Saturday, November 29, 2008


Have you ever noticed how in a murder mystery how precise the investigators are when they say that a person did exactly this or that, had friendships with persons that those close to them didn't even know they knew?

Perhaps our fascination with detectives and mysteries is the precision with which they can take apart and put back together the exact story of a life.

How often does our own understanding of the patterns of our life or anyone else around us, so completely elude us that we do not really know what really feeds the fires in another person, what tastes bring them to other states of consciousness, what habits make up part of their every day, yet pass unnoticed by us?

The nature of our awareness and activity seem to be vague, yet the elements of our life are precise. Detectives take relatively little time to recognize these patterns, yet we can live with other people and not know as much even though we have had years more contact and experience with the person in question.

How closely, or how well do we really ever know another person?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pattern Recognition # 6 - Black Friday

This grim sounding term is used to reference the day after Thanksgiving as the start of the Christmas shopping season. For some retailers, holiday sales account for as much as 25% or more of their annual sales. There is a lot of hope that people will go shopping to stimulate the economy.

One blast from the past is the return of the lay-away plan which was the way most people saved up for major purchases before everyone had a pocketful of credit cards. The concept was simple. People made payments toward their purchases, and then took possession of the goods once the payments were complete. But people were happy to pay the credit card interest in return for getting to take the goods home today. Lay-away may never go back to being the most popular method, but it may offer a great solution for a lot of people. And perhaps there is something good about giving more thoughtful consideration to our purchases. Have you ever gotten a credit card bill and noticed charges on there for purchases, but you can't remember what those purchases were? Probably a sign that it wasn't really important to you, and that you could have lived without it.

What other pattern may affect Black Friday? Perhaps this trend in becoming more conscious about what we are buying and why we are buying it can be seen in some of the trendy new products.

If you have gone to purchase a stereo recently, you probably have noticed that it is difficult to find one that will also play tapes. Even though CDs surpassed tape cassettes a long time ago, many of us still have music we like on tapes, books on tapes, talks or training programs on tapes. Most stereo systems now include ipod ports, and eventually discs may be phased out too, the same as tapes were. So if you want to listen to music, you will either find yourself purchasing downloads for your ipod or trying to find a stereo that still will play the older technologies.

Although the ipod is more convenient, should it get lost, stolen, damaged or develop a technical problem, all of a sudden you have to waste time reassembling or repurchasing your entire sound collection. And yet, I do see the attraction of having a whole library of music on one little gizmo. But all new technology hits a point where all the early adapters have the new thing, and then you hit the sales resistance from the people who just don't care that much about the new products.

Early adapters bought the iphone as soon as it came out. Of course, it is not just the device that is more expensive than a cell phone, it is also the monthly fees. I use my cell phone for making phone calls, and even though it has a built in camera, I have never taken a picture with it. When I want to surf the web, write emails, or make entries on my blog, I do it on my computer. Reading and writing on a 2-inch screen has no appeal for me.

How will all of this play out? Is there a bottomless appetite for video games, cell phones with miniature screens, ipods and all the other gizmos? Or will the purveyors of these goods find that many consumers have decided that they can live without them just fine, and increasing the market share for these things may get more difficult?

It looks like what we are really seeing is people reconsidering the wisdom of some purchases and getting the best price they can for what they do purchase. Maybe this is all about slowing down and savoring each moment instead of multi-tasking all the time.

Isn't it interesting that all of these changes in technology may spur an interest in slowing down our purchases? Maybe it is time to get off the merry-go-round of getting sucked into always buying new devices.

Then we might once again discover the pleasures of engaging in experiences such as attending a live music performance or play with the money we save by renting from Netflix rather than going to movie theatres or on cable subscriptions. We might rediscover the pleasures of reading a book or engaging in conversation. With the money we save on electronic devices, we could buy a number of readings or massages and get back to the personal touch.

Our economy could shift in a good way. What if the rush to buy gizmos was replaced by purchases of personal services and live entertainment?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What's Up There?

Tonight as I was out for my evening walk, there was a configuration in the sky that seemed unusual to me. I saw it as a cluster of pulsating lights that remained stationary. Compared to other stars, the lights seemed different. It appeared that this cluster had a sort of filmy aura around it. Most of the stars do not pulsate, they glimmer. Planets seem to emanate a pulsating light, but this cluster seemed different.

I don't know if this is because I was up listening to a late night radio show about UFOs last night, so that is what I was looking for in the sky, consciously or subconsciously.

On the one hand I am curious, but on the other, I have no interest in being kidnapped and taken for a ride.

What was I seeing? I don't know. I like looking at the night sky while I walk because lately I have seen a number of shooting stars and a comet. And, of course, the moon, in all her phases.

I don't know what is out there. Sometimes I wonder if we just stare at the sky long enough that we think we are seeing things that are not there. Or are we? Or are they omens of some sort?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Fable for Our Time

I work at a computer company during the weekdays. Employees of the client companies call us to make sure that their computers and blackberries are working so that they can keep working , not only in the office, but from home or on the road, wherever they are.

They call from being on vacation at some beach resort because they are having a problem logging into their work, and I wonder: What is the meaning of the word vacation? I thought that was when you unplugged, went to the beach to swim or sail, take leisurely walks and pick up shells, or sip on a fruit and rum drink or a cold beer while watching the sunset. Silly me.

Seems like some people forgot that part about having some play time. Being always on call is the price some people are willing to pay for the ability to climb that corporate ladder.

Recently a woman called and reported having a problem logging in. Said she is on vacation at her mother's house and can't get into her mother's computer. I informed her that since it was not a company computer, I could not do anything for her.

I said "Maybe your mother locked her computer so that you would go back downstairs and talk to her." She said, "Maybe you're right. I'll forget about logging in for now and go talk to mom."

Years ago, I worked for a man who said that he just viewed holidays as an interruption in the normal flow of business.

Of course that is the point. He didn't miss it, he just didn't like it. Holidays are meant to take us away from normal business so that we can rest, rejuvenate, celebrate life and then return to business. Holidays are a grace period for our soul as well as our body.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Midway into the darkest time of the year, between Halloween and Yule we have this fine civic holiday that brings a lot of light and happiness into everyone's life.

In some ways it is the simplest of holidays, because it is all centered around being thankful for whatever we have received in our lives and celebrating by sharing a feast with family and friends. There are no special decorations that need to be put up, no costumes to make, no presents to buy, no other stuff that needs to be done other than to gather and share a meal.

There is conversation and storytelling and perhaps some games afterward, but no matter what little differences there may be from household to household, the focus remains on simply enjoying each other's company and relaxing.

For all these reasons, it has always been one of my favorite holidays. Just simply be thankful and enjoy. That is all you have to be about that day. So although it may be cold and dark, it is a way of bringing light into our lives.

I also give thanks for such a simple, beautiful holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Make Love, Not War

Before you make a snap judgment and dismiss this slogan as nothing more than a quaint old popular saying from a long time ago, there is another aspect to consider.

It seems that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) among returning military veterans is a contributing factor to the rising number of cases of domestic violence in military families.

A reasonable conclusion is that if we increase the amount of vilence in the world, we feel it at home, and when we reduce the amount of violence in the world, we feel the results at home too.

Is the rate higher now than in earlier wars? That may be harder to prove because in many of our earlier wars, we did not even have a term for this, although related terms like "shell shock" were used.

A reasonable person might also surmise that there was less after World War 2 because it was generally agreed that that war was one that we needed to fight, and we were victorious. Not only were we victorious, but then the years following it were years of economic expansion and prosperity as people got back to more peaceful pursuits such as building homes, creating businesses, and starting families.

Today's veterans are returning to a difficult job market, having served in a war that most people think we should have never started in the first place. These are difficult pressures for any person to face. How many people with good educations and solid work histories are now having a hard time finding jobs with decent pay?

The cost of war is paid for in many ways besides the dollars we spend on arms and supporting the troops in other countries.

Make love, not war might be a better prescription than many people give it credit for being.

After all, how would our world look if our energy was devoted to creating and building and strengthening our country? What if we brought all the troops home that we could and got busy fixing up our country? What if more people were busy making love, not war?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving & Request for Feedback

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have been my clients and those of you who are readers of this blog. I am happy to have been of service to you.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it is so simple, yet so profound. What can be better than to take a moment to express your appreciation to people who have been a positive influence in your life?

Since this blog does not require any registration or any other way of tracking who is reading it, I am just curious for your feedback about what articles you have enjoyed the most.

You can post comments right here on the blog, or you can email me directly, whichever you prefer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What We Really Want

What do we really want? I know that sounds like a simple question, but can you really answer it?

Once you thought that when you got a new car that would make you happy. Those first few days of smelling that new car smell, admiring the graceful lines, appreciating how fast the heater and air conditioning kick in and go to work, or how good the stereo sounds.

But then how long does it take before it simply becomes the means to get you from point A to point B, and all the initial excitement has faded? It is no longer a source of great happiness, it is simply another thing we use.

Didn't the same thing happen when we got other new things? We would work the extra hours or take on the extra debt to get a big screen TV, and that was just great, until the bigger screen was just the thing we now watch movies on. We no longer even notice how much bigger it is than our old TV, it just is.

How many people have said that they would be happy if they got a new house in a certain neighborhood. Then after they were living in that house for a while, they wanted a different house. It made them happy only for a while.

Obviously, we could keep on repeating this cycle forever, and some people do. We want this car, this watch this suit, this TV, this house, jewelry, this kitchen gadget, this exercise machine, this whatever. And then how long is it before we see some of these kitchen gadgets and exercise equipment for sale? Or the jewelry or suit doesn't get worn that often. But at the time we decided to make that purchase, we were certain that it would make us happy.

So what are the things that really make us happy? What do we really want?

Perhaps the real happiness is found in our friendships, our communities, our neighbors, the people who enjoy some of the same activities that we enjoy.

Perhaps there is more real continuing joy from getting a massage every couple weeks or every month than in a diamond necklace and earrings. Perhaps going for walks every day will provide more pleasure than buying an exercise machine. Perhaps there is more lasting pleasure from cooking dinner with friends than from shopping for whatever is fashionable right now. Perhaps getting readings will provide more insight into what is really happening than watching the news.

Each person has to make their own choice. Maybe the next time we ask ourselves what do we really want, we will get a different answer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Touched by Greatness

Do remember the times in your life when you felt that everything was just going great? When you wanted to do something and suddenly, everything was falling into place so that you could do it?

Do such memories give you the feeling that the world is almost perfect and that everything is just as beautiful as you imagined it would be?

Once you have experienced such a moment, and you recall it, can you think of other ways to get that feeling into your life? Can you get yourself into a groove so that events will unfold for you effortlessly once again?

In those moments of ecstasy, you are touched by greatness. The world is cooperating with you so that you can experience life as a gift, a dream, a sweet, flowing river that is carrying you along for a ride that is everything you wished for.

If you have been touched by greatness once, you can be touched again. Recall the feeling. Choose another event that you would like to experience and feel the flow carry you through. Then go with that flow, and let the world support you and cooperate with you and you, of course, will cooperate with the world.

Image how your life would feel if you could experience being touched by greatness many times over. You can do it, you know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wanting and Not Wanting

Have you ever noticed how simple it is? Have you noticed the difference between wanting something and really wanting something? Have you noticed how closely held desires will sometimes manifest where those more openly expressed do not?

The difference is that sometimes we need to hold the energy close to our heart in order for the power to intensify and for the battery to fully charge before releasing it into the world. There can be more power in desires closely held and constantly focused on. There is a pleasure that sort of presents itself to you day by day as you realize your dreams so that you find constant affirmations of the course you are on, rather than it hitting you all of a sudden and it pops up.

It is sort of like watching the moon reveal itself from behind a cloud bank, how you first see a little glow peeking out from behind the cover, until the clouds part and you are there you are in the full light of it, savoring the beauty and the joy and basking in the soft luminous presence.

When secret desires become real, it is as if you are dreaming and waking from the dream and you cannot distinguish between the two. What desires have you held close to you that you want to see manifest in the fullness of your life?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pattern Recognition #5 - Market Manipulation

During this year, we have seen gas prices range from $4.25 a gallon a few months ago to $1.50 today.

Some of us immediately suspected greed and manipulation behind these prices. Then apologists appeared and tried to persuade us that this was just the law of supply and demand in action, that it was simply that people in China and India were now using more oil.

So does this sudden price drop mean that China and India cut way back on consumption these last couple months?

Did Americans suddenly cut their driving in half?

No. We still drive the same distance to and from work, school, church, the grocery store, the hardware store, the office supply store, the dry cleaners, the doctor and whatever other places we need to go.

So the only reasonable conclusion is that it was the manipulation of speculators, not supply and demand that drove prices up.

It is the same sort of thing you can see in the stock market these days, when all of a sudden the price of one stock will run up $30 in the morning and drop by $20 in the afternoon. Or run up $30 this morning and go down $40 by tomorrow. These kinds of price fluctuations are not driven by any real change in the supply and demand for that company's products.

That is why we have to be careful about how we invest. There is a lot of manipulation and artificial influence in the market. What drives this? Greed. Can greed and manipulation be eliminated from the market place? Probably not.

We have to watch these things carefully to recognize the patterns. There are things that have real value. If you can, hold on to the things that have real value and eventually the true law of supply and demand will bring things to a right and fair price.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wish Upon a Star

When we were little, there was a saying that if you see a falling star and make a wish, your wish will come true.

Lately, I have seen several falling stars while I am out on my evening walks. And the other night, a meteorite as well, trailing a beautiful shower of sparkling, glittering pieces behind it.

Actually, I forgot all about making a wish until just now because when I see falling stars, they are so quick that I just see them briefly, and I just admire the beauty of that brilliant light streaking across the night sky.

There may or may not be significance to seeing all these shooting stars. Maybe I am being granted all my wishes. Maybe it is a reminder that we all have our chance to shine brightly and become stars. Maybe it is just the pleasure of experiencing the free light show, courtesy of nature.

Whatever it is, the night sky is particularly beautiful right now. If you feel like making a wish, go ahead. If it gives you joy and hope, make a wish. Be like a child again for a moment. Experience the joy of the simple things in life. Wonder how the world works. Be unlimited in your dreams. Be unlimited in your life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding Comfort in the Madness

As in other areas of life, sometimes the best way to get through a crisis is with patience. At the present time, a person would get depressed if they were to follow the stock market closely because they are depending on their stock portfolio for their retirement.

However, looking at the market reports every day will not change anything. Whatever goes down will go up again, but no one knows exactly when, and since worrying about it won't change it, perhaps just not looking at it is better for your nerves and blood pressure.

A person could be happy about the state of the stock market if they have plenty of money to invest and can afford to simply buy and hold for a long time. The same can be said of the current real estate market.

A related phenomenon right now is the growing popularity of yard sales and garage sales. The current crunch seems to have caused people to reevaluate and as a result, they are looking at all the stuff they had stashed in storage units as sources of potential income, rather than a monthly expense. So it is possible to make money off the sale and save money by eliminating a debt, obviously a good move for some people.

As a result, there will be many bargains out there. This crisis can be a good opportunity to reevaluate what we really need and what we can do without. A deep cleaning of this type can be very cathartic. It can be a challenging, life changing experience that becomes very liberating.

In other areas, such as stocks, it may be better to simply hold on and wait rather than sell at a loss. Of course, each person has to consider the details of their own situation. There are always positive results even from disasters. If a person can buy stocks or real estate at the bottom of the market and simply hold on, it eventually has to come back up.

The other thing is that it may be a good time to take up tai chi, yoga, meditation. working out or some other method of relieving stress while issues far bigger than us are getting worked out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why It Is Different Now

My father would never have thought about going to the gym after coming home from work because he was a construction worker and he got his workout every day just earning his living.

My ancestors who were farmers certainly would never have thought of working out either. Doing what it takes to make a farm productive was plenty of activity to keep a person fit.

But things have changed.

Many of us now spend our working days sitting at a desk with a computer and a phone and so we need to get some exercise when we get home. We may also need more massages or chiropractic adjustments because we do not get enough movement in our daily routines.

Health care now is different because our work is different. Energy healing, herbs, and many other methods are now becoming more common to help us shift our bodies onto the best possible tracks. We have to make extra efforts and we have to try new things.

Since we are living longer now, we want those years to be as enjoyable as possible. Our bodies were designed to move, not be stationary all day. Movement then, has to be part of our medicine for a long and healthy life. Our flexibility refers to more than one aspect of life. Mental and physical flexibility are essential.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Same Symbols, Different Meanings

The way of the world is to surprise us at every turn, no matter what our choices. How many of us thought our lives would go one way, only to have it change constantly?

Less of us do things like live in one town all our lives, work in one job or one career all our lives. So we find ourselves at 50 and 60 and 70 working, taking up new fitness routines, and still doing things we enjoyed doing when we were much younger and could not imagine getting old.

It is a wonderful thing to look at the possibilities that are ours. It is like a contrast in our understanding of the world that opens our eyes.

Consider this. If you were to get three of a kind in playing cards, it means that we may be winning a hand. But getting three of a kind in Tarot may mean something totally different. Same symbols, different meanings.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chip Coffey's Paranormal State

One evening recently, we were scanning through the On Demand section of the cable service and spotted a listing for a show called Paranormal States. Just out of curiosity, we decided to watch an episode to see what it was like.

As they were going to this house to investigate a case of spirit possession, the narrator mentioned that they were being joined by Chip Coffey, and my ears immediately perked up because I used to know someone by that name. Then he entered the scene, and sure enough, it is the person I used to know.

Chip is a psychic and medium who specializes in communicating with the spirits of the dead, and apparently he is getting quite famous and popular these days. I like Chip because he is a nice guy, with a quick sense of humor and was always helpful. Back when I knew him, I was the editor of a metaphysical magazine, and he was one of my regular contributing writers. He was a good writer, and he possessed one of those other qualities that is highly prized among editors - he always got his work in on time.

Even many years ago, long before there was a TV show called Paranormal States, Chip was making a full time living as a psychic, so it is not a real surprise to see him being even more successful now. Still it was kind of a reality check to see someone I knew on TV. I mean, how often does it happen that you turn on the TV and suddenly, one of the main characters is someone you know.

Of course it is another kind of reality to make a full time living out of talking to dead people. One person's reality is another person's weirdness. The episodes we have seen include not only spirits of dead people, but also UFOs and unknown creatures, in other words, a range of possible entities that are being investigated and actions taken to remedy negative influences from any of these. Some of the entities and phenomena are simply curious and unexplained.

Life is a strange journey, and we never know if we will be surprised at who we meet or how or when we meet them. I am glad for my friend's success. In a way it is also encouraging because as we work to make our way in this world, we do not always know in what way the success will present itself.

Reality checks can come in strange packages. People who live in haunted houses have one version of reality check. Then comes another reality check in the form of people who want to help them deal with the haunted house, and instead of running from it, they head straight towards it. Guess it all depends on what you consider reality.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Snow Moon

One of the old names for this full moon is the Snow Moon. Look at how clear and cold the night sky is. Feel the winter really coming on now. It has not snowed yet, but you can feel that it may soon. It is a perfect time to reflect with an evening walk and later a relaxing time in front of the fire.

I feel very inclined right now just to relax with a good book. I am reading some poetry by Yeats, and he is one whose verse can stir the soul and seem very fitting for this time of year.

by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
THESE are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye:
The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,
Till that be tumbled that was lifted high
And discord follow upon unison,
And all things at one common level lie.
And therefore, friend, if your great race were run
And these things came, so much the more thereby
Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.

by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
WHEN my arms wrap you round I press
My heart upon the loveliness
That has long faded from the world;
The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
The love-tales wrought with silken thread
By dreaming ladies upon cloth
That has made fat the murderous moth;
The roses that of old time were
Woven by ladies in their hair,
The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
Through many a sacred corridor
Where such grey clouds of incense rose
That only God's eyes did not close:
For that pale breast and lingering hand
Come from a more dream-heavy land,
A more dream-heavy hour than this;
And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
For hours when all must fade like dew,
But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
Throne over throne where in half sleep,
Their swords upon their iron knees,
Brood her high lonely mysteries.

by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
THE cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

Great poetry has power to ignite our imagination, our heart, our soul. A fitting companion to an evening and a fire. Poetry lingers on the palate, the words as potent as red wine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Pleasure of Your Own Perfume

Have you ever thought of making your own perfumes? It is not as hard as you think. Everyone likes things that smell good, and our tastes in what smells good are very individual.

I got started making my own oils and aftershaves because the manufacturers quit making some of my favorites. I tried other flavors, but they can get pretty expensive and if you do not get lots of compliments on them and are not entirely happy with them, it can be an expensive experiment.

The essential secret to making your own oil is simple. You start with a simple carrier like jojoba or almond oil. These do not have much of a scent of their own, and that is what you want, something neutral to start. Then you need something with a bass note, something heavy, but just a little bit of it. Then you add something in the midrange, and finally a top note, something lighter, brighter to round it out.

For aftershave, I use a base of witch hazel. It's great for the skin. It is one of the things that they used in old time barber shops after they shaved you. When I was a kid, they still had those kinds of barber shops where you could get a shave and a haircut (although I was too young to shave at the time).

Anyway, follow the same formula for adding the scent you want. Witch hazel does have a scent of its own, and I like it. Generally the scent I will add to it has the same elements as what I use for a perfume oil.

It is satisfying when people compliment me and ask what I am wearing. They are usually surprised when I tell them that I make it myself. You also have the added factor that it is very economical to blend your own. Bottles of essential oil can be purchased at any health food store or herb shop and even though a little bottle can cost a good bit, they will last quite a while and make quite a few batches.

Use whatever flavors you find appealing. I find it very joyful to experiment with different scents to see which combinations really work well together. Even if you somehow made a mistake and make a batch that you didn't like, you can just throw it away and start over and you still are way ahead of the cost of buying already made perfumes and aftershaves.

The other thing is that they are more natural. There is nothing in my oils except the oils. I never worry about them spoiling because I make small batches and use them up within a couple months and then make a new batch. When you look at the ingredients on most commercially manufactured perfumes, there usually is a long list of things you can't pronounce. Making your own is simple, natural and the end result can be exactly how you like it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friends and Our Evolution

It seems that friends may be part of our life for a while, that there are different friends for different stages of our life. Perhaps I should clarify that some friends may remain constant over time, and some we just gradually lose touch with because we moved far away and it is not convenient to visit any more.

As our life changes and we develop new interests, it is only natural that we find new people to share our experiences, feelings and conversations with. Many people have had an experience where they grew and embraced new ideas and their friends did not, so a rift formed. We don't all grow at the same pace, and so we move on while others stay put.

My mother, by comparison, has never moved in her whole life, whereas I have lived in several different parts of the country during my adult life, mostly moving for business reasons. Consequently, there were people I was close to at one time when I lived in one part of the country who now also live in some other part of the country, and we haven't seen each other since we lived in the same town.

What is a friend, really? For one thing, it seems like there are always those we meet who we feel comfortable talking to, sharing personal feelings and ideas easily. Some people we meet and we like them well enough to hang out with but never really feel moved to share secrets with them.

How the patterns change as careers and personal interests shape our moves and present us with new friends. For some of us, our lives have looked different in different decades, with not only a changed physical look, but changed ideas, concepts and attitudes as well.

Can you tell what your next stage of evolution looks like? Can you sense anything from the friends you already have or the new people you have been meeting?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Following Our Dreams

You know that a person loves their work and is in exactly the right position if they suddenly won the lottery or came into an inheritance and wanted to continue doing what they were doing anyway.

Some people are lucky to have found their path and followed it in this way. There may even have been times in your life when you felt that the job you were doing was exactly what you wanted to be doing.

With the turmoil and shifts in the economy in recent days and years, it may sometimes seem that getting a dream job is slipping further and further from our grasp.

But we can still have our dreams. It may just require a little more determination to get there and numerous creative approaches to attain the result.

We all have dreams. Pursuing them is as natural as the pull of gravity. Do the things that help yourself get to that place so that you are doing something that you really want to be doing.

Do what you love and money will follow really is good advice. I would simply extend that definition to include doing all kinds of things until we get into the place where we are doing what we like and the money is following along very nicely.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Uncelebrated People

Studs Terkel, who died this past week at the age of 96, was a great and wise man who was a champion of what is called Oral History. In other words, he interviewed people and got them to tell their stories. For 45 years he had a show on radio station WFMT in Chicago. He published a number of books, but none of his books were novels. They were all interviews. I grew up in Chicago and I remember that radio station, and sometimes listening to Studs' show.

Sure, over the years Studs interviewed famous people. But the majority of his books were interviews with those he called the "uncelebrated people." In other words, not celebrities. People who may never have been quoted in print anywhere other than in one of his books, but who lived the experience they spoke about.

Once he selected a theme for his books, such as American Dreams Lost & Found (people talking about their dreams), Hard Times (about the Great Depression), Working (people talking about what they do and how they feel about it), Will the Circle Be Unbroken (about death, rebirth and hunger for faith) Coming of Age (growing up in the 20th century), The Good War (World War 2), Race (how blacks and whites think and feel about it) he interviewed all kinds of people who lived through it and asked them to talk about what it was like. He would paint us a large picture on a broad canvas, made up of these incredible little slices of life that people would share. You would come away with a whole different picture of a great subject told through these voices, which told different stories from a different perspective than, say, biographies of generals, politicians or celebrities.

There are recordings of his work as well as his books. What he did was unique to unique to our experience in this country and the way he did it was timeless. Stories passed down from generation to generation are part of human history and human evolution. All too often we get a small sampling of the big picture from our own family stories, and we have the books by and about famous people, but Studs took the time to get the stories from a lot of people we would never have heard from otherwise, and gave us an opportunity to get a look at the bigger picture by putting all the little pieces together.

If you are looking for something interesting to read or listen to one day, try one of his books or recordings of his interviews. They are amazing pieces of work and an incredible legacy he left us.

Perhaps exploring a bit of this can help you find your voice to tell your own story, if you have been looking around for encouragement or inspiration.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Are All Stars

Andy Warhol once predicted that "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

He made this prediction even before the the internet and cell phones that double as cameras, and the other technologies we now have.

And his prediction has been accurate. Athletes, authors, movie stars, pop music stars, politicians, inventors, tycoons, and on and on, have all been the subject of a day or a few months, and suddenly, they are so last year.

People became household names briefly, for being criminals or doing stupid things. Some people are famous for being famous. There are some celebrities who are featured on TV shows and in magazines, yet they have never done anything significant.

The ephemeral fame can confuse us as to what real stardom is. If one person is a star because they are considered "hot" this year, how does that compare to someone who has been considered an attractive accomplished actress for years? How does this year's controversial singer compare to the singer who has recorded and performed memorable songs for years?

In some of these cases, only time will tell. Can this year's hottie continue to surprise and amaze us for years to come? Will the person who was on TV talking about their popular book this year, still be saying interesting things and writing good books next year or the year after?

Are the ones who are famous for a brief time necessary to open the way for greater stars, and noteworthy people to come? Does the spreading of fame to a greater number increase the possibility that more of us can imagine ourselves rising to greater heights and becoming more of who we want to be?

Do you notice some of these other people getting their 15 minutes and think to your self that maybe you would like your 15 minutes too?

Does this proliferation of opportunies encourage us to go for it too? Go for what? Go for whatever we want!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Personal Taste and Great Art

Frequently, what we decide is great art is what suits our tastes. That is why a piece of music you can't relate to makes someone else ecstatic.

Ever have it happen that someone else gives their highest recommendation to a book or movie, and when you try to read it or watch it, you don't even finish it?

That's personal taste at work.

In a larger, longer term view though, there is a concensus of opinion formed.

For example, Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. Today, the originals command a fortune, and countless people have reprints of his art in their homes. Stravinsky's Rites of Spring was not liked by many people, and provoked a riot when it premiered. Today it is very popular, performed by many orchestras. Many books we now enjoy reading were not popular when they were first published. For example, Kurt Vonnegut's first books, Welcome to the Monkey House, Player Piano, and Sirens of Titan, were not immediately successful, although Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five became popular and today he is considered a great contemporary author. Herman Melville's Moby Dick was not considered a masterpiece until long after he died. It may be hard for us to believe now, but there was controversy in the beginning as to whether photography, such as that of Ansel Adams, should be considered art.

Obviously, over a period of time, more people accepted these creations as groundbreaking and worth study, and have become standards in their fields as well as inspirations for newer generations of artists.

We choose what we like, but what society as a whole sees as great is often different than what we like. Certain styles of art, novels, music and movies will in time be regarded as great, while others may simply languish as lightweight decorations and entertainments that were popular for a while. We may not know which is which until later. For now, it may be enough that you like it, and it makes you feel good to look at it or listen to it. And for now, that is the only purpose it needs to serve.

Only time will tell whether it has the power to move people in future generations. For now, the fact that it has the power to move you is enough.

Art is always in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is It Easy to Love?

If we know that all motivations come from either love or fear, why does it sometimes seem hard to love? In this context, I am not just talking about the romantic love between a couple, but the love of life that is exhibited between ourselves and everyone we deal with, from co-workers to customers to neighbors to people we do business with, in other words, just everyone we come in contact with.

Is fear that strong a motivator that we find it easier to live from that perspective, from that motivation?

Living from love means letting go of judgments, letting go of preconceived ideas, of expectations. Living from love means allowing and accepting and going with the flow.

Is it our self defense mechanism that makes us feel like we need more fear? Is it love that allows us enjoy life more easily?

What happens if we loosen up a bit and live more with love than fear? Does life seem to work better for us?

Wayne Dyer once said "Next time you have to choose between being right and being kind, choose being kind. Then see what happens."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Enticing Mysteries

I believe that there is other life in the universe and I do not know what it consists of. I find the photos of crop circles to be fascinating and beautiful. They tried to attribute those creations to a group of pranksters years ago, but I don't think that anyone ever proved that a couple of people dragging boards across a field could create those intricate designs.

Sometimes when I stare up at the night sky I see things that look unusual, but who knows what they are? I am not familiar enough with the constellations to name all the bigger planets, stars and configurations.

There have been many shows about various sightings, with some convincing sort of testimonies. Are they all wrong? Or all right? O just some of them?

Have you ever hear any of the recordings from SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) radar scopes that search for sounds from out there? Quite eerie. The sound of nothing is full of subtle intricacies.

I enjoy the fact that there are some mysteries that we cannot figure out. The fact that we don't know everything makes the world a more interesting place.

Have you ever wondered about what you hear and see?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Where We Go After Death

As the season of spirits swirls about us, the essence of Samhain, Day of the Dead, and All Souls Day bring into focus an interesting thought.

Written accounts by near death survivors contain a common thread where the person dying travels through a tunnel of light and waiting for them at the end of that tunnel are all the friends and relatives who went before them.

Since these are written by people who have returned, we don't really know what happens beyond that point. However, that one glimpse of the afterlife is interesting. The accounts do not say that only the good people were there.

If we accept just that much of the story, that all of our friends and relatives who have gone before are there, then perhaps we all go to the same place after death, whatever you want to call that place.

I am not certain what this means, but I am thinking about it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Can it flow through us like it did through Mozart?

Mozart had music pouring through him. He wrote whole symphonies in three weeks. Many of his compositions were completed on the first draft, with no revisions or corrections. You can hear the seamless, sweet flow of the notes in his music, how one movement just gracefully opens up into the next.

How many times in our life have we ever experienced that? I am not just referring to music. It could be anything that we are doing, where we are conscious we are doing something, and it is almost effortless to accomplish what we are working on.

What are we really connected to when this happens? Is it that in those moments we are connected to our real well of creativity? Is it that spirit is guiding us to show us what we can do if we just get out of the way and allow the work to happen without ego or expectation to get in the way?

No, we cannot all be Mozart, but what about being so in touch with the flow of energy and creativity, that we achieve something beautiful without the struggle that frequently is part of our efforts. Perhaps when everything feels right, we can set aside struggle and the flow will come through us too.

Try this and see if you can connect with that relaxed state that enables you to let the beauty and creativity express itself in your works, but without the struggle.