for the weekend, so we could watch the fabulous fireworks display over the Charles River on the Fourth of July. It was gorgeous and a spectacular crowd pleaser. It had all of the ones I love the most; the fizzy kind, several multi-colored versions and, my favorites, the loud reverberating bang ones. The end of the show was fantastic and filled the sky with light and color and noise. I can still picture it if I close my eyes.

Was the trade worth it to me? Absolutely! I can’t remember even one of the faces on the baseball cards I sold, but I can clearly recall the glow on my wife’s face, as she watched the firework colors paint the Boston sky.

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Trouble

My sister and I watched westerns on TV as kids growing up in the 1950’s. They were on every Saturday and we sat waiting for them to begin, ready for another episode of our favorite shows.

As I grew older, my TV watching evolved, growing a bit more edgy with the introduction of martial arts movies. They were all entirely predictable, but I loved watching the fantastic moves of the heroes and villains.

I’m providing this background so that you can see how unusual it is that one of my all-time favorite movies falls way outside of these interests. It is Music Man, written by Meredith Wilson. It’s a musical about a traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill played by Robert Preston. He spends the majority of the movie conning the parents of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments for their children. He promises to turn the kids into a marching band, but has no real intent to stay once the parents have paid him. That is until he meets the town librarian, Marion Paroo, played by Shirley Jones. She spurns all of his early attempts to strike up a meaningful relationship, but eventually gives in.

My parents bought the soundtrack to the movie and I spent hours memorizing all of the parts. I could have even done a one-man show.

One of my favorite songs was Professor Hill’s attack on the town’s pool hall. His song was intended to whip the townspeople into a frenzy, so they would want their children in his band, and, of course, buy his instruments.

He told them they had trouble in River City, trouble with a capital T, that rhymed with P, which stood for ‘pool. He told them their children would fritter away all their time and convinced them the pool hall represented all sorts of evil and frightening things. They fell for it and lined up to buy their child an instrument of their own, to keep them out of trouble.

When the time came for him to leave with all of their money, he couldn’t do it. He’d fallen for Marion, the Librarian. And, as unlikely as it seemed, the instruments showed up, along with uniforms. The band assembled and marched down the main street in town, playing a tune for all they were worth.

Whenever I think about a trouble I am experiencing, this movie comes to mind and I wonder, what will happen next and whether everything will be resolved in the end?

I have to coach myself to step back and take a look from a distance and see if I can view the trouble from a different perspective.

I’ve found that it is helpful to become aware of what is happening inside of me.

If I have a ‘need’ that is driving me, I know I’m in trouble. If I’m focused on only one acceptable outcome, I know this spells trouble for me. If I’m anger or sadness takes over, blinding me to the bigger picture, yes, I’m in trouble.

Trouble, like so many other clever things knows how to follow you wherever you go, like a lost puppy searching for a new home. Trouble seems to figure out your weak spot and sit there, waiting for you.

What I end up doing, once I realize trouble has knocked on my door, is to ask for its message. What is it waiting to tell me? Why is it present?

As I open my heart, my eyes and my mind, hints arrive. I begin to see the ‘need’ that lurks behind the scenes. And, I sense there are other more valuable outcomes than the single one that first appeared to me. And, when I release any anger or sadness, my vision clears, opening a vista of opportunities.

I feel like Professor Harold Hill, marching at the head of the band, knowing all will be well in River City.

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Shifts in Belief

One of the best things I can do for myself, when something in my life is not going the way I’d like it to, is shift one of my beliefs. I may not immediately know which belief or how to change it, but I know it’s the wise thing to do.

Folks often tell me they have bad memories. My usual response is, “I bet it’s far better than you think it is.” I follow this statement by asking, “would you like some proof?”

Doubtful, but intrigued, folks almost always say, “yes”.

There are numerous methods to improve memory and I’ve worked successfully with several. Based on what I know about the person, I choose one I believe will appeal to them.

In one case, I was talking with a staff member (who I’ll call Gwen) and she explained that she had trouble remembering when she needed to retain several things at once. Gwen added that they all kind of ran together, making it hard to recall any of them and asked if I really thought she could get better at remembering.

“Absolutely,” I said. I asked her to write down a list of ten random things. She glanced at me with a hesitant look, but picked up a pen and wrote them down.

“Okay,” I said, “now we’re going to make a movie together. I want you to tell me your first item and we’re going to create a visual picture in your mind.”

She’d chosen ‘tie’, so we visualized an enormous tie the size of a house with a bold rainbow pattern on it. Next item happened to be ‘house’, so we visualized a scary haunted house and wrapped the tie around it. We continued this way through all ten items, making each stand out, the more bizarre the better, and then linked them, one to the next to the next, until we’d connected all ten.

“Now we’re going to practice our list three times,” I told her. Gwen repeated the movie we’d created three times, getting quicker with each repetition.

Her manager (Sadie), who had watched the whole episode, was given the task of asking Gwen to list the items in order, while she compared it with the list Gwen had written. Gwen did it flawlessly.

I asked Sadie to randomly select any item and ask Gwen what item came before and after it. Sadie made her choice and Gwen responded correctly. I asked Sadie to choose a random number that corresponded with an item and ask Gwen what the item was. Again, Gwen answered correctly.

Gwen was stunned. “That was so easy,” she said, “but I’ll probably forget by tomorrow.”

“No, you won’t,” I said, “and not only that, you’ll also be able to change other beliefs. It’s likely that you have been telling yourself other things that are equally untrue. Here’s a chance for you to shift your beliefs about anything you’d like.”

I saw Gwen once or twice a month following this memory visualization exercise. She’d see me coming and knew what to expect, because each time I’d ask her about her movie and each time she recalled it with ease.

“So,” I asked her, “do you still have a bad memory?”

Gwen would laugh and say, “Guess not, huh!”

Nope, guess not.

The funny and wonderful thing is that we are all capable of shifting any of our beliefs. Once we recognize that they exist, we can decide if they serve us and make our lives better. If they don’t, we can choose to shift them in ways that do serve us.

Nothing in our inner life is set in stone. We have the freedom to decide and choose whatever we desire and set a pathway toward experiencing it.

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A Different Kind of Hero

There seem to be all kinds of heroes in the world. Most of them appear to share certain qualities like; bravery, conviction, courage and determination. Others exemplify honesty, strength, moral integrity and protection of the defenseless. And then there are those who offer themselves as a sacrifice for what is often considered, the greater good. Heroes seem to possess a selflessness and inspire others to do the same through their actions.

Several dictionaries believe a hero is a person who is admired or idolized or endowed with divine or mythical characteristics. They may be a warrior or one who has achieved unusual success, far beyond normal people.

I decided to check out the internet and see who is listed as a hero. This is one list I found; Minnie Vautrin, Norman Bethune, Alan Turing, Raoul Wallenberg, Chiune Sugihara, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Oswaldo Payá, Óscar Elías Biscet, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

I was surprised to discover I only knew four of the eleven names on the list. Why was that? Am I that out of touch with the idea of a hero?

And where were Mahatma Gandhi, Jonas Salk, Winston Churchill, to say nothing of all of the divine spiritual teachers who have lived and walked the earth?

I wondered what would happen if I went to a crowded place and asked people, as they passed by, who they considered to be a hero? A famous sports figure, a nurse or doctor, a musician, a super wealthy person, perhaps especially if they donated large sums to charities?

My heroes are closer to home. They are simple people who decide that it’s important to form deep relationships with others. They understand that listening is the key. They suspend their own opinions and beliefs, in order to understand another person’s point of view.

And, after listening carefully, they ask lots of questions. Ones aimed at revealing what is important and meaningful. They express empathy, so that they feel what it must be like to live in another’s world.

They consciously choose to explore. To move outside their own world and imagine a different kind of life. And yes, they choose to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’.

To me, that’s a great image because it prompts a person to realize what it is like physically, to either squeeze into smaller shoes or slid around in larger ones, while still trying to walk. Neither is comfortable and both present their own complications.

Sometimes I can do this, but most of the time, I can only take a few steps before I fall out of the shoes or kick them off.

In my world, I see and have seen heroes, who brave others worlds. They move into and beyond the struggle of truly knowing the challenges others face and they stay with them until they understand. They stay and help figure out the best way forward.

Somehow, they make their feet fit into others shoes. They are splendid people who show a kind of daily courage I find extraordinary.

For thirteen years I worked in the field of assisting and supporting those with physical and developmental disabilities. There were incredible heroes I came into contact with every day. Those who received services and those who provided them, both walking a mile in each other’s shoes. It was truly an amazing experience and one I carry with me wherever I go. I salute them all.

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Default Settings

I used to think that I reacted to situations one by one, and responded depending on a variety of factors. But, the more I’ve paid attention, the more I see how untrue this is.

What I actually have is a series of default settings, sort of automatic presets that kick in before I consciously think about them. It’s not that I want it this way and it often creates problems for me, prompting me to ask, “how did it get this way?”

For years, I would try to answer this and other questions aimed at explaining ‘why’? Most of these explorations failed and I found myself spending excessive amounts of time analyzing things, only to realize I couldn’t move forward, if I remained stuck in the past.

To me, it’s another version of the same dilemma, when applied to the future. I can plan and speculate all day long, but the truth is I can’t predict or experience the future before it arrives, so why try?

Okay, so what’s left?

How about accepting that my default settings exist, then see if they serve me somehow. Do they make it easier for me to cope with my life, without creating unnecessary problems? If so, perhaps I’m better off because of them, so why not keep them.

But if they don’t serve me in some way, maybe it’s time to consciously choose to either release them or to substitute new defaults for them, ones that improve my life.

But I wonder, how is this to be done?

One way comes to mind. It requires a little bit of work, but I suspect it’s well worth the time.

It involves an imaginary bell that you set to ‘ding’ every time one of your default settings gets triggered. Images often help, so imagine one of those small bells that dings when you enter a store. Pushing the door open makes it swing forward and back and ring, alerting the staff to your presence. Using this imagery and connecting it with your awareness provides an alert to you.

Here’s how it works for me.

One of my defaults is impatience. It shows up a lot, way more than I would like. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you already know one thing that sets it off, slow drivers. But, rest assured, there are many others; toasters that take forever to toast (only to burn it when I’m not watching), playing the game UNO, waiting for the shower to get hot enough to step under and long customer lines, to name a few.

So, let’s take long customer lines as an example.

Awareness is the key and the sooner I realize I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can adjust. And, the faster I can pull out my prepared speech. What speech, you might ask?

It’s really more a set of questions and it goes something like this (with my likely answers in parentheses).

“You see what’s happening, right? (yes) You know this situation always creates upsetting feelings for you, correct? (yes) Do you really want or need to continue experiencing this? (no) So, what other response could you choose? (ummm) Okay, I’ll help you. You could release it, telling yourself it’s not worth getting upset about. (I’ve tried that without success) Or, you could choose a new reaction (like?). You could look around your environment for something interesting, you could talk to someone, you could sing to yourself, you could close your eyes and breathe or any of a hundred other choices (do you think that would work, really?). There is one way to find out- give it a try the next time the bell dings. You can’t know if it’s worth it until you try. So, next time, listen for the ding and make a wiser choice.

Seems like a good idea to me, and maybe my impatience will get a chance to rest, opening me to new possibilities. That’s the plan.

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