Are You Limiting Yourself?

I don’t speak well enough.
I’m not attractive enough.
I don’t dress well enough.
I’m not confident enough.
I’m not educated enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not creative enough.
I’m not smart enough.
I’m not good enough.
Sound familiar? 

All those pieces of crazy thinking have afflicted me at one time or another.  Some of them still dance in my head from time to time.  Experience has taught me I do not have to join in that dance.  Ignoring the tango of my limiting beliefs does not make them go away but the more I fight them the shorter duration the dance is and the slower the beat they thump my psyche with. 

From “Notes from the Universe” by Mike Dooley: 

Your invisible limiting beliefs are only invisible when you live within their limits – or when you keep on doing what you’ve always been doing.

Push yourself.  Dare yourself to think bigger, to reach, and to behave as if a dream or two of yours has already manifested. Then you’ll see ‘dem little buggers pop out of the woodwork, painted fluorescent orange, loaded to the teeth with logic, imploring you to turn around and go back to safety!

Do something, do it today, something you wouldn’t normally do. Like maybe… take off early from work and go to a matinée movie.

Aha!  Did you just see a couple of ‘em?

Be warned:  Sometimes, once exposed, they’ll try to snuggle up to you, looking sooo innocent and adorable.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ll start with their “baby talk”.  Sickening. 

The key to not giving in to limiting beliefs is learning to argue with myself over my inaccurate impressions. One battle is never enough and in some cases the fight may be something fought over a life time, although with practice the skirmishes become less and less severe.  All I had to do as try… then try again… then again.  With consistent practice and attention my beliefs that have limited my life have been greatly lessened. On this previous blog entry a few months ago I wrote about learning to dispute my own BS.  Then I said “I learned a while ago that my world without is but a reflection of my world within.    My thoughts create the conditions my mind imagines.   “Superb Disputing “is an effective tool for inwardly sorting out my own thinking.  All I need to do is remind myself that I have a lot of control over what I think. From experience I know I can sort my thoughts into ones worthy of further attention and the ones that are garbage and proceed accordingly. I just have to not forget I know how to do this.” 

I am grateful to know four weapons effective in fighting my self-limiting thoughts:

I just have to keep telling myself:
You are not as you think you are.
You are not as others think you are. 
You are so much more than either fully realize.
Your potential greatly exceeds what your mind can grasp.
You can do anything. 
No one can stop you but you! 

      Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now!
There are only so many tomorrows. 
Pope Paul VI

In the Gaining of Much, Much Has Been Lost.

The last decade plus a couple of years has been the most turbulent.  This life adventure includes relocation to a new city from one I had lived in for eighteen years, separation and later divorce, my 16 year-old son suddenly 800 miles away, loss of a job of two decades, semi-retirement, life as an entrepreneur, living on a Caribbean Island, a category five hurricane, second marriage, car accident injuries and recovery, new job, second divorce, rehab for depression and….. whew that’s enough and those are only the major points.

It has been said factually that life is the greatest teacher.  I know this to be true as the last decade or so of study has given me at least one PhD in how to live life.  Regretting anything that has happened would mean regretting who and what I am today.  Finding the peace of mind enjoyed and the balance felt most of the time would not have been possible without the turbulence of the last twelve years.  Even for the actions and behavior I needed or yet still need to make amends for, there has to be gratitude for the teaching tools they were. 

In the gaining of much, much has been lost.  Relationships are gone.  People have left. Possessions have been lost; some have been stolen.  Love that was is no more and in other cases it remains carried quietly and silently.  Some things have been misplaced and some are gone forever, to where I have no idea.  Emotionally I have been crushed and broken open.  A good bit of the person I used to be was banished.  Then I rebuilt myself better and stronger than ever before into the “me” I am today (with the help of many others…thank you!).   

What belongings a person cherishes is often not the most valuable in the sense of monetary worth.  Some of what I have not longer was worth a good deal, but I honestly do not lament it being gone that much.  Recently I began to unsuccessfully sort thought my garage and storage unit trying to find an old trunk.  I had no luck and was completely bummed out about it.  Then just yesterday, I thought to look behind some things in my storage unit and was ecstatic when I found that old trunk.

Actually the container just looks kind of like a trunk and was probably some sort of wooden storage crate originally.  I suspect it had a military origin and was used to house equipment judging from interior.  It was left behind in a house I once resided at in Colorado Springs, the home of a large Army base.  In the early 70’s the ‘trunk’  became the keeper of the treasures of my late teens and early 20’s. 

I brought the old trunk home last night, put it on the kitchen counter and quickly found myself immersed in what was inside.  Thinking for weeks the trunk and all its contents were gone only increased the value of it all.  In three hours there was only time to skim the surface.  The time was spent going through old pictures of people I used to know, old girlfriends, my sisters when they were very little, my brother, old friends and my high school days.  There were letters from family, past loves and even old paycheck stubs from places I worked.  I found newspaper clippings about my early accomplishments, school newspapers, my first checkbook, deposit slips and even old airplane tickets including one when I went back to see an old girlfriend in 1972.  

One collection of my prized remembrances I gathered together and put in their own little box.  These were from the first girl I ever truly loved.  I wrote about that relationship about a month ago.  A photo of some of those treasures now begins that blog:

I believe it is the growth made in the last ten years that makes these old things so meaningful to me.  Last evening it was as if I was for the first time discovering bits of myself and feeling the emotions denied before.  The contents of the old trunk are not worth more than a few dollars, but when believing it was all lost I would have paid thousands to have them back.  I am grateful beyond words for what has been found!

In my ‘treasure trunk’ was the following, handwritten on stationary paper.  The handwriting is familiar to me, but I can not yet place it.  Maybe in time I will.  Without an author noted the paper contains “On This Day” which I was able to research and find was written by Howard W. Hunter.

This year, mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter.
Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
Keep a promise.
Forgo a grudge.
Forgive an enemy.
Try to understand.
Examine your demands on others.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind.
Be gentle.
Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Welcome a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it still again.
Speak of it still once more.

Thankfulness and Gratitude

Greetings from the land of Imodium, Pepto-Bismol and a nasty stomach virusThe last 36 hours have been no fun, but this morning I am awe-struck by the gratitude I have for feeling better.  The thought of good health returning fills me with humble appreciation for something I take for granted, no matter how much I try not to.  Illness is a reminder to appreciate what I have.

Today this blog is in majority filled with the words of others; two written pieces that are favorites that once in a while I refer to when I need to be reminded of what matters most.  Today is one of those days where sickness figuratively and literally brought me to my knees and re-centered me in thankfulness and gratitude.

Principle of Emptiness by Joseph Newton

Have you got the habit of hoarding useless objects, thinking that one day, who knows when, you may need them? 

Have you got the habit of accumulating money and not spending it because you think that in the future you may be in want of it? 

Have you got the habit of storing clothes, shoes, furniture, utensils and other home supplies that you haven’t used already for sometime? 

And inside you?

Have you got the habit to keep reproaches, resentment, sadness, fears and more?

Don’t do it!

You are going against your prosperity! 

It is necessary to make room, to leave an empty space in order to allow new things to arrive to your life. 

It is necessary that you get rid of all the useless things that are in you and in your life, in order for prosperity to arrive. 

The force of this emptiness is one that will absorb and attract all that you wish.

As long as you are, materially or emotionally, holding old and useless feelings, you won’t have room for new opportunities. 

Good must circulate… clean your drawers, the wardrobes, the workshop, the garage.

Give away what you don’t use any longer. 

The attitude of keeping a heap of useless stuff ties your life down. 

It is not the objects you keep that stagnate you life… but rather the attitude of keeping…. 

Yes, get rid of those you don’t want, don’t use, don’t need; materially and emotionally!

Mistakes by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
God sent us here to make mistakes,
To strive, to fail, to re-begin,
To taste the tempting fruit of sin,
And find what bitter food it makes,

To miss the path, to go astray,
To wander blindly in the night;
But, searching, praying for the light,
Until at last we find the way.

And looking back along the past,
We know we needed all the strain
Of fear and doubt and strife and pain
To make us value peace, at last.

Who fails, finds later triumph sweet;
Who stumbles once, walks then with care,
And knows the place to cry Beware
To other unaccustomed feet.

Through strife the slumbering soul awakes,
We learn on error’s troubled route
The truths we could not prize without
The sorrow of our sad mistakes.

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.
Henry Drummond

Don’t Worry, Be Happy (or “Blue Monday” is BS)

This week and next there’s a good chance you will be exposed to a fake hypothesis called “Blue Monday”, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.  Quite a few have accepted the theory as truth to the point there is disagreement about the actual date.  Some assert the gloomiest day falls on the third Monday of January.  Others declare the most dismal Monday of the year is the fourth one each January.

The theory behind “Blue Monday” is based on a bogus formula:  Weather plus debt minus salary multiplied by the time since Christmas to the time since failure to fulfill New Year’s resolutions. Then take that and divide by motivational level and the need to take action.  Sound fishy?  It is!

The origin of the idea of the most depressing day of the year is said to come from a psychologist named Dr Cliff Arnall.  He is usually described as a Cardiff University professor although it appears he may have only taught at UK’s Cardiff part-time.  There is actually no science what so ever behind the assertion of “Blue Monday”.  Since originating the idea to help a British travel agency sell vacations, Arnall has admitted that the formula is meaningless.  

Such nonsense actually distracts from a type of real depression that does occur with greater frequency this time of year.  Called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, some people experience real symptoms of depression during the winter. The Canadian Mental health Association estimates 2% and 3% of the general population may have SAD. Another 15% have a less severe experience described as the “winter blues.”    

Cases of seasonal affective disorder, where the weather triggers depression, do tend to peak around this time of year, says psychiatrist Mark Berber of the University of Toronto.  “There is some truth to the fact that we do get low moods in mid-January, but the idea that there’s a particular day and a particular way of equating the severity of the low mood — I think that’s somewhat far-fetched,” he said.

So being depressed is a little more likely this time of year, but it is NOT the annual January epidemic that  the Cardiff psychologist suggests.  When one remembers Dr. Arnall created his formula for “Blue Monday” to sell travel packages the proper perspective is in place. 

In spite of knowing that the vast majority of people (north of 80%) are never affected by the winter blues of any sort, some will insist on being depressed just because they choose to.  For those people here are the lyrics to a Dave Bartholomew song that Fats Domino sings:

Blue Monday how I hate blue Monday!
Gotta work like a slave all day.
Here come Tuesday
Oh, hard Tuesday
I’m so tired, got no time to play
Here come Wednesday
I’m beat to my socks
My girl calls, gotta tell her that I’m out
Cause Thursday is a hard-working day,
And Friday I get my pay

Saturday morning
oh Saturday morning
All my tiredness is gone away
Got my money and my honey
And I’m out on the stand to play

Sunday morning my head is bad.
But it’s worth it for the time that I had
But I got to get my rest
because Monday is a mess.

Personally my discovery has been the level of happiness or depression in my life depends mostly on what I choose to think and feel.  I may not be able to control the world around me, but I do have a good bit of power over how deeply I let depression or happiness affect me.  My motto has long been “expand the good and diminish the bad”.  Guiding my thinking and paying attention to what I dwell on has a lot to do with my level of satisfaction with life.  It takes practice, but directing my mind in the direction I want it to go works most of the time.  I am grateful to know that!

By the way, research sponsored by an ice cream company has deemed June 17 to be the happiest day of the year. 

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Don’t Be Bad

Never have I been arrested.  Even being pulled over by a traffic cop makes me nervous.  Telling a story over lunch to someone recently caused a connection to be made to why I am over the top respectful of police and laws.

I was five or six years old.  It was Sunday when my Father, Mother, Brother and I went to visit my Mom’s first cousin, Dan, in an Alabama prison.  He was serving time for being caught repeatedly making and selling moonshine on a fairly ambitious scale.  On the Sabbath family members were allowed to visit and we had brought “dinner” as the meal is called down south (I grew up hearing lunch called “dinner” and dinner being called “supper”). 

As we walked from the parking lot up to the prison, the first striking memory is of a tall round tower on the perimeter of the facility.  From about three stories up through a window the guard there lowered a bucket on a rope into which visitors had to leave their keys to be kept during the visit.  For many years I thought the reason was so an inmate could not get loose and escape in a car he had keys to.  The realization came later the keys were temporarily confiscated to keep them from falling into the hands of a convict who might use the metal to made a pointed or sharp weapon.  

Once inside the prison the sound I recall most vividly is the slam the sliding jail gates made.  These moved like glass sliding doors from left to right.  The noise of them being banged shut was even louder and echoed with greater resonance than in any movie I have seen.  The deep closing clatter made the shutting feel so permanent and left a deep impression on me. 

The area I recall most clearly was fenced in outside with picnic tables. Here is where we spent our time visiting the inmate cousin.  “Dan” was glad to see familar faces from the outside and get something good to eat other than the prison food.  The adults talked for the two hours or so, catching the cousin up on family news.  My little brother fell asleep and was put on a quilt in the shade under the picnic table.  I sat mesmerized watching everyone in the prison yard and to this day can close my eyes and see a “movie in my head” of that experience.

From time to time an inmate would come by our table showing off leather goods he had made.  Wallets, a comb and case, key chains and even purses that were hand-made by the inmates was a way to make a little cash.

The yard containing the picnic area had a very high chain link fence topped off by several strands of barbed wire on inwardly angled posts.  The fence seemed impossible to climb and get over.  Clearly I remember feeling caught and shut up knowing the only way out was to be let out.  

The inmates did not wear orange prison clothing or white tops and bottoms with prisoner numbers on the back like in the movies.  Maybe they did on other days, but on that Sunday it was blue jeans and white t-shirts.  Recalling now that all the prisoners were dressed that way I assume that was the “Sunday best” that was provided to them.

There is also the story of when my Mother’s cousin, Dan, was arrested for the offenses that sent him to prison.  He lived in the country only a few hundred yards from my grandparents place where we were visiting at the time.  I witnessed for several hours all the police cars, flashing lights and law enforcement with guns while he held up inside with his wife and kids.  Clearly I remember overhearing someone comment that Dan said he was not going to be taken alive.    

After a few hours my Father who was a friend was allowed to get close to the house to talk Dan into giving himself up.  Then Dad followed the police car the dozen miles or so to the county jail because Dan was afraid of the police I overheard the adults say later.  Apparently, the fear was well founded for when my Father returned from getting cigarettes for him, he found Dan bruised and bloodied in his jail cell.  

What is written about here happened sometime just before I started first grade.  Nothing I witnessed was ever explained to me by an adult in any way.  The observations and conclusions that made such an impressions on me were all those from a child’s interpretation.  The message was simple:  Don’t be ‘bad’ or you’ll end up like Dan.  

There is gratitude for “the fear of God” that what I encountered at such a young age put into me.  Overall the effect has been positive as I have stayed on the straight and narrow my entire life.  My worst offenses have been traffic tickets.  I am grateful for this classroom called my life that has always taught meaningful lessons if only I paid attention.  For this one, I got at A+!.

One of irony’s greatest accomplishments is that one cannot punish the wrongdoing of another without committing a wrongdoing himself.  Anonymous

A Man Who Tried to Live Well

Today is not just another day, it is the third Monday of January, 2012 and a holiday when the birth of an American iconic figure is celebrated.  If Martin Luther King, Jr. were still living he would have been eight-three yesterday.  

Growing up in the deep-south in Alabama I remember the adults around me had a mixed bag of feelings regarding Dr. King.  Most of all I saw fear behind what was said.  I was too young to fully grasp what was going on, but Dr. King impressed me in his ability to express himself and inspire people.  As a child I did not have to comprehend everything he talked about to be moved by his speeches. Such passion and good intention was easy to comprehend even for a youngster.

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat I was not two years old yet.  By the march on Washington I was ten.  In 1967 when Martin Luther King came out against the war in Vietnam I was two years into my teens.  It was then Dr. King’s position on an issue matched exactly something very personal to me:  opposition to the war.  Never was I against the soldiers and have always maintained great respect for those who served.  Rather it was the politicians’ attitude of conducting a “police action” that even a fourteen year-old could figure out was wrong. 

Today I still lament the great amount of death, injury and harm that was caused by the Vietnam War that served not one single positive purpose that I know of.  It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who taught me it is OK to stand for something, even when that stance is not popular with a lot of people.  I will always be grateful for what I learned from him about trying to do good and make a difference in this world.  

Many will write today about the life, politics, beliefs and principles of Dr. Martin Luther King.  I choose instead to offer a simple homage to him as a man who tried to live well.  I am confident Dr. King would have enjoyed these two poems and the thought by a close associate of his that ends this blog today.   

“A Daily Inventory” by Mildred Bettag
Did I stop to smell the flowers,
And appreciate the small things along the way
Did I look for the good in people,
That I met along the way?
Did I see the beauty in God’s creation,
As in the thing created by man,
Did I count each day the blessings,
In my life since it began?
Did I listen with caring and compassion,
And walk in another’s shoes,
Did I offer a shoulder to lean on,
Did I practice the Golden Rule?
Did I kill my anger in its early stages
Before it had time to sprout,
And grow to its full maturity,
Where love is crowded out?
Did I blindfold my eyes from Life’s sunshine,
To avoid the pain that comes from Life’s nights,
To only live in the ugliness of darkness,
Never to see the beauty of morning’s light?
Did I let my heart seek vision and purpose,
When I was lonely and filled with fear,
Did I stop and ask God for directions,
Did I give hurt time-out for tears?
Did I practice the words “I’m Sorry”,
And try to correct wrongs to make them right,
Did I forgive the ones who’ve hurt me,
Before I fall asleep at night? 

“Clock of Life” by Wilfred Grindle Conary
The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time that you own.
You must live, love, and work with a will.
Place no faith in tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still.

It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. It lies in having no goal to reach. It is not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace not to have any stars to reach. Not failure, but low aim, is the real sin. Benjamin Elijah Mays

Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968
“Rest in Peace”

Wishing for What Might Have Been

There is no possibility of accurately counting the hours of life I squandered mourning ‘what might have been’.  If I had only done that or if she had only done this… if he had made a different decision or if the one I made had been different… or if I knew today what I knew then I would have… The sea of possibility used to nearly drown me at times.

What a barrier to living well collecting what might have been’s is.  Very little life in the present happens while wandering about in one’s history.  The future was obscured on the horizon when clouds of what went before filled my thinking. 

Looking for solutions to problems that have no answers is a waste of time. Making sense of what never made sense is as futile as flapping ones arms attempting to get airborne.  Lots of energy expended with absolutely nothing achieved except a loss of time and energy and frequently utter exhaustion.  (Oh, my surfing the past looked pretty ridiculous to everyone around me!)

The contrast is striking to now when I know to live as much of my life as possible in the present.  Certainly I am not free of the ghosts of the past, but their haunting is briefer, comes less often and rarely for more than a brief time do they emote me from living in the present.  

How did I learn do become more present?  By teaching and helping the child in me grow up with self-guidance like a good parent consistently gives directions.  When I drifted into playing in the past, with love I repeatedly told myself: “stop doing that”, “you’re doing to hurt yourself with that” or something stronger like “stop it”. The process is little different from how as a child I was taught to say “please and thank you”:  repetition and consistency of the message.

“What Might Have Been” by Judith Anness
Looking back, now looking again,
Wishing for what might have been.
I guess that could be my worst sin,
Wishing for what might have been.
When you’re least satisfied
Then it creeps in,
Wishing for what might have been.
When things seem bad,
There it is again,
Wishing for what might have been.
Now age as a way of letting it in,
Wishing for what might have been.
It never helps,
Only hurts in the end
Wishing for what might have been.

Nuggets of wisdom living has taught me about the past are:
– What I remember is not what happened, it only my version of what happened.
– Memory gets twisted over time to an almost delusional view of the past.  
– Past hurt gets amplified beyond the actual pain by the amount of thought I give it.
– In the past there is no living to be done, only unnecessary self-torture.    

Repeated in other words:  Often what I remember is not the way something actually happened.  What I recall is mostly what I have made up instead of what went on.  Recollections don’t contain the actual intensity of what occurred and has been replaced by a self-manufactured level of pain and discomfort.  Life happens “now” and at no other time. 

The first and most important step I made toward the happiness in my life today was to fight the past.  Until that was accomplished it was like I was caught inside a clear bottle looking out at life, but not engaged in it. The lesson was a painful one to learn and live through, but another example of what does not kill you can make you stronger.  I am grateful to be at this point in my life knowing the best is still ahead.   

There is no relationship between what is real
and what you think is real.  
From “A Course in Miracles”

Imperfect Masterpiece

From the syndicated column “Free Will Astrology” by Rob Brezsny:  A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think what whatever happens to him or her is a resource,” said author Jorge Luis Gorges.  “All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”  I agree that this advice isn’t just for writers, but for everyone.  And it so happens that you are now in a phase when adopting such an approach would bring you abundant wisdom and provide maximum healing.  So get started, Leo:  Wander through your memories, reinterpreting the difficult experiences as rich raw material that you can use to beautify your soul and intensity your lust for life.

The paragraph above appeared in the local alternative newspaper last week.  If I focus enough to query my thoughts on astrology and why weekly I read my ‘sign’ in the column, nothing definitive comes up. What I read under “Leo” is usually interesting to consider but rarely memorable.  My opinion about astrology is one of a ‘fence straddler’ who is almost completely across the fence on the side of astrology being only good entertainment.  But that little bit of straddled fence left to clear leaves a tiny amount of room just in case the rhythmic cycles of the universe might actually have a direct effect on my destiny.   The forecast above for my “sign” felt true.  Why?  Because I wanted it to.  What I read seemed to point to this blog and me writing openly about my life experience.  Coincidence? 

From the website, “The Straight Dope” Here’s a portion of what Cecil Adams had to say in response to the question “Is astrology for real?”   The usual objections to astrology boil down to: how the hell could it possibly work? After all, the stars are unthinkably distant, and the planets, an essential part of astrology, revolve around the sun, not the earth. Besides, what’s so magical about the time of your birth–wouldn’t it make more sense if your personality were determined by the time of your conception?

Studies have shown that (1) astrologers trying to deduce someone’s personality from his chart do no better than chance; (2) astrologers studying the same chart come to opposite conclusions as often as not; (3) the birth dates of people with occupations linked to certain signs (e.g., politicians, scientists, soldiers) are in fact randomly distributed throughout the zodiac; and (4) couples with “incompatible” signs get married and divorced at the same rate as compatible couples.

The fact is people who want to believe in astrology will convince themselves it works no matter what. In one study of 22 astrology buffs, half were presented with their real horoscopes and half were presented with fake charts saying the exact opposite. Both groups said their horoscopes were 96 to 97 percent accurate.

About six months ago on “” John Ostrowick wrote “I must conclude that astrology is nonsense. But why should I spoil people’s fun? For a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s the self-fulfilling prophecy problem. It is possible that people consulting an astrological reading might subconsciously act it out. Someone might read, for example, that they’re going to get very bad news that day, and go about the whole day unconsciously doing stupid things because they’re so stressed about what the ‘bad thing’ might turn out to be.  

So here I am, believing just a little in what Freewill Astrology this week said about Leos.  At the same time I am almost completely convinced astrology is no more predictive than the contents of a fortune cookie.  Even a little belief in astrology makes no rational sense.  Quite likely I perceive as I do simply because of wishing it were possible to see into destiny.  

I am grateful to have stumbled across the quote from Gorges near the start of today’s blog.  It is true regardless of the context in which I found it:  All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”  My biggest art project is “my life”.  Everything that has ever happened and yet will happen is contained in one of the shapes or colors in my imperfect masterpiece.  I am thankful for the days of my life that have been and yet will be that make it so.  

There’s much to be said for challenging fate
instead of ducking behind it. 
Diana Trilling

Links to the articles referenced above:

Song in Your Heart

From “Give Me Roses” by Marvin L. Cartee

If I am due but one little rose
While living upon this earth,
Let it be given while I’m still alive,
As a token of what I’m worth.

Give me my roses while I’m still alive,
Don’t sit there and hold them and wait,
Don’t wait until the day I am gone
Because then it’s a little too late.

If you love someone don’t hesitate
To tell them you love them today.
Don’t put it all off for tomorrow
‘Cause tomorrow may have passed away.

So if I am due one little rose,
While traveling along life’s highway,
Don’t hold onto that flower too long,
Please give me my roses today.

Dear ________,

I have been unsuccessful in fully expressing how much of a difference you make in my life. The scope of what is inside is difficult to form into words, but I will try anyway. In written form I have put down here at least a little of what I want you to know.

Thank you for being kind to me and noticing when I just need someone to listen. When I have no wish for approval of my feelings, but just need to be heard you always pay close attention to what I had to say. You honor me with that kindness and often help me often bear what you or even I do not understand.

All too aware I am of my shortcomings and faults. Certainly you must see them too, yet you rarely acknowledge them and chose instead to see the good in me. You have always seen more than I have ever believed about myself and tell me so. Never will I see me as you do, but my view of self is far better than it ever could have been without you.

Together with you over time I have learned the joy of doing nothing. Just being together gave hours great value and there was nothing we had to do to make it so. I learned with you that wasting time with a friend is one of the most meaningful ways to cash in minutes of my life.

You have always given me good advice although I have not always followed it. At all times you have my best interest in mind and no other intention. I thank you for your counsel and for never trying to push it on me.

Never was I able to openly express my love of someone as a friend until our friendship. I learned how to hug each time I see you and again when we part. Never was that something I could do before, but through you such expression of affection has become natural and easy with all that I care about.

You have been kind to me when I was not being so to you.
You have been patient with me when my patience was gone.
You have helped me without questioning or without even being asked.
You have been there for me when I needed you to, but could not ask.
You have been my friend even when you did not like what I was doing or saying.
You have never made a practice of saying “I told you so’ although there have been many times you could have.
I have deep admiration your honesty and directness.
I have great respect for your power to think beyond what others see.
I marvel at your ability to express your feelings to others.
I think a lot of your multiple talents and how you put them to good use.
I marvel at how you are kind and never rude, even to those who are to you.
I have high regard for your beliefs and practice of them.
I am often astonished at how much you love and am loved by your family and friends and how those feelings are openly expressed.
I appreciate you just as you are: once single measure of flaws and imperfection and a hundred measures of quality and character.

I am privileged to have you as my friend. I am fortunate to be yours. Without hesitation or reservation, I love you clearly and freely as only a true friend can love another. Thank you for being in my life.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.
Bernard Meltzer

Thirteen Wishes for Friday the 13th

Many shun the number thirteen but I am not one of them.  Likely rooted in my desire to be unique and different, thirteen has been one of my ‘lucky numbers’ back further than I can remember.   With tomorrow being Friday the 13th, it seems an appropriate time to cast some wishes upon the wind in similar fashion as Tibetans cast hopes with prayer flags. 

1 – “To see more of the world around me”
Within this wish I hope to notice more sunrises and sunsets and marvel at the flowers of spring, the snows of winter and the people and places around me.  Beauty shows itself more when attention is focused toward it.

2 – “To hear more”
This wishing thought is to pay more attention to the sounds of the world, especially the words spoken to me and those who speak them.  I have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

3 – “To be less self-absorbed”
With this wish granted, I can be about myself to a lesser degree and more about everyone and everything else.  Greater happiness is not to be found by going deeper in myself, but in the opposite direction.  I want to be more ‘out there’ and less ‘in here’.

4 – “Let go of things”
With this wishing is the hope to be freer of the grasp that “things” have on me. One day everything owned will belong to someone else.   Letting go more of my need for stuff will mean a ‘lack’ from childhood can dissipate further.

5 “Be more humble
I wish to practice to a greater degree the knowledge that anything I accomplish fades and is only a thread of life.  Each action has little specific long-term meaning, except when combined into the fabric of life with what others contribute.  I want more “us” and less “me”

6 – “Be happier”
Writing that wish brought the thought that being happy is not something a person causes to happen, but instead a state that allows happiness to grow.  Joy of living comes from creation of an environment and state of being that is fertile soil for happiness to thrive in.

7 – “Be more kind”
My wish is to continue to become softer and more pliable in my approach to others.  Everyone is carrying a heavy burden and the more I simply keep that in mind the more kindness naturally emanated to others.

8 – “Spend less”
This wish is first about keeping gratitude forefront for the richness of my life in having much more than needed.  If I spend less, I have more to share and there is less stuff to take care of.  Having things is OK as long as the things don’t have me. 

9 – “Become more spiritual”
With past experience I know the deeper my spirituality and more regular my meditation, the better my life is.  Within my wish is the knowing that attention to my spirit has the same effect spiritually as a multi-vitamin does for the health of my body.   

10 – “To love with less reservation”
This wishing is to be less concerned about my scars of my past that have often been a barrier to keeping open heart.  There is only one best way to love: with all of one’s self without reservation.  Pain will come when it does.  Reluctance to love fully will not change that fact.

11 – “To read more”
This wish contains a simple principle:  the more I read, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the better life is.  Less TV can be nothing but good.  Reading is sustenance  to my mind just as food is to my physical self.

12 – “To have greater appreciation of me
This wishing is to have less of an ego that needs to be fed and more of a realistic and honest view of my talents, abilities and positive attributes.  Never will I completely lack fault-finding in myself.  Seeing better the good that I am is a balancing weight for the ‘negative judge’ within. 

13 – “Follow my dreams with enthusiasm”
In words made from my keyboard today this wish has some fulfillment.  Writing has been a life long, but mostly unfulfilled dream.  I am honored, pleased… no, THRILLED with amazement that people actually care to read I write down.  Like nothing I have ever known is the reward of writing here.    

By the simple act of writing these wishes and sharing them I take a leap forward.  Too long my hopes, wishes and dreams were echoed thoughts within that did little except bounce around inside me.  With going before the world and stating some of them today my growth into the person I have committed to be is brought more into reality.  I am thankful for your help in my journey simply by reading these words.  I am grateful to you.

 If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential — for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints; possibility never.  
Soren Kierkegaard