streams of thoughts….. march 29th, 2015

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Thoughts on this Sunday.

They say that “silence is golden”.

We are also told “never say never”.

We are told that we are limited by the size of our dreams; therefore, dream huge colorful dreams.

I say that sometimes silence is not golden at all. That there are times when we have to express meaningful and thoughtful words that may challenge the emotive balance of another person or group of individuals. I think there are times that saying “never” is exactly what needs to be said. I believe that there are some actions, policies, and thoughts that need to be challenged. However, yes, I would agree that we are limited by the dreams that we hold or believe inside.

Recently, we have seen events that have rippled through the internet in a matter of seconds. With these events, we have been openly questioned as to what we believe and who do we protect as a society. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that “man” has been presented with the opportunity to defend and speak out for the well-being of another. In the 1930’s, Germany had a community of evil chose one segment of society at a time. They chose them not to exalt but to exterminate. In the 1800’s, America had a community of evil that held societal and political power late into the 60’s and 70’s (some would even say to this day) that declared that race was a determining factor of not just how to live but whether or not you lived. In the other countries, such as India, Afghanistan, and Iran, a person’s sexual identity controls their destiny of safety and progression in life even to this day.

It is not a matter of whether we openly accept a person for how they naturally live out their lives. Honestly, it comes down to whether or not we respect and value the freedom to choose to live an authentic life. Sadly, in the 50’s some people would have defended the denial of a Negro eating at the counter in a Woolworth’s store. Thankfully, there were some that stood up and said that this denial was not just a denial of one group of people but the denial of all.

Today some have said it is within the legal right of a company or a business owner to not serve a gay or lesbian person. I have a question. Which side would you have stood with in Germany during the 30’s? Would you have said that society should not protect the rights of a gypsy or a minority, or a mentally handicapped person or a gay or a Jew?

Discrimination is discrimination no matter the time or the place or the person. We all have to ask ourselves these questions: what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of the color of a person’s skin? Are we afraid of the clothes that a person may wear? Are we afraid of not the sexual choice of another person but the fact that they are attracted to the same sexual person? Are we afraid of someone that thinks differently than we do? Are we afraid of someone that worships differently than we do? Are we afraid or just uncomfortable?

Many of those that have spoken out in favor of a recent legal decision, which will lead to discrimination, have used their faith beliefs as an argument against the rights of another person. Some are using their beliefs as a mallet beating down the rights of another person. In that person’s defense, they say that they have rights too and yes they do; however, do those rights supersede the rights of another person? To be honest, those that oppose just want conformity. They want a society that adheres to their standards of “choice”… oddly enough it sounds like another modern religious group that we find appalling in actions as well.

Now, before someone says that this in defense of one demographic group, these thoughts presented here are the same for the Arab, the Jew, the mentally handicapped, the rich, the poor, the Protestant, the Catholic, the Muslim, the gay, and the straight. This belief of defending the rights of others is for the young and the old, male or female, the Hispanic and the Asian, or for anyone who does not feel like they are a part of any societal community.

So, I ask myself this as much as I am asking you… Do my actions promote discrimination? Am I promoting dividedness in my silence? Do my actions defend the rights of others? Am I living life based on my interpretation or is it based on the loving actions of Christ? Just as He welcomed others, am I doing the same?

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streams of thought….march 27th, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, how was your day? Was it all that you had hoped for? Did you accomplish a lot or are you wondering how the day slipped away so easily. Perhaps you found yourself at eleven o’clock this morning wondering how the morning went by without you noticing it. I wonder if your morning started with the hope and desire to be successful beyond your imagination. Did you look at the mirror and tell yourself that this is the day that you will “taste” not just achievement but contentment.

I will be honest with you… at times I get jealous. I have some wonderful people in my life who play a role in my thoughts and perceptions. They seemingly are successful beyond all imagination. They seemingly have it all together. It is not a rare moment to see a photo of their beautiful home or to hear about some fabulous trip that they are on or have gone on. They proudly tell “us” about some new fitness gadget or retreat/trip that they are going on. It is not that I am not happy for them… ok maybe sometimes I wish they would say something about how much their life sucks. It is not that I wish them ill-will or some serious illness… no, at times I just wish my life was as good as theirs seems to be. In fact, sometimes as I walk to the coffee shop up the street from where I live, the thought crosses my mind that I am poor. Then it happens….

My eyes look around and see those that are laying leaned up against a building wall… or are looking through the trash bins for aluminum cans (if we would recycle it would be a lot easier for them)… I think about the people standing in between the cars in Managua that are subsisting on two dollars a day, while I get my two dollar cup of coffee. Oh sure, I don’t live in an uptown condo in NYC or a colonial style home in the south or even a large ranch overlooking the flat farm fields of Illinois. No, I live in a one bedroom apartment that just happens to be located in one of the best neighborhoods in Denver. Hell, I live with a ten year old cat named Frank.

Life is all about perceptions and struggles.

Our perceptions are mixed with emotions of hope and fear. In fact, it might be that perceptions feed or initiate those emotions. I get up every morning thinking that if I can keep on dreaming and moving towards my dream that I will one day achieve what I am working so hard at in this moment. My counselor keeps trying to remind me of the fact that I am doing so much today and that it will pay off in the future. I smile and nod then tell her how grateful I am for all that I able to do… and reiterate that I do it all for free; somehow inwardly hoping that I might be able to find some softness that will lead her to say that I get my current session for free. However, that hope is not strong because I know that therapy will never be for free.

Another thing that I am thankful for is that I can find solace in my writing. However, the problem with writing is that there are times when a person senses that their words fall on to the pages like an abandoned love falls on to the bed. They are abandoned through silence. A silence that further exposes the vulnerability which has opened the writer to a certain level of rawness.

I am also thankful for the fact that I have the opportunity to discover more about myself as I walk around with my camera. The external memory box that collects what my mind dreams about. I am looking for the unique… the unusual… the symbolic unicorn in whatever setting I find myself. The act of taking photos is much like the reflective practice of mediation at the end of the day. Each scene and thought is opened to have its intentions reviewed and considered.

My life’s perception is individually biased yet it also holds an element of societal similarity. My willingness to get out of bed is fed by two things… necessity and curiosity. I find it necessary that I get out of bed because there is no one that can complete what I have individually have started. It is this same sense of need that drives me to speak out for those who are not blessed with the same opportunities that many of us have. There are some who will come crawling out from a box or a blanket or a bed in a shelter only to step out on to the sidewalk with no sense of hope. In a country and a community that holds so much wealth how is that possible? My curiosity is what feeds my sense of adventure and purpose. I look at the needs of others and ask myself what can I do today that will make a difference about tomorrow? How do I express metta towards myself and others?

Life is also about struggles.

No matter how well we think that others may live life we need to realize that struggles are personal and present. When we encounter struggle, our first response is to ask these following questions:

  • What is the source of that struggle?
  • Is it within us?
  • Is it the unjust treatment from others?

As we discover the source of our struggle, grant ourselves metta and offer the same act of loving kindness towards others. We offer this to others by not judging them based on our perception or through comparison. It is when we let go of our sense of comparison and judgement that we are free to move into the dreams that we have for our own life.

Namaste

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The Art of Being “Jolly”…..

Tis the season to be Jolly…. Right?

It seems that this time of year “jolly” is an attribute that we have given over to a mythological character or perhaps sing in a song. While at the Mall the other day, I stopped to have a tea and to reflect on the gift idea listing in my head.  As I sat down to relax and reflect, I got distracted by all the signs for this product and for that product. I saw people wearing elf hats and Santa hats.  I saw little children all dressed up for family photos but the thing I saw the least… was a sense of jolliness.  Most were rushing here and there from store to store.  It is interesting to see how people interact with others when they seemingly have so much stress and anxiety.

I read an article recently that said that anxiety is, in some cases, more detrimental to our well-being than depression. The level of stress and anxiety is intense during this time of the year.  We worry about all the gifts that we have bought and the ones that still need to be purchased.  We grow anxious because we are about to spend time with as many people that we can for this once a year seasonal event. How will we be equally fair to all the people that we are about visit with?  How do we tell one set of family members about an impending event of expectation while wanting to share the news with another set without hurting feelings? How do we show equal love to those within the same family so that we do not show a tint of bias? We feel the sense of anticipation as we begin to make plans to travel to another city; so, we have to figure out the logistic of getting ourselves AND the gifts to our destination. Or perhaps we have made it a habit of going to multiple homes on the same day to meet the expectations of others and ourselves. Do we bring something for the meal? Do we spend breakfast with this family and lunch with another?

Then there are some that are not stressed by the gift giving but are more concerned over seeing those people in our lives that we have had struggles with.  It may be a sibling or a parent.  It may be an estranged relationship with a child.  Along with this encounter, we have the added stress of making sure that the gift is well received because it is another part of giving ourselves.  We feel the weight and the sting of rejection or disharmony; so we hope that we get a glimpse of a smile when they receive or open a gift that we have invested time and thought into.

No, “jolly” is not a word that describes a lot of us during this season. This is the time of year that we want everything to be done correctly.  We hang the Christmas tree with lights and ornaments with great care.  We try to get all the tinsel spread on the tree perfectly balanced just like we are trying to balance our own lives. Perhaps part of the reason that this time of the year is so stressful is because all the activities and preparation is an outward reflection of wanting to be seen and accepted. Perhaps the stress of gift giving is not about getting what is the perfect gift for the other person but because it is a form of giving ourselves. Think about how neatly we want that gift to look, or even pay someone else to wrap for us, so that it looks presentable… no we want it to be more than that.  We want to offer a gift that is perfect in appearance. Yet, the person that is receiving it is more interested on what is inside of the present.

At the end of the big day, we will have wrapping paper to put away along with the ornaments. We will have made promises to see each other more often throughout the year. We might reflect on the events of the day and in some subtle way hope that next year will be different in some way.  So, we have ten more days before Christmas.  Many have already bought and wrapped the gifts for this year.  If you have room for one more or perhaps have not bought the first one, give this a consideration.  Think of something that is symbol of what you want and desire your relationship with the other person to look like. If you want a more beautiful and meaningful relationship, how about a beautiful vase or piece of jewelry? If you want it to more active or want more time together, get a gift that promotes that like tickets to an event to do together.  Just make this one gift meaningful and one that they will remember with time.

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streams of thought……december 13th, 2014

New beginnings….

Being self-employed has some really great points and it has some really terrible points. One of the best points is that I get to do some awesome things!

Earlier this year, instead of having a big tree with neatly wrapped presents, I was able to notice that in the messiness of life I was able to discover myself and along with that a passion to exercise my desire to become a counselor and fitness coach. After all, if you are not passionate about what you are doing then why are you doing it?

A few months ago, I started implementing into my life philosophy the principle of “Why Not What”. This principle has made a tremendous difference in how I gauge what I am doing currently and what I am choosing not to do in future.

For example, the reason why I have chosen to become a counselor and fitness coach is because of people. I have had a desire for a long time to simply do whatever I can, no matter how big or how small, to be a difference in my community. As I got the opportunity to work with others that have emotive, physical and spiritual struggles, I realized that the act of working with others gave my life meaning. Ah, there is a connection between the “why” and “meaning” as well. When we ask ourselves “why” and we can answer that honestly then it is almost as if the doors of the Universe open up with what to do next. It is at that the moment that we say this is why we are doing this or that. It is in that simple adjustment of perspective we discover what we need to do.

So, if you are looking at the calendar and trying to determine what you want to do this upcoming year then ask yourself first why you want to do it.

It is in the answer of “why” is where we will find our passion and intrinsic motivation. It is in the “Why” we will find the energy and the reason to keep going when we struggle. It is in the “why” we will find the greater purpose for our life.

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New Beginnings…… October 26th, 2014

Ideas. I am sure that we all have come across an awareness that seemingly changes our perspective and how we move through life. I had such an idea come to me a couple of weeks ago while preparing to do a group facilitation in nearby Boulder, Colorado. Prior to the meeting, I was thinking about how I could best help these individuals as they searched for what they wanted to accomplish in the next year.   Now each facilitations is different from each other; so while I was thinking about this activity, I was drawn to its purpose. But the more I thought about the purpose I became more absorbed with the planning on how the event was going to transpire; which led me to feel like I really had nothing to offer them. On my drive to the location, I had a concept come to me; so, I presented it to them and it would eventually set the tone for the event. I asked them not to think, “What are we going to do to accomplish our mission?” but to think of the more basic question of “Why is our mission important?”

The concept of “why” over “what” is a simple one if we take the time to consider the difference. Oh sure, “what” is an action word that means that we are busy doing “something”. We may have started doing something based on a desire to accomplish a goal. But how many times do we continually do the same thing over and over again without reflecting on why we are doing it. As I think about the meeting with the group from Boulder, I remember not sensing that I left them with the best of feelings and now I know why. I could feel that there was a sense of frustration over their final collective decision and that was because the action plan that they had chosen was the same one that they had chosen the year before. My mistake was that I did not reflect on the comment that I started the meeting off with. Instead of allowing them to “sit” in their frustration, I should have asked them why this act was so important to them. I should have asked that they consider not “what” or “how” but to ask themselves “why”. The “why” will reflect their passion. The “why” will develop their truest identity.

There it is. The concept of “why”.

Individually we ask ourselves, why do we want to get a better education… or to be successful in business… or to be faithful in our relationships… or to stand up for social justice? Is it just because we know it is the right thing to do? Well, we know that telling the truth is the right thing to do. We know that obeying the laws is the right thing to do. We know a lot of “right thing” to do’s but yet we still don’t always do them.

Now this is where the story becomes a little more personal. I have asked myself the very same thing. Why do I write… why is it so important for me to study how to be a counselor… why do I eat healthy… why do I choose to work out the way that I do… why do I have the faith system that I have?

So let me offer this as a suggestions, when we are about to start a new phase of life or set a new goal, lets first ask ourselves why we want to do it. I believe that once we personally know the answer to “why” it will become a lot easier to discover “what” we want to do and “how” we should do it.

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streams of thought….september 30th, 2014

It is the last day of September… how do I choose to walk in it? A day… a moment… a casual meeting… a commute from one place to another… each tick of the clock is a gift. Before I walk into the world of academia I want to put onto paper some thoughts from the creative

Do you remember having an encounter that seems to capture you but yet releases you? It is difficult to describe actually. When I tried explaining it to myself I thought of the replacement of the wolves in Yellowstone Park. A beautiful creature is moved from a place of danger from its environment as well as a danger to its environment. They are captured and then take to a safer place… captured yet release into a place that provides and protects.

What are some of the words that capture you today? Are they words that release you or are they words that restrict you?

Here are some that have been in my thoughts this morning… happiness, sadness, hope, fear, trust, peace, stillness, contentment, and perception.

Each have separate meaning yet many of them seem to be intertwined with each other. Sometimes they seem so desperate for meaning, as if they are too limiting. However, here is where I presently reside with each of them.

Happiness and sadness – emotions that are attached to the present. They are based on how we feel at the moment based on our interpretation of the current environment we find ourselves in…

Hope and fear – emotions that connect with the future. They are dependent upon our perspective view of life and potential events. Our perspective view is going to determine which one of these is going to be the dominant emotion. It is the farthest away from our present situation yet it seems to be one that dictates how we live with the present emotion.

Trust – an emotion that sees the living around us and either causes us to hold on tightly to what we have held on to for so long or causes us to let go to explore the possibility.

Peace – it is the undercurrent that holds up our present emotion. When our peace becomes thin the more turbulent the “waters of our soul” becomes and allows us to drift to the more unsettling perceptions.

Stillness and contentment – the bonds that create trust. When we encounter someone that personifies these two traits alone there is something within us that says that we can dwell in trust. These are the two arms that hold us as we let go of our present emotion of self-doubt.

Perception – the hand that holds the key to our freedom of being or locks us in a cage of negativity. This is the emotion that determines which one of the present time and future time emotions that we will choose from.

John O’Donohue writes in his book Eternal Echoes, the following:

“One of our sacred duties is to be open and faithful to the subtle voices of the universe which come alive in our longing.”

No matter our faith or non-faith… our age, race, or gender… our economic status of having or wanting… the words that we choose to reside with this morning will determine the perception that we have throughout the rest of the day. And what word we choose to reside with is determined by the perception that we have at this moment.

Namaste…… shalom…. Peace and Light…

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streams of thought….september 14th, 2014

So, where do we go from here? I feel as if I am on a pier looking at the different schooners coming and going into the harbor. Each carrying a person that is destined to go this way or that. Some to never been seen again and others to causally meet all over again when Destiny should allow.

I have my rain gear in my knapsack. No Map other than the one that speaks to my heart. My mind is full of visions and dreams. Along with Robert Kennedy, I look into the new horizon and see what is and ask “why” and see what isn’t and ask “why not”

Why not me? I wonder to myself. I have met people who have encouraged me to step off the pier and onto a schooner to go explore and reinvent.

Why, do I not believe what others have seen and told me? It is as if they have gone to foreign land within me and have come back to tell me all that they have seen and a lot of it has been good.

I look to my means and say that there is no way.

I wonder how many of us give up the richness of who we are because we see the poverty of where we reside. I wonder how many see a box of crayons and only take out a few because we are fearful to empty out the box. We are… afraid

“Afraid of what?” my Companion of Possibilities asks…

Are you afraid to fail? Yet, you fail at the mere rejection of practicing who you are.

Are you afraid to be seen? Yet you are seen and have been seen every day.

Are you afraid of succeeding? Yet you succeed at not taking the next step every time you say “no”.

I am not sure what I think about the saying “That life is like an oyster”. That metaphor is so confining. Oh, I get it. Yes, a bit of Life’s grain of sand somehow gets into this nasty looking shell; which by the way is how we have allowed our perspective and heart to appear in life some times. Over time we allow the environment to toss us and constantly wash over us in such a way that we develop a harden exterior; yet all the while inside we strive to be pliable, strong, and resilient. Yet in the midst of all this external violence that develops a crusty old shell there drops a grain of sand. The shell holds that grain of sand and somehow miraculously it turns into a pearl.

What if….

What if that clam did not open itself up to its elements? Well, simply stated, it would no longer live because it would not be able to take in what sustains it’s life… also, it would not be open to creating a pearl, a beautiful development of being.

We, like the clam, allow the externalities of life to beat against us. We feel the tides of time wash over us and yet we are afraid to open ourselves up to that same movement. If we are no longer are open to nourishment, we will die inside ourselves. Yes, being open to life and possibilities makes us vulnerable. However, in our vulnerability we become open to making something beautiful and to offer that beauty as gift to others.

So, where do we go from here?

We know in our mind’s eye what is behind us so there is no need to turn around to see it. The past is yet a reference book to help us to understand and possibly write what is before us.

The voices of the past either encouraged or discouraged us.

The new voices of encouragement are from those that have seen our potential and are here to remind that we have a greater story that is yet to be written. Also, there will be voices that may discourage us so let them be considered as reminders of lessons that need to be learned.

We also know that there will be moments of silence. Silence has its own voice. Be open to the solitude of it. The sound of time’s movement will be all that we hear just like in the silence of the ocean’s bed. We all need the sounds of silence so that our bodies can take a moment to rest. A segment of time that allows our body, mind, and spirit to catch up with each other.

As I step on to the schooner of choice this morning, there is the rocking of the vessel… maybe a creaking of soul’s bones… the flexibility of water allows the boat to move as I step into it. This movement reminds me that life will have its ups and downs; however, it will carry me farther than if I stood on the pier wondering…

“what if”

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