Songs that Hug You

•February 12, 2007 • 2 Comments

 

I was hugged by a song today. I needed that hug. It felt so warm and wonderful.

 

 

I sank into the hug as that peaceful, hugged feeling came over me. Listen carefully; you too can hear the hug.

All shall
be well,
and all shall
be well,
and all manner
of thing
shall be well.
 

This hug feels so right to me, not because life is hard or bad right now. No, just because it is such a comforting thought to think that for me, for those I love, for all the people of the world, for the creatures big and small,

All shall
be well,
and all shall
be well,
and all manner
of thing
shall be well.

So I send to you these words, this beautiful hug written by Dame Julian of
Norwich 700 years ago. May it give you that comforting shoulder to lay your head upon, the arms that wrap around you gently squeezing, touching you heart and melting away the weariness and the wariness. Say to yourself….

All shall
be well,
and all shall
be well,
and all manner
of thing
shall be well.

Oh Yeah!

 

Please, share a hug with all of us, if you have a song that just hugs you when you hear it I would love to hear it!

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Actions and Values – Being in Alignment

•February 7, 2007 • 7 Comments

Natural High’s last few blogs such as:

Living Inside Out
Conflict and Opportunity
Is God In Love With Drama
Unstoppable

along with the beginning of a book discussion on Rabbi Michael Lerner’s book, The Left Hand of God have gotten me thinking on why we do not align our actions with our values.  How to align my  actions with my values was one of the first things I learned years ago from Tony Robbin’s book – Awaken the Giant Within. In it he describes a process of identifying your highest values and placing them in a prioritized list. If you are clear on these 5-10 values any choice you make can be seen as moving towards or supporting the value or moving away or undermining that value. Values are described by words such as health, love, knowledge, wealth, peace, etc.Simple example: If I value health, then my choice of foods becomes clear to me. Unfortunately for me, even though I have known this seemingly simple process for years, the knowing and the doing of this simple exercise are far apart. 

In more recent times I took the Landmark Forum’s basic and advance courses and a seminar in Commitment. In Landmark Forum terms, when I do not eat healthy, I am not truly committed to health or I am secretly committed to something else more powerful, like comfort for example.

So many of us are aware of the values we wish we were aligned with or committed to, yet we take opposite or undermining action. We vote Republican because they will crank out tax cuts to make us wealthier even though we understand that they will pay for it by reducing the care for the sick, poor and elderly.  Yet if we were asked whether we value compassion and caring for the sick, the poor and elderly most people would say “of course.”

If asked, most of would say we value diversity, freedom, peace, and love. Yet we act as if we are committed to uniformity of thought, greed, war, and hate.

Why do our actions value religious dogma over spiritual freedom? Why do we continue to allow homophobia, anti-semitism,  xenophobia, racial and political prejudice instead of fighting for choice, freedom of religion, diversity and political discussion?

How do we, as loving, caring human beings, align our daily actions with these things we say we really value?

Will my actions tomorrow be in better alignment with those things I value most highly – love, peace, family, community and health?

Guilt By Association With A Book

•January 28, 2007 • 5 Comments

Dirty dishes in the sink, a full dishwasher, a pile of dirty laundry, an unmade bed, and a mother in
Florida I haven’t called all week. You would think these would be sufficient to make one feel guilty about sitting around reading and commenting on blogs, watching TV, and drinking coffee.

 

Wrong. This morning I am suffering Bookshelf Guilt. How did this happen you might ask and what exactly is Bookshelf Guilt anyway?!

First, lets define the word guilt as “an awareness of having done wrong, accompanied by feelings of shame and regret.”

Well, you might ask, “IN2L, how could you have done anything wrong, what could make you feel shame and regret? Especially some thing that could possibly have to do with a book shelf!”

Last night at a friend’s we were escorted to the master bedroom as part of a tour of the house. Glancing around I noticed a book on the bed stand “THE AUDACITY OF HOPE”, by Barack Obama. A book with a serious title and a serious author. “Ooh, I probably should be reading that book”, I thought to myself.

The minute you say should, up pops guilt.                                    

What would my friends see if they looked at my bed stand? Well, a Dave Barry book (real deep discussion of what happens when hospital patients catch on fire), a Stephen King novel, and a Terry Pratchett book. Deep reading intended to encourage deep thoughts, not! The guilt and shame are building now.

To remedy the feelings of guilt I went to survey my bookshelf to see what I should be reading. There they were, all those previous should’s staring back at me, those books I bought because I should read them some day.

 

There was the group of self-help books written by Drs., PHds and hucksters like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Phil, James Belasco PHD, Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino. Naw, I don’t need that kind of guilt, I’m good at guilting myself without their help.

 

 

 How about the old diet, I could use to lose a few pounds? There on the shelf stand Drs. Phil, Sears and Atkins all with their special brand of guilt! Not this week.

 

 If you choose to ignore history, you choose to repeat it, right? Who am I kidding, what can I do to stop the fall of democracy by reading a book on the Rise and Fall of the
Roman Empire?

 

Just to toss some salt in the wound, there in the drawer of my bedstand is the list of the books I should have but never got around to reading. The wonderful people from Random House felt obliged to guilt all of us by publishing a list of the all-time best books of the 20th century.

http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnovels.html

My copy of the list has about 30% checked off as already read. Even the readers’ list, published to make lesser beings feel better about ourselves is only about 40% checked off.

I guess I will just have to live with my guilt for now. Maybe I will get a copy of Obama’s book and leave it by my bed just to make future guests feel guilty about what they fall asleep reading.

 

What are the best books on your shelf you have never gotten around to reading?

Judgement Free Flowers

•December 2, 2006 • 4 Comments

After a day or week of being in the world of people and chaos and stress I most love some time in the garden. There is no judgement there!

In spring I can rejoice at the birth of new colors and shapes and smells. The flowers and bulbs do not judge, do not ridicule, or talk back.

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In summer I can enjoy and commune with the flavors of fresh grown produce, arrange my favorite flowers in my vase, and do battle with the weeds – a semi-mindless effort that gives me “no-thought” time.  During the summer my tomatoes sacrifice themselves freely and without complaint.

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In the fall the last flowers stubbornly hold on, trying to outshine the trees in their new coats of multi-colored leaves. As fall progresses they become overly eager volunteers for the compost pile.

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Winter is for resting and the interesting shapes and visions brought forth by the combination of snow and the remains of the garden. The rest from the work of keeping the garden is welcome. Dreams of spring flowers are pleasant and full of hope.

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Overall, the garden is the place I can best give back to mother earth. It is my means to replenish what I have taken from her in other ways. It is the place I can help re-build the beauty that was destroyed to create my house and the roads I must drive to get to and from work.

 “When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us” – Michael Bridge 

Do I find myself when I am outside? Absolutely!

Where do you find yourself? Where does your creative spirit live?

Circles of Wisdom

•December 1, 2006 • 8 Comments

In different times and different ways, the quality of my life has been enhanced by the circles within which I have found myself.

Intention creates a circle that adds to and enriches life. An intentional circle comes together to make a difference in its members and in the wide world.

“The circle is a universal symbol for unity and wholeness and the form of meeting in circle is ancient. Each of us has ancestors, no matter what our ethnic or racial background, who sat around a fire together, drumming, singing, playing, dancing, telling stories, praying, grieving together, and solving the problems of everyday life. The memory of this connection to the circle is in our bodies, in our psyches.” 

 

Albert Schweitzer said, “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Intentional circles extend the power of their individuals, becoming more powerful as a group than as individuals.  

There have been many empowering circles in my life

  • In the 80’s I was in a circle of adults exploring our personal spirituality through meditation and discussion
  • In the early 90’s it was a small men’s group reading self-help books and helping each other define and reach toward our hopes and dreams
  • When my kids were growing up the “Old Dog Patrol” and the Pack/Troop leadership councils gave me a place to teach young men important skills, to live the outdoors life, and to enjoy the company of other parents.

Today there are important new circles influencing my life, pushing me to be a better person. Natural High’s blog on the Network of Spiritual Progressives led me to a circle that “includes all those whose deepest values lead them to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that has led people into a frantic search for money and power and away from a life that places love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence, social justice, awe, and wonder at the grandeur of creation, thanksgiving, humility, and joy at the center of our lives.” These are powerful concepts to which I can dedicate my time and energy.

Circles can be interconnected by their membership or their intention. I have recently joined a group “committed to co-creating a sustainable future for the earth and all of life, beginning first with an awareness of the interconnection of all things.” Naturally, some of these same people are part of the local NSP circle. 

 My newest, most important circle is my family. Symbolically, our marriage began with our friends and family joining hands in a circle to ring us with their love and hope. I know my efforts to build a better place in the world must begin and end every day at home, within the circle of my family. 

“When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us” – Michael Bridge 

Being a part of these circles brings friendship, love, sharing, mindfulness, and purpose. The circles throughout my life raise me up spiritually and help create my inner peace. 

I am truly grateful! 

What are the circles that surround you with purpose and intent? 

How do the circles within which you live influence your life? 

Peace and Light; 

IN2L

Parenthood Redux – The Joys of Math Homework

•October 26, 2006 • 5 Comments

This year I became a parent of a teenager, again.

In reading Naturalhigh’s blog and Dragonmommie’s comments on parenting, I began to reflect on my own efforts as a parent. Not only do I get to have 20-20 vision on how my parents raised me, but now I get to look back and see what I did wrong with my own children and see how I might be a better parent as a step-parent.

Being a step-parent isn’t quite the same as being the parent. This difference has its pluses and minuses. My kids naturally said I love you, gave hugs good night, and kisses goodbye. As a step-parent this must be earned and learned over time, if ever. I can hope that some day my step-child will come to love me as I am coming to love her, and that will in turn bring a level of affection I have with my own children. But I will not push it, I will let it come to me in due course.

On the plus side, I can choose to take on more or less responsibility for my step-daughter’s upbringing. According to the experts I should defer to mom or dad serious discipline issues and this is how her mother and I have agreed between us. But on less serious things I choose whether and how to respond and interact and this is where maybe I can learn a few things from my past.

I have mellowed with age, my buttons are harder to push (I think my kids wore the mechanism’s out), my reactions are more thoughtful, my knowledge of how damaging a poorly thought out response on my part could be is much greater than it was with my own children. All of this is a plus for me and for any relationship that might develop between us.

So, when I choose a course of parenting action I have the hindsight of 20+ years of parenting, 40+ years of reviewing how it was done to me, and 4 years of seeing the difference between how my ex-wife parented and how my new wife (much improved!) chooses to parent. I think it is going ok so far and I have learned a lot. Nonetheless, mistakes will be made, of that I am certain.

Oh, I forgot to mention the best part! I get to do math homework again! God, I hated math when I was their age. Yet for the third time in my life I have to say things like “math is  cool” and “don’t say you suck at math, you just need to figure out what you missed”! It worked on my first child, failed miserably on the second one, but hopefully it will once again work a miracle and turn a struggling math student into a math genius. 

In the mean time, in the privacy of the blogosphere here, let me just say “I hate math, I suck at it, I wish I didn’t have to take it again, especially at my age!”

Oh well, as a parent, we get the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, and we still  say, “thank you lord, give me some more!”

So, wish me luck, here we go again!

An Introduction, A Beginning, Let’s Get Started

•October 19, 2006 • 2 Comments

Its Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood. . . 

I first heard this brief declaration from our church leader. It felt right to me immediately. It presented to me the possibility of a whole different set of choices about my life. Choices I could make at any time and any place, choices about how to react to what the world had presented me in the past and what the world might present to me in the future.

Inherent in the terms used is a degree of judgment; that childhood is better than adulthood. I think, in the simplest view, childhood is a time of play and enjoyment. It is a time full of openness and lacking in judgment. It is a time of wonder and excitement each and every day. To wake up each day as an adult, and to seek out pleasure and enjoyment, to be playful and open and lacking in judgment would be wonderful!

One way to achieve a happy childhood in my adulthood is letting go of the experiential filters I have built up over the years. These filters determine how I will react to a set of circumstances. We all of us, allow our past to inform our future. In a very basic example, when we were younger, we got burned by something hot. We quickly learned not to touch hot things. Thus our past informs the decisions we make today and in the future.

But what if some of these past experiences block us from having things that would be good for us today? Several years ago I was forced to see how my view of the past was affecting my relationship with my father. I realized that I had been harboring resentment towards my dad for the way he had tried to raise me. I was literally wallowing in my own self-pity about how badly my dad had treated me! Suffice it to say, when I spoke to him of my feelings he did not even know why I was upset with him all these years.

I had been poisoning my feelings toward him for years and he did not even know why. Telling him I was sorry for judging him was freeing! He was able to reflect on how it was for me and to see how it might have been less than great, and apologize.

I believe it was freeing for him too. Today I speak with my dad and think of dad with no resentment whatsoever, and I feel so much better because of a simple phone call.

Today, when I think back on it, I do not dwell on the unhappy way I felt treated by my dad (most of it was in my head anyway). Rather, I have found that it is not too late to remember and to savor my happy childhood.

Can you think of ways of thinking that are keeping you from a happy childhood?

Can you see ways in which the past is shaping your present and future, to your detriment?

Can you let go of your history in order to shape a happier today?