A Two-Edge Sword


Hatred is like a long, dark shadow.
Not even the person it falls upon knows
where it comes from, in most cases.
It is like a two-edged sword.
When you cut the other person, you cut yourself.
The more violently you hack at the other person,
the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal.
But it is not easy to dispose of.
Please be careful… It is very dangerous.
Once it has taken root in your heart,
hatred is the most difficult thing in the world to shake off.
From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami

Last of the Five Good Emperors


Thirteen timeless parables from almost two thousand years ago posted this morning by my Facebook friend, writer C. Joyell C.:

“Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.”

“It’s not another person’s minds that destroys us, but our own. If we are watchful of our mind’s contents, we will rise above the troubles of the outside world.”

“Nothing is sadder than the man who goes around analyzing his neighbors’ actions, while failing to perceive the Divinity within.”

“If a person has an appreciation and understanding of the Universe, there is hardly anything that won’t appear beautiful. Such a person will find equal pleasure in looking at paintings and wild animals. He will see in every person a sweet freshness and light. Vision will be his gift, and he will see beauty where others see nothing.”

“Above all else, let the spirit within you be the guardian of your life. Tend to it, let it be the source of your peace. You will find happiness if you do not seek outside you for what is within.”

“Just as physicians have their tools, so do you have tools for healing your mind. Try to remember the bond between humans and the Divine.”

“Blame and praise have no true effects. Is an emerald less lovely, if it is not praised? Or is gold less lovely, or ivory, or the color purple?… “I am committed to be an emerald, and keep the color that is mine.”

“Be like the cliff against which the waves break – you can stand firm and calm amongst the noise.”

“How simple life is for the disciplined mind. A disciplined mind can release every painful thought that enters into it, and to return to a state of perfect calm.”

“As your stray thoughts are, so will your mind be. Dye it with a continual series of good and wholesome thoughts.”

“Whenever something troubles you, quickly return to your higher thoughts and do not linger in discomfort. We will grow to be master of our state by turning back to peace.”

“This is what some men do: they refuse to speak good of their neighbors, yet they themselves set great value on being praised.”

“Love the people whom you have been given. Love them truly.”

Marcus Aurelius, April 26, 121 AD-March 17, 180 AD, Roman Co-Emperor (with Lucius Verus) from 161 to 180, warrior, lover and father… He was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.

In my morning meditation I often turn to one of three books I have of Marcus Aurelius thoughts. It amazes me how clearly he saw things and I am grateful for his wisdom that echoes through the centuries.

Your life mainly consists of 3 things!
What you think,
What you say and
What you do!
So always be very conscious
of what you are co-creating!
Allan Rufus

Twelve of Forty

tiny buddha

For close to three years www.tinybuddha.com has been a website I visit a few times each month. I never fail to find reading that causes me to think, be inspired or gain insight. Over a million other people visit on a regular basis.

A post from about a year ago titled “40 Ways To Feel More Alive” was the blog that caught my attention this morning. For sake of brevity, I when down the list until I had picked about a dozen ‘good ones’ to share.

* Tell someone how you really feel about them instead of waiting because you’re scared.

* Tell someone what you really want and need instead of building up resentment.

* Share your fears publicly, in a blog post for example, and ask the community to keep you accountable in overcoming them.

* Tell a friend your greatest dream, then ask them to hold you accountable in pursuing it.

* Admit to a friend how you really feel about how you spend your time—then brainstorm about ways to improve it.

* Introduce yourself to someone you’ve been dying to meet, even if you feel nervous.

* Tell yourself the truth instead of lying to yourself about the changes you want to
make in your life.

* Sign up for a class to learn a skill you’ve always thought would be fun.

* Ask a friend to teach you to do something you don’t know how to do—and offer to teach them something else in return.

* Buy a new or used instrument and look on for instructional videos on YouTube.

* Make a list of fun “staycation” ideas (for day trips in your area). Schedule at least two of them for the next month.

* Enlist a friend to help you face it fear, whether it’s quitting your job or skydiving.

To say I will do all twelve would be a certain example of over promise and under deliver. However, I do have four favorites I will put into practice by year’s end. My gratitude goes to the writer of the piece, Lori Deschene, for the insightful list of forty ways to feel more alive. Good stuff, Mam! I felt better just reading it! Full article at http://tinybuddha.com/blog/40-ways-to-feel-more-alive/

I don’t believe people are
looking for the meaning of life
as much as they are looking
for the experience of being alive.
Joseph Campbell

8 Easy Steps


Excerps from a deeply touching Huffington Post article published a few weeks ago, “How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps” by Kate Bartolotta

Setting aside our first-world problems and pettiness, if you are online reading this, you have both electricity and WiFi or access to them. Odds are you are in a shelter of some sort, or on a smart phone (and then kudos to you for reading this on the go). Life might bump and bruise us, it may not always go the way we plan and I know I get frustrated with mine, but here’s the thing: You are alive. Because you are alive, everything is possible…

1. Stop believing your b#llsh!t. All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s b#llsh!t, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14 year olds at heart. We’re all scared. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the b#llsh!t.

2. Be happy now. Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.

3. Look at the stars. It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. …it helps.

4. Let people in. Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.

5. Stop with the crazy making. Life is full of obstacles; we don’t need to create extra ones. Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, other people’s choices and attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless you’ve been behaving like a jerk, in which case…

6. Learn to apologize. Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do… The ability to sincerely apologize — without ever interjecting the word “but” — is an essential skill for living around other human beings.

7. Practice gratitude. Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe…

8. Be kind. Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better. Full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-bartolotta/happiness-tips_b_3956114.html

Nuff said…. thanks Kate!

The happiest people seem to be
those who have no particular cause
for being happy except that they are so.
William Ralph Inge

We All Have Twenty-Four Hour Days


You can do anything,
but you can’t do everything.
David Allen

What has my attention at this moment? My thoughts are directed at words surfacing in my mind and typing them with a considerably lesser amount of awareness of music playing on Pandora. I’m vaguely aware of the surroundings of my home office, the art and posters on the wall and the noise of an occasional neighborhood car that drives by. That’s all my mind can take on at the moment.

People have a fixed amount that must be allocated according to need. To use a popular analogy, attention is like a bucket of water. People draw upon it as needed, but every dipper full and every teaspoon full leaves less for other purposes. Marc Green

Two interesting components have arisen with the increase of discretionary time I now have: 1) my perception of the world outside me has increased. I notice more, see things more deeply and generally feel good because of it. 2) With a richness of time, it is easy to let hours and days slip by with little to show for them. Some of that is good. Some of it is not so positive.

Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” My conclusion is that expecting myself to settle into new routines within my first 60 days of semi-retirement was too much to ask. Already I feel better letting myself off the hook of that unrealistic expectation.

…the allocation of attention is largely automatic and occurs without awareness. As a result, it is not easily brought under conscious control. You may direct someone’s attention by saying “watch the step,” and temporarily cause a conscious allocation of attention to the step. However, there is a good chance that within a few minutes or even seconds, the memory trace will disappear and the next time the person will fail to notice the step. The same automatic factors that directed attention away from the step in the first instance have not changed. Marc Green

The paragraph from Marc Green helps me a good deal because it tells me that keeping a keen awareness of my desire to form new routines is a great start to having them. All I have to do is follow through on what I have concluded and stay aware with a sense of priority. Then new routines will simply fall into place. Whew. I am grateful to “get off my own case”.

I didn’t pay attention to time or distance,
instead focusing on how it felt just to be in motion,
knowing it wasn’t about the finish line
but how I got there that mattered.
Sarah Dessen

 Originally Posted on September 17, 2013

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

Uniquely Original


There will ever only be one of you — ever. In the history of the universe, you exist only once and you are it. There will never again be another person with your unique intellect, temperament, skills and abilities.

We often get stuck in a rut of who we are and what we can offer without really grasping the greatness that is contained in our uniqueness. We often fail to capitalize on our unique abilities. What limits us is a lack of understanding of our unique gifts, the community we create around us, and knowing the value of our role in life.

You are the only person in the world that will ever see things they way you do. Your personality, experiences, insights, and your emotions all lead you to interact with the world differently from everyone else. You may be only slightly different, but it is different. Only you have seen what you have seen, in the way that you have seen them, and can come to the same conclusions. That voice is essential not only to the world immediately around you but in our every day interactions around the globe.

Our ability to reach beyond our geographies now exceeds our expectations – expectations we set not just a few years ago, but a few months ago. We are continuously amazed at how far and how fast we can reach around the planet. Therefore, your point of view may challenge or support another idea around the globe. You may never know it, or feel it, or see it, but it is, nonetheless, there. Don’t ever underestimate the value that your uniqueness has on the conversation.

One of the universal truths of people is that we seek our own level; we find jobs, communities, partners, friends that align with our personalities and our abilities. Opposites may attract, but our “ecosystem” of personalities tends to mirror ourselves.

The problem with all this likeness around us is that it tends to darken our uniqueness. We see our ideas, beliefs, skills, abilities, etc. similar to others around us and then tend to feel we don’t need to be unique – others either don’t need to see it, or someone else has that covered. The very system we put in place to help support us – to make life easier – is the very system that stifles our own “uniqueocity.”

I am, and forever will be, the only unique me. And right back at you! From an article in “Forbes” magazine by Todd Wilms http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2013/10/04/i-unique-you-unique/

Wanting to fit in and be like others is not something I am completely immune to. The worst of it was when I was a teenager, yet even then I did not want to be completely like others. As I have gotten older any wish to be like someone else have become more and more rare.

To a fault as an adult I have frequently rebelled against the ‘norm’ just because it was what was considered ‘normal’. If the majority was going “North”, I’d turn and head “Southeast”. That has certainly NOT been easy, but over time that attitude shaped me, mostly for the best, into a ‘uniquely original’ human being. I am proud of the distinctive person I have become and grateful to be ‘me’.

Never love anyone
who treats you like
you’re ordinary.
Oscar Wilde

Letting Go of a Hot Iron


One of the more difficult insights to grasp has been that it is largely pain within a person that causes him/her to hurt me. Long did I believe those who caused me grief without cause, or pain far beyond what I deserved, were simply mean-spirited people. Experience has taught when someone is rude, mean or inconsiderate the vast majority of the time they have unresolved issues within.

Anger, heartache, resentment or some other harbored pain is festering inside most hurtful people that they have yet to face, cope with or overcome. As difficult as it can be, the last thing such a person needs is for me to make matters worse by responding angrily. My human ‘fight’ instinct first kicks in and only with strong intention can I keep from dishing out venom equal to or greater than the poison spewed on me.

When I react badly to someone who has treated me ‘less than’ any momentary feeling of satisfaction dims quickly. I end up tasting a bit of my own toxins I’ve thrown on them. Fire plus fire equals a bigger fire. It’s never any different. Even when things settle down and apologies are given and accepted a touch of bitterness always remains. Sadly, often those leftovers become catalysts for a later resurfacing of the clash.

Refusal to play the game by saying, “I am not going to fight with you” or “I’m not going to give you something to blame me for later” often makes the other person’s emotions flare further. But by sticking to my truth and doing just that will disarm the person eventually. Some time the absolute best I can do for both parties is to put temporary distance between me and him or her. No, it’s not easy but it is best.

Forgiveness is a gift I give myself. The other person need not even know I have forgiven them. Often its impossible to let them know even if I want to. To forgive someone is to give myself the antidote for another’s poison that’s been injected into me. If I don’t, at least in part, I give someone else control over my life. Forgiveness is about setting myself free.

When someone hurts me, I have to let it go or I end up contaminating my mind, heart and soul with the poison that belongs to someone else. Holding my tongue is not easy, but afterwards letting go what was said or done is even more challenging. Knowing they have done it out of their own distress takes time to settle in. Stephen Richards wrote, “When you initially forgive, it is like letting go of a hot iron. There is initial pain and the scars will show, but you can start living again.” That’s about as good of a perspective as I have been able to develop.

Being a normal human being, its impossible for me to always practice full forgiveness where and when I need to. However, I am grateful for the awareness that I should forgive that has made shorter the length and weight of bitterness.

Forgiveness is really not about
someone’s harmful behavior;
it’s about our own relationship
with our past. When we begin
the work of forgiveness,
it is primarily a practice for ourselves.
Gina Sharpe

Become the Watcher


When I become aware of my thoughts, it does not make me become my thoughts. Quite the contrary, only then do I have a chance to sort out what’s real from what’s misapprehension, distortion and nonsense. Without attention most thought bounces mindlessly in my brain like light reflected back and forth between a hundred mirrors; lots of motion but getting nowhere.

The musing of my mind is most often barely me at all and instead some creation loosely based on a combination of all I have been through, felt or experienced. This kind of thinking is created like a mindless chemical reaction. When I pay attention to what is bouncing around in my head I become the watcher who is able, with good reliability, to sort out the good stuff from the ravings of a lunatic (which is exactly what the thoughts of an unattended mind are!).

A frantic mind misses opportunities and pushes them away. If a good opportunity comes your way, and your mind is going a mile a minute, that opportunity will wiz right by you.

When opportunities come, you need a quiet place for them to alight, to rest. A frantic mind actually pushes them away. Multi-tasking creates more stress and makes the mind more frantic. Do one thing at a time and complete it.

It is the nature of the mind to have thoughts. We mistakenly identify with our thoughts and think that’s who we are. But to the mind, all thoughts are the same. The thoughts that make our ego feel good, we pull towards us, and the ones that make our ego feel bad, we push away. This push and pull is what makes the mind frantic.

Truth comes through the mind, not from the mind. The mind is the vehicle for truth, not the source. The source of truth is the universe, spirit, God, whatever you want to call consciousness. Chandra Alexander

When beginning a meditation practice about a decade ago, my mind wrestled with me. It did not want to be closely examined and fought back by increasing the stream of silent babbling within my brain. Only for a few seconds could I redirect my thinking before the ‘bully’ that was my mind took over again. The majority of the time my unconscious thoughts still win, but over time I have found moments of peace while sitting still with my eyes closed and allowing myself to just be.

The key lesson learned has been once I started paying attention to my thoughts and attempting to sort out what is fact from fiction; what is reality from complete lunacy; an amazing thing happened. Gratefully I began to be able to sort out with decent consistency what was my own BS and what was truth.

The rational man doesn’t hate it
when he is proven wrong;
he is actually grateful,
since his knowledge
has been enriched.

Intention, Decision and Chance


Does the walker choose the path,
or the path the walker?
Garth Nix

When I was younger destiny seemed out of my control.; a predetermined path to eventual destinations. I grew up, became an adult and stopped thinking much about fate. My mantra was “if it is to be it is up to me”. I was lord and master of my life in those days, or so I thought.

A false sense of clarity is a frequent symptom of youth and my case of the “Mr. Know-It-All” virus was worse than most. Growing up in the chaos of a dysfunctional family caused me to end up with an over developed sense of self-reliance. I learned to survive. My belief was only person I could rely on was me. I entered adulthood believing what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

What worked for a while when life was simpler, did not serve me as well when life became complicated with career, marriage and a child. Well into my thirties I began to see that where destiny had placed me had a lot to do with my decisions.

My problem was choices made in my 20s and 30s were too often not the best ones. Good or bad choices, they helped shape my fate just the same. “Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences”, wrote J.K. Rowling. Over time I came to make better decisions because I tired of living with and trying to fix choices made recklessly. Better decisions made my destiny better. Seems simple now, but arriving at that realization was anything but simple.

Today I think of destiny as a cosmic soup of intention, decision and chance seasoned with the divine. In the throes of making a big decision it’s never clear exactly what is influencing me. The best I can do is take my time, pay attention to my feelings and ask for outside input from friends and my higher power.

I am grateful for the wisdom life lends a person who is open to learn.

There’s nowhere you can be
that isn’t where you’re meant to be…
John Lennon