Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crazy Money Games

Right now, any people are now looking to find their way out of the financial woods. I have simple tastes in investments. I have always felt that any deal too complicated to explain easily is probably meant to deceive. These crazy financial games that involve things like short selling, or betting on stocks you do not own, derivatives, credit-default swaps, variable rate loans, balloon payments, and other arcane creations have come crumbling down. People who have lost money on day trading get more frantic and try to trade some more. The fact that more people lose than win at day trading does not dissuade gamblers, because they dream of winning. Smart people will reposition with safer investments. Clever games will make money for a few, but hurt many.

We need to be careful not to be desperate. There is an old saying among pool sharks. "When you start to shoot with your lunch money, the pockets start to move."

I like investment strategies that are simple and straight forward. Those who go for solid investments and straight up deals will survive. Those who keep going for crazy deals may be lost in the woods for a long time. There are all kinds of ways to make life exciting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Renovated Neighborhoods

For exercise, walking in the older neighborhoods is really invigorating. It seems to me that I can feel the energy in the old neighborhoods that have been renovated recently.

I like it that there are so many old trees and shrubs and the way many people have really creative gardens that combine stonework and whimsical touches like statues, fountains, and antiques in the design.

I like it that so many of the older houses are truly different. You have houses that are made of stone or brick interspersed with wooden ones. You see skylights, inviting porches, gazebos and decks. Obviously someone put a lot of work into fixing up some of the old houses, and they have a lot of character.

If I could afford to buy one of these, I would. Meanwhile, I can enjoy walking around and looking. There is something that exudes optimism and joy in all of those people taking those older properties and finding ways to repair them and add new life to them by remodeling and brightening them up. Brightening doesn't always mean bright colors of course. It just means clearing away the dead energies and broken parts and adding things that work and add beauty.

Perhaps it is the combination of fresh air and circulation of the blood that does it, but I always come back with fresh ideas when I go for a walk in the old neighborhoods. And this does not refer simply to ideas about remodeling the house, I mean ideas in general, about a lot of different subjects. I think the gardens, trees and old designs really have a powerful effect. There are so many wonderful fragrances to inhale, just walking by these gardens.

Maybe it is the spirits of all the people who have lived in those houses all those years prior that contributes to the flow of ideas that mingle with the energy and enthusiasm of the new people who appreciate the workmanship in the old houses and bring new energy in. Whatever it is about this combination of factors, I like the old renovated neighborhoods.

Inspiration is everywhere, if we just look open ourselves to seeing it, hearing, it, smelling it, experiencing it. It is as easy as going for a walk.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Old Friends, New Friends

My mother has had some of the same friends her entire life. This fact is not so extraordinary among older generations. You see, my mother has lived in the same house her entire life. She has ventured farther than that to go on vacations. Some of the women she went to grammar school or high school with have also stayed close to home. Yes, my mother has also made new friends along her journey through life.

Prior to 1940, most Americans lived in small towns and rural areas. After World War II, most Americans lived in urban or suburban areas. During much of the time from the founding of this country until mid-century, most people never ventured more than 20 miles from their home. In some parts of the country you can still find people like that who buy a house and settle in just a short drive from their parents or siblings. My mother's generation was also the last in which people would get a job with one company and stay with it until they retired.

Today, the average American moves every five years. Many moves are work related, and some are simply because they prefer to live in a different climate. Sometimes divorces trigger moves and sometimes moves trigger divorces. It is estimated that the average boomer has changed jobs 10 times during their working life. Other estimates on career change indicate that the average American changes careers 3-7 times during their working life. The definitions have some wiggle room depending on how a person defines job or career. No matter how you define it, there is obviously lots of movement.

With all this movement comes lots of changes in friends. We meet new people where we live and in our new jobs. It is simply more practical to hang out with people who are in our new neighborhood than someone who is a thousand miles away.

Sometimes though, we would have changed friends if we were all in the same town. We may have simply outgrown old friends as our paths went different ways. For example, when I was younger, my social life revolved around bar hopping. But as I grew older and changed careers, different things began to interest me. After a succession of business related moves I found that getting acclimated to a new town on the other side of the country could be made smoother by joining Sierra Club, going to contra dances, or going to art fairs and psychic fairs.

After one particular move, I went to a psychic fair out of curiosity. Then I started checking out various workshops, events and got interested in metaphysics in general. I am certain that I would not have developed these interests had I not moved.

Along the way then, my friends changed. This, I think, is natural. As we change, we need friends who can relate to the way we see the world now, to the things we enjoy doing now.

Living in one house my entire life, working for one company my entire life would not have suited me. I wanted to experience some of the rest of the world, not just visit it for a week on vacation. I am glad that I have changed careers and made new friends. There are moments when I am prompted to think about all these changes, of old friends and new friends and the evolutions we have all gone through over the years.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Pivotal Moments in Your Life

What have been the pivotal moments in your life? What have been the real life changing events? The moments of illumination? The moments when you realized something important that would change the course of events to come?

You know. Like when you played in a concert that was well attended and the crowd loved it. Like when you hiked up a mountain and were simply awestruck standing in snow, looking down on the desert, at eye level with a glider.

Like the time you interviewed for a job and got hired and you felt good from the time of the interview, and you knew you had it. Like when you got into school after having been rejected by other schools.

When you worked at something you loved and the time just went so fast the whole sequence was just one thread weaving into another. Like when you could have died in that car wreck.

Like how you felt when your mother or father died. Or your grandparents. Or someone else close to you. Like when you wrote a story that you really labored over and everyone in your writing class or writers group loved it.

Like a really memorable lover who enlarged your realm of possibilities. Like a really good friend and what happened to end the friendship.

Pivotal moments when you had an out-of-body experience or an energy healing session so powerful that you felt like you were walking on air and were surrounded by light energy for the rest of the day.

A moment when you wanted something and got it almost immediately. A moment when you connected with spirit and instantly knew something you had no other way of knowing.

A moment when you did something that felt perfect. Everything was in place and flowed as smoothly as you imagined it would.

A moment when you just met someone for the first time and you knew that you would be friends for a long time. A time when just being in the outdoors revealed a great secret of life.

What have been the pivotal moments in your life?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who Have Been Your Mentors?

During the course of our life, there have been individuals who have been mentors to us. Since they can include relatives, friends, employers, teachers, clergy, and others, sometimes we may not think of them in those terms. There are places in life where we have mentors assigned, but this is not always a formal relationship.

If the word mentor gets in your way of understanding, think instead of people who have played an influential part in your life.

Now as you recall these people, think of how they have influenced you and about the shifts in direction your life has taken because you have known these people.

Were there businesses you got into or not because of these people? Were there relationships you got into or out of because of these people? Were there different studies you took up because of these people?

What part have these influential people played in your life?

Is it time for a new mentor? Are you looking for one either openly or subtlely? Do you have a clear idea of what you would like this person to help you with? Do you have a sense of clarity in one part of your life but not another?

If you are open to such a connection, it will manifest rapidly. It is as simple as approaching a person and asking them. If you have never tried this before, you are in for a real treat. Most mentors are flattered to be asked.

If a mentor relationship is something you want, and you are ready to take action, you have already begun the next step of your journey.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What does your life story read like?

If you were writing your own life story, how would it read? Something like this?

I had a number of incidents in my life where I almost died. I always had the feeling that it was more than luck. Yet no clear message came through to me about if there was some important reason why I was still alive.

Or this? Got out of school. Got married. Had kids. Worked at a few different jobs until retirement, then spent lots of time golfing and traveling around the country in an RV.

Or this? Married twice. Did a lot of interesting things, but never saved up much money. Learned a lot about aspects of life I never knew growing up. Met a lot of interesting people who gave me lots of different perspectives on life and work and spirit.

Or would your story go like this? Got married young, and had a couple of kids. Had a number of jobs, vacationed every year. Never really got a chance to really feel fulfilled with my work. I made a living, but was always wondering what else there was in life. Felt like the marriage was over long before it was over, but stayed out of inertia. After my kids grew up, got divorced and started wandering around, looking for the part of me that I always thought was missing. Had a number of adventures and romances. Life got more interesting.

Or like this? Had a great time growing up, partied a lot when I was young. As I grew older and had the obligations of holding a job that was not very exciting so that I could support my family, I wondered if the rest of my life would be this uneventful. I had these thoughts when old friends would contact me every now and then. I got twinges of jealousy when I heard about how much more exciting their life was than mine. I took a good look around and wondered what would happen in the next few years.

As long as we are alive we still have time to write new chapters to our life story, but how would we view what has happened so far? How would that set up for the chapters that are coming next?

What does your life story read like? Are you ready to write or rewrite the next chapter?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Myths Matter

If you are a person who likes to read for pleasure and enlightenment, there is always something new vying for your attention. Of course, although new books are enticing, the old classics are often worth another look. There are layers of meanings that are revealed to a mature person that escape the younger person and mythology especially offers rewards upon additional reads.

Timeless themes in themselves say a lot about us humans. When the stories of the ancient ones were first told and then later written down, the values ascribed to the heroes were much the same as the values we look for in heroes today. What people wanted way back then is not so different from what we want now in terms of the comfort and safety of home, romantic love and peace.

What is even more intriguing is the complexity of the characters and their relationships when we contemplate the story lines. A cursory read displays action, adventure, magic and mystery. A more thoughtful reading reveals subtle truths that engage the adult mind, where the action adventure parts are mostly what the younger minds remember.

There are also unexpected gifts of humor as well as wisdom in the old stories. There are uncanny insights into the nature of the world and the flow of energies and how they interact. There are complex concepts of life and death.

Mythological themes present themselves over and over again in modern literature. Beowulf, the Sagas of the Norse, the myths of the Greeks, the Celts and more, all yield as much pleasure and wisdom as repeated viewings of Shakespeare's plays. What was powerful, insightful and well told hundreds of years ago, still is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grounding & Centering

People often ask for a good, simple way to ground and center their energy every day. Here is a method that you can use to start your day and recharge yourself any time you feel a need for it.

Picture yourself surrounded by a cocoon of light. Reach over your head, around you and behind you, and gather it in to your lower belly, the place where your hands will normally come to rest.

Breathe in deeply and imagine that any negativity, stress, worry, or anxiety is sent back into mother earth for recycling. Then redeploy the cocoon around you again, fully cleansed and recharged. Picture that it works as a shield for you all day.

Only good things penetrate this field. Negative things bounce off. Feel confident that this shield works. You know that it is connected to your vital essence, and your center of gravity. This energetic form of protection can help you out constantly.

Take charge of positioning yourself for positive interactions, and get your day off to a good start.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How Do You Feel The Change of Season?

Today is the Fall Equinox, the beginning of the season. Does it really make a difference if we take time on these days to acknowledge the change of seasons? I think it does. I can feel it.

I have felt it for several days leading up to now. I have been noticing and appreciating the change in the weather. It is a little cooler and cloudier now. Sometimes it rains. The stores are piled high with fresh apples and apple cider. The newspapers have advertisements for symphony concerts. I can sense the scales tipping to darkness. Tonight will be perfect for a glass of dark red wine and a reflection on the turning of the summer into fall. I like the feeling.

Years ago, days like the Fall Equinox and Spring Equinox would come and go without any special observation by me. I could tell that there were seasonal changes in the air, but I was not quite clear about when or what they meant in any real way. When we track the events in our lives according to paydays or vacations, quarterly reports, deadlines or other markers, we have a different sense of time.

Tracking with the seasons feels more natural. It is less frantic. I feel more in harmony with whatever is going on around me. Can you feel it too?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who Are Our Spirit Guides?

Who are our spirit guides? There are many possibilities. They can be gods or goddesses, ancestors, angels, fairies, totem animals or birds, friends or relatives who we knew in this lifetime and have already crossed over. Some people have saints that they relate to, and that is the same thing by another name. Spirit guide.

We all have our own ideas about these, but the one that is most interesting to me is the ancestors. I mean far back before the grandparents, aunts and uncles we can name, to farther back up the family tree. Those people whose names we do not know. One thing is for certain. We carry their blood and genetics. They learned how to survive in this world, discovering which plants were safe to eat, which plants were good medicine, learning how to be good hunters and providers of shelter. They worked hard to survive, whether they were farmers, tradesmen, midwives, weavers or warriors. They would like to see us survive because we are their offspring. That is why they help give us intuitive signs to make choices that facilitate our survival.

Other spirit guides we may have actively chosen. For example, after reading about various gods & goddesses, we may feel a kinship to one or another of them. Saints fall into the same category. Either we were named after them or we simply studied their lives and chose to relate to one because we can relate to the qualities and characteristics they represent. We may have studied a certain totem animal or bird because it is related to our family name or because we have seen it frequently and take that as an omen. Perhaps we have watched them and are fascinated by their ways. Believing in angels or fairies in a general way is one thing, but communicating with them until we discover their name is another. Family members or friends we had a close relationship with while they were on this plane are better known to us, and the connection continues.

We all have spirit guides. At certain times in our life, we may feel more connected to one than another of them, depending on the situations we find ourselves in. In certain phases of our life, we may feel more strongly about particular spirit guides. Then there are some who are always with us.

How good has their guidance been for you? The more we tune into the messages they have for us, the more they work with us. As always, we have the free will to listen or not listen, or change who we listen to. We choose.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gut Instinct & Psychic Vision

We have all heard the expression "gut instinct" but what does that really mean?

A simple way of recognizing it is this. When you have a choice to make, you usually get a feeling in the pit of your stomach that gives you a yes or no response. Go with the yes as much as possible. If you override and go with no, you will probably regret it.

So what is this feeling? I think it is your spirit guides giving you a clue. Your free will leaves the final choice up to you, but it is them giving you a little poke in the ribs with their elbow. They usually do not explain themselves, because they are just communicating to you in a simple sign language. You might discover reasons for the choice at some later time.

Another word for this is intuition. Many authors in recent years have used the words psychic and intuition interchangeably. I think that happened because some people are a little skittish about the word psychic, although everyone feels comfortable saying that they are just following their intuition.

Here's how I would distinguish the two. Intuition is felt in the gut because it is related to survival instincts and these were passed on to us by our ancestors.

Psychic is more related to the third eye and relates to visionary abilities and knowing things that you would have no way of knowing if you were not in contact with the spirit realm in some way. This applies to clairvoyance (seeing beyond the normal range), clairaudience (hearing voices)or clairsentience (touch, psychometry. These are all ways of extending our senses beyond their normal limitations and picking up information through the spirit realm, information that we would not have access to otherwise.

Generally, we have to work to sharpen our psychic capabilities, but everyone has gut instinct. Some people are born with pronounced psychic abilities and exhibit a facility with them all their life. Others may have shut theirs down because they felt it was not socially acceptable. And others simply need to reawaken it from a dormant state.

So intuitive and psychic are not two interchangeable words.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Changing Your Energy Patterns

How easy is it to change your energy? How easy is it to change any pattern in your life? Sometimes it is easiest to start with the outer aspects of your life.

For example, if you were to go through a deep cleaning of your house and clear the clutter, you would begin to change your feelings about where you are in your life, the things that are important to you and how the tangible, physical things in your life symbolize that which is important to you.

Whether or not you use feng shui principles or just reorganize in a way that makes sense to you intuitively, at the end of the process, you will have changed your energy flow.

If you have decided to change the way you look, by the time you have cleaned out your closets and only kept those things that you really like wearing most, and those things which present you in the best light, you will feel differently.

These actions alone will not change your attitudes and behavior every day, but they certainly will contribute to, and support personal changes.

Making outer changes often signals to the inner being that change is desired, and change is being put into motion.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Energy of Things

Just as we all have our own energy, the things that we use or wear everyday pick up some of our energy. Some people are very adept at reading this energy. This is called psychometry.

So, for example, our energy will be found at our desk at home, or on the kitchen utensils we most often use, the bed where we sleep, our favorite chair or sofa.

In other words, we leave our energy imprint on these things and these can be picked up by other people who are sensitive to these energies. Readers pick these up by feel rather than sight. It is amazing how accurate some of these readers can be simply by touching your necklace, watch or ring, for example.

The other thing this phenomenon teaches us is that our energy affects our surroundings. So if we change our energy, we change the energy all around us. And that relates back to the principles of feng shui which teaches that if we change our surroundings, we can change our own personal energy.

Look at those popular makeover TV shows. What is happening with them? When a person changes their appearance, their feelings change about themsleves, and the other people who see them in a new way pick up a different energy from them.

We can change our energy. If you feel a need to change your energy, take a look around to see what you would like to change.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Energy of Places

British author Alfred Watkins first published his theory of ley lines about 100 years ago. His research and writing put forward the idea that there were grids of the earth's natural energy that people were tapping into, and that is why certain significant developments like cathedrals or ancient sacred sites could be plotted on a map in lines related to each other. In other words, people were drawn to place things that were important to them in certain areas because they sensed the natural energy present there.

Ancient Chinese sages who developed the art of feng shui plotted out the energy map of individual buildings as well as position on the landscape based on the principles that energy will flow through a house, temple or business relative to how it faces the directions and the elements, thus affecting the people who use the space.

If we look at ancient structures such as the pyramids of Egypt, we ding that they are oriented to true north and mirror the constellation of the Pleiades.

Quetzalcoatl's Pyramid in Mexico is aligned perfectly with the equinoxes.

Stonehenge in England is aligned so that it casts a perfect ray of light through a stone at the Summer Solstice. In Newgrange, Ireland, a structure built thousands of years before the pyramids, the sunlight penetrates through an opening over the doorway and illuminutes the inner chamber only at the Winter Soltstice every year.

Why would people pay such detailed attention to their relation to the movements of the sun and stars, and the energies of nature since long before anyone had any printed literature or precise instruments such as our GPS systems?

Our most awe inspiring places in the U.S. are our national parks. These are the places where people before us have felt a special sense of spiritual wonder and majesty. That is why we set these places aside to conserve them for future generations, and that is also why they are the destinations of choice both for citizens and international visitors.

Sensing the energy of the land is not just folklore lost in time. Even to this day, people use their ability to sense the energy of the earth to dowse for water wells.

In countries all over the world, there are sacred wells, places where people have come for generations to take the healing waters, immerse themselves in the hot springs and find pleasure in the rejuvenating powers of nature in these special places.

The special places where we can feel the energy of place exists on hiking trails that were animal trails before humans followed these paths. Special places are also man made. We can build energy into the way we structure our personal domains, where we live and work.

The energy of places is real. Does the energy of your place refresh your spirit?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Three Chakras?

Although the concept of seven chakras is known far and wide these days, some old traditions in Europe utilized a system of three energy centers, and those would have been located at the sexual area, heart and third eye.

This more compact and simple system considered that these were the three centers that generated the power through the entire system. The sexual energy center is earthy, grounding, the seat of creative power, and in Chinese arts such as tai chi and chi gong, would also be near the dan tien or as the Japanese would say, hara, which is also the place where a person's center of gravity and martial arts power would have their roots. Notice how easy it is to keep your balance from this power center. Humor and creativity are powerful ways to keep our balance in this world. Expression of our sexual energy is good for our body mind and spirit, rejuvenating to our senses, and contributor to our overall sense of well being.

The third eye relates to knowing in a visionary kind of way, the second sight, psychic abilities, the seers. This is the gateway opening to the spirit world, and how we know things that we would not have any other way of knowing. Learning to open the third eye helps us become readers and oracles, and it also helps us keep our perspective of our place in the larger world. When we can see the bigger picture, we know about karma and recognize significant developments.

The heart, again, is right in the middle, powering an individual with love, courage, compassion, cooperation, healing, forgiveness, kindness and charity. The heart center makes it possible to bring out the best in ourselves and others, and animates our being in the highest way. When we act toward others out of love, there is no higher sense of action. Courage, heart energy, means that we proceed even in the face of fear or doubt. The heart is our strength and our love.

A simple system can also work very powerfully, can't it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Working with Our Energy Centers

If we use the model of the energy body that has become most widely accepted, then we look at the seven energy centers, the chakras, in the body as being the way that we move energy in our life. Each of them relates to a particular aspect of life, and when we are feel particularly productive, we sense the energy really moving.

Briefly, the seven are the root (survival, work, family), sacral (sex, creativity, humor), solar plexus (will, self esteem, intuition), heart (love, compassion, cooperation, healing, forgiveness, kindness, charity), throat (communication, singing, expression), third eye (psychic ability, vision, connection to spirit), crown (connection to the universal energy. Their colors are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

When we feel blocked in an area of our life, such as our expression of creativity, or we feel our hampered in our ability to present ourselves strongly in an interview or public speaking, then if we were to sense it, we would feel a blocked chakra. Our ability to be compassionate or cooperative would indicate a different blocked chakra. Our lack of ability to perceive matters of a psychic nature indicate a blockage in another chakra area.

Solutions to these blockages are easy to find. Primarily, we would need to focus our attention on freeing up the energy center that relates to the area of life that needs opening. We can release the flow of that energy by meditative practices to open up that flow. The valve can be opened os that the flow can come through, much the same as we would turn the spigot on a faucet to let the water come through.

What would it take to do that? Traditionally, there are colors associated with each chakra as a key. Having a key like that makes it easier to place our attention on it, much the same way as having a target on a bull's eye.

Associating a sound, taste, scent, sensation or other signifier with it enhances our ability to work with that energy.

Of course, sometimes a person might deliberately shut down a chakra. Say, for example, a person who has just experienced the end of a love relationship, or the end of a phase of their career, might feel that it is the right time to shut down for the sake of protection. Then when they feel it is safe, they open it up again. People who have trouble adjusting may let this interval go for a long time, which hampers their ability to relate to others, and so they may need help opening it up again.

Typically, I have noticed that when a person has one of them shut down, others are also shut down, and when they are open, all of them are humming with energy. They are all related, and it is difficult to affect one without affecting the others.

Think of another example. When one part of your body is injured, that usually affects the way your entire body moves. When you feel in vibrant good health and move about freely, you can do all kinds of things with great agility.

The heart is the center of all of them. With three above and three below, the energy of the heart radiates out and affects all of them, which makes the heart the perfect place to begin any repair of the body's energy systems.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Exploring Our Energy Body

Feel the energy pulsing through your body. Feel your body respond when you express a desire to move. Even if you are tired, your will to send energy through your body will sense the energy even before your muscles move.

Imagine yourself in another place. Feel your body respond. Turn your thoughts to a far away place or another time period. Feel the currents of energy carry you there. Yes, your body is still here, but your energy body has already made a journey, as rapidly as a thought. How can that be?

Our energy body is part of us, but it extends beyond the boundaries of our physical self. The aura is one manifestation of that. The energy field around our body is the extension of our energy body. It has no sense that it needs to be contained within the borders of the physical body. As our feelings change, so does our aura. It reflects the inner movements even when there is no visible outer movement.

Some people can see auras, and they interpret them by colors they see. Others, such as myself, sense or feel the aura rather than see it. This is part of what is happening when we meet a person and immediately get a sense of like or dislike for that person. Their aura is coming into contact with us.

It is also what is happening when we enter into a place and get a feeling that we either like or dislike the place. It is the energy field of that place that we either like or do not like. We find ourselves in contact through our energy centers with energies that either mix well or match our vibrations or do not.

Our energy body connects with others whom we wish to connect with in ways that encompass the physical plus touching in other ways that reach in more completely than the physical. These connections are strands of a fabric of light that is being woven with each interaction, and the weaving can be stimulated with intentional connections that are as simple as using our imaginations to picture the pathways that these weave.

Although invisible, our energy body gives us the capacity to be much more and do much more.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Clearing & Energizing Yourself

Something that every person can do for themselves every day is to clear your own energy field, and then once you clear, begin broadcasting those signals to the universe again about what you want.

How do you clear? One easy way is to imagine the energy field surrounding your body. That energy field around your body is commonly referred to as your aura. Imagine that you are sweeping it clean with your hands, as if they were little brooms. Some people might feel better about doing this with a bit of incense or burning herbs, such as sage, myrrh, fankincense, copal, thyme, sweetgrass, mugwort, rosemary, lavender, basil or whatever scent appeals to you.

Another way to clear is to use a drum, rattle or bell to let those frequencies permeate the space around you. The vibrations of the plants or the sounds will enter into you as well as the space around you.

Once the clearing is done, you can set new energies into motion by focusing your thoughts on what you are grateful for having received and affirming what you would like to have happen in your life today. Reinforce these thoughts by it by giving voice to these thoughts and feelings and saying it out loud.

Finally, you can make some physical gestures to signify making your actions real in the world. This can be done with a tai chi movement, a yoga posture or a rune posture. Or if you prefer, choose some gesture that signifies your intentions. Whatever you do at each step of the way, put a lot of feeling into it.

This simple action of clearing and energizing can help keep you on track every day, centered in your intentions. The whole thing can be done silently while on a break from work too. Other people might simply see you as stretching and getting a breath of fresh air. Do it in the morning while your tea or coffee are brewing.

An easy thing to do, and it really does work. Try it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Simply Living

Sometimes we make life more complicated than it needs to be.

Unless we have inherited money to live on, we have to do something that will pay us well enough to pay for our necessary costs of living.

Beyond that, what would would it take to really make you happy?

If you decide you need to have the newest car, the biggest TV or lots of jewelry and designer clothes, then you have to work more hours or get other jobs in order to afford those things.

If what makes you happy is to spend time with family and friends sharing home cooked meals, telling stories, making music, going for walks, tending a garden, or other simple pleasures, that does not cost much.

If you decide you want to create your own business that requires more energy than just logging in and working at someone else's business.

All of these are choices we make, and these affect our happiness.

If we do the things we need to do and the things we like to do, our choices are simple.

Sometimes we make life more complicated than it needs to be. Unless we have inherited money to live on, we have to do something that will pay us well enough to pay for our necessary costs of living. Beyond that, what would would it take to really make you happy? If you decide you need to have the newest car, the biggest TV or lots of jewelry and designer clothes, then you have to work more hours or get other jobs in order to afford those things.

If what makes you happy is to spend time with family and friends sharing home cooked meals, telling stories, reading, making music, going for walks, tending a garden, or other simple pleasures, that does not cost much. If you decide you want to create your own business that requires more energy than just logging in and working at someone else's business.

All of these are choices we make, and these affect our happiness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pattern Recognition #3 - Cameras Everywhere

Does it really make us safer to have cameras everywhere?

How many people today have embraced having cameras absolutely everywhere in the name of security? How did we get there? Maybe from watching too many crime shows or too many news reports that focused on crimes that made it sound like we are all likely to be victims.

What if we simply refused to consume that sort of content and refused to carry the mindset that we are all likely to be victims of violent crimes?

What if we focused instead on a future in which people got along better, we powered our homes, businesses and transportation with renewable resources? What if we kept imagining a future where we found solutions to diseases and creative solutions to producing good quality food for everyone.

Is the world free of violent crime because we have cameras everywhere? Of course not. Do we feel like our privacy is constantly being invaded? Yes.

So forget the security cameras that do not really provide security. Try imagining a future where people act out of love. Do what we need to do to create a better future. Security really comes from getting along with people, not from having cameras everywhere. We have been investing in the wrong kinds of stuff.

That is why our present at times looks more like a scary science fiction novel than a gateway to a briliant new future where we can use our imagination to solve problems. Along the way we also need to quit following those people who try and entice us to follow false stories and obsessing over stories of crimes and criminals as both news and entertainment.

Imagine a different world. It is always about the difference between love and fear.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pattern Recognition #2 - the Art of Teaching

We go through learning curves over and over again. We become proficient in one job or an area of life. Then we change jobs or careers, move, get divorced or create a new relationship. We learn our way around a new town, a new way of making a living, a new way of building a relationship.

We keep getting practice in humility. We keep getting practice in learning what it is like to be a beginner again.

A long time ago, I found this idea by Robert Grudin to be always appropriate. He says: Those of us who teach, whether we realize it or not, are always teaching three things at the same time.
1. The subject at hand.
2. The art of investigation.
3. The art of teaching.

At each step on our journey, we have the opportunity to change so that we do not keep making the same mistakes over and over. We will probably never be free of making mistakes, but at least we can avoid making the same ones again.

Being a student makes us simplify. If we do not know things, we cannot make assumptions. That makes us break a thing down to building blocks so that we can understand it from a basic point of view. In so doing, we may rediscover even better ways of teaching, and better ways of learning.

The magic of being up and down and starting over again is that we always have opportunities to do better on this next round.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Right Place for Creation Myths

The Scopes trial should have settled the notion of teaching creationism in science classes long time ago. Why do we keep wasting time revisiting this issue?

This does not represent any major improvement in education. This is a religious belief. People are free to teach creationism in churches or religious schools, where abstinence-only sex education would also be appropriately taught.

All of the energy that is wasted on such discussions could be far better spent discussing what to do about the 47 million Americans who have no health care coverage.

It would be very interesting to hear students discuss the different creation stories from around the world within the context of a comparative religion or literature course. Imagine the lively creative discussions that could arise from comparing the Genesis story side by side with the creation myths of the Hindus, Aborigines, Norse, Navajos and others.

That would be the right place for creation myths. Science classes are for science.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Simple Pleasures

There is nothing like a walk in the woods to revive my spirits. Even a day after the fact, I feel like I have been on vacation, but fortunately the journey was not that far from home.

Vacations where you go far away for several days are refreshing too, but simply going out for a walk in the woods and then having a good dinner and a cold beer makes for quite a refreshing break. A change of scene without having to go through the airport, without having to make hotel reservations, without packing or unpacking.

I feel that it is necessary to take these kinds of breaks from the normal business routine and other responsibilities and concerns. After something as simple as a day without making phone calls, checking emails or doing anything other than simply relaxing by walking in nature, we can return to all those other tasks with a renewed vigor and refreshed attitude.

Do you have a favorite place in nature? When was the last time you went there?

Some of life's greatest pleasures are very simple. Enjoy them whenever you can.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What Would Ansel Adams Do?

When I go for a hike in the mountains these days, I like to take a leisurely pace, pausing to enjoy the scent of the trees and plants, marveling at the brilliant little bursts of color that wildflowers bring to the trail, many times even managing to spring up from between a couple rocks in the middle of the path.

I like to pause to listen to the birds sing, or watch squirrels gathering pine cones, chipmunks in their racing stripes scurrying around and whatever else happens to make itself noticeable. Sometimes I like to just stand and look at the way the sun and shadows of clouds lace across the tops of the mountains. I like the sound of a stream as well as the sight of a waterfall. I like to see a fish jump and break the surface to catch an insect, and the way dragonflies making elliptical patterns in flight, grasshoppers hopping, flying and landing again. Spiderwebs woven on rotten logs. Baby pinecones dripping with fresh resin that is so potent that it makes me want to breathe deep to inhale more of its scent which energizes me. I can't get enough of the smell, so every few steps for a while, I pause to inhale more. I feel so alive and this scent is so enjoyable right now. Even now, hours later as I recall it, I wonder. How can such a simple pleasure be so satisfying? How could it not be? All of life's pleasures are simple at heart.

When I see trees growing up from under boulders, my mind tries to picture the order of things, and how that might have happened. A whole grove of aspens, and a few boulders in the middle of them. How did that happen?

Sometimes people are going up the trail at a rapid pace, and I remember when I used to hike at a brisk pace. When I was younger I was an active member of Sierra Club, and we used to go hiking every weekend and sometimes in the evenings midweek, sometimes making them moonlight hikes. There was a group of the really hardcore hikers within Sierra Club called the Fourteeners. Membership was for people who had hiked up at least 10 mountains that were at least 14,000 feet in height.

I hiked a few of those back then, and I remember that there were some very aggressive hikers from that group who would get up early in the morning and hike until dark, trying to see how many 14's they could bag in one day. I never had a desire to try that. In case you are wondering, some of those hikers used shortcuts. They didn't really go all the way back down to the base of each mountain and hike to the top again. When you have some that are clustered close together, you can just go down to a saddle, a natural connecting bridge between the mountains, and head to the top again and only return to the base when you were done for the day.

For me it is all about enjoying the journey. It always was. Of course, when you hike in a group, you have to keep up with the group, but even then, it was always about enjoying the beauty of nature. I was never in a race to see how far or fast I could go in a day.

While contemplating a few of those vistas today, as people were passing me by, I thought of Ansel Adams, the great photographer, and how he would often stay in one spot for a whole day or longer, just waiting for the sunlight or moonlight to help compose the perfect picture. It was all about the play of light and shadow on the great landscapes that made his photos some of the most popular ever made.

Today, most people use digital cameras and then they manipulate their images through programs like Photoshop, which can make an ordinary photo look spectacular. Perhaps many people today don't have time to let nature help them compose great images. We are all multitasking and have so much to do.

Lots of hikers talk a lot. I tend to be more quiet when I hike in order to hear the wind, the water, the trees, the birds, insects and animals. I like their sounds as well as the sights.

I wonder if Ansel Adams would have used those same techniques if he had been born in recent years. I do know that there is a sense of wonder, beauty and joy in the simple appreciation of taking a walk in nature. I do know that it feels very satisfying to do it at a slower pace and be more observant. And yes, I know others have other priorities, like using the mountains to train for competitive sports.

For me, I simply enjoy being out in nature, especially wooded areas. I do not stand in one place all day taking photos. In fact, I don't even own a camera. But definitely can sense the decompression from the pace of business and traffic, just taking a walk at an easy going pace, looking, listening and not having any expectations, just enjoying each moment for what it is.

I also know that when I come back from such excursions, not only has my playful spirit enjoyed the day, but somehow it also provides me with fresh ideas and a smile in my soul, as well as on my face, not to mention the good it did for my whole body. Some things just take time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pattern Recognition #1- Another Person's Shoes

There is always order, it is just that we do not always see it. When we look at events in our lives from different perspectives, the interpretations and how we feel about those events changes.

For example, one of the supervisors at my day job a couple of years ago was not playing the part of manager well at all. He sent out rude and demeaning memos that had a belligerent tone to them. I complained to other managers who ranked above him, and he got called in for a meeting with his bosses, and after that his language changed. I always thought he was kind of a jerk because of that.

Then one day recently, I met him working in a grocery store, and frankly I was shocked. Obviously I assumed that people a level up from me would be making better money and would not have to moonlight. I asked him why he was working there. He answered that his wife had been going through cancer and the medical bills caused them to lose their house. At that instant, my ability to relate to him changed. I offered him free Reiki sessions for his wife if they were interested. And he has been more friendly to me at work. I can see that his past actions were all about misplaced anger. I can empathize with him now. I could not before. It would have helped to have some pattern recognition then.

How many times would we have felt different if we had been able to see things from another perspective? How differently would we perceive other of our life experiences had we been able to recognize other patterns than the ones we were seeing then?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Turning Over An Old Leaf

There is something about the movement of things in the fall. Perhaps it is the falling of leaves to the earth that reminds us of our own eventual return to the earth. Perhaps it is the changing colors of the foliage that reminds us of our own changes.

If we were to equate the seasons of the year with stages of life spring would birth, summer would be youth, fall would be adulthood and winter would be elderhood.

As we adjust to the cooling temperatures, our senses are calmed, and we think of what has been harvested this year already and the work ahead. For those of us who are not farmers, it is metaphorical. We all have things that we are glad we have received and things we want to have grow in our lives.

Interestingly, fall (the adult season) is the season when Hollywood always releases their serious movies, their Oscar contenders. Summer (youth season) is when they typically release comedies, action and comic book movies.

Symphonies and theatres typically launch their new seasons in fall as well. As the schools resume, students are diving into their majors and preparing for careers. People may just be settling into new homes that they moved into recently in order to enroll their children in the new school districts. People who are looking to change careers may pay more serious attention to looking around for that now that the more relaxed pace of summer is over.

All of this activity develops from this same theme, that is our evolution into the next stage of our life. The turning colors of the foliage suggest to us that we are marking seasons of life and that we need to reflect on what we have done and what we would like to do. We are regrouping after having spent time vacationing, grilling, hiking or feeling lethargic because of the heat.

As we survey our personal landscape, this may be the time of the year when we clean out our personal space once again, let go of some things and adjust our plans as we prepare to move into our next phase of life. The fact that this time of year is rich with big social events makes it perfect for connecting with people who can help us make our transitions as well as connecting with old and new friends.

Time for turning over a new leaf? Time to gather up the old leaves to mulch and keep our roots protected through winter? Time to enjoy the colors and crispness of the air and the apples? Time to turn over some colorful leaves just to savor a good look at the color and shape of them?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Imagination & Politics

Election years create more twists of logic than you will see in a circus.

How can it be otherwise? Let's try and use our imaginations for a moment.

Can we imagine a campaigns between candidates about serious issues, rather than campaigns of character assassination?

Can we imagine a campaign where we hear candidates make clear statements of intent and reason about how to solve the problem of the millions of Americans who have no health care coverage?

Can we imagine a campaign where candidates discuss how to rebuild and repair our infrastucture and strengthen our economy?

Can we imagine a campaign where candidates debate ideas for an overall energy plan that includes a major role for alternative energy and green technologies?

Can we imagine a debate where issues about free trade and fair trade are discussed?

Can we imagine a campaign where all the inflammatory language is removed in favor of presentations of ideas and we vote for the person we think has the best ideas?

Would you like that? I know I would. Too many times, campaigns have looked like a choice between the lesser of two evils. Too many people get disgusted over the whole mess and don't bother to vote.

Wouldn't it feel good to have an election where the winner was the person who had the clearest ideas for how to make this a better country?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Love, Fear & Money

I have not always handled my money wisely. Like some of you, I made some investments that bottomed out. Divorces diminish a person's net worth. And yes, I could have also set more aside, but chose to spend it instead. So I work a full time day job plus work at developing my own business evenings and weekends, which I enjoy tremendously. I have always figured that I would stay busy until I die, and it would be great if I had enough money so that I might have a comfortable cushion between my necessary expenses and occasional luxuries. Many of us are in the same position, aren't we?

Feeding off our fears of lack of money, there are predators who see us as targets for a renewed recent wave of get-rich-quick seminars. We know that people can make money in the stock market, real estate investing and other methods. And we also know that if we are not impeccable with our execution in these efforts, we can lose whatever we have invested.

For example, it is still possible to make money in the stock market, but you must buy and sell at very quick intervals and use excellent judgment on when to by and sell. You can also make money flipping houses, but you have to be prepared to do most of the labor yourself or be prepared to hold it for quite a while until it resells, perhaps becoming a rental landlord. If you have deep pockets, this is not a problem, but if you only have a modest amount of money to invest, any of these factors can wipe you out in short time.

We get mailers all the time from people sponsoring seminars that offer guest speakers and maybe even a free lunch. Usually these have some ridiculous bogus price attached to them like “$160 value” or "$250 value" but no one ever pays that because these tickets are complimentary if you respond and make a reservation, providing them your name, address, phone and email so that they can continue to send you more sucker bait forever. The real thing is that the free talks may give you a few tidbits of information or some inspiration, but then the rest of the talk is peppered with sales pitches for their “intensive three day seminar” which may only cost $495 if you buy today.Or maybe only $5,000 if you buy today.

One all day series of free seminars in “wealth building” we attended featured a speaker who offered a $100 kit that would help a person figure out how to make money on eBay. This struck me as odd, given that millions of people have already figured out how to use eBay without a kit. Another speaker offered a special three-day training in how to make money in real estate, for only $6,000 with additional “mentoring by phone” available for several thousand more. And this is from a person I never heard of anywhere but in this seminar. Another speaker offered a kit that included the addresses of county assessors offices. Another offered software that would tell you when to buy and sell stocks. And, of course, all these prices were “show specials.” When we calculated up the offers from one of these days, if you would have purchased everything that was offered, you would have spent $10,000 in one day just on kits and workshops.

The attitude of some of the seminar leaders was downright snarky. For example, in response to one person, the leader shot back, “Did you make a million during the dot com boom in the 90s? Why not? This is one of the top markets in the country in foreclosures. Have you made a million in foreclosures yet? Why not?” The implication being that you must either be stupid or lazy if you didn’t.

I mean what else could it be? We have not yet arrived at a point where you can go to a realtor's office, swipe a credit card and walk out with a deed.

But no, I was wrong about that. The whole idea was about making space available on our cards so that the next day we could get all excited and put some dandy purchases on our newly enlarged credit limits. Just imagine that you are offered the opportunity to sign up for a workshop costing $77,863. However, if you signed up right then at the three-day seminar the price was reduced to only $43,990. The least expensive one was $12,975, but only $8,990 if you sign up right now. Look how much you are saving if you sign up today! It never occurred to me for one minute to actually buy any of this. I thought to myself that if I could put $77,000 into property and get started flipping I would have an actual asset.

Then the sleazebag told us that he would pray for us to make the right decision. We decided that returning for the third day of the seminar would be just too disgusting. As it was I felt like I needed to get home and take a shower.

Some of the courses offer information already generally available to the public. If you want to find out about properties with delinquent taxes, the county assessor’s office is the place to find out. You can find any county assessor's office address and phone simply by looking online. If you need an attorney to help you incorporate, or an accountant to help you make financial decisions, you can look them up very easily too. Want to find houses or commercial properties that are bargain priced? Try driving around and looking at buildings with For Sale signs in front of them and either pick up the free flyers or call the number on the sign. Or take a tour of the many websites showcasing real estate for sale.

Watch a few episodes of the TV show, Flip This House and others like it.Yes, a person can make money investing in real estate. It takes some research, planning and perhaps some physical labor. Most people who have made money this way figured it out without spending tens of thousands to attend workshops. Use your tens of thousands to actually invest.

Some people think that these things are worth attending because you get some bits of wisdom and inspiration from them even without buying the bigger packages. Some of the speakers were good, entertaining speakers, but none of them was worth a whole day of my time. This is the price we pay for our education sometimes.

The popularity of these workshops is all based on the fear factor. Nobody wants to look forward to a miserable life where you may become homeless or eat dog food in order to survive, and these speakers will stoop lower than low to try and separate you from your wallet.

But by using your own common sense, books that are readily available in bookstores and libraries, information on the Internet, some creative thinking and looking for opportunities, a person could increase their income without forking over tens of thousands of dollars to the hustlers and shills coming to your town with the most recent wealth building seminar. These carnivals are the modern day freak shows featuring speakers promising that you can get rich quick are somewhat entertaining and do offer a few bits of information. But if you sign up for everything they offer, the only one guaranteed to get rich off these seminars are the people sponsoring them.

As we actually examined some of what was being taught, there were some good ideas, but they were mixed in with some of questionable legality and some that were just plain jaw dropping. What comes to mind was one talk where the speaker laid out a plan to make money leasing properties. The thing is, if you simply pulled out your little calculator and did the numbers, it would be a great deal for the person selling it, but would never add up to a good deal for the person buying it.

I am a capitalist, and I am motivated by love. A person can make money by being ethical and honest, working hard, making smart investments and looking for good deals. There will always be opportunities. We just have to decide when and how to go about them and which opportunities to take and which ones to leave. There still is no free lunch and any deal that sounds too good to be true probably is.

Above all, there is this metaphysical axiom: All things come from either love or fear. Choose love.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Our Short List

September is beginning with a rainstorm, and I love it. There is a recording that I play every year at this time, Autumn, by George Winston. It is a very sensitive, reflective solo piano album that has always felt very evocative of the season for me. He has made many other recordings, but this one will always stand out for me. It resonated with me the first time I heard it.

Yes, of course, there are many other excellent recordings that I enjoy listening to, and this piece is not about trying to list them. Rather it is about how each of us has some pieces of music that come into our lives to stay because there is always something that touches our soul when we hear it.

In the same way, we each have a concert or play that will always stick in our mind as a great performance. It is perhaps impossible to get it down to one, but making a short list is possible. Since our tastes are such an individual thing, what is on my short list will probably differ from yours. What is on each of our lists is not important, although the fact that some musicians and some shows have millions of fans means that obviously we will meet others with similar tastes.

Let's bring it back to the roots. What is really happening when a piece of music touches you deeply, and you never get tired of listening to it? Is it the memory of where or who you were with when you were when you first heard it?

Or is it soul awareness that is being touched? Is it awakening feelings or ideas from our deeper levels of consciousness?

Music can invoke meditative states, and these can open us to greater peace and creativity. Reading a book that really engages us can also take us into a meditative state where our minds are connecting with the author's words at a deeper level and reading a book that really touches us has that same sort of effect. Books are another subject, but I will close this piece with the observation that there is something similar happening when we engage with a favorite piece of music or literature.

There are levels of consciousness that are most effectively opened up and explored by these methods. Think about it. What are your all time favorite pieces of music? Note how they affect you. Yes, and no doubt, some of your favorites have changed over time, but are there any that keep turning up on your short list, even years later?