No Help In Worrying

shadowhands_1 copy

I know that worrying is a waste of time.Regardless I find myself doing too much of it. I am grateful for a reminder to loosen my grip on worry. It is nothing more than a bad habit.

If a problem is fixable,
if a situation is such that
you can do something about it,
then there is no need to worry.
If it’s not fixable, then there is
no help in worrying.
There is no benefit
in worrying whatsoever.
Dalai Lama XIV

Riddle: “Who Am I?”


The following ‘riddle’ was written by an anonymous writer. The answer did not automatically come for me when I read it, but the solution made perfect sense once I got to the bottom. I encourage you to give it a try (the answer is at the very bottom of this blog entry).

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half of the things you do you might as well turn over
to me and I will do them – quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed – you must be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something done
and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of great people, and alas,
of all failures as well.

Those who are great, I have made great.

Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine though I work with the precision
of a machine plus the intelligence of a person.

You may run me for profit or run me for ruin,
it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me,
and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

The best of these I have kept. A good bit of the worst I have shed or else diminished their impact. I am grateful to be the person I have deliberately grown into and the one I was led to be. (riddle answer below the Gandhi quote below)

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
Mahatma Gandhi

I am Habit.

Remember Your Reflection


How some one sees me is only one view.

Each interpretation of the person I am is different.

None is completely accurate, not even my view of myself.

Humility and gratitude are the best paths to self-awareness.

I am perfectly imperfect.

I am unique.

There has never been another just like me. There never will be.

Coming to know my true self is the path to an enlightened view of others and the world.

How very important it is, to see the reflection of yourself and to keep that reflection in sight— despite how much you have been pushed and shoved, forgotten and ripped, lied to and deceived! It seems like the number one most valuable thing you can carry with you is the constant appearance of your own reflection for the beauty and wonder that you are and it’s a fight and a struggle to keep that. If you had a treasure box filled with magical things— this would be the one thing it seems like people want to destroy or to take away or in some cases to even make their own! But you must remember your reflection, you must see yourself illuminated and you must remember, against all odds, remember. C. JoyBell C.

Today my gratitude is simple but large for the my growth in the last ten years. Sometimes I forget until I see an old photograph or read something I wrote long ago. If a year can make a big difference, then with dedication a decade can be utterly life changing. I am the ‘poster child’ of proof that big change is possible.

Just because I liked something at one point in time
doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on
liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty
to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person.
To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change,
and challenge who I am and what I think.
The only thing I am for sure is unsure,
and this means I’m growing,
and not stagnant or shrinking.
Jarod Kintz

Similar to a Blind Man


I’ve lived. I’ve learned.

I’ve failed. I’ve succeeded.

I’ve found myself. I’ve lost myself in others.

I’ve been kind. I’ve been heartless.

I’ve been loved. I’ve lost the love I had.

I’ve been loyal. I’ve been unfaithful.

I’ve been hurt. I’ve been hurtful.

… that and more is the human experience.

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession and company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child. And you learn to build your roads today because tomorrows ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have ways of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much, so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure… that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and you learn… Veronica A. Shoffstall.

I’m just a man who learned about life similar to a blind person feeling his way; the way we all do. Too rarely have I taken the advice of the experienced, and instead depended on knowledge gained first-hand. Because of my habit of not listening, you’d think I’d stop giving unsolicited advice. Probably humming a song to them would have more meaning. I didn’t listen to most advice given. Most never listened to how I might have counseled them. “I told you so’s” have little meaning.

No matter how many people come into my life or how many become a fixture in it, 95% of my knowledge about living well comes from what I have done and didn’t do. Realizing every moment is a lesson, whether big or minute, has been one of my great revelations. I am truly grateful for the experiences I learned that from.

Experience is a hard teacher
because she gives the test first,
the lesson afterwards.
Albert Einstein

Better To Have Lived in Truth


There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind – graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.

And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last – and yet will remain with you for life.

Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another. Jim Butcher

I regret the times I damned my pain or prayed for it to be gone. At that moment I did not realize I was being sculpted by discomfort into a better and wiser man. In hindsight that sort of growth reminds me of being an adolescent boy when I woke with my legs hurting so much from growing overnight that they could barely support me. But once I walked for a few minutes, the aches subsided quickly. I was simply growing.

And so I have gratefully begun to better accept the outcome of pain, although the bearing of it will never be something positively anticipated. It is through allowing grief, sorry and anguish to do their work that I become wiser and through that  wisdom, grow more content.

We never know when our last day on earth will be.
So, love with full sincerity, believe with true faith,
and hope with all of your might.
Better to have lived in truth and discovered life,
than to have lived half heartedly
and died long before you ever ceased breathing.
Cristina Marrero

Living Takes More Courage Than Dying

Whatever you do, you need courage.
Whatever course you decide upon,
there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.
There are always difficulties arising that tempt you
to believe your critics are right.
To map out a course of action
and follow it to an end requires
some of the same courage that a soldier needs.
Peace has its victories,
but it takes brave men and women to win them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until my time comes there is no way to be certain, but experience makes me believe that living takes more courage than dying. Whether spending time well or badly, healthfully or sick, heartbroken or happy; being alive takes strength and guts. With severe illness or great sadness, even more so. And the older one gets and the more hurt and mistakes accumulate, the braver one must be to live well.

It is a fact of life that we find ourselves in unpleasant demoralizing situations which we can neither escape nor control. We can keep our morale and spirits high by using both coping and hoping humor. Coping humor laughs at the hopelessness in our situation. It gives us the courage to hang in there, but it does not bring hope. The uniqueness of hoping humor lies in its acceptance of life with all its dichotomies, contradictions, and incongruities. It celebrates the hope in human life. From one comes courage, from the other comes inspiration. Cy Eberhar

There are times when I get pulled down thinking “my life is difficult”, “I’m lonely”, “why do I have to go through this” or even the proverbial “why me?!”. Any human being who says they don’t think and feel such things is a liar. It’s the human condition to resist the difficult, to wish away what brings discomfort and to want ‘calm waters’ all the time.

When difficult or grueling times come I find relief in reminding myself life is tough; always has been, always will be. If it were easy all the time much of the value of life would be lost. I am grateful for the reminder this morning, that hardship, uncertainty and pain are just as much a part of a good life as love, peace and joy. Without the former, the latter would not mean nearly as much.  Learn to smile at yourself and you’ll always be amused!

It has been said that brave people are not necessarily fearless;
they are simply accustomed to, and more comfortable with,
facing fear and moving ahead in spite of themselves.
Tracy Cherpeski

Originally posted on September 20, 2012

Darkness of My Soul

magic_mushrooms edit thanks to image maker

I’m coming up on an anniversary. In 2007 I spent five life-altering weeks at “The Meadows” where I went to finally come face to face with my childhood abandonment and trauma issues. Reflecting back I can see the experience with clarity as only a retrospective perception can give. Those days were absolutely the most meaningful but difficult of my life. It was the journey out of the darkness of my soul.

Six years ago on the evening of October 6th I stood at the admissions counter at the nurse’s station in Wickenburg, Arizona feeling fearful, cautious and in severe emotional pain. I had lost my second wife due to my inappropriate actions (I cheated on her). It was that loss that motivated me, or better stated, it was the almost unbearable pain of that loss that moved me to finally do something about my compulsions.

Some people drink. Others do drugs. Gambling is the choice for many. My compulsion was to seek a woman for sex to temporarily mask the pain. The craziness of frequently having at least two and sometimes more relationships at a time had been a burden I had carried since I has eighteen years old.

The majority of my ‘affairs’ were not causal. Factual or not, I largely believed that love was the motivator. Always searching and looking to find in someone else a way to fill in what was lacking in me. I did not realize fully that I was already well-loved. I lacked the ability to receive love as a ‘normal person’ would. I did not love myself. I blamed two wives and many lovers for an emptiness that was not their fault. I hurt a lot of people. What most probably have never grasped is my compulsions hurt me as deeply or worse than it did them.

While at “The Meadows” ( I purchased a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love”. Reading it I underlined in pencil the passages I found particularly meaningful as is my habit. One particular passage has stuck with me. It’s describes well how I have always wanted to be love and be loved.

I’m here.
I love you.
I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long,
I will stay with you.
There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love.
I will protect you until you die,
and after your death I will still protect you.
I am stronger than Depression
and I am braver than Loneliness
and nothing will ever exhaust me.

That passage moves me to the point of emotional overflow even today. The desire for it is stronger than ever, but there is no definitive knowing if I could yet let it in from someone else. Sitting here telling the world is another small step in my healing.

In hindsight I was loved as Elizabeth Gilbert describes but could not appreciate it. It’s too late now to do anything but learn the necessary lessons from those relationships. At least then the pain was not for naught. To those women who loved me who I could not love enough in return I will always be grateful and deeply regretful for the pain I caused. Without those experiences I would not be the mostly happy and optimistic person I have become.

Forget past mistakes.
Forget failures.
Forget about everything
except what you’re going to do now
– and do it.
William Durant

The Untethered Soul

Holding onto thoughts instead of thinking them and letting go…
Recalling things that happened in the past and stewing about them…
Trying to control emotions by holding on or pushing them away…
Attempting to rewrite the past by obsessing on what might have happened…

Currently I am reading a best seller titled “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer a good friend gave me. It points directly at some of the reasons I have suffered from my heart and mind by trying to redirect and rewrite life to my liking. Here’ are a few passages from the book:

How would you feel if someone outside really started talking to you the way your inner voice does?

Creating thoughts, holding onto thoughts, recalling thoughts, generating emotions, controlling emotions, and disciplining powerful inner drives, all requite tremendous expenditure of energy.

If you look at the times in your life when you were in love or excited and inspired by something, you were so filled with energy that you didn’t even want to eat.

Have you ever noticed that when you are mentally or emotionally drained, food doesn’t help that much? Conversely, if you look at the times in your life when you were in love, or excited and inspired by something, you were filled with energy that you didn’t even want to eat.

The only reason you don’t feel this energy all the time is because you block it. You block it by closing your heart, by closing your mind, and by pulling yourself into a restrictive space inside. When you close your heart or close your mind, you hide in the darkness within you. There is not light. There is not energy. There is nothing flowing.

We are programmed to open or close based upon our past experiences. Impressions from the past are still inside of us, and they get stimulated by different events. If they were negative impressions, we tend to close. If they were positive impressions, we tend to open.

But closing your heart does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to block you inside.

Do not let anything be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.

There is no possible way I can completely stop grabbing and hanging onto my thoughts. The past is bound to surface and hurt a little or a lot. The future will never stop being something to worry about at least a little. I will always be a re-writer of the past to some extent. However, awareness of the unhealthiness of these practices can help me not get tied up in emotional restraints of my own making.

It’s an unexacting practice being human. Anything new usually seems difficult to near impossible as first. Letting things pass that are not healthy has always been a challenge. However, a little at a time, day by day, things have improved because I began years ago to practice what “The Untethered Soul” points out so clearly: “To attain true inner freedom , you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them. No solution can possibly exist while you’re lost in the energy of a problem”.

I am grateful for my progress and the reminder Michael Singer’s book is to live life with intention.

Pretending something did not happen
that really did happen…
Blaming others and not taking
rightful share of responsibility…
Are just two of the surest ways
to a tormented and tumultuous life.
James Browning

Years of Friction

tree adapting to friction

It is not work that kills men, it is worry.
…worry is rust upon the blade.
It is not movement that destroys
the machinery, but friction.
Henry Ward Beecher

In Colorado last week visiting my son, I was waiting in the car when I noticed the little tree in the photo. No only had the sapling accepted to its position in life and had adapted to it, the tree had begun to use the adaptation to its benefit against the winds in Boulder.

Years of friction of the tree trunk rubbing against a cable caused the sapling to adapt. Now as the tree gets older it has begun to grow around the source of friction making itself stronger in the process. It changed and now benefits from what once was the source of injury.

And so it is with life. Resistance to life as it is, does not benefit a person. The injury is to the thinker and not the subject of the thoughts. Things improve when one allows them self to be adapted to real life. The little tree does not think. It only does what is the most healthful for survival. For the tree, like humans, adaptation is often he different between a good life and a difficult one.

The sapling could not know the Serenity Prayer, but practices its principles implicitly.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
From a poem by Reinhold Niebuhr

I am grateful to the small tree. It “spoke to me” with a reminder to adapt to one’s circumstance when there is not other option.

A gem cannot be polished
without friction,
nor a man perfected
without trials.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Allow Gratitude to Transform Your Life


We all know that being grateful and appreciative is very beneficial, but have you ever noticed that it’s often easier said than done? Sometimes finding the good in a trying situation can by pretty challenging. Yet, the benefits of maintaining genuine gratitude and appreciation in spite of what’s going on around us are certainly worth looking into.

This is where focus comes to the rescue. You can actually transform your life by training yourself to search for, discover, and focus on legitimate reasons to feel grateful and appreciative.

We all have blessings in our life! No matter where we are, and regardless of what we might be going through, there are always things we can be grateful for. The challenge is to train ourselves to focus on gratitude, and to intuitively search for reasons to manifest appreciation. This may, or may not be your natural tendency, but with practice, all of us can certainly develop a predominate attitude of gratitude backed up with true expressions of appreciation.

Do you know someone who never has a bad word to say about anyone or anything? Someone who just naturally sees the silver lining, even around the darkest cloud? How do you feel when you are in the company of that person? Don’t you feel refreshed and positive?

What about the other end of the spectrum? Do you know someone who always needs to point out the negative aspect of every situation? How does that make you feel? Nobody feels empowered around someone like that, especially since negative attitudes can infect those who are exposed to them regularly.

When trying to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude in your life, you should seek out those whose dominant tendency is positive and upbuilding. It’s also a good idea to avoid spending too much time with those who like to dwell on the negative. Choosing your associates wisely can really help us to cultivate a much greater degree of gratitude and appreciation.

It can be very difficult to resist adopting a negative viewpoint when you are surrounded by it. To maintain a more grateful and appreciative perspective, we need to break away from the mentality of the masses and learn to think for ourselves. We need to make a conscious effort to filter the information we are exposed to. That means we need to find ways of limiting our exposure to negative input. We also need to be willing to take action to actively move away from sources that influence us in a negative way.

See the big picture. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, look for the beneficial aspects created by that situation. Ask yourself: “What have I learned here that will benefit me in the future? When I look back on this experience a year from now, what will I be grateful for?”

Finding something to be grateful for every day is life changing, even when that gratitude is for something that was difficult to endure. Over time my slant on being alive and my perspective of other people has shifted to be far more positive that it ever used to be. My chosen emphasis on gratitude has been life changing and brought a new way of seeing everything.

I truly believe we can either see the connections,
celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings,
or we can see life as a string of coincidences
that have no meaning or connection.
For me, I’m going to believe in miracles,
celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity
and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect
in the lives of others. This is my choice.
Mike Erickwen