Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keeping Thanksgiving

This year, some retailers have announced that they will be opening at 6 am for Christmas sales on Thanksgiving Day. I think that this is a horrible idea.

We should simply enjoy the day with our family and friends.

Everyone who wants to do Christmas shopping still has plenty of time to do it, beginning with the three day weekend after Thanksgiving.

If we discard the concept of Thanksgiving to make it just one more shopping day, we would be scrapping a really beautiful concept. And what about all those people who will be scheduled to work instead of relaxing with their families and friends?

Holidays serve a valuable purpose in our lives. Let us simply enjoy this one day just for the simple pleasure that it provides us. We will all benefit from taking the time out for a day just to express our gratitude for all that is good in our lives.

I will not work or shop on Thanksgiving. I will be spending the day with family and friends. This is a tradition I will always keep.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Masking and Unmasking, Part 2

Here we are at Halloween, a beautifully dark fall evening. It began as a Celtic holiday, Samhain, for remembering our dead and wishing them well on their journey into the next world, and the name Halloween became the most popular name for the day when the church began celebrating All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day the day after. So the name is a contraction for the Eve of the All Hallowed. The Celtic word Samhain means summer's end, and the day after marked the new year on the old calendars and the first day of winter. So you can see how they got the idea for saying farewell to those who died by facing into the coldest, darkest part of the year.

Interestingly, it is also celebrated by Mexicans as The Day of the Dead. Two different cultures, half a world apart, yet at the heart of the holiday is exactly the same sentiment. The Longmont Museum features a special exhibit every year at this time, when people create altars in honor of those who died this year. There are also related exhibits that explain the aspects of the holiday. For example, they always decorate with marigolds and burn copal, a strong, pleasant incense that is a tree resin, like frankincense or myrrh. In both traditions, a place is set at the table with the person's favorite food and things they enjoyed while alive are displayed, such as if they liked playing cards or guitar, reading novels, or other things that they liked. In both cultures telling stories about that person and offering them one last meal and visit before wishing them well on their journey into the next world. The marigolds and copal are to help guide the spirits on their journeys, road markers for the place in between here and there.

There is another holiday specifically for remembering those killed in war, but this one is a time to say farewell to anyone we know who died this year. We speak our appreciation for those who we remember and acknowledge that part of the cycle of life, the ending of this physical reality as we know it.Halloween is a time when kids go trick or treating, wearing masks and costumes. It is a time when adults go to parties dressed as characters they wish they were or want to be.

It is fun watching all the little kids in their costumes continuing the tradition, even though they do not know yet the roots of the traditions they follow, that of the soul cakes and the dumb supper. They celebrate the harvest of candy, and it is a great holiday for kids as a fun time to dress up and get treats from their neighbors. In earlier times, the soul cakes were the precursors to the trick or treat tradition. It actually has a very similar root to the tradition of Christmas caroling. In a Celtic town, people would go from house to house and say prayers for those who had passed. In appreciation then, the host or hostess would offer these sweet cakes to thank them for coming by and praying. The Mexican tradition also includes sweet breads and cookies in the shapes of skulls which are treats when people gather to honor their dead.

Falling leaves signal the shift in seasons with more certainty every day, as less leaves are on the branches and more on the ground. We celebrate all that we have harvested this year as well, and we have some food on our shelves for the winter and we work and look toward the future, pulling a card for the year.

Spirits always dance on this fall holiday, and we dance with them.
When we dress in a mask and costume, we can mingle with people we know and yet be a mystery. When people see us out of context in real life, they are sometimes stumped, like the person you see at the office of a company you do business with, but then you see them having a beer at a concert, and they only look vaguely familiar.
Now add another layer to the mystery. You are deliberately dressed in a mask and costume, and no one knows who you are. You can say or do anything, because they do not know it is you. For this interlude, you are invisible in your costume.
Add another layer to the mystery and you are at a party where everyone is in masks and costumes. They don't know who you really are and so you play with their persona. You play along with the man or woman dressed as the famous movie star, author, artist, musician, politician, athlete or monster. You come up with witty remarks that flow with their theme. And they do the same with yours.
For a moment, you can be anyone you want to be. For an evening, you can be as brave as Braveheart or as sexy as Marilyn Monroe. You can be as witty as Robin Williams or as manic as Martha Stewart. For one evening, you could dress up as the Phantom or the boys from Stomp! You could be as spicy as Emeril or as nerdy as Bill Gates. You could be as outragiously sexily costumed as Lady Gaga or as sultry as Sophia Loren. Be as clever as Shakespeare or as wickedly hot as a vampire. You could be as cranky as Frank Lloyd Wright or Picasso. You could be demented as an ex president still running for election or a market researcher surveying party goers about the new invention, the Orgasmatron. Or maybe you are trying to get everyone to drink one of those crazy new drinks you brewed. For one evening, you can try on that personality and strut your stuff, doing whatever you want to do, and saying whatever you want to say.
Be crazy. Get it all off your chest. It is a day out of time. There were other holidays throughout history where masks and costumes were used, but today, our greatest costume holiday is Halloween. Certainly, people throw costume parties at other times of the year, but this is the one everyone is in on.
Costumes and masks can reveal our alter ego, or our other personas. For one evening a person can pretend to be famous, rich, beautiful and handsome, crazy, musical, funny, charming, lecherous, evil, dastardly, daredevil, talented, romantic, poetic or foolish.
In real life, a person may be simply known as the salesperson, cook, bank teller, the waitress, the mechanic, the nurse, the call center agent, the accountant, the bartender, the grocer, the dry cleaner, the real estate agent, the copy center clerk, delivery man, the barista, the librarian, the vet's assistant or the maid. But for one night everyone can be a star. For one night, everyone can be who they want to be. For one night, everyone's dreams can come true. For one day out of time, it is permissible to make our dreams come alive, and act out our desires in the safety of anonymity.
For one night, everyone has an opportunity to see how it feels to walk around in someone else's skin. And for that same night, we can see how it feels to be on both the giving and receiving sides of that other person's skin. It can be an eye opening experience to see and be seen in a whole new light.

On this fabulous festive occasion, you can see how it feels to reinvent yourself.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Masking and Unmasking

Costumes at Halloween are always intriguing. Of course, people have costume parties throughout the year, but Halloween is probably the biggest holiday across the board for people to host or participate in costume parties.
Masks and costumes can reveal part of a person's personality and secrets that usually stay hidden. A costume bestows an opportunity to live out a fantasy, even if only for a little while one evening. For that brief event, a person can be someone they have always wanted to be, and that can be an exciting experience.
Wearing a costume or a mask can encourage a person to expand their ambitions in life to become more of who they want to be.
Of course, masks and costumes will not affect everyone that way. Some will simply put it away in a closet and regard it as a silly little dress up event they did at a party for fun.

Notice how at a party where people are wearing masks, and we are not certain who is behind those masks, we find ourselves guessing and then when we find out who it is we may feel totally surprised.

The whole process is rather illuminating if we think about it. For example, a person whose life appears to be very predictable and routine suddenly appears at a party in an adventurous, erotic or outlandish costume that would appear to be the opposite of the personality they normally present to the world. Does that radical departure signal a secret desire to really have a life different than the one they have, or is this simply an elaborate way to have fun pulling everyone's leg this evening? You see, even at this milder level of interpretation, there is a loosening up when a person who normally expresses themselves in a very dry or subdued manner suddenly displays a whip snapping wit. Perhaps what is revealed is that this person really does have a great sense of humor and a larger view of the world,  but we never usually experience it because our usual interactions with them make them appear to be a very narrowly focused person.

There is another aspect to masking and costumes that goes way back to the ancient Roman holidays when the costumes might indicate a role reversal for the holiday. Although there is an obvious appeal to humor in such arrangements, costumes could also reveal a person's real desire to have a different life and be a different person. The question we pose to ourselves even in this limited situation, is if we could make important life choices over again, how would we choose differently? Or would we?
How does the process of selecting a costume start? By entertaining ideas of what you would like to be? Interesting, isn't it?
What might that suggest about future directions for you? Or, for that matter, about our present state of mind?

Masks and costumes provide a kind of freedom while we are in them, to experience life from a different perspective, and many find this to be very exciting. That is one of the reasons for the immense popularity of role playing games among a variety of people.

In tribal traditions, masks were often intended to portray a spirit entity in rituals, and they were also used to convey messages by virtue of the animal or bird they represented. Indeed, some of our costume inspirations may come from the same sources. It may all depend on the theme of the party if the host or hostess has announced one.

Consider how surprised some of us are when a dance partner at a costume ball is revealed to be someone who we didn't even know could dance, and they turn out to be a splendid dancer. It reveals another whole previously unknown aspect of that person.

Masks offer us an experience of what it means to us to be human as we engage in the imaginative experience of being transformed into someone else during the time we are wearing the masks and costumes. We then have the opportunity to get a fresh perspective on our life when we return to our existence without a mask.

People may see us differently at different times in our lives. We have all had that experience of being caught off guard at times when we fail to recognize someone when they are "out of context." In other words, when we are seeing someone in a way we do not usually see them or a place we do not usually see them, we relate to them differently. This same thing happens on a larger scale when we change careers or relationships or change our look with a different hair style, facial hair or style of clothing. These things cause us to see a person differently and it changes our experience of them.

For some people this is all just a temporary, entertaining experience, while for others, it can be a life changing experience. How will it be for you?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Water Stones

Whenever I hold a water stone in my hand, there is not only a sensation, but an instant reminder that comes to mind. Water stones are simply those that have been worn smooth by the flow of water.

If you were to ask a person, what is the stronger material, stone or water, many might say stone, but over time, water will wear down stone, but stone will not wear down water.

How many times have we found ourselves holding a firm position only to find that somewhere down the road we need to soften it?

How many times have we worried about something only to find out that if we had not worried about it, it would have turned out fine anyway?

Have you ever noticed how many meditation recordings include the sound of moving water, either stream or wave sounds? That is simply because the sound of water is one of the most appealing sounds to people.

It is the soothing sound of change that comes in invisible, but inevitable currents. Like the water finding its way between rocks, the tiniest opening can eventually become a torrent, the tiniest grains of sand and pebbles that are swept between rocks wear the edges of bigger rocks smooth.

Perhaps this is the underlying source of peace in the water sound. We know that change is inevitable and that going with the flow will make us mellower.

Water can carry us over rough rocks so that we can reach our destination.

Stones smoothed by water can make excellent healing stones and also divination tools. For me, found objects are just as welcome a tool, and just as effective, as tumbled gemstones.

Notice how the element of water works in our lives. In tarot, the water suit is usually called cups, caldrons, or chalices. It is about emotions and emotional connections. Most people immediately make the connection with love and romance, but it also rules friendship, acquaintances, associates and other connections that have an emotional heartfelt quality to them.

Notice how all of our emotions express in water. Blood, sweat, tears, taste, orgasms. The water flowing between us smoothes our rough edges and shapes us in ways that allows us to fit together better, whether we are looking at just two of us or a bunch of us as the many stones in a riverbed. Letting the water flow lets us all fit together better, and takes some of the edge off as we allow the energy to move us.

How old is a late bloomer? Maybe it is never too late to bloom.

When we delay doing something we really want to do, and the time comes that we finally have an opportunity to break free of our restraints, all that power and desire that have been bottled up finally get put to use with a pronounced speed and efficiency.

If there were things we thought we wanted to do with our lives, but we never got around to it, if the desire wanes or shifts to another subject, that bottled up energy will dissipate.

We also have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that some things we will never do and take them off our list. Then we can turn our attention and energy to those things we really will do. Sometimes fads catch our attention and maybe we think about doing something because it seems like a great idea, but if that idea is not powerful enough to move us to action, then it is best to simply let go of it.

Some people are extremely focused. For example, a person who wanted be an airplane pilot from the time they were little, then went on to get the kind of education and training they needed until they became a pilot. Some people followed a similar tightly focused path until they became a chef, hairdresser, artist or realtor.

But most of us are less focused, and by no means am I saying that one way is better than the other. In fact, I always find it amusing when adults ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. I certainly remember those young years when all that was on my mind was getting to be a better softball player or basketball player and being totally bamboozled when people asked me what kind of career I intended to have when I grew up.

We may have gotten into one field because that's where the opportunity was, but then after a few years we decide that we would rather do something else. It used to be that people might spend an entire career working for one company, but that is less and less the case both with the way corporations are being run and also what suits people's tastes. I have known some people who have completely changed careers and found happiness not simply working for a different company but doing something totally different than what they used to do.

Coming unbound, unwound, like a spring coiled tightly. That second wind we get when we finally break loose is refreshing. Some people are late bloomers because it took them a while to get their courage up, or until they got fed up with whatever else they were doing, and now everything changes, everything opens up.

Sometimes the universe may have held us back simply to give us time to gain the right amount of life experience before prompting us that it is time to cut loose.

Because people are living longer now, we are seeing more of this. More people because of the changes in the economy are looking at their lives and deciding to go for it now, whatever "it" is for them, rather than delaying until some unknown time.

Not so long ago, people wouldn't live a lot longer than the retirement age, but now with many people living into their 80s and 90s, many people retire from one career and then start another. Sometimes, they really need the cash flow, and sometimes they just really want to be doing something that interests them and they get paid for doing that.

Now is the time to declare your freedom from whatever was holding you back. Now is the time to focus more intently on bringing our dreams into reality. All of that energy you have been storing up, thinking that one day you will do this, all of that energy is begging to be released. All of that energy can be used to propel you toward that end. And as you move in that direction, more energy will be created to assist you.

No matter what age you are, if you have been postponing moving in the direction of your dreams, you are a late bloomer. Why not open up and blossom now?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Binge Watching Videos

Binge watching is a funny term that has come into use lately. Adding the word binge in front of eating or drinking, for example, implies something negative, such as it is bad for us to consume excess amounts of food and drink. Relative to our health of course, it would be correct to think of this behavior as one that brings negative results.

However, I think that binge watching videos is a good thing. I think of it like I think of reading books. Do people say that it is bad for you to binge on reading books? Of course not.

My experience of watching the entire series of The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Treme, The Tudors, The Borgias, Rome, Pillars of the Earth or any other excellent series has been enhanced by being able to watch chapter after chapter in succession. Doing it this way, watching a one hour show minus commercials means that I can see the episode in 40 minutes, which is a much better use of my time. Watching one episode right after another allows us to see what is going to happen to these characters or where is this story going in a natural progression without having to wait until next spring to see the next installment and then trying to remember where the story left off or how this other character figured in.

To me, it is exactly the same as reading a good book. If we are reading a book we really enjoy, do we only want to read one chapter today and then put the book away until next week and read another chapter then? Of course not. If we really like it, we might stay up half the night reading it, or continue to read it for several days or a couple weeks or whatever length of time it takes us to finish it.

Actually, I think that the technology that companies like Netflix have put into play is a great thing because it allows me to make better use of my time. If a subject interests me, I don't have to watch one chapter a week for the next few years and sit through one third of that time watching commercials to see how the story develops. I can look it up and check out the story in a concise time frame and follow it through from beginning to end. I like it.

Why So Much PTSD?

There is so much in the news about the difficulties returning soldiers have with PTSD, and also the record setting number of suicides among veterans.

No doubt this is a complex issue and one that our VA system must treat and find more ways to help.

However, another perspective has come to mind. We have seen this problem grow increasingly since the Vietnam War and then after both of the Iraq wars and Afghanistan.

After WWII, the general consensus was that we needed to fight in that war and we used all of our resources to win it. There was general agreement that we needed to win that war, and that it was a good thing to do. Returning military personnel were greeted with great parades and congratulations on a job well done.

By comparison, this component is wholly missing from our recent wars. After many deaths and crippling injuries, our veterans return to face the realization that all that effort was not universally supported and when the question is asked about what did we accomplish by having those wars we get disappointing answers.

After many deaths and injuries, what was the result of the Vietnam War? Today they are run by a communist government, but they are one of our trading partners and Americans go there for vacations. So why did we fight that war?

It is truly sad to watch documentaries about returning veterans and hear some of them say that we needed  to invade Iraq because of 9/11. We all know that this is not true, so does this mean that someone was lying to them to get them psyched up for combat? Or simply that some of them choose to believe wrong opinions because it is the only way they can feel like the effort was justified?

So again, after many deaths and injuries, a veteran could become dispirited looking at the news, wondering what their efforts were really all about.

The only recent battlefield in which there is justification is Afghanistan, and that is because the Taliban government supported terrorist training camps there, and they deserved to be demolished. Once they are rooted out and a new government is in place, our job is done there.

I have long believed that we should never go to war except in self defense. That was true of WWII, and everyone felt good about the effort and the outcome. When we go into wars for false or contrived reasons, we never feel good about the whole process or the outcomes. We know when we have done good things and can be proud of it. And we also know that efforts and lives expended in bogus wars will not bring good results. In my opinion, we should always choose peace, except in cases of self defense. Then when we did take action, everyone would be happy about it and proud to have played a part.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Magic of Change

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?

Remember when you were interviewing for a job and you felt good from the moment the interview began, and you just knew you had the job? Then when it was offered to you, you knew that this was the next step in your career?

Remember when you began working out and it seemed like everything was so difficult, but then as you kept at it, workouts seemed to get more rewarding as you noticed the changes in your body?

Remember when you thought that walking for a half hour was a lot, but now walking for an hour is something that is comfortable and easy to do?

Did you ever take a creative writing class, wondering at the beginning if you had any talent, how you just wanted to see if you could do this, then after a few weeks, people wanted to read what you wrote and you knew you could do it?

Or the time when a friend or family member died, and you felt like you would never get over that, but then after reflecting on the life lessons you learned from that person, smiles would light up your face as you remembered some of the wonderful experiences you had with that person and all the lessons you learned from them?

Or how about that time when you met someone new and you knew that you would want to continue seeing this person, and you felt good about that prospect, even though prior to that meeting you felt disappointed with your prospects for your social life?

What about that learning curve when you were getting used to your new computer? At first you were frustrated, then you kept at it, until you were able to accomplish one thing after another with it, and suddenly you felt proficient?

What about how you felt when you started your new business and you had to call on tons of people to get some momentum. Then the day finally came when satisfied customers referred other people to you and you could feel the flow going your way?

And how about that time when you worked at something you loved and the time just went so fast the whole sequence was just one thread weaving into another. You felt good about what you accomplished while you completely lost track of time?

Or perhaps you had a really memorable lover who enlarged your realm of possibilities, and suddenly your eyes were opened to erotic satisfaction you had never experienced before?

How about pivotal moments like when you had an out-of-body experience and you were not trying to do it, it just happened, and that inspired you to want to learn more or see if you could do it again?

Or when you were just so tired, achy and worn out that you figured you would try that an energy healing session you had heard about, and it was so powerful that you felt like you were walking on air and were surrounded by light energy for the rest of the day?

Or when you found a massage therapist who was just so good that you felt like knots and tension that used to seem normal suddenly disappeared and you had no idea that a massage could feel this good until you had this one?

Did you ever have a moment when you wanted something and got it almost immediately? When your desire and the flow of the universe suddenly were working together?

Or a moment when you connected with spirit and instantly knew something you had no other way of knowing, so you wanted to see if you could do that again?

A moment when you did something that felt perfect, when 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? Whether they are like some of the examples I have mentioned or others that may be unique to you, how did the prospects for your future change when you realized that what just shifted could continue to shift and this opened up new paths for you?

Some days, there is nothing but magic in the air. We remember those moments and hold them close, and then they expand.

We want more days like this in our lives.

Breathe, breathe, breathe. Some days putting one foot in front of the other is enough. Other days everything is magic.

One moment we breathe and we feel full of life energy. Everything around us is more alive, more interesting, more delicious than ever before.

We have looked ahead to see what is there, and then we find ourselves back here, now. Now, now, each step leads us toward whatever our future is, as we step into it, with everything here leading to it.

When we experience those moments when we are totally alive and in it, then we savor it, so that the taste can last longer.

Those moments when we connect and the rest of the world drops away, everything is magic and that is all that there is. So we enrich it with our presence, and charge it with our affection, tenderness, our fire and our strength and launch our energy out into the world to create more moments like this.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Why Celebrities Are Important To Us

The death of Robin Williams this week made a very big impact on a lot of people. I too, was stunned by the death of one of the greatest comedians of our time. It seemed like for more than a day after he died, all the sources and social media were full of Robin Williams tributes, and it seemed to reach much farther than when a number of other celebrities died. It may be useful to us to stop and consider for a moment why celebrities are so important to us.
If you look at the day's most popular searches on Google, MSN, Yahoo and other places, what you typically will see are a bunch of celebrities and odd stories. Sometimes big news like a major storm or a catastrophic event gets in there. You may or may not be surprised to discover that they are dominated by celebrities. TV & movie stars, pop music stars, models and athletes typically dominate the searches.

I find that I am unfamiliar with most of these celebrities. I have to look at the links to get any idea of who they are. Probably because most of them are not in movies or TV shows I have watched or in music that I listen to, and since I don't watch sports, few of the names ring a bell.
Robin Williams though had even greater recognition because he has made so many funny movies and did such great stand up routines that probably most people have seen him more than once. How many people were inspired to try careers in comedy because they saw Robin Williams? I don't know, but I am going to guess that quite a few did.

And that is one thing that celebrities do. They can inspire us. Of course, today there are also people who are celebrities who are famous simply because they have been on TV. They have not created or invented anything or performed some amazing, record setting feat. Perhaps those types of celebrities inspire in a different way. I am not sure what that is.

But what does this fact tell us about our culture? It is simply about the power of storytelling. Many people find stories about how the economy really works or trying to understand politics to be too stressful and complicated. So the story of some girl becoming a famous actress and marrying a handsome actor is easy to follow. So is the story of the downfall of a celebrity, especially if they were busted or embarrassed by something we really enjoy doing ourselves. When a star gets drunk and makes a fool of themselves, we can relate, because most of us have done that at one time or another. When a star is seen in serial marriages or affairs, we can relate to that too, because half of all married people have also been divorced people. What that says to us is that we do have a lot in common with famous people. The difference is that info about their problems and situations are broadcast and ours are not.

Of course, there are always those fake stories, like stars who pose for photos that they know will be controversial just to get publicity. Or saying outlandish things just to get publicity. But then we always know that storytellers also embellish and exaggerate for the sake of a good story.

You might think it is sad that more people care about what or who a pop star is doing than what is the significance of new banking or investing practices, what the truth is about fracking, or why the newest conflict between nations came up. But there is a sensible explanation for that.

For example, I have always thought than any financial deal that is hard to explain and hard to understand is meant to be deceptive. In other words, they do not really want you to follow the story line. Lots of people may wonder why something like derivative trading even exists, or whether it was a mistake to change banking laws or whether that should be or can be changed.
How much easier it is for us to follow the story of an actor who suddenly makes lots of money and ends up in a downward spiral of drug and alcohol addiction with revolving stints in rehab. Or the fabulously rich girl who gets off on going to bars and partying hard just like a lot of people like to do after work. It makes them easier for us to relate to. Or the athlete who gets millions of dollars a year to play ball and somehow managed to waste it all and end up broke. We also follow the upbeat stories of stars who use some of their celebrity and wealth to help orphans and starving people, or help build houses for poor and homeless people. We enjoy the stories of those who are still productive and aging gracefully, but these are not as exciting as the spectacular crash and burn stories. Most of us have lives that are up and down, and so we can relate to even the most famous, wealthy and popular people having up and down lives too.
Just like we all know stories from mythology because we see the gods and goddesses with both greatness and flaws just like we have. I may not be up to date on the most contemporary stars, but I do know some stories.

People Google over pop stars for the same reasons that people have enjoyed mythology and fairy tales for generations and centuries before there was an internet.

Which brings us to the fascinating study of mythology, which has played a part in our lives for millennia. Even the earliest people related to mythology the same way as contemporary people relate to celebrities. 
Think about how today people may be inspired to try their hand at comedy because of Robin Williams, how many people may be inspired to become inventors because of Steven Jobs, how many people might be inspired to become actors because of Lauren Bacall or Helen Mirren? How many people have been inspired to become singer/songwriters because of Bob Dylan or artists because of Andy Warhol or Georgia O'Keeffe, or chefs because of Julia Child or Wolfgang Puck? How many people got inspired to do charity work because of Jimmy Carter or Bono? 

These people have flaws, just like us, and in most cases, new stories about them keep popping up long after they are dead, some about good things they did and some about the bad things they did. Their complexity is fascinating.

Joseph Campbell, who is famous for his books about mythology and achieved his greatest recognition on the PBS specials he did with Bill Moyers, was of the opinion that all mythology was just a bunch of stories made up by people, that all of those characters simply were products of imagination.

I think that Campbell was absolutely wrong. He also stated the opinion that all god and goddess stories from around the world were all just versions of the same story. I think he was absolutely wrong on that point too. I do appreciate that he inspired people to study mythology and think about it some more.

But here's where he was wrong. In the ancient world, there were also people who did great things, and after they died, people kept telling stories about them until they grew to even greater proportions, and the stories were known far and wide.

In each ethnic group in this world, in order for them to survive, they had to have among them some great warriors, artists, tricksters (the first comedians), healers, builders and storytellers. So there were naturally some similarities and some differences in the stories for the same reasons that there were similarities and differences among people.

How many of those ancient people were inspired by stories from their mythologies and folklore? How many did things to advance civilization because they listened to the stories? Great people from those ancient cultures did amazing and heroic things and people continued to tell stories about them.

Like the celebrity stories we have today, maybe some are true and some are not exactly true. For example, perhaps the story in Irish literature about how their music was invented is somewhat fantastic, but somehow, somebody way back there did create Irish music, and maybe those stories do draw on the roots for their origins.

Perhaps the story in the Norse myths about how Odin got the runes is a fantastical embellishment, or maybe it is the truth or close to it. What we do know is that people have had the runes for many centuries now, and obviously people made that happen.

Stories say that Francis Drake used magic to defeat the Spanish armada. There is no proof whether he did or didn't, but his victory is a fact and the stories still are told.

The Johnny Appleseed story is told one way by Disney, and his story is told very differently by the great contemporary author Michael Pollan. 

Some people still debate about whether Shakespeare wrote his plays and sonnets, and one of the roots of that skepticism seems to be that some people are unwilling to believe that someone who grew up in a working class family could have written such great works later in life. Whatever you believe, the plays are still great shows, and the poems remain among the most beautiful.

So you see, all through history, celebrities have played important parts in our societies, and they always will.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Music, Our Portal and Passport to Other States of Being

Music is a galvanizing force for bringing people together. The energy of music can bring people together quickly, creating good feelings, warmth, humor, lightheartedness, joy and pleasure.

Music can also bring healing. Why do you think that massage therapists, reiki healers, chiropractors and other body workers and therapists always have soft music playing while they are working on you? It helps a person relax, soothes the muscles and relieves tension, making it easier for the therapist to do their work. The end result is that it helps them get things that are out of place back into place.

Haven't we all had the experience of music acting as an aphrodisiac? You've heard the phrase mood music. Certain music is just more sensuous blending effectively with the rhythms of sexual pleasure and some music is especially created for creating the romantic aura of sweet sentiments and romance. Our choice in music can help us savor our sensual experiences.

It is also an aid to digestion, which is why soothing music is played in restaurants. It can also stimulate the flow of healing cells and energies in our bodies. Yes, it is true that many restaurants may also play very upbeat, faster paced music, and that is useful to them when they are trying to move the crowds along quicker.

Why do you think that in the military that training is done to chants and cadence? It bonds the group together and war cries, chants and shouts can encourage acts of valor. Taps is played at military funerals and bagpipes are played at police funerals because they send a signal to the consciousness of those who hear them at a deep level, delivering the final notice of a person's passing without the use of words.

If you watch sporting events, how common is it for singing and chanting to be used to inspire the performances of the athletes? From the World Cup to the World Series, music is connected to our games using the energies of the fans to support and encourage the individuals on the field.

All of these things happen because music is a portal. It connects us with other people, it is a universal form of communication, which is why it is included on space probes we have launched. There have been many instances where people of different cultures who could not speak each other's languages have been able to play music together. There have been many new recordings in recent years where we can hear people of different ethnic groups bridge the gap by finding ways for the musical idioms to come together and play. There have also been popular recordings where people are singing in languages we do not speak or understand, yet we can appreciate the sheer beauty of the blending of
their harmonies and voices.

What about as a portal for the imagination? how many symphonies, ballets and operas have themes drawn from great myths, fairy tales and folklore? Why is it that sacred chants, whether the Gregorian, Sufi, Hindu, Hebrew or any other can immediately transport the listener into an altered state of consciousness? At Renaissance Faires the period music is just as important in creating the feeling of that time and space as the costumes and decorations.

How many times when you are watching a movie can you tell whether coming actions and scenes are going to be sinister, tragic, hilarious or romantic because they are foreshadowed by the music? Composers and directors have long known how music can help them create the overall effects they desire in their work.

Music can energize to make work lighter as well. Think about chants that people have done at work so that they could get enough of a boost to get things done. This is the common thread between the work chants of the slaves, the chants of the sailors, the cadence of the soldiers, cheerleaders in sports, chants of the warriors, songs people sing at harvests or plantings, and so many other examples. Music unleashes energy we didn't even know we had and makes that available to us when we have tough jobs to do. Sometimes I chant and sing during the work day simply to relieve tension and inspire me to keep going.

The use of simple percussion and the human voice have been used as tools for transformation by the shamans of every culture on this planet. All the way back to caveman days, drums, rattles and chants were part of the fabric of the rituals the shamans led because it was believed that those beats from the drums and rattles were like stairways or ladders which they would use to travel into other worlds. The belief that sounds were essential for contacting the spirit world have been with us all this time, and we know that when a person is dying that the first sense they lose is sight and the last sense they lose is hearing.

Music is a portal that opens the way for us to heal, shift into sacred space, to become engaged romantically with another person, to build excitement and energy, give us courage, give us strength, helps us grieve and to celebrate.

From the heartbeat we first know in the womb, the sounds we make when we go to war or go to work, and the songs we sing at weddings, funerals, the music we hear when we make love and the sounds that surround us in the world, we find our way to the places we want to go with music.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Paths

It seems that no matter how many choices of spiritual paths we have, there is always an appetite for opening new ways, new paths.

Today, it is easy for people to find a variety of teachers and paths. Just a couple of generations ago, a person's choice of spiritual paths was limited to mainstream churches and synagogues. Everything else was really underground or few and far between. Today without venturing far from home, a person can find Buddhist groups to study with, Hindu, Wiccan, Asatru, Druid, or other Pagan groups, Course in Miracles study groups, Native American teachers, Sufi, Muslim, Taoist, Santeria, Voodoo, Unity, Spiritual Science, Science of Mind, Religious Science, and a variety of new age groups.

There are also more loosely affiliated groups, such as those who gather for women's circles, new moon circles, full moon circles, sweats, drumming circles and other gatherings where people get an elevated feeling and sense of spiritual involvement without actually having to join anything specific or observe anything more than a few common courtesy rules.

Perhaps the largest number of people can be found under the category we would call eclectic. Why? Because people like the freedom and the ability to mix and match those things they feel fit best or work best for them.

Joining anything means that you must accept some rules. Every group has some kind of rules, whether you are interested in joining a coven, a Buddhist meditation group, a Hindu group, a Sufi group, a Voodoo group or a Native American study group. And some people, while they enjoy some of the activities and practices of any of these groups or many others that I did not name, prefer to just use the practices they like best and skip the rules or the official joining of anything.

So today, it is common to find people who may enjoy going to drumming circles, sweats, kirtan (Hindu chanting) pagan gatherings, circles, shamanic rituals or anything else they care to access without considering themselves a member of any one of them.

A person can take those practices and concepts that they find most useful and form their own new practice around them. Sometimes they may just practice solitary, alone in the privacy of their own home, with a partner, or open up to the possibility of forming a group of like minded people.

Freedom in this way means a lot to people today. How sweet it is when you can build a practice based on what works for you. No publicity or public actions are required. There are millions of people who have created such practices in the privacy of their own homes and they are perfectly happy to just keep it among themselves and their fellow participants. You will not find them in any directory of churches or religions. You won't even know what their practices are unless you know them personally and they choose to share it with you.

This is a beautiful time to be alive and experience all these possibilities. There may be a lot of other changes in the world at this time that people find bewildering, but creating your own spiritual path in your own home is something that you can control and you do not need to seek anyone else's permission in order to do it.

A benefit of such a choice is that you can begin to feel more centered in your own life, gain strength and clarity and rebuild your confidence so that it may be easier to come to grips with changes in the business world, the social world, with family, money and other issues. Practicing your spiritual path, no matter what it is, can help you form a clearer picture in your mind of how you want to interact with other people in all these other arenas.

Although many people will choose to keep their practice solitary, a unique spiritual practice can also lead to a connection with another person who shares your feelings and ideas and this could form the basis of a dynamic personal relationship for you as well. Sharing at this level is much more powerful than the techniques of dating that appear to be most dominant in our culture. You could share many dinners, drinks, movies, concerts, sporting events etc with someone without ever getting to know them as well as you do when sharing a spiritual rituals and spiritual practices. There are different foundations for forming relationships. You may find yourself working your way through the usual social formats before discovering common bonds in the spiritual realm, but then again, you have the freedom to change the order of the way things progress in your life.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in feeling that those things that you choose to study and practice as part of your spiritual path make sense to you. The opinions of outsiders do not matter. If what you are doing opens up pathways for you to interact with spirit, that is all that matters. If you can do that and feel the results that you are getting, that knowledge is the confirmation that your path is working and when you experiment with new techniques, you decide to either keep them or let go of them, based on your experience. This is why so many people have chosen to fashion their own spiritual path these days. It is one of the benefits of being alive on this planet at this time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Detroit Prediction

For the last year, we have all heard about Detroit's bankruptcy, how the city has lost half its population, how they are planning to tear down thousands of abandoned homes.
While all this is true for now, I predict that Detroit will have a major rebirth during the next 10-20 years. Since the real estate market is so down, this means that people will be able to get great deals on places to live and places to start new businesses.
Detroit has major infrastructure in place, such as airports, railroad lines and the big plus of being located on the great lakes, which means they will never have the kinds of water shortages that have been a problem for other parts of the country.
The auto industry will not come back, but other kinds of businesses will see this as a great opportunity. Real estate developers will see this as a great opportunity. People who like the excitement of being urban pioneers will see this as a great opportunity. The will of people to make things happen will create a whole new city rising from the ashes of what used to be.
After hearing all the bad news about Detroit, I felt a strong sense that things will turn around and there is much positive news up ahead. When you get to the bottom, all you can do is bounce back up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tarot as a Traditional Art Form

Like many other art traditions, artists who choose to design new tarot decks have both the freedom to express themselves plus fitting their creative ideas into the established format of 78 cards, major and minor arcana, four suits, etc. Some artists spend years creating one new one, some artists find inspiration in creating a number of new decks. What is shown above are just a few random images from a variety of popular decks. There are literally hundreds to choose from these days, so no matter what your taste in art, you can find a set that will appeal to you and give you a powerful tool to work with.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Doesn't it feel good when you get confirmation that you are on the right track? Yes, it certainly does. Sometimes we get an awakening when we see something we had not seen before, and sometimes the awakening is just as invigorating when we get a sign that we are going in the right direction.

We all have those times when we have had thoughts in the back of our mind but just have not gotten up and followed through with it yet. When we find ourselves in this situation, simply stop and ask the question. Do I really want to do this? Or would my life be happy if I just forgot about this and set the whole idea aside?

After all, sometimes we outgrow an idea that seemed significant earlier in life. However, if our real true gut confirmation says that we should go ahead, start doing whatever is necessary to go ahead rather than letting the idea just sit in the back of your head and nag. Clear the way to make it happen and you will feel great once you are on that path.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Intensity Makes the Difference

When we have a goal in mind that we want but we do not achieve it, the missing key may well be intensity. If our intensity is in focus, then our vision will be in focus and we will have taken actions to bring our dreams to life. Intensity shows in our level of desire. For example, when a person says that they want to see some kind of change in their life, but that it is OK with them if they get it and OK with them if they don't, what they are revealing is that they do not have any serious intention of making the change.

If you are not certain about your true intentions and where your intensity is most actively engaged, look at what is happening in your life right now. Whatever you have created produces the results you see around you. If you want to change that, the first thing to engage is a new vision. The new vision will become more powerful as you focus on it with great intensity. Then as you engage in actions to get yourself into that picture, you notice your reality beginning to shift.

Intensity can be an elusive thing because people overlook it or take it for granted. Why? A number of reasons. By now, we all know about the power of positive thinking, law of attraction, smiling and having a good attitude. Often, people mistakenly think that this is enough. It is easy to see why. If we think thoughts like how wonderful it would be to have a new job or a new relationship, we might just think that our helpers in the universe will help us get these things because we are good people and we have good intentions, and if we are consistent with these thoughts, that everything will just fall into place eventually. Except that sometimes it doesn't and we wonder why.

Take another look. Hold these thoughts. Only this time, feel it all the way to your bones, all the way through your body. Feel how your life would be different when you achieve these things. Feel the difference when your goal moves from being a good idea to being your new reality?

Your mental focus is your single biggest tool in keeping your intensity on track. Keeping this in mind, there are tools that can support that drive. Reading books that support your goals, listening to music that inspires you to pursue your goals, seeking out the company of friends who support you achieving your goals, keeping your consciousness and words aligned with your goals will help you get where you are going.

Can you feel the shift in your facial expressions, your body language, the rhythm of your body, the clarity of your thoughts, the ease with which decisions like prioritizing fall into place? When you are desiring a change with a great deal of intensity, as you make decisions, it gets easier to identify one thing as important to you in realizing your goals and other things as not important.

Can you see yourself not just picturing this new stage of your life, but living it, feeling it, knowing it deep in your guts? Feel how different you would do everything once your goal is not just some good idea you are picturing, but a life you are living?

See how it feels for you right now as you read this. Whatever that deeply held desire is, can you move beyond the level of simply thinking it is a good idea to feeling yourself living it, achieving it, having it, being it?

Can you feel that vision penetrate every pore of your being? Can you look at that picture you have in your mind or on your vision board and not just see it, but experience being there in it, being part of it?

Can you feel yourself being in that picture with someone else who wants it just as much as you do? Can you picture the other people in your life being just as fully invested in that life as you are? Equal partners? Can you feel the difference intensity makes?

Inviting intensity into our lives always starts with key questions that we ask ourselves. Are we happy with the way our life is going now? Would we really like to make a change? Is this desire for change just a passing fancy, or are we really serious about it? If we are really serious about making this change, then increasing our focus and inviting in a greater level of intensity is the first step toward getting what we most ardently desire. Once you do this, you can feel the change start to happen, and once we do that, we begin to notice how the universe aligns with us and it seems like magic. Doesn't it feel great when that happens?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to Increase Your Joy, Love and Abundance

In order to experience some of the biggest shifts in your life, moving you forward in a bold fashion, all that is needed is one shift in perspective which applied consistently will having you feeling greater joy and satisfaction in all aspects of your life. What is this shift?

It is simply adapting the point of view that every decision that is made from love rather than fear will bring better results.

Perhaps you think that this is too simple, that it cannot be correct, but let us stop and consider the situations we usually find ourselves in.

For example, how many commercials are we exposed to where the real message seems to be that if we do not buy this new thing that we will not be attractive enough or successful enough, that without it, we are exposed to dangers or simply be inadequate.

So what happens if we ignore these commercials and simply purchase what we really feel that we need or really want? We end up with things that give us greater satisfaction which leads to a greater feeling of self confidence because we have just made a choice that suits us very well. We feel like we have acted wisely. By comparison, how many times have we found ourselves cleaning around the house and coming across a thing we never use and remarking that it would sure be nice if we had the purchase price of that thing back in our pocket. Getting the lesson from that experience simply means that we resolve to follow our own best judgment in making future purchases.

Now let's take a look at how this same dynamic influences other important choices in our life.

Have you ever decided to go out with someone or form a relationship with them because you feel like you don't have a better offer pending, rather than affirming to yourself that you really enjoy being with this person, and therefore enthusiastically embrace your choice? Sometimes in readings, a person will reveal that the relationship that they are in does not work for them, has not for a long time and they have been unable to turn the situation around due to a lack of willingness on the part of their partner. In response to the question of why not leave the situation that is not working and start over fresh with someone different, they may respond that they are waiting for a better offer to come their way first. But of course, it is unlikely that you will get the best results that way. The energy all around you reveals that this person is not really available because they are enmeshed in something else and are not really available. They stay in an unsatisfying situation out of fear. Different options appear when we choose out of love.

The other biggest decision that we make is what we will do for making money. Whenever we hear someone say that they really don't like their work, but at least it is a paycheck, we are listening to someone allow themselves to get bogged down and enmeshed in a poor quality energy pattern.

It is true that many of the changes that have rippled through our economy in recent years has disrupted our lives and in many cases made it difficult for individuals to find work that satisfies them and treats them fairly. Staying in such a situation is once again, letting fear dictate our choices. Choosing from love opens up the questions about what a person would rather be doing, and how would they go about getting there? Inspiration can be found in the stories of other people who have successfully changed their lives, which could be contained in things we read on the Internet or new people we have met who tell us stories about their life experiences.

Another source can be those things that have been pushed to the background. Do you have any books on your shelf that you have been meaning to read for a while? If you had made up your mind that you didn't really like them, you would have gotten rid of them. So the fact that they are still there means that you still want to read them. When you do, you suddenly have those flashes of recognition that there are ideas in this book that you can use, or perhaps even new career paths that appeal to you and look like things you could learn to do.

When we choose from love, new potentials open up. When we feel inspired, we find new ways to do things. When we are inspired, we see opportunities we had not seen before. When we feel inspired, we are in more active communication with the spiritual aspect of our life. When we are inspired, and when we are unhappy with the way things are going, both are good times to increase our communication with our spirit guides. These are ways they can help us choose out of love so that we not only find work that pays, but work that we enjoy. By tapping into spirit and choosing out of love, we can find ourselves in better relationships, and in this context I am not only referring to lovers, but friends, acquaintances, co-workers, people who share recreational interests with us, all of it, the full spectrum.

Choosing from love rather than fear affects all aspects of life. Recently, for example, I chose to change the way I eat and increase my workouts at the rec center in order to strengthen my physical health. At first, making such changes can feel challenging, but then once I got rolling with it, the feeling of satisfaction with the new ways keeps increasing as I get more signs that it is working. People do not change their personal habits because other people tell them they should. They only make real changes when they feel like it, and choosing from love rather than fear is a powerful way to make the shift.

Here is another small change you can start making today to increase the joy in your life. It is tempting to judge other people and their choices and we also waste a lot of energy even thinking this way. Instead, with every person you meet, simply look at them in a new light and tell yourself that they must be choosing out of what they love. It remains to be seen for all of us how well things work out later. But at least in the meantime, you can at least hold this person in a positive light, and you will experience the encounter with that person as more enjoyable. Yes, there are some bad people in the world who are all about doing bad things, but that is not most people. Try the more loving attitude with those you meet, even in brief encounters, and see how much lighter and brighter every day feels.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Finding Our Way with Our Spirit Guides

As we go forward with our lives, we often have a desire for a second opinion from someone we trust. Sometimes we want to hear not from our buddies or our girlfriends or even close family members. Often we desire input from spirits who are on a higher plane when we are contemplating big decisions.

Who are our spirit guides? There can be quite a variety of them. For one, those who were raised with a belief in guardian angels or saints often see them that way. In many cultures around the world, people ask for the guidance and protection of their ancestors.

I have had many instances where a person had someone near to them who crossed over recently and they still feel that that person's spirit is still near them and sometimes communicating with them.

Of course, there is always God or Goddess in that role for some people, and that of course, will vary according to your view on religion and spirituality.

Another kind of spirit guide often takes the form of totem animals or spirit animals. As a person notices that they have a connection to a specific bird, animal or other creature, these may show up in person or in visions when that person is asking for a sign or an omen that will help them make a decision.

We all have some sort of spirit guide and their job is always to help us and protect us. They would like to see us succeed. Then why don't we always succeed? Because we have free will. We feel that gut reaction that is unmistakable when we consider going out with this person or doing this work, and yet, there are always some people who will over ride that gut instinct and they always regret it.

We can ask our spirit guides for advice. If we just sit quietly, perhaps in the morning before we get busy or turn on a TV or computer or talk on the phone, and make notes in a notebook where we might make note of whatever we can remember from our dreams. And then we also just get these random thoughts. But where do those random thoughts come from? Who do you think plants those seeds? You know, the kinds of thoughts like I should call so-and-so today. Or I really feel like it would be good to go to this place today. Or maybe it is time to read that book that I have had sitting here for a long time now.

We can also ask our spirit guides to show us things that we need to know in our dreams. Before going to sleep, program that in asking to be shown answers to your questions. Sometimes you may need help understanding your dreams and that is something people have been doing since ancient times. My name is Daniel. Who was Daniel in ancient history? The interpreter of dreams for the king of an ancient society.

When we keep in touch with our spirit guides and express our appreciation to them for all the good things we have received already, we are cultivating valuable sources to help us make the best of our lives.

Spirit guides may ebb and flow in terms of their importance to us at certain times. For example, one who was highly interactive at one phase of our life may fade to the background as another becomes a stronger presence at this time of our life. We don't get rid of one to get another. We have more than one, so those who were with us when we were little children as still with us, although there may be a different one who we are communicating more with now.

This is all part of our evolution. Others help us now, and when we evolve and have learned our major life lessons, it will be our turn to be spirit guides for other people. I know, some of you got a little bump in your coffee because you hadn't thought of that angle yet. But it makes sense, doesn't it?

We are never really alone. If you haven't been working with your spirit guides very consciously, these are some ways that you can get started with as soon as you like. Like today. You can start by simply sitting quietly in some place you feel comfortable and open your mind to your spirit guides. Welcome them in and open the dialogue. Remember, spirit would not send us a messenger and then refuse to deliver the message. Start however you like and discover a whole new dimension to your journey.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Power of Enthusiasm

Have you ever noticed how contagious enthusiasm is? When someone is doing something that reveals excitement and joy, other people want to participate with them.

Enthusiasm is an energy that attracts others by sheer magnetism and draws them closer. Enthusiasm is a vibrant display of life affirming activity.

So how can you get more enthusiasm in your life? It would be worth it, wouldn't it, to feel that level of support or attraction working for you?

How many times have you wanted to try something new but hesitated because you didn't want to go by yourself?

But sometimes, that beginning of the new journey is all about you deciding to get up and go, and in so doing, finding others who enjoy the same things as you do.

Part of the adventure is simply being willing to get started and trust that you will meet others who share your enthusiasm.

How many of the things in life that give you pleasure and satisfaction are things that you simply had to learn by doing? Yes, most of them. Of course, at times we need teachers to show us the way to do things and give us knowledge about subjects we want to learn more about. But in the end, it is still all about getting up and putting one foot in front of the other.

It has been said that to be a good swing dancer only requires enthusiasm and a ready partner. How many things can you do that only require joyful enthusiasm and a ready partner?

Now, I know that not everyone wants to be a swing dancer, but the same principles apply to other things. When I used to lead drumming circles, once someone got a rhythm started other people were eager to join in until everyone was playing or dancing. When I was teaching creative writing, once one person told a good story, others were eager to share a favorite story too. How many times have you been chatting with a group of people and once one person tells a joke that makes everyone laugh, other people suddenly have one to tell too? How many times have you bought something because the salesperson was enthusiastic? How many times has someone else showed you something they made and your response is that you would like to make something like that too? When we see street performers, isn't it their enthusiasm that draws us to them?

If we remove all the other considerations from the picture and just get going, how much more joy would there be in our life? How many times have you wanted to try something new but hesitated because you didn't want to go by yourself?

But sometimes, that beginning of the new journey is all about you deciding to get up and go, and in so doing, finding others who enjoy the same things as you do.

Part of the adventure is simply being willing to get started and trust that you will meet others who share your enthusiasm.

How many of the things in life that give you pleasure and satisfaction are things that you simply had to learn by doing? Yes, most of them. Of course, at times we need teachers to show us the way to do things and give us knowledge about subjects we want to learn more about. But in the end, it is still all about getting up and putting one foot in front of the other.

If we remove all the other considerations from the picture and just get going, how much more joy would there be in our life?

Optimism is at the root of getting more of what we want

In order to attract the kinds of change you want into your life, a
person must be an optimist. The common thread in positive thinking, The
Law of Attraction, manifesting sympathetic magic or whatever other
terms you are comfortable using, optimism is an essential ingredient in
positive thinking. It makes sense, doesn't it? And that is all the more
reason why it is important to shift our way of thinking in order to
create more of what we want in our life.

By restating our goals
in positive ways and keeping them in the present tense, we are creating a
structure to our efforts that is strong from every angle, and thus,
engineered to work.

Once a person's hopes and dreams are
awakened, that person must be able to visualize their life becoming
populated by positive developments. A crucial ingredient must be added
to the optimism, and that is will, or the actions a person takes to make
their dreams real. The third crucial ingredient is the desire a person
has to bring about change.

A person who is cynical or negative in
their outlook can not be a successful person, because in order to
desire a change in their life, they must believe that such things are
not only possible, but that they have the power to influence or create
such changes.

Someone might say that a person who is constantly
cynical or pessimistic in their outlook is also drawing more of those
influences, energies and results into their life, and this is true.

my focus is on creating a better life. Those who are interested in a
worse, more negative or more depressing life will not get any help from
me. These ideas are being presented for the benefit of those people who
want to move forward in their life and may have had doubts about their
own abilities to make things happen.

Have you ever noticed that
when you focus on looking for opportunities, you find opportunities?
Have you noticed that when you are happy you attract other happy people?
Have you noticed that when you focus on doing something well that you
get better at it?

Practice, it is all about practice. The person
who wants to become a good musician practices every day. The person who
wants to be an artist is always making art. The person who writes every
day gets better at writing. The person who wants to be a successful
engineer studies the ways of engineering and keeps practicing. The
person wants to be a better gardener keeps practicing it. The person who
wants to be the better realtor, salesperson or anything else, keeps
practicing until they get better. The person who plays a sport every day
gets better at that sport. The same is true for all our endeavors.

real change in our life is about focusing on a goal and going for it,
with full consciousness and confidence that we can do it. In the process
of driving toward our goals, we make discoveries and find out about
things we did not know before. We may not know exactly how we will
achieve our success, but if we proceed in that direction with our eyes
and ears open for opportunities, then we are always moving toward making
our dreams real.

We have to be optimistic enough to believe that
our life will get better, then we have to really desire it, and finally
take action on it.

Optimism is an important ingredient because
it always involves positive thinking and creativity. A person can do
make change much more effectively when they are optimistic. Does it
bring a smile to your face when you think of what you really want? See?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Does life have a meaning? Or a purpose?

Often, I hear people asking about finding their purpose in life. It's almost as if they are looking for a ledger or a box where these things are kept and as soon as they can find it and open it up, they will find theirs there, right next to their name. But there is no purpose that someone else assigns us. We choose our own purposes. I have used the plural because we can have more than one, same as we have more than one career or more than one relationship, or more than one cause we believe in. 

It is almost the same question when people are asking about what the meaning to life is. There is no meaning. Life just is.

We have the delicious opportunity to make up that answer and live with it, and if we change our minds, we can do it again. When we have choices, we often need clarity to help us see our best path. This is something I have helped people to do many times.

What do we do with our lives? The two biggest choices we ever get to make are the questions about who we are going to love and what we are going to do to make a living. Those are the two biggest questions on everyone's mind and the two most popular areas of concern among people who get readings.

There are other spiritual concerns and people who request personal clearings, house blessings or reiki healings are often seeking rebalancing and peace from upsets that have caused them grief all the way to the spirit level, even though those may have originated from problems with relationships and work.

We do not find purposes or meanings. We create them.

Think about this for a moment. People often say that they have found a sign or an omen that helped them make a choice or answer a question. How exactly does that happen? A person may have as their totem a red fox, and as they are driving out one evening, a red fox crosses the road in front of them. What does that mean? Or perhaps a person is simply out for a walk and suddenly a robin is flying near them, singing. What does that mean?

Ultimately, if two different people are seeing these same things and have different problems or questions on their minds, then they get two different answers to what does it mean to see a fox cross my path or have a robin fly around me and sing.

Look at art in a museum. Some of it you love and some of it you don't care for at all. However, as we walk through the museum, certain pictures, carvings, sculptures, photos or artifacts grab our attention and we stand there looking at them for a while, with all kinds of thoughts running through our heads. These are the ones that mean something to us. We assign meanings to things. Sometimes we do not know what was on the artist's mind when they created those things, we only know if we like them or not. Do they speak to us?

Think about some of the noble causes that some people work hard to achieve. They want to help the injured veterans who have returned from war. They want to clean up the environment. They want to help house homeless people or find cures for diseases. They want to feed starving people or rescue stray animals. These are things that people choose to focus on.

There is no meaning to life. The choices we make form the direction our life takes and the path we follow. There is a cause and effect relationship between choices we make and what happens next.

I wonder if some people think that there is a little gnome sitting somewhere with a ledger who will look up their account for them and tell them what they are supposed to be doing.

What we do is the result of our free will. Let's agree that a person is born with a talent for musical ability or is keenly interested in art or science or baseball.

What a person does with those talent potentials and preferences is to refine them into skills. If you ended up doing art, it is because you like it and you spent more time learning how to do it well. Same for everyone else. Whatever it is that they enjoy doing they took the time to learn about it and apply it.

You find a common thread when you read the biographies of successful people. The person who became a great athlete practiced a lot. The person who became a great musician practiced a lot. The person who invented new computers spent enormous amounts of time working at inventing new computers. The person who becomes a successful realtor, home builder, hairdresser, massage therapist, auto mechanic, comedian or chef spends a lot of time developing their skills and building their business.

That then, is a product of using our free will to make a decision and the persistence to follow through with the necessary actions.

Even in the more playful part of our lives, where we choose to become a dancer, a drummer, a singer, a skiier, a skater, a potter, a knitter, a beader, a writer, or anything else, we discover that we become good at it with lessons and practice, and those who invest more time in practice get better and better.

My reference to a gnome with a ledger was intended to use a little humor to make my point. To me, the notion that there is a meaning to anyone's life implies that someone is assigning meanings to each individual, such as "You will be a plumber, you will be a doctor, you will be a pottery maker, you will be a musician, you will be a whatever."

Clearly, that is not true. How many people, for instance, were encouraged to be in a particular business or profession, but they choose to do something different? How many people were perfectly content doing their job until their company shut down or got taken over, reorganized and they got laid off and now they have to do something else?

Aside from work, is our meaning determined by whether we have children? Some people choose to have several, some choose to have one. Some people choose not to have any. What does that mean? It doesn't mean anything. It is simply their choice.

And of course, our choice of people we have relationships with. We seek to form relationships that we feel fit us well, that the people we are connecting with are those with whom we feel a special bond. But who decides which one we have a special bond with? We do. And for many of us, there is more than one instance like this in life, and more than one relationship. Some last for less than a year, and some last for many years. Looking for that person that we feel really special with is a factor that we decide. We decide what sorts of qualities and characteristics are important in the other person. Once again, we are making up the meaning, the purpose.

Is meaning related to a choice of religion? Obviously many people choose to change religions or not to belong to any. Is meaning related to our choice of hobbies or the charities we support? People change these during the course of a lifetime too. All of these are free will choices too.

In each case, free will choice determines the outcome. So, no, there is no purpose or meaning to life. We are born and then we decide what to do with that life. Life just is, it does not mean anything. We assign meanings to things.

I don't know if this will come as a shock to anyone who gives it a little thought, but I notice that some people like to start discussions in forums about such questions.

Viewing meaning and purpose as a matter of choice really makes it much more powerful. We can state our preference to the world and then get busy with it and suddenly we are in charge of our life and going full speed ahead. Yes, I know, some people will choose to go slow speed ahead, and that is simply their choice too. 

If you are sorting out your choices and can use a little help, just ask me. I do these kinds of sessions for people all the time. It is amazing how light and energized you feel when you have a clear sense of direction, isn't it?