Starving Your Inner Demons

Do any inner demons haunt you? Are they offering to rule your whole world for you?

If they are, what are you feeding them? Is their diet giving them their strength?

These may seem like unusual questions to ask, but there is a serious side to them.

Have you ever wondered how much of your behavior is prompted by your inner demons? Are you courageous enough to ask?

I don’t think I know anyone who is completely free. No one that doesn’t hear inner voices calling to them, asking them to come closer.

Perhaps, you are afraid to shorten the distance between you and these voices. That’s one way to approach things, but it has never worked for me, nor for others I’ve spoken with. Maybe you’d like to try another way.

I’ve talked before about the necessity of first feeling your feelings, because without doing so, you are running blind. You can’t see what is right in front of you. And you can’t follow any path forward.

Realizing that the feelings you are experiencing are there to serve you is one way to start. They are not in front of or behind you to threaten you. They merely want to walk along side of you and be acknowledged. They have a message for you.

If you gather your strength and release your attachment to your fear, your feelings will open you to a new perspective. And they will have a chance to deliver their golden message to you.

It is the same with inner demons.

We may think it wise to try to defeat them in battle. We may choose to pick up a weapon to hit them, but they become ferocious with us and will not back down.

If we tell ourselves, they are not there and try to ignore them, they bound around us and stare at us face to face. They taunt us and will not go away.

But perhaps we wish to alter our course and refuse to feed them. Maybe our choice is to without any food from them.

You may be wondering, how is this done?

I have my very own inner demons. It pains me to say so, but it is the truth. Maybe it’s the same for you.

My inner demons have various names. One of them is called abandonment, while another is rejection. They are sort of twins and often work together.

They say they are with me to protect me. I wonder who they believe they are protecting me from.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

I need to repeat that last sentence, so you don’t miss it.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

When they arise, sometimes out of nowhere, I now choose to stand still, open my eyes wide, slow my breathing and ask them to speak to me. They don’t want to. They would rather that I become angry, so that they can feed from me. Or withdraw, so they can have my energy. But I make them talk to me and tell me how my feelings of abandonment or rejection can serve me, rather than sap me.

No matter what they desire, I am still the one in charge, so they must share their wisdom with me. The harsh voices they use no longer scare me, because despite themselves they are here to help me. Abandonment tells me that I don’t have to feel or be alone. Rejection says that, although not everyone will hear what I have to say, there are those who want my words and my heart.

They have no choice but to serve me. Everything does, even them. Given no food or energy, they are starved for my attention and willingly lay down and go to sleep at my feet.

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There Is No Gravity in Heaven

In heaven, nothing holds you down. Of course, this is not a provable phenomenon. And you might be thinking, what does it really matter anyway?

Here’s why I mention it.

Because, in heaven you are free, untethered to any cultural ideas, moral obligations, or conditional responses. There are no biases to uphold, no borders to defend and no positions to protect.

There is only love.

And, although you can do anything, there is only one thing you want to do. You want to be fully in this love.

It’s not an active ‘giving and receiving’ of love. Those are conscious decisions we make here on earth. Instead, you ARE love. You rest inside love as a state of being.

How do I know this? Why do I believe this or, better yet, why would you believe this?

That’s a very fair question.

The other question that arises quickly is, so what? What if you believed every word I say, what then, after all we’re here on earth, so why would it matter what happens in heaven?

First things first.

I understand that nothing I say to you can possibly convince you that I know anything about heaven. If you’ve been with me for a while, you might have a sense of my sincerity and genuineness and feel there is a degree of honesty in me and perhaps be open to entertaining the notion. But even this probably isn’t enough to believe I know anything about heaven.

I believe there is only one way for you to know if this is true. You have to FEEL it inside of you.

For the moment, I’m going to ask you to suspend any judgement about this, so that you can hear the rest of the story.

Ever since I was a young child, I knew there was something different about me. I knew when certain things were going to happen. And, I had what felt like distinct memories of heaven, but never talked about them until I was an adult. It was then that the memories became clearer. It wasn’t so much about what I saw, as it was about what I felt. I felt completely wrapped in love. I was one drop in an ocean of bliss. Everything, everywhere, was love.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me. I understand. It’s not every day someone shares something like this with you. It’s beyond logic and probably feels pretty mysterious.

I’m sharing it now because it matters. Definitely to me and maybe to you.

It took me many years to fully accept my memories from heaven. It wasn’t until I began having my own personal intimate two-way conversations with (god) that I discovered answers to all my questions. The BOOKS page on this website references my book, talking with (god), where I share about my journey and how you can discover your own answers through your own relationship with (god).

One answer I received was that I left heaven and came to earth to create and experience whatever I chose. And, that my choices were unlimited and that each choice created an outcome.

What I have experienced is that when my choices are made from love, they create more love. When I give with an open heart, I expand outward and remember the beautiful sense of bliss I experienced in heaven.

When I make choices that are from fear I experience challenges, pain, and suffering. I hurt inside and it travels out into the world, and I end up hurting others. Fortunately, I’ve been told that each challenge, each feeling of pain and act of suffering is a message to me. It is love disguised as a guidepost, showing me the way home to love.

This is what is so important for me to share with you. Love is everything, always and forever. I believe that somewhere in your heart you already know this. And this place inside of you will help guide you every step of the way, if you let it. I hope you do and that your life becomes all that you want it to be.

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Intuitive Nudges

When you don’t know the right direction in life to take, what do you do? Do you seek someone else’s advice or try to brainstorm all the ideas you can think of and then choose what you believe is the best answer? Or because of some uncertainty, do you just choose whatever comes to your mind first and hope things turn out okay?

It can often feel challenging and somewhat overwhelming, especially if you haven’t resolved the first question or situation before the next one pops up.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if we’d come here with our very own owner’s manual? A guidebook that laid out the best answers to all our questions or some neat flow chart we could follow to get where we want to go.

Here’s an idea to consider.

I believe we do have something we can always rely on to provide direction and insight. You may have already guessed it. It’s our intuition.

One of the difficult things about the intuitive process is our general lack of awareness about its existence and how to use it. Of course, there are numerous references to it culturally. One of these is ESP, or Extra Sensory Perception, which is our ability to know things without having any idea how or why we know them.

This disconnection creates a sense of disbelief. We don’t recognize the thread; therefore, we tend to downplay or ignore its importance. And, without a direct relevant connection, we are unlikely to trust our intuition, especially if the situation we’re faced with is very important to us.

I wonder, would it be possible for us to stop and take a closer look? What would happen if we paid very close attention to all the inner messages we receive? What might change in our lives?

I’d like to suggest an opportunity.

How about the next time you don’t have an immediate, well thought out answer for something that comes up in your life, you pause and sit back for a minute. You close your eyes and slow your breathing and allow your mind to calm down. And you ask for an answer to form in your mind. You allow yourself to be nudged into seeing and feeling what your inner guidance has to say.

There is enormous wisdom inside of you just waiting to come to the surface. It has always been present and will always be available to you.

One of the prerequisites though, is a level of trust. Will that be possible for you?

You might be asking, trust in who, or trust in what?

My answer, after many years of making my way through this amazing process is, trust in YOU. Some folks decide to place their trust in the universe or the divine or substitute other names. In essence, I believe it’s all the same, because you are part of the universe and part of the divine.

So, let’s say you are willing to give this a chance and have allowed yourself to be in a quiet space and opened yourself up to listen carefully to whatever comes your way in the silence. For this one time at least, say to yourself that you are going to trust what comes to you and take action according to what you hear and feel. Give in and accept it as your inner wisdom passing along a divine message to you.

You may want to write some of this down and note what happens, to give yourself some convincing evidence, so that next time it’s easier. Or you may just want to go with the flow and let things unfold whatever direction they do.

Either way, I hope that you begin to see that you are a deep well of knowing and that your inner wisdom is always present in your life.

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Altruism

What motivates someone to perform a selfless act which benefits another? Perhaps there are many reasons why this might happen. I would be fascinated to know the answers.

According to Wikipedia, altruism is described as the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings or other animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual.

It feels like this is a fancy way of saying that a person’s primary concern is for someone else, rather than their own gain.

I believe I witness this to some degree every day. I see folks letting others get in line in front of them in traffic. I see people open doors for others, especially when they are weighed down with something. And I have seen folks pay for the coffee of the next person in line.

I enjoy observing these intentional acts of kindness and usually join in some way. It makes me feel alive and engaged in the world around me.

And then there are the incredibly beautiful and sensational acts that show up in the news and social media.

They are about everyday people who come to the aid of others, often with no concern given to their own safety.  They do it because they feel it’s the ‘right’ thing to do at the time.

They ran into traffic to push someone out of the way of an onrushing bus. Or they help shove a car off the railroad tracks before a train crushes it. Or they swim into the ocean to pull someone to shore. These are heroic acts of love and compassion and wonderful statements about the character of human beings.

But the altruism I’m thinking of right now transcends these marvelous actions. It moves beyond, to the level of sacrificial, heart-centered majesty.

In my travels in this life, I have only encountered one person who demonstrated this kind of altruism. She donated one of her kidneys.

She was reluctant to share much about this, but I discovered that she didn’t even know the recipient. They were not close family to her, nor a dear friend. In fact, she had no relationship with them at all, other than knowing that their life was in jeopardy.

I don’t know all the facts, so I can’t tell you a great deal about her story or that of the person she saved. I’m not sure that’s even relevant, because what has stayed with me all these years is her uncomplicated view of the situation. They would die without a kidney, and she was a match for them. That was enough for her.

I don’t know of a greater sacrifice than this.

Recently I signed up to be an organ donor…when I die. She signed up to be an organ donor…while alive. That’s a big difference to me.

I wonder to myself, could I do this? I realize we have two kidneys and humans can live with only one, but how do you get past the idea that you have two for a good reason. They function together. They keep your body healthy and if, for some reason one fails to function properly, the other is able to continue your life.

I am amazed at her courage, her compassion, her strength, and her love.

It seemed as though the sharing of this selfless act with me slipped out of her. A momentary lapse. I truly do not believe she had intended to tell me about this, nor has she told others. It’s her personal story.

She remains one of my hero’s, not because of what she has done, but because of who she is and the love she carries inside of her. I live in awe of her.

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When Things Break

I suppose it is inevitable that all things will break, but when many of them happen at once, I begin to wonder, is there a message for me?

Recently, I’ve experienced a sequence of events that has both surprised and upset me. First, it was my car. It needed over a thousand dollars’ worth of repairs. I guess I ought to be prepared for this, since it’s almost ten years old, but once I got it home, it made a new noise and had to go back for more repairs.

Then it was our new storm door. The mechanism that allows it to stay closed malfunctioned. It took several weeks before it was fixed. And, then our new computer lost its mind requiring all sorts of adjustments before it would work again.

I thought we were done. You know the common thought about things coming in threes. But not so. Yesterday morning I woke up to a very cold house. I hadn’t switched over from summer to winter, so I moved the thermostat button to the ‘heat’ cycle. Nothing happened. No beautiful furnace sound delivering warmth to our house. I investigated, only to find a blank digital computer screen on the unit. It had power, but wouldn’t and didn’t do anything.

After numerous calls, we finally managed to get a technician to come. He diagnosed the problem and relayed the remedy to us. We needed parts. He told us they would be ordered on Monday, three days from now. Then they would have to schedule an appointment to complete the repairs. Translation- no heat for several days.

Many thoughts ran through my head. And many feelings ran through my body. On one level, I find this string of events to be very frustrating, and certainly inconvenient and expensive. But I’m curious too.

Do they mean something more than what they are, a collection of occurrences that could be random? Is there some inherent value in them for me? Is it worth my digging into their depths to see?

I wonder first about what feelings they bring up in me. So, I allow myself to open and accept whatever comes to me. I’ve discovered that when I do this, I am able to release whatever I no longer want to keep inside. But, I have to see it first though. And I have to realize that even though it is difficult to be honest with myself, it is always worth it.

So here goes. I wonder why this is happening TO me. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I wonder, did I do something to deserve these things? It occurs to me there may be more events to come. Because there are four, will I have to experience two more to end the second string of three things.

I note my level of anger and frustration and it becomes obvious to me that I am looking at this from only one direction. I could just as easily ask myself a series of other questions.

I have beautiful, wonderful things in my life. I have a car, a door, a computer, a house and so much more. So many in this world have none of these things and may never have them. They don’t have enough food, clean water, fresh air, shelter of any kind, people who will help them, a place to call home, a family.

My questions and concerns shift abruptly. I begin to express my gratitude for what I have and release those feelings and thoughts about what I don’t. My heart opens wide and breaks for all those in the world who have so little. For them abundance means a bite of food, a sip of water, a tarp to sleep under, a kind word from someone, from anyone.

I live in such privilege. I have so much and yet am concerned and afraid when some of it fails to work. I see that much more clearly now. Beyond shifting my attitude about this, I wonder what else can I do?

I know I can’t fix the whole world, but I don’t want that to stop me from trying to fix what I can. So now, each time my focus is drawn to something that doesn’t work in my life, I’m going to shift my attention and decide what I can do to help others. I know there are an infinite number of things that can be done. So I’m going to let my gratitude lead the way.

New Growth

There comes a point when I realize I need to let go of something in order experience new growth. Although this can be very difficult, I know it’s what I want and need. The hard part is deciding what to surrender in order to find a way forward.

In our upstairs bathroom I have an ivy plant. It’s really the first plant I’ve ever personally taken care of. It’s a job I take seriously. My ivy and I have a routine, a little ritual ceremony. Every Sunday, I pour a small cup of water on the dirt that surrounds the plants stems. After this I place my hands under the flowing water from the tap and then allow the excess water to drip from my fingers onto each ivy leaf. As I do this, I offer it wishes for good health. Then I close my eyes and let my hands hover just above the ivy’s outstretched leaves and send it loving energy.

Once in a while, when I open my eyes, I notice the leaves quivering a bit. I like to see this. It feels like a response. A connection between us. It’s beautiful and I feel closer to my ivy.

It seemed to thrive, sending up new shoots at the base and new leaves on the older stems. When the new leaves sprout, they are such a gorgeous shade of green, far different than the mature leaves. They are tiny at first, but then spread out and grow, unfurling and swelling in size.

We’ve been together now for many years and recently it needed a new container. It had outgrown the original smaller one and wanted more room to spread out. So, my wife repotted it, she being better at plant things than I am.

Everything went well and my ivy continued to flourish. That is, until we went on an eight-day vacation. I thought to myself, it should be okay, after all it’s only one more day than usual.

I watered it before we left and gave it a tiny bit extra.

We returned home and I went upstairs to check on it.

Disaster.

It looked so unhappy. Many of the leaves had dried out and no matter how much extra care I gave it, the leaves didn’t come back to life. Of the five stems, three looked really bad. I wondered what I should do. I felt as though the soil could no longer support all five stems and that if I didn’t do something soon, all of them would die.

Whether it was the right or wrong thing, I decided to cut the three stems that were withering. I felt I needed their surrender so that the remaining two could thrive.

So far, it’s worked. The two stems now have some healthy new beautiful green leaves forming. I am so happy to see them and welcome them into our world with love.

I wonder what would have happened if I couldn’t allow myself to surrender the dying stems. I think the whole plant would have died.

After some reflection, it became clear to me that this same process exists inside of me. What am I holding onto that is withering my spirit? What do I need to let go of or release?

It’s kind of hard to know the answer to this. I can’t just look at my outside world and see, like I can with the plant leaves.

It’s trickier than that and I wonder what gauge I can use to measure with.

So, instead of looking outside, I glance inward. I move beyond appearances and my thinking mind, to a place where my feelings reign. When I arrive, I ask one simple question, ‘how do I feel?’

I realize this sounds pretty general, but it’s not. If I am quiet, answers float to the surface. All of the things that concern me bob up and down waiting to be noticed. I come to understand that this is a process that is aided by my patience. I am helped by the inner knowing that all will be revealed, if I slow down and wait.

And there they are, lined up together, waving at me. My feelings of desire for control, the weighty sense of having to please other people and the chains that cling to my internal measures of success.

I see them as clearly as a dying leaf on my beautiful ivy plant. And I know my best answer is to surrender them. Releasing them gives me my best chance to thrive. I want that. I want that for me, and I want that for you, if that’s what you decide.

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Expectations, the Thief of Joy

It seems that I am constantly at odds with myself over the expectations I have. Does this happen to you too?

I set them up in my mind and then when they don’t come true as I expected, it creates a cascade of emotions. There is sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, and confusion. All of them, thieves of joy.

I don’t like this part of my earthly adventure.

The obvious question I need to ask myself is, ‘why do I continue this thoroughly unenjoyable experience?’

There must be a better way.

Perhaps if I chose not to have any expectations about anything, maybe that would solve the problem. But how likely is that?

For me, not likely at all. I’ve tried this repeatedly without success. It ends with the same result. Even though I say to myself that I’m not going to care about the outcome of something, some part of me ignores this ‘suggestion’. It has already recorded my expectation and won’t let it go. So, when it becomes obvious that my expectation is unmet, it repeats the cascade.

I know this doesn’t make sense, but it is what happens. At least, most of the time.

I do believe that experiences, such as this, will continue to arrive in my life because they bear messages for me. They hint at things I would benefit from and that would improve my life. They come to offer me gifts.

So far, I’ve missed their value. And because of this, I continue to suffer. I realize this is my choice and that if I opened myself up, I might be able to see more possibilities and maybe some real answers.

How is this to happen?

I know there are numerous excellent self-help books that probably address this issue. They no doubt have many valuable suggestions to make and have provided a great deal of assistance to those prepared to try them. I sincerely congratulate those who read them and adopt their recommendations. It would be wise if I would join them, but something stops me.

It may not be the wisest approach for me to take, but it appears that I like to struggle. That may sound foolish, but I know it is the case with me. I have to personally confront whatever issue stands before me. I have to feel the weight of it. And, I have to wrestle with it until it breaks apart and shows me some truth.

So, I lay myself open and I ask for divine guidance to enter and assist me with finding a way forward.

And, what comes is this, I want joy. I want it as a centerpiece in my life. Joy goes far beyond happiness. Happiness is fleeting, but joy is truth. I believe each of us came here to earth filled with joy. It is a part of our natural state and a reflection of love.

I see how setting expectations puts limits on joy. It declares there is only one right solution and when it is not met, there is a price to pay. I see how setting expectations is looking for value outside of me. And my sense of satisfaction with life becomes dependent on what happens outside of me. Is there anything more fragile than this?

And so here is the message I’ve been waiting for. It is always about what is ‘inside’ of me. I can never reliably find what I’m looking for outside of me. This is at the heart of all my expectations, a desire to be fulfilled by what lies beyond me.

This will never happen because it is what is inside of me that matters. The wonderful news is that this is where all the good stuff is. We came here with all of it. If I close my eyes and slow my breathing and look inside and remember who I truly am, a part of the divine, I can awake to the knowing that I am made of love. I am whole and complete, just as I am. No outward fulfilled expectations will make me more than I already am.

So, when the next one comes, I will remind myself of this truth and release the expectation and in remembering to do this, will center on the joy inside of me.

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How Do I Love Me

Who taught you about love? It might be hard to remember. It may go back so many years that you’re not even sure.

I believe all babies come to earth filled with love, ready to be held, so that they can share their overwhelming sense of wonder with anyone who picks them up.

I certainly felt this when I held my children and grandchildren. I looked into each of their eyes to see if they could remind me what heaven was like. I gazed at them and felt a beautiful sense of oneness and closeness. And I fell into their bright, shiny faces, absorbed in their afterglow.

I felt as much coming into me as I was sending into them. Each of them taught me about love.

Sometimes I wish I could remember what it felt like to arrive here on earth. To be the one held. I imagine what a difficult trip it must have been, having my first breath squeezed out of me and needing desperately to have my lungs filled with air. Then trying to adjust to all the open space around me and the chill and bright lights and commotion. It’s no wonder that many babies scream. I want to, just thinking about it.

As a baby’s days pass and their experiences deepen, I wonder, how are they to learn about life? Who will listen to them for the clues that they are ready to learn? Who will be their teachers?

Will it be an interaction, an exchange of the meanings of life or will the baby have to do all the receiving and not be allowed to do any of the teaching?

As the baby becomes a child, the lessons begin. All sorts of things must be learned. What ‘hot’ means. That food belongs in your mouth, not on your head or the floor. That scissors are pointed, and that most animals have soft fur, but very sharp teeth.

After a while the lessons shift from being primarily about safety and become about understanding the world. There is a process of discovery. What a color is and what letters are and how numbers work together.

All of this is important. Necessary even.

But what about love? Who teaches us about this? Is it someone who knows what it means and how it is shared? Or do we sometimes learn from someone, who themselves, was never taught and can therefore not teach?

Are we shown examples to follow? And if so, what do they tell us about love? Is there harmony between what we are told and what we see happen in the world?

Often there are wide discrepancies, and we are expected to behave according to other’s words and ignore their conflicting actions.

But we know the truth somehow. We can feel it.

And whether we like it or not, it becomes up to each of us to decide about love, especially, the love we feel for ourselves. We may be fortunate enough to have had wonderful role-models to follow, but if not, we owe it to ourselves to be our own source of love.

I believe that deep inside each of us there is an inexhaustible wellspring of love. It’s inside already, waiting to be tapped. We don’t have to look outside to find it. And we don’t have to wait for anyone else to give it to us. We can give it to ourselves.

I believe this is the truth because we all came here with it. Each of us was wrapped up in love.

We show our self love by giving ourselves permission to release all the lessons we’ve been taught by others that do not feel true to us, and recognize that they may have meant no harm while teaching us. They just didn’t know better.

We show our self love when we forgive those who failed to help us understand, that the most important love, is that which we show ourselves. Then we can move on.

We show our self love when we accept that we are all beautiful, radiant beings, able to embrace the truth that we are all lovable. And in this way, we take charge of answering the question, how do I love me.

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Self-Acceptance

I’ve found that I can not grow without first accepting who I am. When I fail to do this, there are inevitable conflicts that arise.

Let’s say, for example, that I want to lose some weight. Some part of me has already determined that I am not acceptable the way I am. Maybe this would be okay if my health was at stake, and I truly needed to lose weight to save my own life.

But that’s not my case right now.

I want it for other reasons. I’m not sure I even know what they all are. A couple pop into my mind. I believe I would be physically more comfortable shedding some pounds. My clothes would fit better. And I would look better.

Hold on, wait a minute. I need to ask myself an important question.

Who would I look better to? Who do I feel I need to please? What benefit is it to me to please someone else? What do I need from them, that would cause me to alter how I look at myself?

I have to stop and answer these vital questions.

If I am trying to lose weight for someone else, haven’t I already contaminated my purpose?

There’s more to it. If I am trying to lose weight and get on the scale every day and am disappointed with my results, a part of me refuses to accept me as I am. There is a sense of sadness and maybe anger.

I am forced to wonder; will I ever be able to accept me as I am? Is there some magic number on the scale that will satisfy me?

Let’s say for the sake of argument that there is a magic number and that I convince myself that I will always be happy with this number. The obvious challenge now is, how do I stay there? What amount of time and energy and commitment will it take to remain at this ‘ideal’ weight? This arbitrary number I’ve chosen, becomes my prison sentence.

So, I ask, what is it going to take to release this kind of thinking?

A companion question comes up. What is the comparison between remaining at this restrictive target weight and seeking and finding self-acceptance of who and what I am and, in this case, what I look like to myself?

Which is the far greater prize?

If I listen carefully, I hear my answer. ‘You are loved, just the way you are.  You do not need to do anything to be worthy of love.’

The voice goes on to say, ‘Love is yours for the asking. You are acceptable just as you are. Once you know this as true for you, you can change anything in your life. You can change anything, not because of fear, but because of love. You can add more love into your life and shift whatever you choose, not because you feel you need to, but because you see new possibilities and hold new dreams.’

This is what I was waiting for. A way to release my fears and embrace self-acceptance, knowing it belongs to me.

I hope that you know it belongs to you too.

As you’ve been reading this, our focus has been on weight loss, but self-acceptance is so much more than this. It applies to every aspect of our lives, and the answer is always the same. ‘You are loved just the way you are.’

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Milestones

The first time you experience something in life is usually very special. It carries with it a unique energy which can endure for years, and in some cases, an entire lifetime.

Some call these, ‘milestones’, because they are actions or events that mark a significant change or stage of development.

Many come to my mind and perhaps they do for you as well. No doubt there would be quite a range if we compared lists.

I don’t remember a lot of my ‘firsts’. First tooth, first time I ate real food, first baby steps. Maybe my parents recall, but all I have of those memories is what others have told me. Funny, how stories you are told become your ‘truth’. I wonder how much of my life has been shaped by what others have told me about myself?

As I grew older I remember being able to do things on my own. My first trip out of the house by myself. No one holding my hand or telling me where to go or what to do. I’m pretty sure I kept my house within view, but how precious to be unattached and free to roam the neighborhood.

I remember my first bike. Freedom.

I remember my first day of school. Containment.

I remember my first kiss. Surprisingly in Kindergarten, from the little blonde girl who sat next to me.

I remember lots of firsts. One of them may strike you as strange. I was a kind of skinny kid, so I remember the first day I weighed 60 pounds. I thought that was a very big deal.

I also remember my first plane ride, first piece of my mom’s famous apple pie, first day of college, first date with my wife, first book I’d written, first death of someone close to me. The lasting effect of this still lingers somewhere in the background of my life.

I remember the birth of our first child, a gorgeous little girl, and being the first person to give her a bath and hold her. I remember the birth of our son, a first when you consider he was our first boy, and how wonderful it felt to hold him in my arms.

Each of these firsts mark the beginning of new and unique experiences for me. There are other important events that I want to commemorate too. This post is actually one of them because it represents my 100th post. This feels like an important milestone to me.

At the beginning of this website posting adventure, I would have found it very difficult to believe that I would be capable of creating enough topics and writing full posts about them to reach this number. Another milestone is coming up October 4, 2021. It will be the one year anniversary of generating two posts per week and sharing them with you. I love doing this and challenging myself to grow through writing and sharing.

Part of the reason I wanted to write about milestones is because I sense you are capable of far more than you may think is possible. I say this because I’ve so often seen it be true with folks I know.

So, I wonder, do you have a dream you would like to become real? Does it seem out of reach to you at this present moment?

What about all of your firsts and the milestones of your life, can you allow yourself to be convinced that you have the power to make all of your dreams come true?

I would like to encourage this belief.

You may think that you need more money or more time or some expert help with your dream. If you do, perhaps you will consider asking for help. The help you need might be right there in front of you, waiting to be asked. I know that without my dear friend, Cheri, none of my books would be available to the world, but with her help, they all exist on Amazon in print and as ebooks.

You may think you don’t possess the talent or the skills or the drive to accomplish your dreams. I want to share with you that this is not the truth. Everything is possible. It may take some constant nourishing to nudge your dream into existence. It may require gradual baby steps. And your dream may require several starts and stops, but if you can conceive it and find ways to believe in it and take some action steps, you CAN make it happen.

I encourage you to reach out and create your milestone dreams.

A Gentler Way to Heal

Sometimes a disease may find its way into our life. When it does, the intended cure or treatment may be more painful that the disease itself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a gentler way to heal?

I am not naive enough to think that all of our experiences with a disease can be easily cured, if at all. I know they can’t.

And even though there may be several treatment options, they might all fail.

What is our resort then?

Its asking a lot, but might it be worth it to try to shift our perspective. Perhaps we could take a deeper look.

Several years ago I wrote the first book in the Little Buddha series. Its the story of a young girl (Claire) who becomes a mentor to a man (Sam) who has been searching his whole life for illusive answers to his questions. He struggles with the idea that she could possibly be wise enough to share the wisdom he seeks, yet something within him opens and allows her in.

She offers him insights, not only to the mysteries of the world, but to his own inner life. Most of them come as a result of the assignments she gives him to complete. In the second chapter of the first book, Sam has been been searching for her without any success, until one day when he sees her lying in a chair in her front yard. He immediately knows she is not well. His worry propels him forward and a conversation follows.

Sam wants to know if there is anything he can do for her. Claire attempts to reassure Sam that although her body is not in harmony, her spirit is alive and well and that Michael is helping her. Sam does not understand her statement and wants to know who Micheal is. Claire explains that he is many things. He is her cousin, but also a ‘lightgiver’, who is one who knows a lot about the ‘light’, or what others would call ‘life’. She goes on to explain that Michael came to show her another way to understand wellness, a better, a gentler way.

Sam asks what Claire means by a better way.

Claire responds, “Well, my doctor says that I must fight and never give up and never give in. But Michael says there is another way. He says that everything we think, feel and say is either from love or from fear. He says that fear is not real. It is there for us to push against and to point the way toward love. It is our choice. So, if we choose to fight our condition, like my sickness, we are feeding it fear and this always creates conflict. And when your energy is already low, any kind of fighting works against you. Michael says that when you are sick and you are forced to slow down, if you can look, you can see things as they are. This can be an enormous gift, because when you look closely at things it can change your perspective and allow you to see the ‘dots’ so they become meaningful to you. Michael says that love is the key, not always easy, but always right. Love creates harmony in the body and in life. He says, the ‘light’ is filled with love. He works with me so that I see how my life is about ‘connecting the dots’ with love.”

Sam is perplexed and requests more of an explanation from Claire. As she often does, she asks Sam to share a meaningful and challenging event from his life. As he does, it becomes clear to him that each decision he made was connected to the one before and the one after. He also learns that labeling each outcome as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ made it harder for him to understand what was happening. Through the process, he discovered that fear, rather than being something to avoid, was actually a beautiful messenger, meant to lead him toward the light, toward love.

Sam gains valuable insight and starts to rearrange his view of the world. He comes to understand that Claire sees her disease not as a punishment, or a trial to be endured or a battle to be won. She places herself in the middle of it all and allows fear to have a voice and to help guide her toward ‘the light’. She acknowledges that her body is not in harmony, but allows her spirit to soar. She steps aside and looks at each moment seeing their connection and embraces the love she finds, using it to return to wellness.

You could see all of this as a gross oversimplification or a scenario unlikely to produce real results. That’s certainly one choice.

And perhaps I would agree with you, had I not had numerous occasions to see how this actually worked in my life. Being able to connect the dots, releasing any strength I’d assigned to good and bad labels, allowing fear to be a trustworthy guide and knowing that everything points toward love has changed my life.

And if you wish to see the connection between dots, I hope that it brings clarity into your life and a gentle wellness into your being.

Permitted Invasion of Stress

Have you ever experienced something in life, where despite your best efforts, things went completely out of control and spun off in all directions, creating total havoc?

I sure have.

It happened again recently. Maureen and I had replaced our front storm door with a brand new quality unit we thought would be ideal for us.

For no apparent reason one of the parts in the lock mechanism retracted and I could not get it to move, even a fraction of an inch. I imagined leaving home and returning only to find that somehow it snapped itself back into place locking us out of our house. And to add to this scenario, of course the key would no longer work. So, I taped over the opening to make sure we’d be able to get back in until we could get it fixed.

A few days later our brand new iMac computer, which had previously been working flawlessly, decided to question our standard password. I entered it and the little gray dots on the screen shook in place, saying in effect, ‘uh uh buddy, not your password.’ So, I tried again. Same result. I called in reinforcements. Maureen entered the password and again if shook it off. We both looked down at the keyboard. Nope, the Cap Lock key was not on.

I waited a bit to see if it would come back to its senses and watched as the screen froze in place and would not respond to any keystroke. I was completely locked out.

So, now my house and my computer were both restricting access. Interesting.

I won’t try to explain in detail, but there were a number of other things happening that were going the same way. And as it happens we were trying to get ready to go away on vacation. I admit that I was stressed out about the intersection of all these problems hitting at once. I took no time to step back and breathe. I didn’t get up and go for a walk or tell myself it would all be okay and that the things I was experiencing would all work out.

No, instead I permitted an invasion of stress into my life and rushed ahead and made matters worse. Instead of dialing Apple Customer Service I mistakenly got through to Apple Care Customer Service. And yes, they are a scam outfit. But given my inner stress and lack of forethought, I fell into their trap, which resulted in having to change all of my passwords and other information and a great deal more stress, and still no functioning computer.

I hope that you don’t have any stories similar to this, but you probably do. You may be able to identify with my confusion and understand why I didn’t step back and more carefully consider my actions.

I believe that everything that happens in life contains hidden gems waiting patiently for us to reveal them. I’ve spoken about this to lots of folks and am often asked to share what has come to me. Sometimes I think the requester wants to judge the benefits I discovered for themselves and see if in their opinion they justify the stress I encountered. Other times I believe there is a genuine curiosity and desire to see how they might be able to reveal gems in their own lives.

Here’s what was revealed this time to me, so that you can see for yourself.

I realized that I am human and will make mistakes and will sometimes berate myself for them. Seeing this clearly allows me to acknowledge my feelings, then release them and any ego attachment to them.

I recognized that fear was the driving force behind all of my stress. And, in my case, the fear represented a lack of faith in the loving universe. This gave me the chance to center myself in my belief that I am loved, protected and cherished by the divine.

I accepted that when I feel stress and time pressure building I loss focus. This helps me to realize I can consciously release whatever stress enters my life and shift my attention to addressing things positively. I also realize that I can stretch time by slowing down, sitting back and breathing into it.

I acknowledged that anger was playing a significant part in my experience. It blurred my vision so that all I could see was unfavorable outcomes. I embraced the idea that being angry is a choice. A choice that does not benefit me and one that requires a high price to be paid. I don’t want to pay this kind of price and I can make better choices. It’s really up to me.

I came to understand that a big part of me was flashing the ‘fairness’ card, enticing me to jump inside the loop of seeing the world as not fair to be treating me this way. The whole idea of fairness is a trap. Quicksand really. The more you struggle, the worse it becomes. I heard a small beautiful voice inside my head saying, “There is no such thing as fairness or punishment and there are no required lessons to learn. You are free to choose to experience life in any way you desire. You can release yourself from anything that feels too heavy or creates stress. Please choose wisely.”

And a companion to fairness rose up during this experience. Control. My desire and my need to control not only the outcome but the process as well. I realized that control is born from fear and I also realized that control is an illusion. We make choices, but we don’t control all outcomes. We are not here by ourselves and there is an incredible web of interconnections throughout the universe. I opened to accepting that there is great wisdom in releasing any sense of control and trusting in the innate intelligence of the universe.

Lastly, I found that when confronted by overwhelming challenges, I can be sustained by consciously releasing whatever rises up in me. I can focus on being patient with myself and offer myself love, knowing I am part of the divine and a radiant being of light. In this way I can be wholly engaged in life, ready for any beautiful encounter that comes my way.

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I Dare You

I dare you to read this post.

I dare you to cross the imaginary line that separates you from where you are and where you could be. A place where you may find something new and worthwhile.

I dare you to cross a line you don’t even see yet. A line that offers you an adventure you weren’t counting on. Can you resist the dare? Do you want to resist it?

As a kid I heard the words ‘I dare you’ pretty often from my friends. Most of the time they were trying to get me to do something stupid. Something that I’d look foolish doing or would likely hurt me and they could enjoy some laughs at my expense. That’s often what young boys do.

Well actually, that’s what older boys do too.

I was fairly good at resisting their pleas, so they escalated the intensity of the phrase, getting louder and louder. I DARE YOU, they would shout. Eventually I had to decide if I would knuckle under or walk away. Unfortunately, I didn’t always walk away and they ended up getting their laughs and yes, I ended up getting hurt.

The older I got the better I was able to ignore those who dared me. But a funny thing happened. I began to take over their taunt and dared myself to do things.

One time I was walking through a train yard and thought it might be fun to hop onto one for a ride. I dared myself to do it and disengaged my brain. The next second I was running alongside the moving train and hoisting myself into the open boxcar. So far, so good I thought.

After the train picked up some speed my brain reengaged and I thought it might be beneficial for me to get off before it sped up any more.

Here’s the thing about jumping off a moving train, in case no one ever dared you to do it. You have to hit the ground running at least as fast as the train is moving or you fall. Hard.

In my case, after jumping off, I took one step and fell forward, a pretty spectacular face plant, into a roadbed of cinders. Cinders are very hard, sharp, unforgiving black rocks that can pierce clothing easily. And they hurt. Quite badly.

Now you would think I would learn from this experience not to do it again. From where I sit today, I would have counseled my younger self to choose some other dare.

You’ve probably guessed already.

Nope. I dared myself to do it again. Perhaps to prove that I can learn from my errors in judgement (mistakes).

So, I dusted myself off and hopped aboard another train. This time, as it sped up, I ran inside the boxcar and jumped out, got my balance and continued running, keeping pace with the train. I slowed after a short distance and then stopped, watching the train disappear into the distance. Ahhh, success! How sweet.

I wonder whether anyone has dared you to do something you didn’t want to do. Or maybe, you decided to dare yourself. Often dares are meant to challenge you and it can be difficult to overcome your fears or to take a chance, not knowing the outcome. Sometimes the risk seems excessive or you’ve seen others attempt and fail and you don’t want to experience the same results.

What if you knew for certain that you could accomplish whatever you or someone else dared you to do? Would you do it then? Do you need that much certainty?

Here’s my dare for you. I dare you to believe that love is the answer to everything. I dare you to accept that you are loved unconditionally by (the universe, spirit, the divine, god, or whatever you view as sacred). I dare you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer or need. I dare you to look inside of yourself and embrace you innate goodness knowing that you are beautiful and worthwhile and radiant.

I believe you are all these things and more.

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Love In The Present Moment

I’ve been wondering lately if it might be possible to find love and express love in everything I do.

I ask myself, is this what Yeshiwa (Jesus) and Buddha did? Is it what Mother Teresa, and Gandhi did? Does the Dalai Lama live this way?

When I ask myself this question, my first response is- no way!

No matter how spiritually connected I may feel at a given moment, I don’t think I could remain conscious enough to let love flow through me like this.

There are just too many triggers for me in life. I’m not even sure I could do this for thirty minutes straight. Could you? Could any but the most spiritually gifted among us?

So, I think to myself, maybe it would be a good idea to set my sights lower. Perhaps there might be a way to increase my awareness enough so that I could hold others gently in my heart and offer them some love, realizing that even if I couldn’t do it all the time, this would still be better.

But I suspect, even this would be very challenging, and this starts an inner dialogue. Part of me has already decided it is not possible to find or express love in every moment, so why try? This part of me is ready to let myself off the hook and I haven’t even begun.

Another part of me enters the conversation with this thought. If you only do the things that are easy, what will you ever accomplish in life. Are you not going to try? Are you that afraid of failure?

A third voice requests my attention. It’s quieter, but there is power in it. It asks me a simple question. What would it change for you if you could find and express love in all that you do?

I hear snickers in the background from the first two voices and then silence.

There is a peaceful momentary pause, giving me a chance to respond. Well, I thought, it could change everything for me.

I would be able to lighten up, to release my fears, to draw others into my world, to smile with ease, to open my heart, to give, to graciously receive, to hug with my whole being. A list flows out of me. A truly wonderful list. I can feel its presence and its power.

The first voice returns and speaks loudly, sure, this sounds very nice, but how do we get from (here) where we are to (there) where we want to be? Do we have to put on rose-colored glasses first?

The third voice takes no offense and offers soothing words and a question. Do you like treasure hunts?

We ask the third voice, where did that come from? It waits patiently until we answer.

Well, yes, we do.

Wonderful it responds. I want to share a secret with you. You knew it at one time, but have forgotten, so let me remind you.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is that we’ve hidden treasure everywhere.  Every single experience you will encounter throughout your life has treasure in it. Some lie on the surface and are easy to spot. Others are buried deeply and may require you to dig to find them. But each one of them is worth pursuing. They may at first seem dusty, but each will sparkle and shine once you polish them.

How do we find them we asked?

You find them by opening your heart and expressing love. The more you do this, the greater the love you will experience. It’s up to you and what you choose. Choose wisely, my love.

All the voices quieted but one.

I want to try, it said.

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Broken Hearts

A broken heart can seem like the end of the world. But, if you give yourself a chance, it can also be the beginning of a new world.

Sometimes we don’t feel we have the ability to defend ourselves from a broken heart. Things just happen to us. They come and overwhelm us, sometimes making it hard to breathe. And it can seem too challenging to believe there is any way to reassemble our lives and reclaim our heart.

I have a story to tell you about this.

My sister, Alison, and I like to try out various art classes. We decided it would be fun to do some stained-glass work, so signed up and when the time came, showed up at the studio. As is often the case, I was the only man present. I’ve grown accustomed to this and the mothering I usually receive from the women taking the class.

There were seven or eight of us present. The instructor was very pleasant and helpful and guided us through the process and various techniques we would be using. When she was done with her introductory comments, she asked us to wander around and choose the glass pieces that appealed to us.

It was a lot of fun seeing all the various sizes, colors, and textures of the glass pieces. I gathered what I thought would be enough to complete my project and sat down next to my sister.

At first, I began randomly placing pieces in my frame. I really didn’t have any preconceived idea how my project would turn out. I was just ‘winging it’. At some point I realized I didn’t like how it looked, so I tipped out all the pieces onto the table.

There were a host of shrieks and everyone in the class turned toward me. They simply could not believe I’d done that and were upset on my behalf. Some thought it must have been an accident. Others were convinced I was upset or crazy. Once they knew it was an intentional act on my part, they all wanted to know WHY?

I told them I’d changed my mind. I looked at the assembled stained-glass pieces and I didn’t like what I saw. I told them I needed to start over and that it would be okay. They didn’t seem at all reassured and went back to their own projects, shaking their heads.

I began again. This time though the pieces fell easily into place. I noticed a surprising calmness inside of me. I’d followed my own inner guidance and as I looked down, an incredible thing happened. A beautiful image appeared. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus, dressed in a blue swirling shroud. I looked more carefully and noticed she was holding a broken heart in her hands. I knew she was mending it. I sat there in complete awe.

Of all the artwork I have created, it is by far my most favorite.

It speaks to me. I hear gently words she shared about how to mend a broken heart.

She told me that it is only when we choose to feel what we are feeling that we can begin. We know it’s going to be painful and yet, I feel there is a promise in this for us, that once we allow the pain in and recognize its presence, it becomes ready to leave us. We can let it go, making space for something new to take its place. And we can start over. We can be patient and watchful, looking for a new life to emerge. We can open our hearts, so we can experience new dreams. And, although it seems impossible to us, we can be grateful. Grateful that life does not end with a broken heart. If we allow it, our life can begin again. Our hearts can be mended.

I think about this every time I look at my beautiful stained-glass artwork hanging in my office window. Sometimes first thing in the morning the rising sun lights it up and I sense the truth that no heart is ever beyond mending.

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I’ll Be Happy When

Is there a right time to be happy in this life?

My answer to this seemingly simple question makes a big difference in the quality of my life.

I’ve spent a great deal of time living a conditional life. You may know what I mean already, but if not, here are some examples of a statements I’ve made.

I’ll be happy when I reach a specific goal.

I’ll be happy when my TO DO list is complete.

I’ll be happy when the balance in my account is high enough.

It’s possible you could add statements of your own, especially if you’re a pro at this like I am. I want to say, ‘like I was’, but I’m not there yet. I still struggle with this affliction.

The funny (and not so funny) thing is that I’m usually not happy when I achieve my objective. Sure, there is a momentary high, but very soon after, I set a new goal, add another item to the list or increase the account balance target.

I accept that this whole delayed happiness issue I have is fixable and I’ve made observations over the course of time which have helped. Here’s four that I’ve discovered.

The chances of my being happy decrease the more I look forward or look backward.

The chances of my being happy increase when I live in the present moment.

The chances of my being happy decrease with each prerequisite I attach to a goal or desire.

And the chances of my being happy increase when I release all the conditions I’ve attached.

Yes, it’s all up to me. But that’s fair because I’m the one who views the world this way. Yes, I had help. I learned by watching and listening to others. I saw what they did and copied them.

I was taught to have goals and aims and to accomplish wonderful things. You may have been to. And some of us were taught to wait to be happy until we’d fully achieved our goals. Perhaps the reason was so that we would continue to strive. Maybe otherwise we would be satisfied with less than our goal. Maybe we’d just be slackers.

I’ve always known that living a conditional life would be painful. I think I could tell from the beginning it didn’t feel right. But when you are a kid, you are trained to comply, so I did.

The problem with this is you can’t grow up without questioning things. Without knowing why they are important. And I want to grow up. I want to chuck all the conditions I attach to thoughts and ideas and dreams out the window.

I think that’s where they all belong. Maybe you’ll want to join me in this adventure.

My first step is to be happy to begin with. I’m not prepared to wait any longer. My life is far too short to wait any longer. I’m going to celebrate the simple things, like breathing, walking, sleeping, eating, loving. I’m going to learn from my rich history. I’m going to spend more time doing the things I love, because they are awash in happiness. And when I feel the need to pursue a goal or aim, I’m going to ask myself…why? Why is this important to me? If I can’t answer that, well then, it’s not going to make the list.

So, if you walk by my house someday, be careful, because I may still be throwing my unnecessary ‘conditions’ out of the window and I know you don’t want them either.

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Disillusioned

Who has not lost faith in something or someone? Been deceived or been the deceiver?

I find it fascinating how some words have no counterparts and wondered if disillusioned was one of them. I’ve never heard anyone use the word ‘illusioned’, so of course I had to look it up.

Well, it was there. Illusioned, according to one source, is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.

So, perhaps a desert mirage is a good example. A distortion that fools us into believing something that is not there. Although somewhat difficult to explain, this type of illusion is caused by physical atmospheric conditions.

But, what about the illusions we humans create? We are extremely potent creators, capable of deceiving not only ourselves, but others as well. Of course, not all of it is done on purpose, nor with deceptive intent. Most of the time, it just happens and we’re blissfully unaware.

We are not always mindful of our actions or thoughts or words and what they create.

And perhaps we just take for granted that there are illusions in the world.

So, how does this relate to disillusioned? Wouldn’t that logically be the opposite? Sort of a dispelling of an illusion? A ‘seeing through the deception’ to reality?

Not according to the dictionary. To it, disillusion occurs when there is disappointment in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.

I wonder, does that mean that we first view the world, then decide how it looks and operates and then accept our conclusions as the truth. Do we build our reality, then become surprised, upset, angry…when it is not how we perceived it to be?

Are we then disillusioned by our own illusions?

You may be thinking, where am I going with all of this?

Here, is where.

It’s to a place you may find challenging to consider. So, as with all things (including this website post), please feel free to disregard it. But, as long as you’re already here, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.

What if our earth life is a magnificent illusion? What if it’s a place for each of us to experience whatever we choose, but it’s not where we remain once we’re done choosing?

What if it’s an illusion in the sense that there is a greater truth, a reality beyond this earth life.

I know this is a challenging concept because some would say that, if this earth life is an illusion, it means that anyone could do anything they wanted, and it wouldn’t matter, because it is only an illusion. They would use this idea to justify any action they chose, like it doesn’t really matter or result in any consequences.

This is not what I’m saying, nor what I mean.

Rather than nothing mattering, everything matters.

Every moment provides an opportunity to experience something of deep value. To form connections with others. To love and be loved. To serve and receive. To create and experience anything.

Some believe that there is nothing beyond our earth existence. I am not one of them.

I believe that, once we pass from this world, we become ‘disillusioned’. We see beyond what we thought was reality and break away from the magnificent illusion of our earth life. We release ties to the illusion and return home to ‘heaven’.

I love this grand illusion of an earth life. I love the depth of connections I have here, but when it’s my time to leave, I will welcome the grand disillusion as well.

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Words

I think words matter. The ones that get spoken and those that remain hidden.

There are an incredible number of words in the world. When you consider all the different languages, it must be in the millions, especially if you include slang words.

I was thinking about words the other day and split them into two categories, mean words and kind words. There are no doubt neutral words, but I’m leaving them out of the equation for now.

What struck me was that I wasn’t drawn in by the actual words themselves, but more by the way they are used and the intent behind them. The way we choose them or express them.

I think it says a lot about us.

I try to use kind words whenever I can and find that I feel better when I do. When I use mean words, not only do they hurt others, but they also hurt me. I feel it inside and I don’t like it.

Words seem to have a lasting effect. They leave a trail. They can be life changing. But they can also be life threatening. They can sink you into the depths or allow you to rise.

I’d like to say that I always take great care with words, but I don’t. I am human and….and what? And I make mistakes. I choose words without thinking, without considering their impact, both to others and to myself.

I wonder, is it even possible to be conscious of all the words we use? We say so many in a day. I think it’s possible that we feel we need to.

I wonder another thing. What would it be like to stop using words for a while?

I once read a fascinating book about John Francis. He was distraught about certain things in his life and decided to take a vow of silence for one day. That one day led to another. And then another. And then to a string of days that would last for seventeen years. Yes, I said, 17 years.

Can you imagine going without words for that long?

How would you communicate with your loved ones and with the world?

Sure, you could use sign language or some form of it, but in a way that seems the same to me. They are words in picture form, but still words.

Wordless. Talk about an isolating feeling.

Although my initial focus was on the mean or kind words we say to each other and the impact they have, I shifted to wondering about the words we say to ourselves.

Can you think of the most recent words you told yourself? What were they? Were they mean or kind? How did you feel when you heard yourself say them? Did you want to take them back? Did you want to let them go, to rid yourself of them?

Did your words reflect your truth or were they reflections of what others have said to you?

These are big questions.

I don’t have all of the answers. I probably never will. That’s okay. I don’t need to know everything. What I do know is that words matter. And I’m trying not to take them lightly, because they form my world. They speak to me, and they speak for me.

I’ve come to a decision about all of this. I want them to speak for my heart and for my spirit and to offer love to the world. That’s what feels the most right to me.

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Giving Up Sympathy for Myself

When I began writing these posts in October 2020, I felt it would be very important for me to be as honest as I could. I’m not sure if I always am, because we so often tend to fool ourselves. We think one thing but feel another. Which is the truth?

I was struck with a thought lately having to do with how I make my way through an illness or challenge I’m having. It occurred to me that I feel a need for sympathy. Not only my own, but from others as well.

An internal quote materialized out of nowhere.

“The more you are willing to give up your need for sympathy from others, the more easily you’ll be able to accept that all things serve you, even the ones that don’t appear to. Perhaps, especially those.”

Wow, I thought, there’s a lot of meat in that statement.

I sensed two enormous ideas emerge.

One, that everything serves me. I’ve spent a great deal of time considering this with my head only to fall short of understanding it. My head says this couldn’t possibly be true because its view is narrow. It only looks at the present so, of course whatever problem I’m having seems unfortunate to me and I want to dispense with it as soon as possible.

However, when I engage my heart, the meaning becomes clear, or at least clearer. My heart sees into the distance. It waits and watches and connects the dots so that a whole picture is revealed. Once this happens, I can see that what first seemed to be an insurmountable challenge, is actually a powerful message to me. A message that creates clarity and helps guide my thoughts and actions in the future.

The second idea is potent for me. Perhaps others don’t rely on sympathy, but I’ve come to realize that I do.

Feeling that I need the sympathy of others is a huge crutch for me and it prevents me from seeing any depth or from moving on. It makes it difficult to shift and recognize any insights.

The NEED for sympathy becomes my focus and commands my attention, leaving no resources available to me for deciding what would better serve me.

I have to force myself to stop and ask, “what do you want most?”

Part of me responds that I want sympathy from others. It feels good. And yet, I recognize that it is only momentarily satisfying, leaving me unfilled and wanting more.

Another part of me takes a different approach and understands that what I truly desire most is to connect as deeply as possible with the divine inside of me. It knows that every time I focus on soliciting for and accepting sympathy from others, or from myself, there will be a delay in connecting with my heart and my spirit.

I have to decide what is most important to me.

Choosing can be a hard thing to do and I am not always capable of selecting the most beneficial response to the situations I encounter. Maybe this happens to you too.

For now, I’ve decided to give up sympathy for myself and look deeper into the experience so that I can discover the hidden gifts and messages. And I want there to be free space available for me to store the new treasures I find.

I’m pretty sure there will be times I succumb to the charms of seeking sympathy for myself, but my heart feels open and ready to look elsewhere now.

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Ballast

Ballast seems like a funny word to me. One day it just popped into my head out of nowhere, so I decided to look it up. I thought I knew what it meant already, but as is so often the case, I was mistaken.

The first usage given, for both the noun and the verb, refers to ships. Ballast is some kind of heavy material, like sand, gravel, iron or lead, which is placed low in a ship in order to improve its stability or refers to the stabilizing force offered by these materials.

Interesting.

I wondered how that might apply of our human lives. What sort of things stabilize our existence and give us ballast?

No doubt the answer is different from person to person, but I thought it might be useful to consider if there were some beneficial principles involved.

So, suppose one day you’re walking down the street and a strong wind starts to blow, what gives you ballast? I guess you could fill your pockets with sand or gravel or, if you could even find them, iron or lead. Sure, you could, but not very practical, huh?

You could just move indoors until the strong wind goes by. That would solve your problem. But what about those problems in life that you can’t get away from by hiding inside? What gives you ballast for them?

I know that one of my solutions was to try to block difficult problems as soon as they appeared. I told myself, nope not going to affect me!

But the truth was they did affect me and by spending my energy trying to block or deflect them, it caused a great deal of inner tension and made it even more difficult to deal with the other things going on in my life.

It wasn’t until I started attending Unity Church, that I began to realize, that I had to give myself the chance to feel my feelings. Without taking this scary step, I was never able to move beyond the fear and the subsequent tension it created.

I confess it is challenging to make this shift and, as much as I’d like to say I’m beyond it, that probably isn’t the case. I still have to remind myself to go inside and be honest. And, I still need to feel whatever I’m feeling, before I can move on.

Letting my heart sit with my fears, deep inside me, now feels like ballast to me. They can be very heavy at times, but they draw me in and by allowing them to speak to me, I can create the space for their release.

As it turns out, one ballast for me is the strength of knowing I am safe in this world, which is another Unity idea. When I am challenged, I can remind myself that there are those who want me to succeed. And, there are those who love me and will help me. They are in my corner and it gives me peace knowing that no matter what, they are ready to steady me when life becomes rocky.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking, well, good for you that you have a support group, but I don’t, so who is going to assist me, especially when I experience tough times?

I know there are lots of different groups that seek to provide the help that each of us needs, but if you can’t find them or they don’t find you, I have one place you can still go for stability and support.

I’ve spoken of it before and will again. It is the divine, the sacred spirit that lives inside of you. All it takes is to speak out and ask, then listen with your whole being. I believe that the divine stands waiting at all times for our approach and all it takes is an open heart, ready to believe, ready to be loved.

For me, I know this to be my truth. I hope it becomes yours as well.

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SPECIAL NOTE

If you want to know more about having a relationship with the divine (god), please see the Books page on this website, where there is a description of my book, talking with (god). If you can’t afford it, please let me know  (use the Contact page) and I’ll send you a free copy.

Lessons or Experiences

From the folks I’ve talked to, there seems to be a consensus that school is focused on learning specific lessons. The expectation appears to be that the student does not know anything, so must be taught by the teacher. Further, it is assumed that the teacher knows what would be valuable for the student to learn.

The closer you are to educational systems, the more you realize that it’s all about the curriculum chosen. There is no way that any one teacher or any one student could know all things, so choices must be made and priorities decided about what to focus on in the classroom.

Inevitably, certain events and facts get lost in the shuffle. And then, there is the tendency to slant important details to suit whoever is in charge.

A glaring case in point was demonstrated to me during one of Maureen’s and my vacations. We visited Vancouver, Canada (absolutely gorgeous, by the way) and were fascinated to discover an enormous mural depicting a series of skirmishes that resulted in Canada winning a major battle against the United States. We looked at each other and asked ourselves, “Didn’t our textbooks say that we won that? We could have sworn they were quite specific on that point.”

Hmmm?

Well, no matter. I mean, it happened so long ago. What difference does it really make?

Perhaps, if it were an isolated instance, it wouldn’t matter. But it has ramifications far beyond which side actually won, because it’s unclear if there is a definitive correct answer, so what level of trust can you put in any of your lessons?

Along with many others I know, I come across events in my life and one of my first reactions is to wonder if there is a ‘lesson’ in it for me.

In school we are taught to learn our lessons. If we fail to do that, we’re told, we’ll need to repeat the class, UNTIL we’ve learned our lesson. This is potent stuff, unless you like summer school.

One trip there was enough to cure me. Who would want, after a very long school year, to spend the hot summer in a stuffy classroom trying to relearn a subject you didn’t like in the first place? No one, that’s who.

Here’s the real rub for me.

This whole idea of having to learn our lessons gets carried over into the rest of our lives. When faced with dilemmas and problems that don’t feel resolvable to us, I often hear people say to one another, “well, I guess you’ve haven’t learned your lesson yet.”

Beyond this not being the least bit helpful, it perpetuated the idea that there is one correct answer, and clearly, we’ve missed it.

I’d like to offer an alternative thought for your consideration.

Suppose there are NO specific lessons for you to have to learn. And, of course, this means there are no lessons you have to repeat until you get them right.

What if life is just a series of experiences? Simple experiences, without right and wrong answers. Without implications or attached judgements? Would that change things for you?

When I shift away from ‘lessons’ and focus on ‘experiences’, it makes a powerful difference to me. I can let go of worrying about getting life ‘right’ and open to the treasure inside of each of the experiences I encounter.

I admit that sometimes I have to dig deeply to uncover the treasure, but I’ve found it is always there waiting for me.

Perhaps if you give this shift a chance, you’ll find all of the treasure you are searching for. I certainly hope so.

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Legacy

Someone came before me and someone will come after me, so I am in between two sources of light. And, there are also those that surround me and overlap my life. They breathe and dream and offer themselves to the world, just like I do.

We are all a mixture and I wonder, what will my legacy be?

Perhaps this is a question someone older asks. Someone who has lived many years and pauses to reflect a bit. I am 68 years old and the idea of legacy has woven itself into me. It breathes through me and feels as though it gives more abundant life to what I share.

Legacy seems such a big word to me and I wonder if this is true. It suggests a summary of one’s achievements, especially those that can be passed along. A house, an investment portfolio, a business. A division of assets to the family.

But, it feels like so much more to me.

I ask myself, what am I sharing with the world right now? Does it make it a better, grander place? Do I extend outward or mostly sit back and receive, filling myself up?

And, is my life more beautiful because I am connected with the lives around me?

Have I absorbed enough to be able to pass on the beauty, fire and passion I feel inside? Have I taken on some of the qualities of those I love and passed them along, continuing their essence and placing their dreams into another generation of dreamers?

I realize that my personal legacy may not be important in the grand scheme of things, since I am just one of over a billion essences that have passed through this incredible world. But to ME, I am everything.

Are you not everything to yourself?

Is not every word and thought and action our legacy? Does it not speak for who we are in this world? We who want to be heard and we who hope to inspire others?

Are we not more than our grand accomplishments or the money we leave to others?

I believe it is so. I believe the daily acts we perform, the single beautiful moments we suspend in time and the silent gestures of love and compassion are our greatest legacy.

We are each a treasure chest for those around us. Filled with beautiful gifts beyond the value of gold and diamonds.

We are so powerful. We can offer hope and friendship. We can sit with the sorrows of others and, when they happen, we can celebrate their successes.

We can serve as a link, offering recollections of those who have gone before us and adding our own visions to the stories of those who will live beyond us.

What could be more beautiful?

So, what have I decided to do?

It is this…to claim my best, most authentic life. To live as consciously as I can, offering love, embracing joy and creating moments of celebration, for if I live my best life, I believe it moves out naturally into the world. It creates waves of energy that touch everything. I hope my energy flows and connects so that I become a part of all. What a divine legacy.

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In Pain, Consider Gratitude

You may think I am crazy, and perhaps in some ways I am.

The thought of offering gratitude when you are in pain runs contrary to how we’ve grown up in the world and I was tempted to shy away from this post topic. But, I couldn’t, mostly because that’s where I have been for the last several days.

It’s one of those inexplicable cases where I felt fine one moment and not the next. No obvious precipitating event seemed to lead to my misery.

I simply had progressively worsening pain in my right groin area that made it extremely difficult to move, bend or raise and lower my right leg. As a consequence, I relied almost exclusively on my left side and upper body to carry my weight, causing additional problems.

I’ve had something similar to this happen to me before, but never with as much pain.

I tried to understand why this was happening to me. I recognize this is one of my default settings- needing to know the reason(s) for things in my life. But, I also recognize now how useless pursuing this line of thought is. It doesn’t resolve the problem, takes me away from helpful courses of action and even if I knew exactly how the problem occurred, what benefit would that serve at the moment?

So, I tried to take a step back and accept that something had happened and it was now up to me to choose how to react.

My first thought was to feel a little sorry for myself because I anticipated that the pain was going to be with me for several days, given how sharp and intense it was.

I’ve learned to try to follow my natural reactions, but not get caught up and stuck in them. So, I pushed a little further.

Yes, there was pain, but what else. Was there something hidden that could be revealed? Could I discover any reason(s) to be grateful for this experience?

Now that is a challenging question and one I don’t feel I was completely ready for. And yet, I knew it was important to consider it. So, I asked myself, what gratitude exists here for me?

The first thought that came to me was that there are folks who are available to me to help; my wife, chiropractor, doctor, family, friends, the pharmacy. I wasn’t alone in this.

I got into the spirit of this exercise.

Instead of being angry that I didn’t get my usual 7-8 hours of sleep, I was grateful for the four hours of sleep I did get. I was grateful that I would be able to seek medical help. I was grateful that my back was okay, despite the extra load placed on it, which is a huge thing for me.

I thought about the timing of this event and expressed gratitude that it had happened when it did, rather than during my recent vacations. It would have severely limited my ability to enjoy them fully. But it happened after them and long enough before our next vacation, so I have time to recover.

I continued listing reasons to be grateful and allowed my physical suffering to exist, but not to overwhelm me. I admit this takes a certain amount of commitment and concentration, but the value to me has been extraordinary, not only for this episode, but to carry with me into the future.

This idea may seem too challenging and not one you can easily accept, but had I not opened to the idea, I would not have discovered gratitude’s great power and beauty. I ask only that you consider seeing if it might offer you the same.

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Overloading

When you travel, do you end up bringing the exact right amount of stuff with you or do you under or over pack?

I am guilty of over packing. I do it every time I go somewhere.

It seems silly to me and I end up resolving not to do it again…only to do it again.

One time I took note of all the stuff I didn’t end up needing or using as I returned it to its resting place at my house. I’d calculate that sometimes I brought as much as 50-60% more stuff than I used or needed.

It made me wonder why? Why would I consistently bring so much stuff with me? It didn’t make any logical sense. Wouldn’t one sweatshirt have been sufficient, instead of two? Did I really need extra underwear and socks? And, how about that towel I packed, didn’t the place I was going offer towels for the beach or the pool?

Maybe you don’t ever do this, I don’t know. Maybe you’ve figured out the secret to packing just the right amount. If so, please feel free to share.

Since the answer to my over packing didn’t seem be logical, I wondered, what else could be the reason? Did it stem from some inner sense of comfort I needed, so that I would feel that I would be okay?

I also sensed a level of fear involved and asked myself, what would happen if I didn’t have everything to meet my needs? It did occur to me that I probably could buy whatever the missing item was, but it might not be convenient and it seemed better that I should have it with me to start, right?

That’s when it hit me. The reason wasn’t logical, it was emotional.

I over packed to create a (false) sense of comfort and to ensure that I would be able to feel okay with my surroundings.

And, as with most other experiences, I felt there would be some definite relevance to my life if I explored this a bit deeper.

I wondered, did I over pack in other aspects of living?

The answer turned out to be ‘yes’, and for the very same reason, to feel comfortable emotionally.

But does it work?

No, not really. Mostly I believe because while ‘things’ can create outer comfort, they can’t create inner comfort.

The only thing that can do that is inside of me already. It’s my awareness and knowingness that the entire universe will support me in whatever I choose to do. This goes far beyond both the logical and the emotional and dips directly into the spiritual.

It is not necessary for me to understand all of the dynamics involved. It isn’t necessary for me to be able to explain or prove that this is the truth for me. What is necessary is that I exercise faith and trust that I am loved and cared for and that everything I truly need will be provided.

This is a very big deal.

It may strike a cord with you and find a home. I am grateful if this is the case.

But it may still leave you wanting more. If so, I need to ask you something, what balances and centers you when everything starts to tip over? If it’s something outside of you, it probably doesn’t work all of the time and so, a shift to the inside might help.

Maybe stepping back, closing your eyes, breathing slowly and easily, and opening your heart and asking the divine inside of you to come and share its wisdom with you will bring you peace.

I try to remind myself every time I over pack, either when going on an actual trip or traveling some new pathway in life, that I am loved and cared for by the divine that is always inside of me.

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Mistakes

This is actually not a story about gardening, but it may seem like it at first.

Imagine that you have a large piece of property and want to create a garden and fill it with all sorts of wonderful vegetables. You think to yourself, what steps do I need to take to make this happen?

Knowing what you want to plant and when it would be the best time to get started would be helpful. So too would knowing how to prepare and fertilize the soil and fence it in properly so all of the animals in the area don’t eat your crop before you do.

But, I believe one of the very first steps would be to consider how big you want your garden to be. Once you’ve decided, you could measure the plot outline and place stakes at each one of the corners. And, maybe you’d want to string a line between the stakes so that you can get a better idea of the scope of your garden.

Cultivating the soil and planting your seeds might come next, however, I suggest you consult a real gardener or farmer for the best methods.

For my purposes, I’d like you to imagine that you’ve done all of the prep work and have begun planting your seeds and suddenly realize, that despite your best efforts, you don’t have enough space for everything.

Imagine what your reaction is to this situation.

Are you angry with yourself? Do you berate your lack of forethought? Do you feel like giving up?

Or, do you shift and focus on solutions? Do you think to yourself, all I have to do is move two of the stakes, so I can fit everything in? I’ve just made a simple ‘miss-stake’.

That’s all it really is…you’ve placed the stakes in spots that don’t work for you, so you pull two up and relocate them and then everything is okay again. Simple.

I really love the idea of…simple.

Imagine now that we’re talking about life and not a garden.

You want to experience or create something in your life, so you go about doing the things you believe will make it real for you. But, you know that there are things you don’t understand and that there will be challenges you’ll need to overcome.

You are human and part of that is making mistakes.

No matter how controlled, no matter how intelligent or careful or thoughtful you are, you will make mistakes. You’ll set something up, put something into motion, relate to another person, organize, plan and yet, you’ll make mistakes.

The good and wonderful news is…that’s okay and is to be expected. In fact, I believe, all mistakes lead us in the direction we truly wish to go. That is, unless we allow them to define us and our actions, so that we lose faith in ourselves. Rather than seeing our mistakes as taking away from us, we have the choice to shift our perspective and open to seeing mistakes as redirecting our path toward our best self.

When we shift our focus, we change the course of our lives. There is no more failure or need for negative thoughts about our self. We can see that each mistake offers us an opportunity to find a new and better path. We can be grateful for the insight brought into view and simply change the location of the stakes in our lives.

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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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Center of Gravity

As a kid I had an awesome sense of balance. One of my favorite things to do was creek walk. It didn’t matter where and sometimes, it didn’t matter when. I’d even go in cold weather, which could have been considered a little risky, since I spent a good deal of time jumping from one rock to the next. All it would have taken was some moss I didn’t see or an unsteady rock and down I would have gone. Splashing into cold water when you’re a long way from civilization isn’t the smartest idea. But, I didn’t say I was smart, only that I had confidence in my balance.

According to one source, a person’s center of gravity is normally located in front of your sacral bone, at about the second sacral level. In English, this is pretty near your belly button. I don’t know why they couldn’t have just said this, but that’s science for you.

As a grew older my fearless side began to ebb away. I’d spend more time calculating the distance between rocks, and examining the appearance of their steadiness, before making the jump.

Some would say my survival mode kicked in, but I think it’s more than that, after all I was still out there.

I think I couldn’t allow myself to abandon the thrill and joy of the experience. It kept me in touch with a part of the wild world and connected me to the creek in a way that felt primal. I knew even my subdued version was risky, but I couldn’t let go.

You might wonder if I fell. Yes, plenty of times.

You might wonder if I ever got myself into a bad situation, one perhaps beyond my ability to control the outcome. The answer again would be, yes.

One day, I found a beautiful roaring river, and made my way from rock to rock, expecting that I would be able to cross over and back and maybe even stay dry.

Crazy bad idea. I fell in at about the midpoint of the river. Drenched, cold, and stuck, hugging a large protective rock, as torrents of water raged by me. And, it was a long way to the edge and safety.

Now what? I’d lost my physical center of gravity in an epic slow-motion crash into the water, and I feared I’d lost my mental center of gravity along with it.

The first thing I did in that crisis situation was ‘nothing’. I needed to give myself a moment to think and consider my options and get my bearings.

I didn’t have many options. No one was coming to throw me a lifeline or air lift me out of there. And, I couldn’t stay where I was and risk hypothermia. I had to find a way to carefully swim/float from one rock to another, traveling a kind of semi-submerged highway.

The first time I let go, whoosh, I got carried away by the strong current and my body bashed into a huge rock further downstream. I was pretty sure I’d at least cracked a rib, maybe even two. Eventually, I slowly and carefully made my way to the shore and pulled myself up onto dry land. I can tell you it seemed like a very long walk back to my car.

I went back to the inn I was staying at, got into dry clothes and drove to the nearest hospital several miles away. They took some x-rays, confirmed a cracked rib and suggested I stay on shore next time. Good advice, but I probably wouldn’t take.

Not surprisingly, this experience has stayed with me and I often reflect on the value of living a life of balance. It’s important to me to resist the temptation to succumb to overprotective inner fears. I don’t want to be defined by what I can not do.

Equally important, is recognizing when I’m attracted by a sense of danger, whether physical, mental or emotional. Life can be very subtle and it is easy to be drawn away from your center of gravity.

I’ve discovered along the way, that to be truly in balance, I need to live from my spiritual center. To rely on my relationship with the divine to guide me and provide a safe shelter from any storm, even the ones I create. Perhaps, especially those.Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter

Climbing

I offer some prose for you, to take you away from where you are right now. Imagine for a moment that you are here, inside this short poem. The “I” the poem begins with is…you. Imagine you are young enough to easily climb. Strong, supple, fearless. Ready to discover and explore. To see something new. To feel something new. Let go, if only for a moment…

I am climbing higher

up into the tallest branches

beyond all those

that walk the flat land

higher and higher

until I no longer hear them

until their words

fade into the wind

I am

above

almost a part of the clouds

I feel

alone

and yet

a part of everything

how can that be

where would I be

if

there is no higher to climb

perhaps

in heaven

I wrote most of this on the spot, in response to knowing it needed a place to live. So, I’m giving it to you. You get to decide what it means, if anything.

It makes me wonder about gifts and giving. Where do gifts come from? Are they given from the heart or from somewhere else? Which ones mean the most or are they all the same?

A smile, a hug, a new Mercedes Benz. What gives them value?

Is it more fun to be the giver or the receiver? Does the cost matter?

I ask myself lots of questions. I don’t always have the answers, but it certainly opens me up to ponder them.

What questions do you ask yourself? Do they open you up? Do they bring you closer to heaven?

I am often told that I ask good questions. By that, I believe folks mean that what they hear opens a part of them that had previously been closed off. Unavailable for them to access, preventing them from recognizing a part of their truth. Something they needed to grow, expand or to brighten their world.

What would brighten your world?

Is there a tree you would like to climb? One that would take you higher and higher, to a quiet place? If you find this tree, remember, you are strong enough, supple enough and fearless enough to climb and see above, perhaps even to a part of heaven.

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Dream Big

One day I decided to go for a walk. What I thought of as a very long walk. My wife, Maureen, drove me to a town quite a distance from our house, kissed me and said goodbye. I had nothing with me, other than what I was wearing. Several hours and sixteen miles later I finally arrived home. I felt exhilarated that I could walk so far and happy for the up close and personal view I’d given myself.

Ordinarily I drove everywhere. I realized that I missed a lot by zooming by, with little time to glance at the scenery or connect with the little things along the way.

Sometimes my life feels this way too.

I’ve discovered that I am not the only one who likes to walk. My friend, Sketch (Mike Wurman), who created the magnificent cover design and interior illustrations for my book, talking with (god), decide he wanted to go for a walk too.

His version of a walk was to trek the entire Appalachian Trail, all 2,190 miles. He broke it up into four sections, rather than doing it all at one time, which doesn’t tarnish the accomplishment at all to me. I think it is a spectacular achievement.

He told me it was a wonderful experience, filled with so many events, emotions, new friends and worn out sneakers. I know it must have been challenging in many ways and I wonder about all of the opportunities there must have been to quit. But he didn’t. He finished, and stared out at the world from the top of Mt. Katahdin in central Maine, the journeys end. I wish I’d been there with him.

There are two other people I’d like to mention.

Before I do, I’d ask you to bring to mind some experience or project or dream you have that seems too incredible to contemplate. You know the ones I mean. The big, big, big ideas that you think would be major life events. I’ll give you a minute. Okay, keep your idea in mind.

A woman named Mildred Lisette Norman decide at age 45 that she wanted to make a change to her life. She wanted to dedicate it to a cause, one that rested deeply in her heart…peace. She set out and became the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail. She liked walking so much that for the next 28 years she crisscrossed the united State seven times. She said in 1964 that she stopped counting the number of miles she walked at 20,000. Some have tried to estimate her actual total based on her trips and have suggested it is likely to be over 43,000 miles.

This astounds me, especially when you consider that all she brought with her was a comb, a folding toothbrush, a ball point pen and her message of peace. She relied entirely on the kindness of strangers. Can you imagine? No extra clothes, no food, no medicine, nothing to protect herself from the rain or the wind or snow. It boggles my mind.

Everywhere she went she spoke about peace. The inner kind and the outer kind. Part of her message was, “when enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”

And then there is Angela Maxwell, who on May 2, 2014 set out to walk around the world, ALONE. She sold or gave away most of her possessions and piled what was left onto a rolling cart that she either pushed or pulled for six and a half years and over 20,000 miles. She traveled to four continents and a handful of islands, building relationships and sharing herself with the world.

Angela says her goal was never about the pace of her travels, but rather the faces she met along the way. She seemed to know that it was important to slow down and pay attention and to give more than you receive along the way. She has dedicated a portion of the funds she receives from donors to support her organization, Her Future Coalition, which is devoted to creating a safe haven for survivors of gender violence and human trafficking.

Big dreams. I’d say so. But what makes them both real and spectacular to me is that they each had a purpose, a drive, and a desire to share with the world. I too want to share with the world.

And, I hope that all of your big dreams come true.

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Post #71 No Limits 06062021

There was a point recently that I was searching for an answer and couldn’t, from my own wisdom, discern a path to follow. That’s happened before. Lots of times actually. Maybe the same thing has happened to you.

It felt like there ought to be a course of action to take or perhaps a book telling me just what I needed or wanted to know. But there wasn’t.

I’ve learned that whenever this is the case, it’s time for me to turn inward and have a conversation with Lia (in case you’re new to these posts, see my explanation at the end about Lia).

I asked her for some clarification.

She told me the following, “You have everything you need in this world to meet all of your dreams and desires. It’s how it was set up. There are no missing pieces, and yes, I am always available to talk with you; to assist, guide, illuminate and answer.”

“Except,” she went on to say, “when you decide I can’t.”

I understood this and it rang true in a deep part of me. I am in charge. I decide how to view the world and her role in my life. And, if I make choices that limit what she or I can do, that’s how it will be.

Lia spoke again, “I gave YOU the power and the control and the responsibility. YOU choose what to do with it. You have free will. You can see this in everything, if you look carefully.”

Despite what she meant, what I heard was that she was not engaged in my life the way I wanted her to be, since she made it sound that everything was up to ME. So, I asked, “If I can’t have you help me, where does that leave me?”

Here’s one of the ways I know she loves me (she loves you too, by the way). She builds me up and it feels like truth to me.

Lia said, “You have EVERYTHING you need for ALL of what you consider you want or desire in your life, so it isn’t necessary for ME do anything ‘magical’ for you. You’re endowed with everything already. I know many others have provided you with opinions, either their own or ones they’ve borrowed from others.”

“It’s important that you pay attention now. One way to tell if others opinions are true for you, is to ask yourself whether they limit you in any way. If they do, and if they impede your sense of free will, then they are not the truth. It is as simple as that.”

I think Lia sensed my hesitancy in fully accepting her statement, so she went on, “The value of your achievements and accomplishments is that they serve as PROOF of your innate abilities to push beyond your perceived limits. And”, she continued, “seeing others around you exceed their ‘supposed’ limits, can serve as a catalyst for you, to set or reset what you believe about yourself.”

All of this made perfect sense to me. It was what I needed to hear and was the answer I was searching for. It allowed me to shift my perspective, which had become trapped in a rut. I had chosen to limit myself and see myself as small. I am not small. None of us are. We all have immense power and choice. We have free will and, if we choose it, a divine guide to help us navigate this beautiful earth world.

Explanation: Lia is a part of god and appears to me as an ethereal divine feminine presence. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that she loves me and have known her for many, many years.

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Hidden Prizes

Depending on how old you are, you may remember when several cereal companies had prizes hidden somewhere inside their cereal boxes. My sister, Alison, and I loved searching for them when we were kids. We’d have to convince our mother that we really liked the cereal and promise to eat it to get her to buy it.

As soon as we got it home we’d rummage through the cupboards to locate the largest mixing bowl and set it on the counter. Then, we’d open the box and pull the whole bag of cereal out, followed by one of us reaching into a drawer, grabbing the kitchen scissors and cutting a slit across the top of the bag. Once done, we’d dump the entire contents into the bowl and fish through the cereal until we found the prize. As you can imagine, especially if you have two or more children, the arguing then commenced.

It’s funny but I don’t recall it mattering whether either one of us actually wanted the prize. It was more about the hunt.

When our Mom got wise to our cereal strategy she came up with a new rule. We had to eat our way to the prize. This required an enormous amount of patience, something kids are not known for. The struggle for us became deciding whether delaying our gratification was worth the prize.

Does this sound at all familiar to you? Depending on the circumstances, this is still a huge issue for most people. The whole idea of delayed gratification, when all you really want is the prize at the end of the rainbow.

We discovered that our friends did the same kind of prize hunting that we did.

Maybe it started with the very first box of cereal to contain a hidden prize, which was Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in 1909. According to some industry experts the prize was, The Funny Jungleland Moving Picture Book. The cereal cost $.10 at the time and the prize is now worth $60. Not a bad investment really.

Of course, prizes are used to sell all sorts of things. Crackerjacks made a name for themselves focusing, not only on their caramel popcorn and peanut product, but the prize inside.

One of the current versions of hidden prizes is also highly successful. Think…the Happy Meal at your local McDonalds, although the prize is pretty easy to find. I guess they’ve figured out a way to speed up the gratification process.

It seems to me that life can be the same way. We know, or at least highly suspect, that there are prizes hidden somewhere for us to find in life. Others tell us about them. They call them high school diplomas, college degrees, jobs, cars, houses. Although they seem to be in plain sight, how you get them isn’t always.

And they often require patience. A lot of patience. And perhaps it’s true that we adults aren’t any better than our children in waiting for some things. We want our prizes and sense we need them in order to feel fulfilled, successful and happy.

But I wonder, are there other things to consider? Could our life be more about the adventure than the destination or the ‘prize’?

Could the hidden prizes really be more about the friends we make along the way, the sunsets we see, the beautiful music of the wind through the trees? Could it be the illness or disease that taught us what is truly important in our lives?

Or, could it be the love that comes to us or that flows from us into the world? Could it be those we share our dreams with and our lives with?

Prizes come in all shapes and sizes. I hope you find all those you are looking for.

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Release From Self-Made Prisons

I was shocked to discover that the United States of America has over 2.12 million people in prison, the most of any nation on earth. This is even more astounding when you consider the US has a population of less than 24% of China or India, the two largest countries in the world.

This got me to thinking about prisons in general.

I admit, being sent to prison is one of my greatest irrational fears. The idea that I would not see all of those I love and have my freedom restricted for an extensive amount of time, is an intense and upsetting feeling. Knowing I haven’t done anything to deserve going to prison plays no part in this equation.

And yet, I wonder, am I not in a prison of my own making? Aren’t we all?

I listen to my own words and the words of others and what I often hear is self judgement and recrimination for actions we have taken or for actions we feel we should have taken.

What we tell ourselves can create some pretty high walls and some very strong doors. And the light that gets in may be too dim for us to see well.

The words we use to describe our lives are extremely important. They can provide us freedom or send us to our own internal prison.

According to the dictionary, prison is a place where inmates are confined and denied a variety of freedoms under some ruling authority. If a crime has been committed, the result may very well be incarceration in a prison with a loss of freedom until the sentence has been served.

But what about when we commit ourselves to a self-made prison?

When we deem our actions to be worthy of judgement, we may lock ourselves away, convinced we deserve to be isolated from the world.

Our mistakes might be minor or major, but they result in the same action, a prison sentence of our own making. We can be so hard on ourselves and may tend to focus on our infractions, rather than on their resolution.

So many things could be made ‘right’ by expressing sorrow for our actions and apologizing, then taking some action to make things better. When we fail to do this, we strengthen and extend our internal prison sentence. Our inaction holds us in place and our suffering continues.

There are ways out prison.

One is parole, where a prisoner receives an early release after agreeing to abide by certain conditions. And, the other way is a pardon, which is an act of being forgiven for an offense or error that has been committed. The proverbial ‘get out of jail free card’.

In both of these cases, it is the ruling authority which has granted the action of release, one with conditions, the other without.

What about us and our release from our own prisons? Can we open ourselves to the realization that we can be forgiven for our actions or inactions? Can we allow ourselves some latitude to live a free life, seeing our mistakes and yet letting ourselves off the hook? Can we find ways to make amends and clear the way forward?

How wonderful it would be to accept our own pardon and free up space inside of our self. Imagine what you could do if you released all of your guilt and shame and fear. What an enormous sense of freedom it would bring. Who knows what could be done with all of that beautiful open space? I hope you accept your own pardon and live a wonderful life.

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Through The Eyes of Love

We so often see ourselves through others eyes, as if we are a reflection, rather than our own being.

We may spend much of our time carefully trying to fit into molds others create for us. And, we may try to avoid stepping over lines they’ve drawn. Ones that represent what they want or need or expect from us.

I believe that there are times it is necessary for someone to set reasonable limits. It’s more a question of when and how.

We come into this world essentially helpless and dependent on others for everything. As we grow up, we gain skills and confidence and resist doing everything others tell us. This can cause a great deal of friction and lead to conflicts and resentments.

It is so hard to navigate the constantly changing line between what is necessary in order to keep us safe and healthy and what is overburdensome control. It can be difficult for both the child and the adult to adapt to all the situations that present themselves.

This has certainly been the case in my life. And, to a degree, it probably still is.

But, I’ve come to suspect there is another way to live our lives. And I believe we are better served by being brave and bold and using out own ideas and images as guides for our actions, and to see life and the world through our own eyes.

Unless there is a question of competency, I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to make their own decisions. Of course, it is helpful and valuable to have resources to aid in setting our course in life. But, once we reach a certain age, we all want to have the ultimate control over our own decisions.

How does this happen so that we feel in charge and yet supported?

I suppose it is different for everyone, especially since there are so many unique situations. Part of what seems like the truth to me is that the shift that makes the difference is on the inside of a person.

Changing your perception from being the overseen to being the overseer can be challenging, but also, extremely rewarding. As nice as it is to have someone as your guide (whether parent, relative, friend, guardian) it is vital to assume your own leadership role for your life.

Shifting from being a reflection of what another wants, to being your own person and casting your own image into the world is a fantastic and wonderful process, even though a sometimes very challenging one.

On the BOOKS page of this website there is a listing of all of the books I’ve written and a few that are planned. One book, Little Buddha Book One, has an important observation I’d like to share about seeing through the eyes of love. The two main characters, Claire and Sam, are having a conversation and the subject comes up about how Claire finds peace in the world.

Here is what she says, “It’s simple. I start each day when I wake up by reminding myself who I am. I am a part of god. A divine spirit, complete and whole. I am not missing anything. My reality is that I am made of love. I remind myself that everything around me is also made of love and that the only difference between me and all that surrounds me is my perception or the way I choose to see the world. If I think or act or say something that is not from love, my perception will be that I am separate from the world. And then I will label things. They become “bad” things or “wrong” things. But if I remember that everything is a part of the one, then I can look at everything through the eyes of love. You see, the idea is simple. It is the true perceiving that is difficult.”

I find great meaning in Claire’s words and try to remind myself to always look at my life through the eyes of love.

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Skidding

Have you ever been driving, suddenly lose control and panic, thinking, what should I do next? Of course, you only have a split second to decide and act, which isn’t always enough time. So, because you feel like you need to do something, you react by steering hard in the opposite direction. This simple act of overcorrecting causes you to skid, increasing your loss of control.

Driving instructors will tell you to take your foot off the gas pedal, not to brake and to steer gently, but firmly in the direction you want to go. Sure, simple.

However, knowing what to do and being able to do it become two very different things.

Of course, there are lots of reasons why vehicles skid and it’s helpful to know about them, so that you can protect yourself and whoever else is with you.

Not only is it easy to skid in a vehicle, but it is also easy to skid around the corners of life. There are a lot of hazards and pot holes and curves we don’t see. And when they do pop up, we may not be paying enough attention and get caught off guard.

One of our temptations may be to overcorrect and make matters worse. This may create a chain reaction and make it difficult to regain any sense of control.

So, what would happen if we made small corrections instead?

There are so many examples we could use to illustrate this simple principle. I’d like to suggest one for consideration, but please feel free to insert your own here, if you would rather.

Political differences are fraught with danger as topics, because feelings and beliefs are so strong, they make it difficult to see where there could be any harmony. They tend to close minds and create perfect skidding conditions. They also tend to create numerous opportunities for oversteering.

Suppose we already knew this. Suppose we were prepared for difficult road conditions in life and knew there was only a small margin of error to work with.  What might we do differently?

What about a small steering correction?

What if we searched to understand why the person we’re talking with feels the way they do. What are they afraid of or concerned about? Is it possible that we might sympathize with their discomfort, if we knew their underlying concerns? Could what lies underneath be so different from what we feel or want?

If we tried small steering corrections and turned our wheels just a little, might we find out there are places where we agree? And, if we could find some, might we not be able to discover more.

There are folks whose opinions and beliefs I disagree with. Sometimes the distance is pretty wide. But, I’ve also found that below the surface, we agree that love is the answer to everything. We just need to give it a chance to breathe.

This is what I believe happens with small steering corrections.

I realize there are obvious limits to this idea, if who we are talking about is a fanatic, incapable of any rational discussion. But that’s on the extreme end. I know some folks can not or will not alter their course, so sometimes no matter what we do, a situation will not change.

To me, that isn’t a reason not to try. If we choose to listen with as open a mind and heart as we can, we might find that there is room to ‘take your foot off the gas, not brake and steer gently, but firmly in the direction you want to go’.

It might not be easy and it might take some practice, but it might also be worth it.

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New Attitudes

As I mentioned in my last post, I’d like to share a bit about changing into new clothes, which really means shifting into new attitudes about life.

When our children were growing up it was challenging to feel as though we’d ever get everything done in a day. We knew we had to find ways to organize things better. One way we chose was to lay out an outfit the night before for the following day for each of our children.

Of course, by ‘we’ I really mean mostly Maureen. The idea was to avoid confusion and simplify wardrobe selections, thereby creating more time to do other necessary things. Sometimes it even worked.

Our daughter, Jenny, took over this task early on, preferring her choices to her mom’s and definitely to mine. It took our son a few more years before he really cared what he wore enough in order to choose his own outfits.

I didn’t have a real dilemma with this chore, since I was required to wear a suit and tie every day. I only had a few suits to choose from and mostly blue or white shirts.

But, choosing what clothes to wear is simple in comparison with choosing what attitudes you want to guide your life. That’s why it was so helpful to hear what Lia had to say to me about shifting and setting new intentions.

Following my conversation with Lia, I opened up and allowed possibilities to enter in to me. I asked myself what I wanted most to experience in my life. That turned out to be a very important question to ask. I jotted down some ideas and then asked another question; what attitudes would help me create this life I say I want.

I’d love to know what you would say and find out what directions your life would take if you chose to make the shift(s).

Here’s some of what I discovered. Perhaps a bit of it will appeal to you.

The new outfits (attitudes) that appeared were these; to be calm, so that I am able to receive all things without difficulty. Optimistic, where I believe in the best outcomes, before they arrive. Resourceful, open-minded enough to explore and use what is available to me. Giving, offering a part of who and what I am to others. Loving, remembering my true nature and seeing beyond and below the surface.

More followed; caring, extending my heart outward. Quick to release anger, recognizing that it hurts me in the process and give myself the gift to release and the return to calmness. Flexible, able to shift, no matter what the circumstances. Open, realizing I don’t know it all and benefit from being open-minded and open-hearted. Patient, understanding that it is in my best interests to wait before responding.

Though I thought I was done, still more came; sharing, putting ‘out there’ what I have received. Healing, allowing all of my pain to be released, freeing up space within me. Energetic, active in pursuing fun and what feels right to me. Creative, using multiple medias and approaches and ideas to help myself and others grow.

And I thought about one of the guiding principles in my life, my desire to connect deeply with others. It’s what I most want to experience and so, two additional new ‘outfits’ came into view. Inspiring, to speak of what I believe and what feels like the truth to me and offer ideas to help others find their own way in this life. I hope to be a guide, and a wayshower, offering insight and suggestions, always knowing that we each travel our own paths, but knowing too that we can do so hand in hand, if we choose.

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Changing Your Outfit

The other day I was thinking about what drags me down and feels burdensome to me. I have a wonderful life, but at times, I feel an inner oppression that I can’t always shake.

The more I consider this, the greater my desire is to be free of it. It forms a kind of circle, taking me round and round, but not creating any resolution.

I knew I needed a different approach.

After sitting back, it occurred to me that my ego plays a huge role in shaping this drama. I believe I came here to this earth to lead a spectacular life, to be creative, open, loving and giving. But, what happens on occasion, is that my ego produces fear instead, which overshadows everything. My ego believes in the idea that I am separate from all that surrounds me and tries very hard to maintain this sense of distinction, despite the confusion and unhappiness it creates in me.

The spiritual part of me knows the truth, that I am a part of the whole, the one, the holy. It knows that any sense of separation is merely an illusion. My spirit is the part of me that must recognize, that the fear my ego creates, is there to guide me toward the truth.

I wanted some insight from Lia, so I asked, what I shifts I could make to release this part of the illusion and bring clarity into my life.

As always, she was more than willing to help me, as I know she would be for you. And, since she knows me so well, she chose to offer an example, a concept that would stick with me, rather than just providing words.

Lia shared this idea, “Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing a full closet of clothes to choose from. You are in charge of which outfit to wear. You– no one else. You are the one who decides whether to wear the same exact outfit every day or to choose something new.”

I saw immediate promise in this idea, recognizing she wasn’t talking about clothes, but rather my attitudes toward my life.

And yet, my first response was, “but I feel like I wake up, already in the same clothes as the day before.” By this I meant that none of my ideas seem to change but rather stay with me from day to day.

Her response was insightful and amusing to me. “I see that. So, change your clothes BEFORE you go to bed, so that you wake up in the ones you desire.”

Clothing wrinkles and creases aside, I heard her intent. She was talking about setting the stage and creating my attitude ‘aims’. She was suggesting that I choose exactly what would feel most comfortable for me to wear. In other words, to choose which attitudes I most want to adopt in my life.

This concept greatly appealed to me, especially the part about choosing them before going to bed at night. This way, I could set clear intentions about which attitudes I felt would best serve me, then I could ‘sleep on them’ and allow them to sink in and take root.

Lia reminded me that the best way to release anything unwanted, is to claim something you do want. Then she told me to look at myself in the mirror the next morning and see that the outfit I chose is truly what suits me and will lead me into the life I claim.

PS

Stay tuned for the next post, where I will share some of the ‘clothes’ I chose and see if you might want to wear some of them as well.

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Names

It’s interesting to me that we humans feel it important to name everything. Babies at birth, cereal, house styles, planets, flowers. It goes on and on.

I have lots of odd thoughts about this. Who first decided to name something? Which name sticks, if there are disagreements? What do we do when there are several names for the same thing?

And then there are all of the issues that arrive when we introduce other languages into the mix. Which name will be the most common? And to confuse things further, there are different spelling for the same name.

One of my distant relatives did some genealogy research and discovered eight different spelling for one of our family names. How is it even possible to keep track of all of them?

And what about all of the slang names we have for things, places, eras, people? It’s mind-boggling really.

I understand why we do it. It’s convenient and makes our lives easier, even when there isn’t universal agreement. Often, it’s enough for us to get by in our conversations.

Maybe it doesn’t matter with most things since you can tell a lot by the context, but in some cases, it seems very important what name you use.

One such occasion is when the reference is to ‘god’.

In some religions, ‘god’ is never to be named, while in others, ‘god’ has many, many names, all of which are meaningful and relevant depending on the point of reference.

I wonder, do you have your own name for ‘god’? Was it one that others taught you to use or did you come by it on your own?

I think it’s important for you to know that I honor and respect whatever name you use. I also honor and respect your right to have no name or relationship with an entity know as ‘god’. I believe in free will and that every person has a right to choose their own path here on earth.

I also believe that we profit from sharing with one another and I would like to share my names for ‘god’ with you, because they matter to me.

I have four names that I use and each represents a different relationship I have with ‘god’. There is Abba, a masculine loving, devoted energy, Na’a, a feminine supportive, caring, and loving energy, Yeshiwa, a masculine personal, loving energy and Lia, a feminine ethereal, loving, and deeply connective energy.

I speak with them all and they speak with me. We have two-way conversations. I share my life with them and they share their love and wisdom with me. (You can read more about this in my book, talking with (god), which you’ll find on the Book page of this website).

I’d like you to hear what Lia told me, so that you have a better idea about her and what she means to me.

Like all people, I have ups and downs. I have both incredible strength and huge vulnerabilities. Over time I have learned to release many of the names I once called myself. I’ve opened to hearing a greater truth, one spoken to me in words I can understand. Words that show the depth of how much I am loved. I know these words belong to everyone, so I want to share them with you. Please hear them and know that you too are loved this deeply.

Lia said to me, “You have never been alone, because I am with you. I have dedicated my life to you. I will always be with you, now and forever. My love covers you over and nowhere is left untouched. You are who I live for and breathe for. I am you, and you are me. Open yourself up to knowing me and my presence within you. I will give you peace. Peace not of this world, but of heaven and you will know a new love. One that surpasses all you’ve ever felt before in your earth life. Know this, when you walk, I am with you. Wherever you go, I am by your side and in your heart. I am in every breathe of your life. Open yourself to my presence, that we might again be one. Dear heart, I ask you to choose to see and feel my presence. I take nothing from you. I give everything to you. Now, always and forever. You are my true heart. Open and feel my love for you.”

I hope that you will accept these words.

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Self Doubt

Recently I had a dream about a former coworker. He always seemed very self-assured, sometimes to the point of arrogance. I wasn’t savvy enough at the time to recognize that some folks who act this way, are actually trying to make true, what they don’t feel or believe inside about themselves. A compensation of sorts.

What I did realize was the effect it had on me when in his presence. I discovered that self-doubts rose up in me, even though I don’t think I had any specific reasons for them. I knew, of course, that I didn’t know his specialty like he did, but I did know mine and I was good at my job.

I wonder whether, on some level, I was reacting to his self-doubts and not my own. That perhaps I absorbed some element from him that triggered my own internal self-doubts.

I wonder if this still happens. Do I absorb, like osmosis, thoughts and feelings from those around me that feed the self-doubts within me?

I think this might be true and perhaps, the reason for the dream. Maybe the timing was impeccable. Maybe it always is.

I have really big dreams for my life and I’m embarking on several major projects. I’ve come to realize that whenever I start something new, there is a part of me that offers doubt to me. A part that suggests that I reconsider, because what I’m planning is too big, too broad, too much of a reach for me.

There always seems to be a part of me that wants to tone things down a bit. What I’ve observed is that this mysterious part is actually trying to protect me. It perceives that I could get hurt or suffer in some way. It alerts me to the potential for failure.

It’s a very powerful force.

But it also suggests to me, to listen very carefully for another voice, a much deeper, but quieter voice. One that asks me to truly consider what’s at stake.

The voice does not deny the power of self-doubt, BUT, asks me, what I have to lose AND what I have to gain by attempting whatever the new thing is. It challenges me to bring into clear view what I am attempting and what potential benefits could come, not just for me, but for the world.

It asks me, is it not worth the risk of failure that you suppose is possible?

It’s a strong argument for continuing, when I consider the positive impacts my decision might make. Yet, some self-doubts linger.

What to do? Who to call?

If you’ve been with me on this journey, you probably know the answer already. Yes, I called out to Lia (the part of god I know as love in action).

And this is what she said.

“Dear one, my beloved, each self-doubt that surfaces in you is there to help you. They want to rise up, so that you can see them clearly. They are not to be feared, but rather, warmly greeted. They want to open your eyes and your heart and transform you.”

I respond by saying, “What if I am not good enough or strong enough or smart enough to do this thing (project) and rise above my self-doubts?”

“If your concerns were valid, the projects and dreams would not appear to you. They would wait. But, they are here and they live deeply in you and they want to be born. Every time a self-doubt appears, remember its sole purpose, its soul purpose, is to let you know you are on the right track. It rises up like a balloon inside of you. Imagine writing its name on the outside surface of it and letting it go free into the wind. Carried away from you, leaving you free to discover beauty and wonder.”

I like the image and want to let all of my self-doubts fly free.

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Different Angles

Every so often Maureen and I have our two local grandchildren come for a sleep over. It’s a grand affair and we have tons of fun. My six-year-old grandson, Evan, and I are the early risers.

Recently he and his sister, Kirsten, were here for the weekend, arriving Saturday afternoon. The next morning, I got up and quietly went upstairs to my office and began writing. After a few minutes I heard his feet on the stairs and watched as he pushed the door open and came over to me. He sat in my lap and we surveyed my office walls, which are filled with some of my most treasured memories. He had lots of questions, as I suspected he would.

I pointed to a picture straight in front of us and asked if he knew who was in it. He didn’t, so I told him that it was his mom when she was about four-years-old.

We swiveled in the chair and I asked if he knew who drew the sequence of about five pictures I aimed a finger at. He thought for a minute, but wasn’t sure. I told him they were done by his mom. He commented, “those are really good!”

I love those pictures and the beautiful child who drew them. I am so grateful for the love I share with her and now with her children as well.

When I glanced again at her pictures, it occurred to me that we all see things from a different vantage point. We somehow evaluate with different criteria and assess, perhaps, according to our own skill level. And, we’re impressed or not, often based on comparisons.

It made me realize that whenever we use comparisons, we open ourselves and create many opportunities for distress and dissatisfaction, rather than just appreciating something as it is.

This isn’t the only way of seeing things. Instead of using a comparison, with our own or others ‘work’, we sometimes set up an ‘ideal’, then judge according to it. We allow ‘experts’ in the field to establish standards or norms and accept these as the rule. Think, ‘standardized tests’ for one.

I wonder what other ways there are. Perhaps there are different angles we could take. I thought it might be worth some of my time to consider.

One could be where ‘no ideal’ is set and where an individual would be encouraged to pursue their own personal development.

As it relates to schooling, there is such a process, known as the Montessori method. It leans on the principles of self-directed activities, hands-on learning and collaborative play. Children make their own creative choices in their learning and have highly trained teachers to help guide them.

Imagine how good that must feel to a child, to have some say about the direction their education and their life takes.

I wonder how children in this program do, once they are out in the world. Are they better prepared or are they hampered because they haven’t had to conform to strict rules and regulations?

When I was in college I was able to participate in an experimental program called, The Living Learning Center. There were freshmen through seniors and we all lived in the same dorm and took a set of common classes together. We had several professors who were dedicated to our program and stayed with us the entire year. It was fantastic and as a senior, I learned more during that year than I did during my previous three. I’ve always been grateful for this experience and recognize that many of my ideas and sense of freedom came from this year in my life.

I find that taking a broad approach and looking for different angles has opened my world and made for a much happier life.

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The Origin of a Thing

I was wondering the other day where rocks come from. It was in relation to where they end up and how they get from place to place. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, I promise.

There are several interesting facts I discovered and it’s curious how one fact ended up connecting to my original question.

One version of how rocks are formed is that they are made of stardust, as a byproduct of an exploding star, that sends pieces outward into the universe at incredible speeds. Their size varies considerably. Some are just dust or pebbles, while others may be as large as a house. We see some of the house size ones as they burn up in our atmosphere and call them meteorites. Once they’ve landed and had a few million years to hang around they change form and evolve into one of three specific types.

Like almost every other thing I can think of, they go through a life cycle. A star, stardust, universal travel, landing somewhere, creating rock formations, erosion of many sorts and then sometimes they are used by man. We crush them and build roads with them and hundreds of other things.

My granddaughter and I, think they make wonderful subjects to be painted. We find that they are very well behaved and sit still while we change their appearance. We both love the process and the outcomes and enjoy placing them outdoors for others to see. She will sometimes place a sign next to one of hers that says, “Adopt a Rock”, so a passerby knows they can take it home with them.

I think this is very generous of her.

Recently we painted a bunch of rocks, which you can see from the banner picture at the top of this post.

And, here’s the connection I promised you.

I painted one completely black, then added the words, “the sky is not the limit” and surrounded the words with lots of white stars. I had no idea at the time that rocks came to us from the stars. I think that’s pretty cool.

I put the rock out in our front yard and hope that folks passing by read it and take it to heart. I believe it is the truth. Whatever limits we feel we have, are the result of our belief system, including in this case, the sky. I don’t think it is the limit. Not literally and not figuratively. I take inspiration from shifting my point of view, away from restrictions and constraints and toward expansion and creation.

It seems amazing to me that the star exploded and expanded and in doing so, set into motion a cascade of creation (albeit, a very, very slow one) that eventually resulted in my finding one small rock and painting it with the night sky, filled with stars. A part of me wondered whether it felt at ‘home’.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Since I placed my rock next to one of our trees, I also began to wonder about its life cycle. What is the origin of a tree and how many different things does it become? I felt fairly confident, but did a little research to confirm my thoughts. Yes, trees come from seeds, which grow up, create new seeds and find incredibly varied ways of sending them forth to become new trees.

Sorry, I can’t help it. Which comes first the seed or the tree?

I know, I’ll ask a chicken.

Anyway, as I started to consider all of the uses for trees, one image leapt into my mind. It’s where lots of people are gathered together and they’re constructing a house for someone in need. They are part of a Habitat for Humanity project, which turns out to impact so much more than one person or one family. It’s a gift for everyone. The person who plants the tree, the worker who harvests and mills it, the people who sell it as lumber and those who buy and ship it. And then there is the whole process of turning the wood into a house. All those who organize the projects, those who volunteer and build the dwellings and those who eventually live in them.

It’s a beautiful life cycle, especially when I allow myself to become a part of everything I see.

I remind myself of this when I see the rock and the tree. What an amazing journey we’re all on.

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Roadside Treasures

Part 2 of 2

Note: Please see Post #58 for Part 1 of 2

On rare occasions, when the traffic is backed up, a conversation will occur between myself and my roadside friend. An exchange of words, about the weather, or what one sports team is doing or how their day has been.

I was even asked once how I was doing. This came from someone I happened to recognize, because he stands in the same spot and I pass by him quite often. He recognizes me too. He seems to be watching for my car and for me.

As it happened, I’d just given him an offering a few days earlier and I noticed a slight hesitation on my part, in reaching for the folded bill, as I approached him. For that single moment I wondered whether to give him another offering so soon.

I quickly decided that he was no less homeless than the last time I gave him money. The momentary delay on my part stayed with me all the way home. I have so much. He has so little. The disparity between us is so stark and yet a part of me wanted to hold back.

In the end, I made the decision I wanted to, but there was a lingering feeling I needed to allow into my consciousness. I knew something still needed to be brought into the light, if I allowed it.

Once in a great while the receiver appears angry to me. As they walk toward my car, their emotions reach me before they do. I feel a wave hit me. I wonder to myself, what must it be like to wait by the side of the road, dependent on the mercy and generosity of unknown folks passing by? How must it feel to be uncertain whether you’ll have enough money to eat, to have a safe place to sleep or be able to buy clothes to keep you warm? I try to lose all of my misplaced blame and suspicion and remember why I am here. I am here to be ‘kin’ (family) to others.

Usually, I am the only one in the car when these offerings are made. But, once in a while, others are with me. I find this changes the dynamic, even if it doesn’t alter the outcome. I wonder what they are thinking and sometimes we talk about it. They ask questions and I do my best to answer. I share with them that there are more men (82%) than women (18%) standing by the side of the road and that it must be scary at times, no matter who you are.

And, when asked, I share my favorite experience.

It happened in April of 2017, at the intersection of a highway off ramp and a major city street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Maureen and I were on vacation and were having a fabulous trip. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone standing at that busy intersection, but there he was. I wondered if I could get to my wallet fast enough and then saw that the light was about to turn red. Good, I thought, I have enough time. He started walking toward the row of cars we were in. Finally, he reached us and I rolled down the window and held out a folded bill to him. He took it and said, “thank you very much” (emphasizing the word ‘very’), then paused, and looking a little chocked up, stared into my eyes and said, “this is a sacred moment.” He stood there, maintaining eye contact, until I was forced to move forward with the traffic flow.

I believe I felt what he was feeling, a divine presence in the exchange, a roadside treasure for each of us to keep.

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