17 December, 2009


I am currently on holiday, visiting my family in Missouri.  I will not be returning to my home, nor do I plan on writing a subsequent blog until after the Christmas holiday.  With that said, I wish you all a very, merry Christmas shared with, and surrounded by those you love.
Earlier today, I went with my dad and mom to see the movie “Invictus,” directed by Clint Eastwood and staring Morgan Freeman in the role of Nelson Mandela.  [This is not a movie-spoiler.]  Although I knew the movie tied the leadership of Mandela to the success of the South African National rugby team, I was unaware of the movie’s
awe-inspiring portrayal of the power of forgiveness under the example of Mandela.

The movie begins with the release of Mandela from prison and the fall of apartheid in South Africa and then quickly segues to ultimately portray Mandela’s life during his term as president when he campaigned to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup event as an opportunity to unite his countrymen.  The movie beautifully and eloquently displays the powerful tool that forgiveness became in the ability of one man to unite an entire nation.

In the movie, Mandela offers to the captain of the rugby team (played by Matt Damon) a handwritten copy of the poem ("Invictus") that he accredited for sustaining him and causing him to prevail even when he was at his lowest points during his 27 years of imprisonment.  Below, I offer a copy of this poem.

As background, the poet, William Ernest Henley, at the age of 12 became victim to tuberculosis of the bone.  The title of the poem, “Invictus,” is a Latin word which translates to mean "unconquerable” or “undefeated."  Henley penned this poem in 1875 from his hospital bed after having his leg amputated as a result of his condition.  This poem was first published in 1888 in Henley's Book of Verses, where it was the fourth in a series of poems originally entitled “Life and Death (Echoes).”


Out of the night that covers me,
     Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
     For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
     I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
     My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
     Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
     Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
     How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
     I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1903)

[End of Post]
Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

10 December, 2009

Selfishness and Giving

On an airplane a few weeks back, I was sharing with my partner about how much I loved my family’s Christmas traditions – the getting together, the reading of the Christmas story, all of the playful hijinks, and always, always, always the discovery of who will now hold the honor of receiving a rather sadly-made version of Mary & Joseph that has been passed around within our extended family for something like 15 years now
(along with the more recent addition of their accompanying “travel diary”).  But I think I may have surprised him when I also told him about my selfishness and why Christmas had, in years past, been somewhat of a let-down for me because of my expectations around gift giving (or to be more precise, gift receiving).

Don’t get me wrong – I love to give to others.  I love to give my time, my support, my money, and unexpected gifts as an expression of my love.  For the better part of my life I’ve been a giver and I’ve learned that giving does return a joy to me that surpasses other joys I’ve known.  But being a giver has never changed the fact that I am also selfish!

In many ways, I think that being selfish has served me well in life, allowing me to see that if I don’t first ensure that my “cup is full,” I will have nothing left to give to others.  I can’t take care of another if I can’t first take care of myself.  If I’m not ensuring my own mental and emotional stability, how am I to help another in need?  In that vein, I believe that being selfish is something that more people should learn.  Not a selfishness that just takes – but a selfishness that takes care of one’s own needs first.

In reflecting on the upset I felt related to gift-receiving, or lack thereof, I realized that a very simple shift in my expectations could make a world of difference for me and transform my upset into complete joy.  In the past, when it came time to open my presents, I was focused on the number of presents I received.  I was also focused on the gifts themselves and not on the hearts of those who had given to me.  This could have possibly been due to the obligatory nature that I felt events such as Christmas and birthdays represented for me.  Those had both come to represent times in which I felt a need to give out of obligation rather than giving solely out of my love for another.

My shift in view was simply to choose to give to others out of my heart’s desire to bless them.  Coupling that view-point with choosing to expect nothing from anyone, I realized that anything I received would be a welcomed sign of love and affection on the part of any who gave.

Armed with my new points-of-view, I am now ready for Christmas – one filled with the love and joy of being with my family and friends whom I adore.
[End of Post]

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

27 November, 2009

Celebrating Our Heroes and Other Stories of Success

While visiting at the Thanksgiving table last night after dinner, the subject of the Great Depression arose.  A few attendees had been alive during that era and gave some of their accounts of what times where like back then.  One comment struck me in particular.  The individual was speaking of the hardships faced by people then and the strength – both physically and that of character that it required for many (or, arguably most) to survive those times.

Then, before retiring to bed last night I watched NBC’s “People of the Year” with Matt Lauer.  I was moved by the very first interview with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who piloted the US Airways “Miracle on the Hudson”
landing that saved the lives of everyone on board.  I listened to how he said his life had changed and how he had become more secure in his own skin.

I then listened to the interview with Captain Richard Phillips whose boat had come under attack by pirates off the rugged Horn of Africa.  Captain Phillips ended up being kidnapped by the pirates but was credited with saving his boat and the lives of his crew.  The U.S. military came to his aid and freed him to return home.

I was moved by both of these stories and I suddenly realized why we love to hear the stories of heroes and why we love to hear the stories of those, like Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift, who have brought us so much joy with their music and whose dreams have come true for them.  We love to hear these stories because they represent the human spirit and of what we are capable.  They represent the resiliency of the human spirit and stand as testament to the abilities that we all have within.

The thrust we have to survive, the strength and courage that shine through when necessary, and the drive to succeed and prevail – achieving our dreams, celebrate that of which we are all capable.  These stories represent what’s possible for anyone who has a dream to achieve.  They represent the pinnacle of the human spirit – a drive to always succeed, a steadfastness in times of trouble, and an enduring hope that our circumstances will only get better.

It matters not if your aspirations are considered big or small.  They all live in the realm of the possible if you dare to keep them in your heart and dreams.  I believe in a God who is for us all, who wants us to succeed, and who gives to us every good thing, withholding nothing.  And, I continually see the evidence for this when I look at my life and the lives of others.  There is no thing that is out of our reach or that is too big for any of us to handle.
[end of post]

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

25 November, 2009

A Thanksgiving Full of Thankfulness

It’s become many family’s tradition to have each person sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table tell everyone in attendance for what they are grateful.  My family, too, honors this tradition although I’ve not had the privilege of spending Thanksgiving with them for many years.

In my younger years I, of course, had little regard for this tradition.  As a child, when food was set before me I was ready to eat!  Now my understanding of this practice gives me a much greater appreciation for its value in my life and in the lives of others.

The good folks at the Institute of HeartMath® have been working for many years to understand the power of emotion contained within the heart, the heart/brain entrainment, and the physiological ramifications of the heart’s emotional content.  As part of their findings, they’ve been able to produce conclusive evidence that we can shift ourselves from the feelings of stress and other negative feelings/emotions entirely by getting into our “heart space” and operating from one of the following four places for a period of three minutes: (1) Love (2) Appreciation (3) Gratitude OR (4) Compassion.  Getting into this space provides a shift in our being, no matter the circumstances surrounding our lives currently.  But this is no easy task – I assure you!  I’m able to easily produce these feelings for 30-45 seconds but my attention starts to wane or I begin to feel like I’ve exhausted my list of things for which I’m grateful.

One of the great things about this exercise is that it causes you to dig deep.  You’ll quickly run out of the surface things within the first minute.  The remainder or time causes you to really examine what you love, what you’re appreciative of, what you’re grateful for, or where in your life you have compassion.

To shift your being, you don’t need to pick one of the above items only.  You can move down into your heart and begin to exercise all four of the above feelings – you just need to stay in one or a combination of the four attributes for a period of three minutes in order to shift who you are being in the moment.

This technology is so effective that it’s now being used by major corporations to train their managers how to make effective decisions.  Rather than a manager going to a meeting where he is expected to make a decision just after having received a phone call or e-mail with negative considerations about that thing, these managers are learning to make decisions based on their hearts rather than their heads – and it’s having outstanding success.

I employ this technology when I get a phone call from someone who is having a stressful day or is feeling overwhelmed by what they have to do.  I simply ask them to tell me for what they are grateful.  They begin to tell me and when the finish, I ask them to tell me for what else they are grateful.  I continue this line of questioning, either with the same attribute or a combination of any/all of the above four attributes until I’ve helped that person get into his/her heart and produce love-filled emotion for three minutes.  Most people don’t even recognize that this is what I’m doing.  They simply know that they feel entirely better after that conversation and they are free of stress and clear of mind to take whatever their next steps are.

I’m providing this link to the “De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times” as posted on the HeartMath® website.  Give yourself the gift of reading this thirteen-page article today.  It will be the best preparation you could give yourself for this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.  With this preparation, you’ll be aptly prepared to face whatever stress might come your way.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you be blessed with the gifts of thankfulness and gratitude for that which you have.
[End of Post]

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

24 November, 2009

The Art of Letting Go

Recently, I was at a seminar where I heard the speaker make a startling statement. He was speaking about the polarity of all things (i.e. good/bad, right/wrong, light/dark and so on) and he mentioned that when we are intent about anything, we also intend that thing’s opposite.  While this statement wasn’t entirely new to me (reference my blog entitled “Why Inequality Exists”), the impact of this concept’s ramifications had a newly profound effect on how I now see everything.

According to the speaker, one cannot ask for something or want for something without noticing that what he wants or asks for is missing.  So when we’re focusing our intention towards something, on some level we are also continually noticing that thing is not present in our lives.  Because of this, we’re giving energy to both things – the having and the not having!

To look from another perspective, think back to when you were a child and think of a time when you got something you had really been wanting for a long time – something you wanted really badly.  You asked your parents for it.  You asked Santa for it.  You asked God for it.  And, you continued to want that thing until you finally got it.  When you got that thing, you immediately expressed gratitude for that thing and went off to play with it or use it.  And, then, if you were like most kids, it seemed like you immediately began to focus on something else that you wanted.  In fact, that may even describe you in the present.  I know that is certainly how life shows up for me.

Looking back at that analogy, what was the first thing you did when you received that which you wanted?  You stopped wanting that thing!  You no longer wanted it because you now possessed it.  And, then you expressed gratitude for having it in your life.

As grown ups, when we focus our attention on what we want in our lives, we do give energy to that thing.  But, we are also giving energy to having the absence of that thing.  If we really believed that we received that for which we asked at the time in which we asked, we would have no need to continually focus our attention on the wanting of that thing.  Just like the child who receives the object he desired, we would immediately stop wanting and then we would give gratitude for that which we believe that we had received.

This is the true secret of “The Secret.”  The power in receiving anything is all within the art of letting go.

It’s completely fine to want things.  I believe that we are all created to continuously desire more.  All of creation longs to expand itself.  That is our nature.  It’s great to set your intention to have good things come your way.  And, you can set your intention to attract specific things into your life.  But, ultimately, you want to let go of your desire . . . not like no longer caring, but more like believing you already received that which you desired.  Otherwise, your continual focus will remain on wishing for what you want, and noticing what you don’t have.  And, your energy will go to both things.

Instead, desire, intend, ask, and then believe that you received what you desired.  And because you have it, you no longer have to want it.  You can simply move straight into gratitude, thanking God for providing that for which you asked.
[End of Post]

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

30 October, 2009

Finding Yourself - Part II

I am very happy to announce today that I am now incorporated in the State of California to do business as Strategies for Today, LLC. My website for my coaching business is also available as of today and may be found at www.strategiesfortoday.com. Even if you’re not interested in having a Life Coach, you may be interested in some of the information on my website – especially the entire “Philosophy” section. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

This morning as I was watching the Today Show, the interview of Katie Callaway Hall, who was interviewed by Meredith Vieira, caught my attention.  In 1977, Hall was attacked and raped by Phillip Garrido, the same man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard at age 11 in front of her South Lake Tahoe home and holding and raping Dugard for 18 years.

Hall, and her husband, Jim, had made the long drive from Las Vegas, NV to Placerville, CA to attended Garrido’s first court hearing on the Dugard charges.  Garrido had been paroled from his 50-year sentence for his rape conviction of Hall after serving only eleven years.  He is now accused of abducting Dugard just three years after his release from prison for the Hall rape conviction.

During the Hall trial, Katie Callaway Hall said that she was unable to look Garrido in the eyes.  She had made the drive to face her attacker in an effort to find closure (my words).  The thing that caught my attention was that Hall said (in speaking of looking Garrido in the face), “It took me by total surprise, my reaction, and I can’t even explain why — except to tell you on some deep, subconscious level, I reacted to this man in a way I didn’t expect to.” [italics mine]

She went on to say, “I thought this chapter was closed.  I pretty much closed it and got on with my life.  It’s always been just under the surface of my life, and I thought this was in its box and put away.  But this Pandora’s box is open for me, and now I’m dealing with it again on a different level, like I’ve been victimized myself.” [italics mine]

Hall was surprised by her reaction.  She said, “I just thought I’d look at him in victory: ‘You jerk.  I survived.  You’re going down.’  But it hit me completely different,” she said. “I almost broke down.  I started tearing up.  I couldn’t understand why.  I couldn’t control it.  I hope that that’s not going to happen next time.  I hope I got that initial meeting out of the way and now I know what to expect.” [italics mine]

It’s a common saying for us that “time heals all wounds.”  But that’s just a fallacy.  With time, we learn to bury our hurts and our emotions.   We stuff them down and pretend that they’re not there.  Most of us don’t know what to do with them.   And then when they come to the surface, just as Katie Callaway Hall said in her interview, we’re taken by surprise.

Just because we don’t think about our hurts or our emotional scars on a daily basis doesn’t mean that they’ve been healed!  If we haven’t done the work to replace those hurts, they simply simmer below the surface, just waiting for a similar situation, a look, a certain word or tone of voice to present itself before they explode to the surface, surprising even us.  In these times, our subconscious minds are simply reacting to the stimuli that remind us of the past hurt. We are not responding to the current situation.  If we were, we’d find that we were over-reacting to it.  Over-reaction is a big clue that tells us when we’re reacting to something other than the situation at hand.

Another point of interest is that Hall said that she felt like she’d been victimized herself when facing Garrido.  Our subconscious minds hold the memories of every single moment in our lives in storage for us.  They hold every event, everything said, every smell, every color, every word spoken, and every thought related to each event.  And, the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between real life and a memory.  So, when the memory and the emotions of an event are triggered, the subconscious mind brings that memory to the forefront of our minds and it really is like we’re in that event again.

These events do become a part of who we truly are.  The Bible reads, that “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)  When we realize we are not responding to what is before us, but we are reacting to something from our past, that’s a sign that there is something we’ve buried that needs to be healed.  Unless we work to heal those wounds from the past, we will never be free of the emotional hurt that we suffered in relation to those wounds.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

21 October, 2009

Finding Yourself – Part I

While sitting in a seminar some years ago, I heard the lecturer make a statement that at the time I didn’t agree with.  He said [paraphrased]:
You think that you need to be separate from others in order to find yourselves.  You believe that your identity can only come to the surface if you are not surrounded by others, working in teams or in groups.  You believe that you need to be separate in order to be noticed or to really find out who you are.  But none of that’s true.  You only find yourselves in teams.  You only find yourselves when you are working with others.
As I said, I was in complete disagreement with this statement.  Yet, as you can see, the thought continued to stay in my mind, every so often, coming to the surface as if to say, “I’m still here, take a look at me again.”  I would look at that thought, measure it to what I had experienced in life, and continuing to disagree with it, I would push it to the back of my mind.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually began to understand what the lecturer was saying all those years ago.  And, little by little, I began to believe that what he said is true to life.  (Isn’t it amazing what just a few years of living will do to increase our understanding and wisdom?)

I found, from my own experience, that working with others always brought out things in me that I didn’t know where there – both things that I liked and things that I didn’t like.  Working alone I wasn’t challenged to get along with others, I wasn’t challenged to be understanding of others, and I certainly wasn’t challenged to try and understand another’s views.  Working alone, I only had to deal with me and I got along pretty good with myself!  Working alone, I wasn’t stretched to accept any other views other than my own.  Working alone doesn’t cause one to grow like he would when working with others.

I finally understood what the lecturer had said.  When you give yourself to others, you don’t lose yourself – you actually find yourself!  Working in teams shows you what’s inside.  It makes you aware of the things that you like about yourself and exposes those things that you don’t like and that you wish to change.  Working with others causes you to re-examine what you believe.  It challenges your beliefs and gives you insight into others beliefs so that you may choose differently than what you had believed before.  Or, it helps you grow stronger in what you already believed.

Working with others moves us much more quickly through the lessons of life that we all have to learn.  Just like rushing water helps determine what a rock is made of and polishes it over time, we need the friction provided by others to help us see what we’re each made of and to polish and mold us into what we are supposed to become.  Without the catalyst that others are for us, it can take us years longer to learn our life-lessons, which amounts to years of suffering that could be avoided.

If you are working with someone that is a challenge for you to work with, say a simple prayer asking that you be shown what it is that you are to learn from this person or from working with this person.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

09 October, 2009

What Everyone Resists

Have you ever considered that we are all resistors (of others) in one way or another?  Some people resist any guidance from others or they resist taking any advice from another in a somewhat passive-aggressive manner.  Others resist being told what to do no matter who they are with.  While yet others resist even the directions they are given by those in authority over them at work!

What is it about being given direction that so threatens us that we seem to run from it?  I’d like for you to consider that there is a set of behaviors that we have in common with everyone in the human race.  And then also consider that one of those behaviors that we all share is that we all resist being controlled.

Our Resistance to Being Controlled.

Consider that one of the fundamental driving forces we all share is a resistance to being controlled by others.  Simply put, we resist being told what to do.  When we are working in teams at our places of employment, we resist allowing the outcomes of our circumstances (our fates) to reside in the hands of another (the team leader).  If we disagree with the direction that the team leader is taking the team, we fight against that direction in one of many ways: we become directly confrontational with the team leader, or we talk to others on the team to try and sway them to our way of thinking so that we can form a coup to show a majority stance against the leader, or we go over the leader’s head to someone higher-ranking in the company in order to try and convince that person of our way.

In my own life, one place where I’ve resisted another is in allowing my partner to navigate our way anywhere when he was driving us in the car.  In order to fully understand where I was coming from, you must first know that my story about my partner was that he had zero-sense of direction.  I tell you this not because it’s true about him, but because that’s the way that I viewed him for quite sometime.

If we were going somewhere in the car, I really held him accountable if he got us lost, or made us late in getting somewhere, especially if I had told him to take a different route or turn.  I would sit in the passenger seat and get really quiet.  I just wouldn’t talk to him (because that’s the adult way of handling disagreements – right?)!  I know that none of you have ever done this, but I’m sure you can imagine how well that strategy worked out for me/us!

Once I realized that I was being controlling every time we got into the car, and once I realized that I wasn’t allowing him to be responsible for getting us to where we were going, I decided to run a silent experiment.  I decided that I was going to allow him to be fully responsible for getting us to our destinations and I wasn’t going to be upset about him taking wrong turns, taking a route that I wouldn’t, or even getting us to our destination late.  I just was going to be in the car and not get upset!

Now there’s a big difference in the way that I prepare for going somewhere and the way my partner prepares.  I’m driven to not only know the address of where we’re going but I also have to know the phone number in case we need to call ahead and let someone know we’re going to be late due to traffic.  I will also typically have directions with me or I will have looked at a map enough to have a general sense of what roads would best get us to our destination.  My partner? – his preparation usually involved getting in the car, sometimes having the destination address, and using his trusty GPS.

At the beginning of the experiment, we would get in the car and my partner would just start driving!  I would ask, do you know where you’re going?  And he would say, “no, I thought you did.”  If I had the address, I would tell him so.  Then he would ask me to get his navigation system out of his glovebox and enter in the destination address for him.  Oohhh, how frustrating!  He was depending on me but only under his conditions and he still wasn’t conceding control to me!  Everything else, for me, was a lesson in taking control of myself by letting go of my attachments to “being right”, having things my way, having to be places early by a particular amount of time, or taking the route that I would take.

The part of my experiment that involved me not dominating and not getting upset turned into a lesson of accepting that which is rather than fighting against not getting upset (which as you know is a losing battle).

Ultimately, I ended up learning that my silent experiment was as much about me as it was about him!  I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time I was doing it, but more than allowing him to just be responsible, I was hoping that he would come to his senses and realize that my point-of-view (that he had no sense of direction and needed my guidance) was right and then he would ask for my help (knowing that it always works out better when someone asks for direction rather than receiving unsolicited advice).  So as you can see, my experiment was really just another strategy for me to try to get my way and get him to relinquish control of getting us to our destination!  (One might even say that I was being passive-aggressive.)

Take a look at your life now.  Where can you see that you’re being controlling and uncompromising about how things have to be?  Can you give up having to control those situations?  Will you give up trying to control those situations?  Can you accept that another’s way of doing something is just as valid as your way?  It may be that you have great ideas for cutting corners or improving a process.  However, if your ideas aren’t welcome or solicited, they’ll simply be ignored and that may leave you feeling unimportant, unwelcomed, or diminished.

Our position is that everyone has a place at the table.  That includes us.  So if you are feeling that you don’t have a welcomed place from which to share your ideas or opinions, look at where it is that you are trying to control the situation and ask yourself if you can give up that control and simply accept what is.  I think you’ll find that acceptance may ultimately not just give you a place to sit, but a place from which you are asked to speak, and possibly a place where your words are given great weight.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

07 October, 2009

Incomplete Communications

Several years back, my partner and I took a vacation with another couple who were good friends of ours.  However, this wasn’t the normal vacation we like to take (snorkeling at some pristine beach in the Caribbean), but it instead involved a lot of time together in the car as we toured the Northwestern parts of Nevada and California.  As we planned our trip and determined the places where we wanted to go, I could hear the voice of my mother in my head saying, “When you believe that you want to marry someone, take a long trip in the car together. That will test your compatibility.”

Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me ask you, “Have you ever had an incomplete communication with someone?”  What I mean by incomplete communication is:
a) the other person didn’t understand what you said
b) the other person didn’t receive your communication
c) you didn’t understand what was being said to you
d) you didn’t receive the other person’s communication    or
e) there was something that should have been said but never was.

These are all examples of communication that was left incomplete.

When an incomplete communication is in your space, it will come up for you every time you are around that other person.  It seems like it becomes a plaque of sorts because it doesn’t appear to diminish with the passing of time.  Instead, it just seems to drive a divide between you and the other person – a divide that after enough time has passed will seem insurmountable.  In fact, if enough time has passed, you’ll find yourself getting really reasonable about not completing an incomplete communication with justifications like, “I don’t need to bring up that old thing.  That happened a long time ago.” or “That’s water under the bridge.”

Unfortunately, incomplete communications of any kind will serve only to diminish the affinity that you can have for another or the affinity that he could have for you.  And truthfully, that’s one of the primary reasons you will want to resolve any communications that are incomplete.  The completion of an incomplete communication will immediately release the negative feelings that you have about that person.  It will open your heart to have more affinity for that person and it will provide you with peace of mind – all good reasons to complete your past incomplete communications.

One thing to remember though is that just because something was left incomplete for you does not necessarily mean that it is also incomplete for the other person.  It’s best not to project your beliefs or feelings onto the other person.  Simply complete with that person what was left as incomplete for you.  Then, your work is done.  If that thing was also incomplete for the other person, through your boldness and generosity of completing that thing, you will be giving the other an opening that he or she may not have had before.  That could be a gift of grace that will provide the other person with peace of mind and greater affinity.

So, back to my story, since I don’t enjoy traveling in a car for any more than 4 hours to reach a destination, I hadn’t, as an adult, had a lot of travel experience of being in a car and having to be responsible.  Boy was I in for a big awakening!  The big day came and we met at the airport to fly across the country from Maryland to California where we would pick up our rental car and begin our long awaited vacation together.

The first couple of days were great and we really enjoyed the camaraderie with one another.  After that, things went downhill quickly!  We couldn’t get the temperature in the car adjusted to everyone’s liking.  The music, too, was an issue of personal taste with little compromise.  Sometimes, the individuals who were driving would become agitated with the heavy traffic or his or her loss for direction.

After that, everything seemed to become a challenge: Finding a restaurant that we could all agree on; agreeing on what sites we would see that day; finding compatible entertainment at night to suit everyone’s tastes; and even seemingly unfairness in our accommodations – all of which were spoken of but never did the four of us just sit down and hash out our differences.  Not once did any of us take responsibility for the situation.  And never did anyone apologize for their words spoken out of anger or upset.

It was almost a year after our trip that I had finally had enough of these issues eating away at me.  I had never enjoyed a vacation any less than that one and I was stubbornly holding on to all of the wrongs I felt were done to me.  But, I couldn’t stand not having peace in my life.  I didn’t like the anger and the upset eating away at me.  So I picked up the phone and called my friend with whom I felt there was a communication left incomplete.

In our phone call, I took full responsibility for the way things went.  [Please note that when I say "I took full responsibility" I don't mean to imply that I took all of the blame.  Instead, I mean that I was declaring myself as being the one who would be responsible, or “at cause”, for how this matter would turn out.]  I took responsibility for how I had acted immaturely and for my words and actions which were not in line with who I say I am.  I told my friend how much I loved her and I told her what she meant to me.  I told her that I wasn’t going to tolerate anything that separated us like that again.  She said what she said and we ended the call.  Peace was present for me and my affinity for my friend was restored.

Sometimes it takes great courage or boldness to initiate this type of communication.  But the instant reward of completing something that was left incomplete for you and is standing in the way of you having a fully loving relationship with someone cannot be tolerated.  It doesn’t matter if it’s your boss, a coworker, a family member, a partner, or a friend.  The separation caused by something left incomplete should never be tolerated under any circumstances.

If you have an issue that has been left incomplete with someone in your life, I challenge you today to pick up the phone or drive to see that person and clean up your mess!  The rewards that you will reap are well worth it.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

05 October, 2009

Are You More Like Your Mother or Father?

Today’s blog is based on the premise that we all have taken actions in our lives to be like, or not like, our parent(s).  This may immediately turn you off to the point that you no longer are interested in this article.  However, I would ask you to withhold judgment until after reading the full blog.  There just may be something in here that would resonate with you to a degree that will allow you to become more fully self-expressed.

Consider that at some point in your life, you made a decision that was something to the affect of: “I will not be like my mother.  She’s manipulative and controlling.” or “I’m going to be just like my mother when I grow up.  She’s self-assured and unafraid to stand up for herself.”  And those are just statements about your maternal parent!  The same thing happens with the father in a two-parent home.  A person will decide to be like his father, or not like his father.  Do you see the irony in this?

If you made a decision to be just like your mother, then your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by “being your mother.”  If you made a decision to not be like your mother, then your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by “not being your mother.”  I’m certain now that the irony wasn’t lost on you.  You can plainly see that regardless of which path you chose, your words, actions, and emotions are given to you by your mother.  I would never presuppose that all of your actions, words, or emotions are given to you by “being your mother” or by “not being your mother.”  There are a variety of other sources whom you may have copied along the way because you liked who you saw them being.

The same is true of your father.  You made a conscious decision (although it may be buried in the subconscious for some) to be “like your father” or to “not be like your father.”  Therefore, the personality of your adolescent and teen years were shaped and blended by you:
a) being your mother OR not being your mother
b) being your father OR not being your father.
Isn’t that great news?!!?

Ok, I can hear imaginary groans from some readers at that last remark.  However, I do think it is good news and here’s why:

We human beings have the unique power to choose our attitudes, our emotions, our speech, our actions, and our personalities, just like we have the power to put on clothes.  I know that may sound simplistic but I use that analogy because it conveys an ease to it rather than struggle.  And our lives do not have to be about struggle!  Along our lives’ paths, we have picked personality traits that we saw and liked in others and we said to ourselves, “I’m going to be like that.”  Or, we saw personality traits in others that we had an extreme dislike for and we said, “I’m not going to be like that.”

Although we all came “pre-programmed” with a basic personality, we shaped and molded what we had been given to be the outward representation of who we are (and how we feel about ourselves) on the inside.  So why is that good news?  It’s good news because, if you chose to be a certain way, you can now choose to put aside that same way of being if it no longer works for you.  As we grow in knowledge and skills, we find that we no longer need to have certain ways of being that we previously chose for ourselves – possibly as coping mechanisms.  Regardless of the reason, once you see that you have a personality trait that isn’t producing the results that you desire in your life (or that’s getting in the way of you getting those results), you can choose to set that personality trait aside, just as easily as you initially chose to pick it up and put it on.

That’s not to say that you’ll never have to deal with that personality trait again.  We have learned patterns or ways of being that are deeply engrained.  Therefore, once we decide to make a change, it will take several days of working in the newly desired trait before it is engrained on top of the old one, essentially taking the previous trait's place.  So, until that happens, you have a choice in every situation where that old pattern starts to show up.  You can give way to the old trait or you can choose to only allow the new behavior.  Whatever you choose, know that it is your choice and your actions, behavior, and speech are not given to you by another – but they are only given by you.

Now that’s empowerment!

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

02 October, 2009

Why Planning is Tied to Success

Welcome to October 2009!  Today I was reviewing the remaining months until the end of the year and what I have scheduled to do and what I need to do.  That year-end deadline is just looming ahead and making me more aware than ever of how necessary it is for me to plan my days, weeks, and months as well as my month-end and year-end goals.

According to several “success gurus,” planning is one of the most important tools used by those who continually achieve their goals.  Of course, one has to start with goal setting.  And after setting your goals for the year and month(s), those goals need to be broken down into specific tasks that you must complete by specific time-lines in order to meet the goals by your decided-upon deadlines.

In his book, “The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management,” author Hyrum W. Smith (founder and former CEO of the then, Franklin Quest Co.), writes about SMART goals.  He defines SMART goals as those that are:
Specific   Measurable   Action-Oriented    Realistic and    Timely.
He also writes that, “an unwritten goal is merely a wish.  Writing the goal [with the above mentioned attributes attached] forces you to be specific.  If a goal is not specific, you will have a hard time knowing whether or not you’ve reached it.

For me, I have learned over the years that I accomplish more in a day if I have previously planned my activities for that day.  Of course there are some things that I plan well in advance and other things that occur every day or on the same day/time of every week.  My practice is simply to sit down at the computer at the end of each day and enter into my calendar program each task that I need to accomplish for the following day, giving it the proper amount of time required.

I then organize those “appointment/tasks” into their overall order of importance and schedule them for the times throughout the day when I believe I will be able to work on each to complete them.  I enter notes into each task/appointment of any of the things I need to complete that task including looking up addresses of where I need to go, directions, and things I need to complete prior to the appointment/task

Then, I sync my smart-phone up to my calendar program so that I have my planned list of to-do’s with me.  My reminder on my phone will prompt me of the next planned event as the time nears.  (Before I had a smart-phone, I would simply print out that day’s calendar to carry with me to meetings, etc.)

That’s my simple system for keeping things in existence for myself.  Besides writing down your daily goals, you must implement some sort of system that will keep those goals in existence for you.  Once something goes out of existence for you, you are sure to not complete that task.  That’s why many people feel like they are always playing catch-up – because they don’t keep their schedules in existence for themselves.

Lastly, I gather up anything that I will need to complete my next-day goals.  I don’t move quickly in the morning so I’m much more effective if I get things together in the evening before going to bed.  I’ll pack my gym bag, get directions, paperwork/forms, coupons, or whatever it is I will need to complete my next day goals, and have them ready to go at a moments notice.

Although goal setting is one of the most important steps to achieving your desires, I would encourage you to, above all, allow for surprises to occur during your day.  Look for spontaneity and other things that might require schedule negotiation but will fill your life with love and rich rewards.  Remember, you may not always schedule in a call with a cherished friend or loved-one but that call may be the thing that completely makes your day worth your investment.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

30 September, 2009

Are You Being "Should" Upon?

Sometimes life can seem like it’s coming at us very quickly.  When it does, our natural state of peace, play, and ease becomes disrupted and we allow in other things to occupy those spaces such as worry/concern, stress, frustration, and even dis-ease.

Notice that last one?  Dis-ease is really the preeminent reason for any sickness that comes into your body.  Any sign of dis-ease is a sign that you are not in alignment with what is happening in your life.  If this dis-ease is not dealt with as quickly as possible, it can lead to chronic stress, illness, and other things.

When I notice dis-ease in myself, the very first place that I look is inward.  I ask myself something to the effect of “what should be different?”  Typically, that will bring my attention to whatever it is that is causing the distress.  Sometimes I feel that I should be doing something other than the thing I am doing in the moment.  That might be a belief that I put on myself or it might be a feeling that I get from someone else.

For me, this dis-ease is commonplace whenever I take any kind of break.  When I ask my question (“what do I feel distressed about?”), I usually get back an answer like, “I feel that I should be working,” or, “I should be working out,” or, “I believe that so-and-so thinks I should be … (fill in the blank)!”  When you look at these responses, you can readily see that they all contain “should” or some form of “should” in them.

The word “should” is just as dangerous for us as comparison is.  Just like when you compare yourself to others for either the purpose of feeling better about yourself or making yourself feel “less than”, should statements always leave us with a feeling of “less than.”  We “should on ourselves,” we “should on others,” and we also allow others to “should all over us!”  Really, the only thing that we should do is banish the word “should” from our vocabularies!

If we remove “should” from our self-defeating inward talk and if we discontinue using the word “should” with others, we can create a better space for ourselves and others to live more freely with what we believe would be the best use of our time, energy, and efforts at any given moment.

The next time that a “should” comes up for you (or, in other words, the next time you feel “should upon”) ask yourself where that “should” is coming from and why it is there.  I would venture a guess that it’s there because of some concern or list of concerns that you have.  Possibly you’re concerned about how others will perceive you if you don’t do what you think they feel you should do.  Regardless of where the “should” is coming from, look at your concerns and simply ask yourself, one-by-one, if you can give up each of those concerns?  Once you confirm that you can, ask yourself if you will give up each of those concerns?  Again, once you’ve answered in the affirmative, and you’ve given up that self-defeating “should-talk,” you’ll find that your body is restored to its natural state of peace, play, and ease.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

29 September, 2009

The Outline of a New Plan

I'm currently re-evaluating what is working for me and what isn't.  And, while this blog is important to me and I believe that it is benefitting both me and my readers, it also takes more time than I initially thought it would.

That being said, I am revising my initial commitment to this blog which was to post five blogs/week (one each day on M-F).  I am now committing to post three new blogs per week.  I will aim to do this as a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting but there may be some weeks when I post my three blogs on different days, depending on what I have on my schedule.

I thank you for your continued readership and support of my work.  I also appreciate your feedback and responses to posts I’ve written.

I continually wish for you every good thing.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

28 September, 2009

Rules for Being Human

If you have come across the “Rules for Being Human” sometime during the last twenty-five years, you may have chosen to photocopy them and keep them in front of you on your desk or cubicle wall.  These “rules” have been passed around and gained popularity over the years – while the author was yet unknown.

Now, in a book entitled, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” author Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. has not only claimed herself as the author of these Rules for Being Human, but she has expanded the explanations of each rule to provide deeper insight into the universal truths from where each of these rules came.

Below is a slightly expanded version of her rules taken from several various sources and compiled together for you.  If you enjoy the following, consider purchasing the book.

The Rules for Being Human 

You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live.  How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make a difference in the quality of your life.

You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called “Life on Planet Earth.”  Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know.  The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.  Every person or incident is the Universal Teacher.

There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation.  The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately "work."

A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  External problems are a precise reflection of your internal state.  When you clear inner obstructions your outside world changes.  Pain is how the universe gets your attention.

You will know you've learned a lesson when your actions change.  Wisdom is practice.  When you have learned the lesson (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and ultimately your behavior) then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end.  There's no part of life that doesn't contain its lessons.  If you're alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.

“There” is no better a place than “here”.  When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than your “here.”

Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.  When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What you make of your life is up to you.  Life provides the canvas; you do the painting.  Take charge of your life -- or someone else will.  You have all the tools and resources you need.  What you create with those tools and resources is up to you.

You always get what you want.  Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have.  There are no victims, only students.

The answers lie inside of you.  The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp.  Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written.  You know more than you have heard or read or been told.  All you need to do is ask, look, listen, and trust.

You will forget all this.

You can remember any time you wish.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

24 September, 2009

Why Reality Is Subjective

Most people, when they begin to hear the messages of, and believe in, the Law of Attraction, The Law of Faith, &/or Healing, they come to a point where they have heard enough to test their own wings, so to speak.  So they begin to believe for that which they desire and now understand that they can have.

However, stepping over into this new realm isn’t always easy.  And many people come up against the very same obstacle no matter what it is for which they are exercising their belief.  That obstacle is: what can be observed as the realistic present circumstances of one’s life through the five senses versus what one is believing.  And, when this comes up for some, they find themselves arguing for what they “see” as real versus what they are believing to be real.

One might say, “I’m believing for my healing but everything that I can see and feel, and everything that the doctors report as my condition tells me that the reality of the situation is that I have a serious disease and I need to subject my body to invasive medical treatment.”  However, the reality of any situation is never dictated by what one sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels.  The reality of a situation is only given by what one perceives to be the truth.

The reality of me as a writer can only be given by the future into which I’m living.  If I only believe that what my five senses tell me is my current life as a writer will always be my life as a writer, I would discontinue writing for others immediately.  However, I choose to believe that I have a gift and I believe that gift will open doors for me to make a living through writing and doing other things about which I am passionate.  My life as a writer exists today because of my perception of seeing myself as a published author.  That life is the life I live into every day as given by the future I have created for myself.

We must always remember that believing in anything does not require us to deny the existence of our present circumstances.  In fact, faith allows us to say with surety, “although my current circumstances point to my insurmountable debt, I believe, and I therefore speak by faith, that all of my bills are paid and I am financially free.”  You see, faith can look into the eye of present circumstances and tell them to give way to the truth – the truth being what we perceive to be the reality of the situation.

The reality that we believe in is that everything on this earth is made up of the same thing – energy.  And just as the heavens and the earth were created by the language of God, we were created in His very image and we therefore have the same creative power to speak to the circumstances of our lives and command them to fall in line with the reality of the universe – that we create our lives, and we attract the circumstances that surround us.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

21 September, 2009

Acceptance and the Art of Disappearance (Part 3 of 3)

Here we are on Monday and this is part three – the final section of this series of blogs related to agreement, disagreement, resistance, and acceptance.  As a recap, this all started last Wednesday when we were examining why inequality still exists in America today.  We found that the disagreement of a thing just as strongly binds that thing in reality as agreement does. Then, on Friday we began the inquiry of what we would need to do in order to no longer be participants in furthering negative thoughts and ideas in our world.  We examined the role of resistance and how it prevents us from transforming the things in our lives that aren’t working for us.  And, we ended with discovering that (while we couldn’t transform those things by stepping over them or going around them) we could transform situations by going directly through them.  And the avenue through which we have to go directly through a situation without changing it (because change = resistance, and resistance = persistence of a thing) is acceptance.

So, today we’re looking at acceptance of the things we’ve been resisting for the purpose of transforming those areas of our lives that are not working.  This is not for anyone who is satisfied with the way in which his life is going.  And, it’s not for the person who is faint of heart!  This is only for the individual who is ready to take control of his life, to transform non-working situations into working ones, and who is willing to take a hard, confronting look at his own self for the purpose of leaving behind those things that are not serving his highest purpose.

Following, I’ve listed the steps one needs to take in order to use the powerful tool of acceptance in order to allow for the disappearance of the limiting barriers from one’s life:

Firstly, pick the area of your life that you want to transform.

Next, you’ll need to take a hard look at what it is that’s not working.  Divorce yourself from the story of why it’s not working and separate out the facts of the situation.  To go through this process, you need to become disinterested in continuing to sell yourself the story you’ve been selling to everyone else.  You may have to become brutally honest to get to the basic truth.  Hint: Look for the area(s) where your complaint(s) lies and then look at your reasons.

Thirdly, pinpoint exactly what it is that you’ve been resisting.  Look for: what you’ve been angry about, what you’ve become complacent about, where you’ve been inflexible, what you’ve been trying to change, what you’re afraid of, what you’ve been trying to control or dominate, or where you’ve been in denial or become resigned.  Next, ask yourself why you’ve been resisting this thing.  List out each reason you have for your resistance.

Now, look at each reason, one by one, and ask yourself with each one: “Can I give up that concern?

If you answer that you can, then ask yourself: “Will you give up that concern?

Go through your list, until you’ve determined that you are both able, and willing, to give up each and every concern.

Lastly, after you’ve given up each concern, confirm your acceptance of the thing by saying, “I acknowledge that (say what you’ve been resisting).  I accept that (say what you’ve been resisting) and I accept it exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.  I no longer need to change it, control it, complain about it, fear it, or be in denial about it.  I allow it to exist with no further judgment from me.”

That’s it! Now look back at what you’ve accomplished.  You’ve determined to no longer resist what you had been resisting.  Instead of trying to change it, you’ve accepted it exactly as it is without trying to alter it.  And, now, you’re on the other side of it.  As you look back at the issue, you’ll see that it’s either disappeared completely or it’s still there in present form but it no longer holds any power over you.  In fact, you’ll find that you simply feel free of that thing – regardless of whether it still exists or not.

Since we sometimes learn best by example, I am sharing the following with you as an illustration of how one can put acceptance into immediate use in his or her own life (using the steps outlined above) and thereby allow for the disappearance of issues that are plaguing him or her:

Jill was a very busy advertising executive.  She was a very bright and attractive woman and was highly sought after because of her ability to constantly produce advertising campaigns that worked well for her clients’ product sales.  But there was something that was continuously holding Jill back in her personal, and sometimes in her professional, life.  It was her weight.  Jill wasn’t overly obese.  She weighed around 45 lbs. more than a person of her height should.  She said that she worked long and unpredictable hours which interfered with her ability to exercise on a regular basis.  She had been on several diets – some of which had provided temporary and limited weight loss – but most of which had not produced the results that she desired.  Those that had produced real results were so restrictive or limiting that Jill found it hard for her to stay on them.

While she seemed to have it together in her professional life, Jill’s personal life was another story.  Her weight-consciousness kept her from accepting invitations to go out on dates.  Since putting on the extra weight, Jill had to allow herself 30 extra minutes to get ready for work because she could never choose what she wanted to wear.   (She felt that everything she put on “made her look fat.”) Her self-esteem had been so badly damaged that Jill no longer went out of the house except to go to work or to see family.

Jill sought out help from a therapist in order to regain her lost self-esteem.  She said that she wanted to get past her “mental-blocks” that were preventing her from staying on a diet and exercise program.  Jill said she was ready to do the work necessary to lose the weight.

Since Jill had already identified the area of her life that she wanted to address, Jill’s therapist asked her to tell her all of the reasons she had for not accepting herself exactly as she was.  Jill’s list included: (1) not liking the way she looked, (2) not liking the way she felt, (3) being overweight wasn’t healthy, and (4) she felt that people treated her differently since she was overweight.

For each issue, Jill’s therapist asked her if she could give up her concerns about that issue.  For instance, for the first item on her list, she asked Jill, “Can you give up your concerns about how you look?”  When Jill decided that she could give them up, her therapist asked her if she would agree to give them up.  Jill answered affirmatively to each question.  When she had completely given up her concerns, Jill’s therapist asked her to repeat the following after her.  She said, “I acknowledge that I am overweight.  I accept that I am overweight and I accept my body exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t.  I no longer need to change it, control it, complain about it, fear it, or be in denial about it.  I allow my body to exist with no further judgment from me.

Suddenly, Jill’s eyes had a sparkle in them.  She told her therapist that she felt free from being overweight for the very first time.

Jill’s therapist then took her through two more exercises of the same type.   The first one focused on her complaint about exercising and why she couldn’t do it.  The second one was focused on her complaint about diets not working or being too difficult to follow.  After completing the three exercises, Jill said that for the first time in 10 years, she felt free to choose whether she wanted to exercise or not and she felt free to choose what she wanted to eat.  She stressed that she was now free from the burden of needing to exercise or avoid exercising in order to keep her complaint about her weight in place.  The same was true for dieting and eating.

Two months later in a follow-up session with her therapist, Jill had lost 10 lbs!  She said that she repeated her "new mantra" (about being overweight and accepting herself exactly as she was and exactly as she wasn’t) to herself every morning as she looked in the mirror and got dressed.  Jill said that the acceptance of herself and her weight was the single factor of her success.  She said that when she gave up resisting her weight, her weight ceased to exist as a problem for her.

She told her therapist that since she accepted herself as she was every day, it gave her the freedom to choose to exercise and to choose what to eat.  Finally, she was really free to choose to eat healthily or not.  She could freely choose to exercise or not and with that freedom she found that she made her choices based on what she really wanted and not based on old patterns of complaining about a problem that just wouldn’t go away.

A Question of Zen

In a book entitled, “Zen Without Zen Masters,” author Camen Benares provides some insights, questions, and Koans of Zen on which one may meditate.  I am sharing one of these insights (“Good News, Bad News”) here as follows:
                      Good News, Bad News
There’s good news tonight and bad news.  First, the bad news: there is no good news.  Now the good news: you don’t have to listen to the bad news.
After meditation upon this insight, the reader will see that he is getting news and he is only getting news.  There is no good news being delivered.  And, there is no bad news being delivered.  There is only news.  All the rest is what we’ve tacked on.

As you look newly at each issue in your life, allow yourself to see the issue for the simple facts of which it is comprised, without all of the story added.  After all, the story is made up of the stuff that we’ve each tacked on.  We get to say what is true for us.  And, we’re the only ones who get a say in the matter.

Copyright ©2009.  All rights reserved.

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain