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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One Person Can Make A Difference

I’ve often heard the question asked about whether one person can make a difference. Sometimes it’s about making a localized difference and sometimes about a global one.

The usual response is that, ‘no’, one person cannot make a difference and that it takes many to accomplish a task, especially if it’s a big job.

I know it may seem like the truth that we are small and limited beings and that the world is a great big place.

But there is another truth. One I fully believe in, that you and I are unlimited beings, capable of anything. I believe there is an abundance of inspiration available to us, if we are open to it. And this abundance, once engage, can spread anywhere and everywhere.

I’d like to share an example with you.

It’s a story about one man, Scott Harrison, and his epic life journey. He relates the following on his website describing himself, “After decades of indulging his darkest vices as a nightclub promoter, he declared spiritual, moral and emotional bankruptcy. He spent two years on a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, saw the effects of dirty water firsthand, and came back to New York City on a mission.”

I don’t think this brief blurb is enough to tell his story. It’s so much bigger and more powerful than this.

A friend suggested I watch a video that Mike Dooley (yes, the Notes From the Universe guy), had on his website to see for myself what Scott was about.

I did.

And for most of it, I cried. At first, I tried to hold the tears back. But then I gave in to the emotions I was feeling and let them run wild.

Scott left his former life and stepped on board a Mercy ship bound for an African nation he didn’t even know existed. He offered to be a photo-journalist and capture images of the folks the doctors helped. The images are stark and terrifying and amazing. The operations performed changed lives, making it possible for the folks who received them to live a more normal life.

At a certain point, Scott decided to visit some of the communities and what he discovered changed his whole world. He could not believe the living conditions, especially the state of their water. He learned that almost all of the sicknesses that plagued the people living there were due to the unclean, germ infested water, which was all they had to drink.

He knew he had to do something about it.

The statistics staggered him, and probably still do.

According to his website (https://www.charitywater.org/about), which I strongly suggest you check out, there are 785 million people in the world who lack access to clean and safe drinking water. That is mind boggling to me. More than twice the population of the United States.

He came back to New York City and began to work on changing that. Since 2006, his organization, Charity:Water, (through 5/8/2021) has funded 64,999 water projects in 29 countries, and has provided clean, safe drinking water to an astounding 1,273,998 people. These are ever changing numbers, since donations keep coming in.

All this from one idea and because of one person taking one step.

Scott has organized things a little differently. His organization follows three principles. Track every dollar given by donors (you can actually see the GPS coordinates of the project you help fund), open transparency and a commitment to 100% of all donations going to fund projects. He’s found a way for (non-project) private donations to fund all of the other costs, so that the water projects receive all of the general donations.

Right now, he’s trying to engage as many people as possible to commit to helping and suggests several ways to go about it. Please consider visiting his site and then follow your heart.

As fantastic as this is, Scott is just one of so many people who take one idea and change the world. Maybe the next one will be you.

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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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