Myth of the Strong Silent Type

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Growing up as a young man in the eighties and nineties I was fascinated by the strong, silent leading man type of character I saw in movies.  I was quite a movie fan and I enjoyed spending much of my indoor time watching shows on television from the early black and white movies that featured John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Kirk Douglas among many others.

Whether it was a medieval story like Spartacus with Kirk Douglas leading a valiant effort to fight for freedom, or John Wayne protecting damsels in distress, they used their actions to speak for them, and they were the epitome of strength; they were the heroes of their day.

As time ticked forward I grew in to a young man and started to go to the cinema, or movie theatres, more often. The leading characters started to shift to more modern leading men like: Clint Eastwood as he transitioned from westerns and the Dirty Harry character to an adventurous modern day leading man in Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and a military elite in Firefox (1982), Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator series (1984+), and Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series (1988+).

The movie trend didn’t just show conflict in dramatic fashion, it also started to include humour and there are many examples of Arnold and Bruce quipping to the bad guys.  Situational humour started coming more mainstream with Beverly Hills Cop and Romancing the Stone, both of 1984. So a humorous, strong, relatively quiet leading man was really the ‘cherry on top’ of the leading character in my eyes.

romancing_the_stone_26525In these times, I really believed everything that I saw. As I look back, there wasn’t any reason to think that a man that listened to his senses, that showed his feelings, that broke out of the mould I had witnessed since I was a young child, could be just a capable, strong, and charismatic; but maybe I just didn’t watch those movies.

To me, as a youth, I believed that in order to grow in to become a strong man I had to epitomize strength, not only on the outside, but also on the inside.  This meant that showing emotions and feelings were viewed as a sign of weakness; a lack willpower and control.

Certainly there were other role models, like my stepdad, who also portrayed much about the strong, vastly intelligent, action oriented man.  My mother, who gave much of her heart to anyone who needed a lift or any help at all, but my focus was film.  That’s where my imagination flew, my intention started, and my attention fuelled my desire to be the iconic representation of what a real man was. Poor me!

dumbLet’s just say that character influences I grew up with as a young man didn’t serve me so well in my early ‘real’ relationships.  The strong silent type never gave me clues on how to address conflict in a marriage, didn’t show me how to deal with my conflicting senses when my gut said one thing and my mind another, and my heart yet something different.  I was pretty much clueless, and I felt like a person who just realized all they really knew about being a person was a lie.

This was the start of my journey to search my feelings, to slowly, very slowly in fact, find my voice and reconnect with who I really was.

I say reconnect because when we are young kids, we are who we think.  We portray our emotions quite candidly on our face and in our eyes.  It’s only after we start to hurt, that we begin to protect ourselves from that experience again and hide how we really feel to others.

la-petite-enfance-solidaire-au-debut-de-la-vie kid smileIt’s taken me decades now to uncover the strength and beauty of understanding the power of knowing your self. Not just the mindful self, but the emotional, feeling, bodily self that makes up a vast array of senses that remain attuned to the environment around us.

Science has been able to uncover some of the mysteries of the environment that we see and that goes to our head. First, light enters our eyes and that information is delivered to our brain, then our brain deciphers a very small percentage of what we see and passes that info on to our mind; there is simply too much information to decipher it all at once. Then our mind, which is the sense of self inside our brain, attaches meaning to what it sees. (read Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen for more details)

This is the information we typically make decisions with, but we are still missing a host of other real data.  Naturally, what our mind sees creates a biochemical reaction within our body.  This reaction to the five senses of our head is but a small part of the real environment, but our body, with it’s blanket of nerves cells sensing minute changes in the air, temperature, vibrations, and energy that we don’t ‘see’, but we can feel, holds enormous stores feeling related information.

If you want to see a real scientific study in to what vibrations that came from thoughts did to water crystals, just look at this video that documents Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiments.  Here is his website.

Water-MemoryHave you ever met a person your were keenly attracted to for no apparent reason? How about the opposite; a person that repulsed you, that you felt in danger from, that you wanted to stay away from? Was that immediacy of your feeling from some visual cue, or a gut reaction?

Many times we may think about our past and sense a disconnect between what we felt, and the decision we made. “My gut has always been right” we might say to ourselves, and I have often felt that way.

The_Strong_and_Silent_Type_lowresNo matter what we might see in popular movies, television or any other media, we need to understand that the strong, silent type of character is a myth.  It is a character type that takes in what we see and hear and applies supreme importance to them alone.  It forgets about all that other information the body has to share.  It dismisses it, and for that, it is shallow, judgemental, quick to react, and substantially naive about the environment that surrounds us. In fact, it is a weakness.

When we understand hat information in today’s world can be loosely translated to power, why would we want to disconnect from the access to information our body willingly gives us?

This is OUR body after all trying to communicate to OUR brain.  Why would we want to stop it?  It wants to serve us, to protect us, to tell us what it found out.

We need to understand the nature of communicating with our body in such a way to become aware of the response to visual stimuli, and accept the information that it senses itself, the vibration from other people, the ‘sixth sense’ we receive in the form of our gut feeling.

This isn’t like the ‘voice’ we hear telling us to not do something in our heads, that is a form of the mind that tries to warn us that there is a significant gap between our upcoming decision and the action we are contemplating.

chocolateNow, we can be fooled if we listen to everything we hear from our body. Certainly that chocolate looks good, and maybe one more slice if pizza would mmmmm, just be divine! But that’s a part of the body that has collaborated with the rational fast talking sly aspect that wants to give us all we desire, and will find all the ways to justify it.

What I’ve learned over the last 30+ years is that strength comes not from your muscles, not from your actions, but from the words you say, from the time you take to listen, and from the feelings you can discern that connect you to the immense and powerful universe.

nelsonmandelaHis Holiness the 14. Dalai LamaThe idea and icons of strength, power, charisma, and heroism are changing from the popular movie characters to real flesh and blood manifestations of holistic beings, like Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama.

Those that espouse the mind-body-spirit connection are heralded as leaders in a new world, like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, Joe Dispenza, Bruce Lipton, Tony Robbins, Wane Dyer, and many others.

I for one am glad that I have finally become settled in what I define as a strong, powerful, leading man, and it has very little to do with the image that I grew up with, and everything to do with how I make people feel, and how I feel. Thank goodness we can break free from our past perceptions and create a new perspective that aligns with wherever we find our true centre, our natural inclination, and source of joy and peace.

No More Worries.

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Ohh, I used to dwell in the past, and worry about the future so much!

Especially if I was dating someone.  Did they like me?  What would our next step be?  What should we do this weekend?  Then there were just the general thoughts: Where was my life heading? Should I do this or go for that? Am I in the right career? Did I say something wrong at the party?  Then I would berate myself for various things I decided I did wrong.  My head would simply spin, spin, spin if I let it.  When would I ever get a chance to relax??

Worry_Ruminition_repetitive_thinkingWith so many decisions and thoughts whirling in my head all the time, I didn’t have time to appreciate ‘right now’.  That’s right, THIS moment that we are living right this instant.  I didn’t even know when ‘now’ was.  It simply wasn’t here.

There is so much about right now that I had never thought of, or more accurately, stopped to contemplate.  Right now, this present moment, is really all we have to work our magic with.  It’s the only time we are in full control, or have any real control.  If we are lost in the past, or trying to control the future, we are living a life of delusion; a fantasy world and life!  The reality of it is tat we have absolutely zero control over anything but this crazy thing called this very moment.  This one, and thins one, and this one, and nothing else.

We could die in the very next one, so why would we ever think beyond it? Naturally I am focussing my argument on the in-between thoughts, that don’t concern planning our lunch for tomorrow or showering or paying taxes…all the things we need to do in order to live in our law abiding society.  But our thoughts in between all those tasks, those we need to start shaping to our end, and not the other way around.

time (1)This makes we wonder about ‘time’.  Is it natural?  I mean what did people do before the concept of time was created? Certainly, the stars were a much more important source of information than they are to us now, who live in cities that barely allow any starlight to filter down to us at night.  I have only been under the clear skies twice in my life and I must say, I was Blown Away at just how the natural night sky looks!  It is absolutely majestic!

I can imagine people used the location of the sun in the daytime, and there were probably a few sundials around, or fence  posts and so on to tell approximate time with, but were they as obsessed as we are today?  No way.

I can imagine them very much in the moment.  Dealing with time pressures insomuch as crop harvesting, tending new animals, feeding time, getting chores done before sundown, and the like.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01Sure they worked hard, and in that perhaps they too struggled with staying in the moment, but I bet they relished the sweet winds that came and cooled them down in summer.  I bet they smiled at the rain that nourished their thirsty crops, and I wonder if they had any other mechanism to wake up other than listening for roosters.  I bet the sounds of the birds were sufficient and could be heard in all their natural sweetness with no traffic to drown them out.

Oh, such a time to harken back to in our mind.  Let’s not forget that all those sounds and actions of nature are still with us today.  The sun can still strike that flag pole and tell us the time if we chose to look at it instead of the digital clock across the street. The wind still blows in the summer, and the rain still quenches our local watersheds and back yard gardens.

We just need to appreciate the simple connections, the natural sounds of birds outside our window, and the myriad of sounds of the world when we stop and listen.

mountains-trees-mountain-river-water-natureIf you live in the city, at least you, by virtue of seeing this blog, can search for the sounds of nature and videos of the forest, lake, or beach to satisfy your internal craving for what we are so dearly connected to: the planet and all life on it.

I say it’s ‘time’ to stop, slow down at least, and listen to your heart, listen to the world at 5am, smell the damp earth after a rain, and search the sky at night for what others must have seen even thousands of years ago: the multitude of shining lamps winking at us from beyond.

starsThinking about the here and now seems to lessen the burden of thinking of any other time.  I recognize that  dwelling in the past and future took me away from what was happening now.  Even thinking about responding when I was in a conversation with someone took me away from actively listening to what they were saying.

These small things actually mean a lot.

I stopped worrying about what tomorrow would bring, and about what I did yesterday in favour of creating the best me each day.  I know that if I focus on today, if I focus on right now, I can be better than who I was yesterday, and in doing so, I know I will be better tomorrow.

If every moment is a note, let’s string together such sounds that our life makes the sweetest music, and when more than one person does this, we build an orchestra of such splendid strings of present moments. This magical music of such symphonic majesty will draw others to us, and to the connectedness of each conscious soul in the universe.

Life is ultimately beautiful and perfect just the way it is, in just the right way, when we learn to see it for what it is.

Life simply is.

We simply are.

Billie-Holiday

Our Greatest Journey

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When I think of journeys, I also think of destinations; it’s only natural.  But the greatest journey is the one where our feet can’t take us.  It’s the journey inside.

Some of you can’t physically move, some are in hospitals, or prisons, or afraid of the outdoors, or simply comfortable not journeying. But this kind of journey is available to all of us, no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing.

As a matter of fact, the journey inside can be more exhilarating, more rousing, and significantly more fulfilling as any journey with our feet.

First of all, we don’t need any money.  What a relief.  Everybody can go, no matter of what you own, or don’t own.

Secondly, we get to choose the general direction of where we want to go, and we can change our mind at any time: with no cancellation fees!

Thirdly, we can travel to places we can only imagine.  Any destination we can think up, we can go.  We can be daredevils, acrobatic stunt person, or calm contemplative observer, and no matter what, we are never in danger.

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Journeying with our mind allows us to generate a perspective that can question everything that we ‘see’.  It is a speculative perspective. You see, when we ‘see’ something with our eyes, we’ve already applied our mental filter to the image.  It often comes with attached thoughts, like: judgements, associations, feelings, desires, labels, and all sorts of strings that we have learned to attach to all of our imagery.

Using our minds and not our eyes allows us to paint the picture from scratch and understand the layers of colours, images, and textures that we want to apply, and the feeling behind each one.  What colours are in your palette?  What associated thoughts and labels do you attach to the images you apply, and why?  Could you paint an image with your mind and not attach those labels?  What would that look like?

There is so much to be gained by using our minds as a tool to explore, not just our thoughts, not just our mental images and all of the strings we attach to them, but also our behaviours.  When we can become aware of our self and witness our actions, we start to bring those automatic behaviours, our habits, in to consciousness.

When we can do that, bring something from the background of our brain, select it, and bring it forward for a more detailed examination, or simply to observe, we have another chance to detach a label, or shift a perspective, by understanding the attachments that we have to it in the first place.

Looking at the links we have to a behaviour or thought or habit, sometimes looks like uncovering past steps that have been washed over by higher water.  we don’t normally see the intermediate steps that led us to where we are today, unless we tale the time to look deeper.

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Let’s look at a practical example: many people have a fear of letting a partner go.  Think about that for a minute.  Letting someone else go that you are in a relationship with.  Does anything about that statement sound ….off?

First of all, we can’t control anyone but ourself.

Secondly, if we have no control over other people, then our fear is irrational.

Thirdly, If our fear is irrational, then it isn’t real.

Lastly, if there is no real fear, then we need not fear the actions of another. Whether they stay or they go is always, and will always be, up to them. We can now let that go.

When we examine this particular insecurity, we can start to uncover our own agreements that might have made us associate our fear of being alone with our own actions.  If I am a better person, stronger, more successful, thinner, with more hair and muscles, smarter, and so on, ad infinitum.

change_of_perspective1Ahh, so now we begin to understand the real fear lies within us, with our agreements, and beliefs, and previous experiences. Then something wonderful begins to happen. We start to see things from a new perspective.

Our brain starts processing, lessening ties to this irrational fear, sorting our old thoughts and agreements, loosening the ties to previous beliefs.  It starts a process that can actually shift the perspective and substitute old agreements for new ones.  Bit by bit, we start the substitution process.

Sometimes an event can create a snap substitution like BAM!  Just like that.  More often, however, we are in a constant state of substitution, an old belief for a new agreement and only be being consistent with our application do we keep the process moving toward our new thoughts.

Fantastic voyages of our mind.  Inescapable, and constantly whirling around, our mind keeps talking to us, keeping us company.  When we learn to focus our mind like the tool it is, rather than simply listening to it, we can use it to our extreme advantage.

We can foster the ability to image new experiences before they might happen, or before we could ever conceive of them happening.  We can explore the richness of our environment by simply thinking about it, before we apply our minds filter to the images that stream in from our eyes.

We can also begin to become aware of our own behaviours, and observe what we have naturally done in the background, thereby giving us an opportunity to review whether or not we want to continue it or not.  Understand the ties and bonds we have developed with it, and, if we choose, start substituting a new belief or agreement to the action or behaviour.  This is powerful!

When I think about just a few of the fantastic ways our minds can hep us journey to other worlds, better worlds, or help make us better versions of our self, I can’t help but think about what my girlfriend also speaks about.  She started me on the path of visualizing what I wanted in life, and holy smokes, this is a powerful tool! I have manifested so much in just the last couple of years that is absolutely along my path of greatest desire.

This is yet another way to use our mind, but its resultant, or end goal, is only partially within our control. In so much as we create an environment within our mind, this acts like soil to a seed.  A fertile environment for growth, and this is why it’s called co-creating, because soil is only one ingredient.  When we want something in our life, like a partner, wealth, better health, a new career, we can first decide on what we want and create an image.  Then we can set a desire to focus in on this each day.

In this way we provide the mental ‘soil’ and the desire, or ‘seed’, we wish to grow, and the universe comes to our aid to assists us in this regard.  Once a decision is made about what we want, the universe starts working to bring us just that. That’s the other co-creator of our desired that offers our seed the rest of the necessary ingredients for successful growth.

The universe can be whatever you have labelled the sense of something greater than ourselves: God, Gaia, Buddha, Jesus, the Cosmos, the eternal spirit, whatever that is for you, I call it the universe.

If you have heard of Intention and Attention, this is all about that.  Our ‘Intention’ is all about the ‘what’ we want.  It is the direction in the compass of our mind.  Our attention is the fuel we have to get there and the more we think about our goal, the more fuel we give our vehicle to get there; all the while the universe is also rushing to meet us along the path at a moment that we will only experience when it all comes together.

journey of lifeSo, you see, I view our mind as an incredibly fantastic, in all the senses of that word, tool that we can earn to use to explore both inner and outer space, our own awareness of our actions and the associated linkages we have fastened to each and every one, and it still has the vast ability to coordinate the energies of the unknown universe to co-create our desired path, with a little work on our side.

I am in awe of what I have just started to pick up!  Every times I become aware of a behaviour, every time I can articulate something that had been merely a gut feeling, a reaction, and unexplained event on my part I get that much more grateful for the awareness that I have fostered and the sheer inspiring fascination with the power of our minds.

My Intention is to have True Seeing.  I want to abandon all of my filters that I have attached to everything I see.  I want to see you just as you are, with no labels or preconceived notions or judgements.

I doing so, I bring my Attention to bear on this as much as possible.  Like a huge onion, every time I witness a behaviour, I examine it, and start peeling away the layers, the covers, the masks of who I am.

What is your Intention?  Desire?  How do you create your focus, your attention?  Do you know what direction you are taking your life?  Are you aware of your current path?

Let me challenge you to this:

closed eyesClose your eyes. Think of one small thing you would like to change in your life.  Hold it there in your mind’s eye.  Visualize it. Feel it. Can you imagine what that would feel like?  Can you imagine what that would mean to those around you? Now, spend a moment running that film in your mind and playing it as if it has already happened.  Play that tape, live that moment.  then, when you are ready, slowly return to your present moment.  Breathe in and slowly breathe out.  Now, open your eyes and write that one thing down on any piece of paper you have handy.

200354769-002This is the important part.  Put that piece of paper in your pocket or your purse, and look at it every day.  Look at it every time your remember it.  Focus your energies on it without any doubt.  Try not to attach yourself to the desired outcome, or to a timeline, as it will come when it is ready, at just the right time.  Want to increase the power of this vision? Paste images related to it on a board so you can ‘see’ it every day!

If there is anything that I know, it is this: when we focus our intention with our attention, we create a mental image that is so fertile that the seed of our desire will manifest itself by the hand of the universe.  It will happen.

Over the next while, ponder the big questions in life, then start your journey, this very moment!

Where would you like to journey?

What is your desire in life?

Who are you under all those layers?

become

You Get What You Give

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nice

This blog, with with all the 100+ articles, comes straight from my experiences in life, and straight from my heart. The thoughts and lessons that I learn and can pass on. It doesn’t mean I am perfect, since I am far from it. But it does mean that I am creating a better version of myself every time I become aware of something new.

I like that.

The site’s address is a play on words.  It could mean ‘a typical hero’, or an ‘atypical hero’ as well. What I focus on mainly is the ability of every single person to realise the vast potential they have within themselves to become a hero.

We must realise that becoming a hero may never reach the point where we become the hero that we envision. You already have a preconceived notion of a hero, don’t you?  But what if we could simply be a kind of hero to another person? To help someone else? To say hello, or even to smile.  Just the acknowledgement of another that may rarely receive it can send a positive message to another, and if they happen to be feeling lonely, or down, or out of sorts, you may just lift them up enough to change their day, or change their life!

Heroic deeds do not have to be grandiose, they merely need to generate a positive energy.  Most, if not all, acts of heroism usually require a sacrifice.  It may be small, as in a smile, or it may be devotion to a cause that strips everything away from that person.

In my articles, I concentrate my lens on the small acts that can change our lives from the inside out.  The small things that we can easily change that can make big differences in other people’s lives.

Few videos capture the essence of this concept like this one.  I am sharing it because I rarely see a good one that uplifts the small acts of kindness we can all perform to make our world better, one person at a time.  Have a look.  I quite like it and it gets me every time.

When you are done watching it, I challenge you to simply sit and think about how you could do one act of generosity, one act of kindness…tomorrow.

Please enjoy.

 

What’s on Your Wall?

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sofaWhen I first moved in to this apartment, my walls were pretty bare.  I had a couple pictures, a couch and a TV. That’s about it. I didn’t particularly enjoy my apartment. Although the location was excellent, I was hoping to get off the ground floor at some point and maybe even get in to a nicer place.

That’s a pretty basic wish for many people I bet.

barewallsFrom this frame of mind, or perspective, I didn’t see much use in putting up pictures or filling out my wall space with anything. Even after a year, my place had changed very little.  Later, I would put up some of my important pictures with nice frames and some ones of my family, I was making some great progress…but, most of my wall space was still barren.

I had never thought much about my walls. I saw them as an area that required work, or money, or both to make them nice, and only people who are egoists or insecure needed to see such things.  Where did all those thoughts come from? Why was I resisting?

In doing so, I was conditioning my mind to believe something that I had decided upon.  Because I decided this apartment was second rate, I behaved in the fashion that was becoming of that environment.  I didn’t think I had any control over where I lived, or how it looked, so I couldn’t see a way to make it any better  Why would I want to?  A pig with a hat is still a pig, right?

Let’s not get caught up in all the easy ways of looking at something.  If we glance at something and judge it, we really haven’t given it much thought, and I needed to change the way I thought about my environment. Sure, my apartment is a box, but so are many other nice apartments or houses.  Okay, so it doesn’t have any modern furniture and appliances, and I wasn’t about to change of that, but there is something I started to realize I did have control over: the look of the walls.

Let me tell you what started to trigger my slow understanding of the effect wall space was having on me.

word1word3My girlfriend’s place was a nice house, not far from mine, and every time I went over to visit, I felt this very calm, loving feeling wash over me.  Yes, it was partly being with her, but there was something else. I loved the environment.  There were sayings on the walls, many photos, and vision boards that reflected not only current desires but those of years past as well.  The pictures that were there were not expensive, but they did create a visual aspect of nature, calm, and joy.  I loved it…and there were times when it was hard to leave.

When I came back to my apartment, the difference was magnified.  My place felt bleak, spartan, and cold, next to her colourful, surrounding, and warm atmosphere. I have to tell you, it didn’t register for a long while that I could actually change the way my place felt just by making few simple changes.  I continued to cling to my thought, my limitation, that my apartment would never reflect the atmosphere I desired.  How wrong I was!

What happened next was truly a wondrous transformation in just a few weeks.  I had put up a few items on my wall over the year to the point that I was happy or settled that I had put up everything I wanted on my walls.  It was still sparse, and some of it was just to take up space.  Then, I was in one of those dollar stores and they had a bunch of words that that you could purchase to put on your wall as décor for cheap.  I grabbed three for a total of $9.  I added that to a couple wall decals that I put up a while back that held some inspirational sayings.

I added a picture I received for Christmas of my animal spirit: a crow.  I just love crows.  I connect with them.  I was starting to notice these words a few times when I came home as one is right where I put my keys when I get in the door. Then I did something wonderful to my walls…

Before I tell you what that was, let me give you some background. The tradition for New Years Eve is to create a vision board. I did have one up from last year in a wonderful frame I was given, but it wasn’t making much of an impact.  In creating a new one this New Years Eve, I decided to make it reflective of the past year, since I had so many wonderful pictures of all the events I did and wanted to remember.  It made a super board, very colourful and full of great moments that I can really get into when I look at it every day. In doing so my girlfriend also made one for this year and mounted it on my wall.  You see, she was in the process of moving and didn’t have wall space at the time.  Then she pulled out her old vision board from last year, and now I had three vision boards ready to go up on my walls!

For those of you that haven’t heard of vision boards, they are personal boards that depict all sorts of desires for the coming year in images and words.  They are visual cues for your intentions and act as a reminder of where to place your attention. Here are some examples:

Now my walls started to speak to me!  I couldn’t believe the way I started to feel every time I looked at my walls and these boards, along with all the other words and phrases I was seeing.  I was starting to really feel a shift.

It’s as if I met, and exceeded, a threshold of my environment that started to make a difference in how I was feeling.  Shortly after this, I decided to look in the local used area for some furniture I wanted.  I got a nice love seat and a couple tables to help me work on my school work.  Over one weekend my apartment was transformed into a loving space!  I now love being in it and getting back to it. It really speaks to me on so many levels.

What I realized is that it doesn’t take much at all to transform a living space, even one that is not to your original liking, in to one that really speaks to you.

“My living space is now my loving space”

After I had lived and really enjoy this new look, I thought to myself that this is something that could be measured.  I could actually look at older photos of my apartment and figure out how much wall space, or real estate I was using that spoke to me or my dreams, versus the blank space, or the space that didn’t matter to me.

EXPERIMENT

You can do this too, as an experiment.  Look in one room, a place where you spend a significant amount of time, and look at your wall ‘real estate’.  How do you fill it out? Do you have a big screen TV in there?  Are there photos that are meaningful to you?  Do they bring back fond memories? Are there sayings that speak to you, either now, or from your childhood, that you would love to see again?

One saying that spoke to me that I found again and reprinted was that called Desiderata.  It usually hung in the kitchen wherever we were and I always spoke the first few lines in my head every tie I saw it.  I swear it made me a calmer more tolerant person for it.  Now I see it as part of my vision board every day.

So, how well is your wall real estate matching your intentions, your desires, your life goals and dreams?  If I went in to your living room and looked on your wall, what would it tell me about you?

I firmly believe now that we can make vast improvements to how we feel, no mater what environment or poor apartment we live in as long as we can spend some time creating something personal, inspiring, and relevant to us and place it on the walls.

If you are finding your environment to be lacking you can make some simple changes to freshen it up and speak to you at every moment.  I tell you, it has made a huge difference in my life, in how I feel in my own apartment and I can see now that my initial thoughts of not doing much of anything were nothing but sour grapes, a self limiting thought that kept me in a state of dismissal about the power I actually had over changing what mattered to me.

We do have the power to change many things in our lives.  Sometimes it comes to us over time until we realise it, like this wall space did for me, and sometimes it’s more readily apparent to us in the moment.  Whatever you no longer want in your life, or whatever you do want in your life, know that you have the power to manifest, to co-create the future of your dreams.

It took me a long time to realise I could do some very simple things to change my environment, and it’s made a huge difference in the way I feel when I am home.  By changing the way my visual environment looks, I feel that much closer to living my dreams, and feeling uplifted by everything I see every day.  Here are some easy to create examples of what you can do to your walls.

Have you made some changes like this?  How well did it work for you?

You Make Me Feel So…

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you make meWe’ve all heard it.  We may have even said it.  It’s innocuous, mostly undetectable, and sly, but in truth, it’s a lie. Sayings like:

“You make me feel…” or “That makes me feel…” are misstatements of blame and thrown off responsibility for our own actions.

The flip side is the great feelings we get when we are in love or in lust, or some other positive rush.  We feel as if some other person makes us feel so special, so loved, so good.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s all you.  Their actions have given you a story to work with, and you fleshed it out and took every drop of it personally.  And perhaps that’s exactly the way it was intended, so in those circumstances, it all works.  But there are still many others that we can misconstrue.  That we don’t fully understand.  How can we?

makeme feelDo you actually think that someone else can so easily read your intent?  Can they see how you interpret the world.  We run movies in our heads about the entire world we live in.  Each person we know is a character in our movie, and likewise we are characters in everyone else’s head.  But are all of our movies the same?  Do we act the same in each movie?  No way.  I play completely different roles in everyone else’s head, and they play different roles in my movie that I play.

With that in mind, it may be a miracle we actually understand one another at all! Well, let’s get back to how we own our feelings and reactions, and see what we can do about modifying that action-reaction behaviour.

Our feelings and the actions that we perform due to those feelings are completely, 100% our own, and believe me, we need to own them.  We need to take responsibility for feeling them, and for acting upon them.

No body, no thing, no circumstance can MAKE us feel a certain way unless we believe we have no control, unless we give our own power away to that which we feel controls us. Period.

That person that cut you off in traffic makes you feel mad and irate because you feel he cut YOU off.  His action was against you, and you took it personally.  You judged that person too.  They’re an idiot driver and careless of others. How could you have known that his boy was in the passenger seat, laying down, unable to breathe.  How could you have known that the driver was simply wanting to take all the crazy chances to get him to emergency to save him.  When we change the story, we have the power to erase all of the associated feelings that go with it. Like magic!

Know that when we examine our own stories, we have the power to change the story, and to shift our perspective.  When our perspective shifts, so do all of the feelings and reactions associated with that perspective.  Imagine if we could shift all of our reactionary perspectives to that of a more enlightened, conscious, non-personal state of mind.  Hang on, it’s absolutely possible!

In our western society, we have grown up with the sense that events outside of our self actually do control how we feel. Think about it. Think about how many events, actions, words, body motions, and feelings that you have gone through today alone, and think about how many of those were driven by you, consciously, and how many of those actions were responses to an outside stimuli.

PuppetStrngsDo you believe you are a puppet?  Do you believe you are powerless against such obvious manipulations of others?  Then you are.

If, however, you wish to reign in your actions, if you wish to start slowly collapsing the breadth of reaction you so wilfully and casually display, then start by admitting that you are the only person that actually controls your own self.

Admit that you do have all the tools necessary to eventually maintain control over your own emotions, and that you can decide what actions to choose when you feel like reacting.  Believe that you have choice and you will have it!  We always have the choice to do nothing.

No matter if someone called you a name, no matter if hat someone did hurt you personally, no matter if someone you cared about acted in a manner that you took a certain way, you are in absolute control over your own emotions and reactions.

This seems pretty far fetched for some people.  You might think, “Whao!  I can’t control my own emotions.  They happen naturally, without my thinking.  Too fast for me to take any actions against them.” If that’s what you believe, then you have already failed.

Believe in your own control and you will see that you have simply failed to control what is ultimately within your grasp.  Next all you need to do is tighten your grip. Realizing that you do have the power is the first step.  Becoming aware of the steps that lead up to your emotion, and subsequent actions is the next.

There are many ways to become more aware, and thereby start to experience the act of becoming annoyed, emotional, or frustrated.

This is what happens to me when that occurs:  I start become aware of my feelings when I sense something is up.  It may just be my gut telling me something is ‘off’. I may not even know what’s bothering me at that specific moment, but I start recording my awareness at that moment.  I start becoming aware of what’s happening from that point forward.

Then, I may start to piece together bits and pieces of what has happened, or what is happening that is, in the traditional wording, ‘making me feel a certain way’. Once I put some pieces together I start asking myself why I feel that way.

Is it because I just made up a story?  Did I create a story in my head about what happened without any facts?  Did I create a perspective from which I chose to look at the story?  My point of view is always personal and unique to me.  Is it because that is a pattern of my past.  Do I always feel like that in that circumstance?  Is it a belief of mine?  Have I made something that was not meant to be personal, personal anyway?  Did I make any assumptions?

You see how many facets there are to any number of events that we casually walk through every day?  When we stop to think about the full variety of thoughts that we can have relating to one incident, then add the variations of thoughts that the person to whom may have started the incident may also have, and the justifications and stories and assumptions that they hold on to, we can see very quickly that if we make any assumptions, if we take anything personally, if we speak without careful thought, we can escalate a feeling inside our own body to the point of unconscious reaction.  This is where one small innocuous, small, minor event can blow up in to a fight that nobody understands, yet everybody feels.

When we start to ask ourself these types of questions, we start to disrupt the natural pattern of action-reaction. We stop the process of occurrence within our own pattern of behaviour and our brains natural pathway of response.

By questioning ourselves, we can start to understand the mechanisms that are in play within our own thought process.  And in doing so we an start to challenge the beliefs that we have held on to, sometimes since our youth that have never evolved, and up to this point you have never had a reason to question.

We have a right not to create chaos in this world.  We have a right to manage our own feelings and actions to create harmony with others.  Accepting responsibility for our own processes is how we begin.

When you feel all out of sorts, feel your body.  Feel your gut telling you something is not right.  Feel your body creating the chemicals it does when something happens that is not to your liking, then take a breath.  Take a deep breath and start recording your actions.  Start becoming aware of what you are about to do and tell yourself to stop reacting until you uncover what it is that is bothering you.

Start piecing together events like a detective.  Start asking your self why you are feeling this way.  Believe you have the power to examine your feelings and the emotional ties that are associated to them.

Review Don Miguel Ruiz’s book and life principles called The Four Agreements, which have been instrumental in reigning in my own power to change my stories and cut my ties with old patterns.  Here are the four agreements as he has written them:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

I have made my own four agreements by putting that into my own words that have more meaning to my personal life.  They are:

  1. live your word
  2. release the ego
  3. it is what it is
  4. create with Passion

tats4I see these every day because I decided to tattoo them to my forearms, so I can remind myself every day of the agreements that I wish to live my life by.  They remind me of the power I have over me actions.  They remind me that I need not take everything personally.  They remind me that I always have a choice to do nothing, to release the egoic self, and to surrender to what is.

I love the words I have chosen to live by, and I know the power that is inside each and every one of us to realise our own potential.  Take back the power that is sitting dormant inside you.  Realize your own potential.  Own the choices that you have, and the actions that you are ultimately responsible for, and in that process others will begin to see the transformation from within you.

You will start to become an example of how to live.  No longer will you be blaming others for what ultimately is your own responsibility, or the universe for not giving you what you asked for.  Instead, you will have full control over the power of your tongue, and you will begin saying beautiful words that empower others, that lift up instead of tear down, and that see beauty where there was once only darkness.

Your power awaits your belief.  Start believing now, and let your journey begin.

Demystifying Death

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When we speak or write about death, images immediately flood your mind of caskets, funerals, flowers, candles, a lifeless body, perhaps gruesomeness, and loss.  But that view is short-sighted and narrow.  It is personal, as it relates to us, and we want to deny it as much as possible.  In doing so, we lose the essence and magic of rebirth, and the wonders that are contained in the immediate events that follow, including our own transformation.

Naturally our own mortal death is not something to be sought, so I am writing about when e encounter death or any sort, and from a desire to illuminate the many aspects of death and rebirth that we must undergo in our journey,and some others where a holistic attitude about the cycle of life can assist us.

I’m speaking of the non-literal death,the ones that lead to transformations, both physical and in our paradigms.  There are so many aspects of living that require death, of one sort or another, that if we continue to avoid them simply because they are painful, we can miss the majesty of what happens next. We can become locked in a state, or stage, of life that we need to grow out of in order to mature. Let’s start by looking at some simple symbols of death.

Symbolism

XskullThere may come to you a symbol of death like the skull and crossbones when he thought comes to you. Pretty standard stuff.  But, what you may not know, is that this symbol was used in ancient times not to ward you off, or scare you, but to provide reflection upon life. Richard Cassaro writes that “is a reminder of the temporary nature of human life, and the inevitability of death.”

Richard continues to write that it evolved in the Middle Ages to a Latin expression: Memento Mori. This means ‘Remember that you are mortal’. In doing so, we can live fully. We also see the Latin expression of Memento Vivre to reflect the similar phrase from the opposite perspective, meaning ‘Remember to Live’.

tumblr_mso69wktqq1sty79do1_500So, the symbol that we may now associate with death was actually used to provide us with a perspective of life.  Now, that’s something different.  Let’s now look at life from the very beginning.

Death In Life

In giving birth, are we not transformed?  Living comfortably in the belly of our mother, our lungs have never touched dry air, living instead in fluid until that time.  We are transformed in traumatic fashion from a water baby to that of an air breathing baby in truly a different universe.  Every single aspect of self has changed! This transformation can be seen as a death of the previous way of living, and a rebirth to a new manner of life.  This, naturally, is not the only transformation we undergo throughout our life cycle.

In youth, we learn and obey as we develop our mind, until there comes a time when the desire to do for ourselves begins to rule us.  We are unruly, rebellious, and must experience the ‘whys’ of life for our self.  This youthful obedience gives way to exploration for the fortunate some, but for many they are forced to adulthood suddenly, through rite of passage, or circumstance.  This shift is a death of innocence and the birth of adulthood.

When children leave the bosom of their protective mother to become a man, or independent woman, they strike off on a journey of their own making. Whether they like it or not, they must say goodbye to their former selves in order to expand in to the person they are inside: their true identity.  Casting off the clothing and protective nature of their parents is a universal stage of life tradition that many cultures provide ceremonies for: the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, Buddhist boys initiated to temples as monks, Christian Confirmation, and so on.

proof-of-life-after-death-4When we look at the symbolic reference of death in his manner, not as mortal death, but as transformation from one stage to another, it becomes more comfortable to discuss.  It is at that stage of acceptance that we start to discover a host of transformations in our own life, and in the life outside of us, in nature, that we begin to see and understand the cycle of life.

Life Cycles In Nature

In the forest, a fire is often seen as detrimental, certainly toward human life, and the animals caught within it, but for the ecosystem, it is actually quite beneficial. Fires reduce the accumulation of dry debris that store the fire’s energy potential and often to not harm the mature trees.  They release nutrients into the soil that cause a bloom of new life. Ponderosa Pine seeds are one example of a forest species that has adapted favourably to post fire conditions.  New growth increases the greenhouse gas uptake.

The suppression of fires has led to the increase in the stockpile of forest floor material, which  in turn creates a great blaze when it does catch fire, injuring all trees in it’s wake. Similarly, in our human existence, when we hold on to the past and do not move forward in our own stages of life, we create greater potential for mental suffering.

The caterpillar to butterfly is the very symbol of transformation that we are all aware of, but there are many other insects and life forms that undergo similar shifts of existence.  The silkworm to moth, tadpoles and frogs, to that of the salmon.

The mortal shells of plant and animal bodies and shells return to the soil from which they came to furnish the next generation with their essence and their nutrients. That cycle, when we see it happen in its entirety, indicates that there is a purpose for the changes we encounter.  In order not to get drawn in to the stage of death, unable to break over to the other side of the experience, we need to soften our gaze and become open to the new.

Death Awakens New Life

When death is the focus of something that is part of a cycle, we lose the whole of the process and shrink our minds to but a fraction, in fear.  Acceptance of the process in its fullness, and appreciation for the blessing nature that occurs at the moment after death, is an affirmation of process of nature.  It widens our perspective and allows us to see beyond the mere act of death to that which lies beyond.

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude”
-Thornton Wilde
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Paradigm shifts are a death cycle that awaken a new world to us.  We shift mentally when we realise a new way of thinking.  The rapture at understanding a brand new concept gives life to a new world that we just sprang in to.  We can no longer think the way we used to given the awareness of the new knowledge we possess.

Similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Once they ate the forbidden fruit, they we cast out.  They learned of duality in the world and could no longer think they way they used to.  The old selves were dead to them, and they had shifted into a new world, a new universe of existence.

When we learn something new, does it not transform us?  In this transformation, how are we changed?  By small amounts surely in the typical nature of our development, highlighted at times by more meaningful ‘ah-ha’ moments, but on the whole, our transformation may go largely unnoticed.

This is where myths and stories about living life come in handy.  They help us define our life in terms of the history of existence of the community in which we define our self with.  The rituals that are enacted relate to the myths and stories of our community, and are done so for a reason: to help us transform, to assist us with guilt, to give us a higher perspective, and to change our way of thinking or consciousness; our paradigm.

Humans chakrasThe death and rebirth stories can be seen to signify other shifts, like the way we transform away from the monkey brain, or animal instincts, to a higher consciousness. The Buddhist Chakras that lay along your spine start at the base, with the most base of instincts rising to the cosmic consciousness at the skull. This ranges from base instincts to enlightenment is purposeful in the alignment of our body. Those that achieve the awakening of consciousness can no longer go back to sleep; they die to the old self and need to build upon the new self in a rebirth.

The Wisdom in Stories

Today’s popular society has an aversion toward death, and it is easily seen in the way we avert our attention away from it in all the aspects that it happens within the stages of our own life.  It is unavoidable, yet we distance ourself from it.  We desire to prolong our life, for men to prolong their youth, for women to remain young, holding on the the image of something that will fade,regardless of what we do, no matter what we may want.  This creates suffering, particularly in those that measure themselves by the ruler of others.

If we could bring stories of wisdom back in to our lives that are there to give help us in the journey of life, we might be better able to cope with these death and life cycles we struggle with in many parts of our life.

life deathMyths and rituals, as Joseph Campbell talks about them from the far reaches of the entire planet, have very similar meanings.  They give us a perspective on death that allows us to move forward and continue our personal growth with the knowledge that the universe is one, that we are all connected, that death is but a phase of life, and that we need not fear that which society has not accepted.

Take a moment and discover the beautiful stories about the life cycle.  For any that have seen the Lion King, you may recall the beautiful song that was sung: The Circle of Life.  Here we see the birth of Simba.  In the Lion King we also see the death of Mufasa, Simba’s father.  Why did they kill off such a regal character?  I believe they did so because we have all been touched by death of a loved one, within our family or not.

We can become lost to it, wander in the turmoil it causes us, but for the rest of the people that are involved in the effect of the death, life goes on, and if we let the death change us to a mournful person incapable of transforming, it creates a greater loss than even the initial event.  In the movie, Simba ultimately transforms to a leader himself, assisting the greater good of his pride and thwarting the evil Scar.

So, the lesson is this: if we let death take us over, we also die and accentuate the effect of death.  If we learn from the event, accept it and revere the remaining life, we can grow from it.

One path moves us away from life, the other draws us closer.

Death is simply an extreme of the range of change that occurs in our everyday life. If we can welcome change, we can accept death, knowing that just beyond it is life of a sort that can bless us with greater understanding and personal growth.  As in all transformations, this takes time to assimilate in to our life.  The more we are accepting of change and of the cycle of life, the easier the transformation will become.  This is the power of the myth stories, and ritual acts, that can impart the wisdom to us and ease the journey.

Funerals are a ritual.  They provide an act that we say goodbye to the past and awaken to a new life, but without a wise story that threads death and life together, we can stumble in our weariness and grief.

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure”
– J. K. Rowling

From death comes new life. We die to our water baby in birth and become an air baby, then we die to our childhood and become an adult, then our children leave us and we die to the parental focus and are reborn with a new focus, only to go through the final stage of life with a mortal death.  Who knows what lies beyond that final curtain.  What we can sense though all of the other lessons of the cycle of life is that it is for sure a transformation.

If we can learn one thing from all of the previous cycles in life,personally and in nature, we can see that there is always life after death.  There is something there. We can rest assured that even though we can not see the visible nature of the transformation, something occurs.  The energy leaves the body and must go somewhere, for it may not vanish given the laws of physics.

Death is Life

Death is not the end as we currently may view it, but simply a door to the new quantum of growth; a rebirth, if you will, to a new frame of reference.  Below is an image of the Buddha Circle, representing the repetition of life and death as a cycle.

buddhist circleIf you find yourself in the grips of a death, I hope you can start to take some comfort that although we may not see the transformation that lay beyond the immediate, there is goodness, new life, and a greater sense of self even just over the horizon.  Life, surely as all the tales in all the cultures around the world indicates, does spring from death, in one way or another, and we need only understand the cycles that we grapple with in our own journey to understand this.

Aside from the personal trauma that we know so well, there is another side to death, and it is life, rebirth, and wisdom.

Day 365

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Tick.

Tock.

Time is like the continuum of life.

It contains, within it, a full spectrum of birth and death, but they become polar opposites in the stillness of a moment; where life is truly lived, and time simply disappears.

When, is a measure of the difference between now and another moment.

Now, can never be measured.

The First Post

My very first post was 364 days ago.  I am on the last day of exactly one year of thinking, and writing, about heroes in our culture, heroes in society, and the underlying hero that lives within our soul or spirit.  In that first post I wrote that this was “my attempt to manifest a Hero in 365 days.”

I think it is only proper to reflect upon the meaning of the purpose of this blog on the last day, and see whether I achieved a measure of success.  Here are some of my thoughts:

We all struggle in life.  The struggle we endure is manifested both in the outer world in which we interact physically, and the inner world of our minds.  The journey we start in order to overcome the obstacles in our life are very similar to the cycles in the hero’s journey; well described by Joseph Campbell.

The Hero’s Journey

They represent this struggle in the form of an adventure, where we ultimately return with special knowledge/elixir/cure over the adversary/issue/obstacle to share with others.

It can be represented across so many different types of instances or struggles: creating a new business, the changes of adulthood, overcoming a physical illness, finding the answer to a problem, becoming enlightened, and so on.

Whether we actually find a mentor to take us on the journey, or use our inner mentor, find guidance in the universe, or a spirit we hold dear, the result bears an uncanny resemblance to this cycle.  The take away for me, is this: when we triumph over a problem, big or small, we are adding systematically to the Hero Quotient (HQ) inside of us.  This tally of wins, or measure of triumphs, is important to dwell upon, and celebrate, because they form the foundation for the sense of heroic power within each and every one of us.

We need to celebrate our HQ because it reminds us of the power we have over our enemies, even if they aren’t physical, even if they are elements within our self.  The mindset of a hero, where the power to continue in the face of adversity, or the unknown, comes from within, can make all the difference when we face the uncertainty in our path.  When we start to believe in our ability to persevere, we are calling upon this inner strength of triumph; this gives us our confidence in life to surmount these challenges and I feel it is imperative to develop this in everyone.

My Journey

I was jobless for 30 days before starting this blog, and didn’t have any idea of how to balance that fact with a new relationship and my family.  I could have succumbed to the despair many people experience in those types of situations, but I found a way to press on.  One of the many facets of my new relationship that assisted me, was my girlfriend’s ability to foster growth within me.  She gently guided me to a place of calm self introspection, where I began to make changes in my life that were in better alignment with the ultimate goals in my life. The result was a career opportunity teaching young minds at a local college.  Triumph!  And now that I have successfully finished teaching three classes, I love it.  Double triumph!

Throughout the year, the strains and stresses the universe gave me, provided many learning opportunities, as they do for most of us, if we look at them in this light. And although it held feelings of great loss, financial pressure, and personal pain, it also encapsulated moments of supreme beauty, family ties, wondrous nature, self exploration, joy, bliss, deep conversations, fun, and play.

My Muse

I am extremely grateful to my girlfriend.  I call her my muse.  She supplied my mind with much to think about, ponder, and chew on, for she inspires me with her wisdom, courage, and strength.  She introduced meditation to me in the form of the popular Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day series, the first of which I heard was Perfect Health.  It took me on a journey outside of my issues and let me see the world through different lens or perspectives.  It also gave my brain time to process the many issues it was dealing with at the time.  Meditation settled me, and gave me a tool that developed my sense of perspective.

Then we both read Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, and that was a great teaser on the power of our mind.  Our discussions broached many subjects from habits, to addictions, to family roles, and ties to past events.  I am convinced that the vast majority in our society are addicted to something, co-depend someone, and wear Egoic masks to conceal our true identity, which we never spend enough time getting to know.

In that first post, I felt a sense of ‘lack’ within myself.  I felt as if I had failed in achieving my life’s goals.  I sincerely needed to create, or discover, my confidence once again.  I am happy to suggest to you, that I feel very different today.  As a matter of fact, I had forgotten about how I was really feeling back then, until just now when I reread that passage.  That makes me smile.

Awakening to the Power Within

I feel more in control.  I feel more broadly appreciative of life, of other people, and very peaceful.  I still lose the calm, however, and I act and react like any other unconscious person, when I don’t contribute to my self care program in a thoughtful manner.  Last night my girlfriend and I both handed out care packages to the needy and I felt a tremendous amount of sincere appreciation from the people that it touched.I felt like I was, in a small way, a real hero.  In this respect, I do think this blog has awakened the sense of the hero within, which I would call a measure of success.

I have made a step in the right direction and I feel my HQ has risen.  Throughout my other 97 posts I believe I have uncovered some very simple questions we can ask ourself in life.  I delivered my thoughts as musings, and gave you a taste of the lessons I learned along the way.  I won’t summarize them all here and now, because that will be the task of writing them all in book form.  My next quest.

I hope you have found some inspiration along the way.  I know that if we just take the time to think about, ponder, and meditate on what it is that we want in our life, we can make it happen.  We can manifest the dream-like life we all desire if we ‘put our minds to it’.

What Time Holds

When we were young, we were different.  Our bodies were different, our personalities were different, and even the cells in our bodies were completely different.  We change every day, every moment, and it’s mostly imperceptible to us. Changes in others, or within us, often trigger changes in the relationships we hold, even the very close ones.  Sometimes we don’t want the relationships to change and others times we romanticize the past in order keep things from changing, but we need to let go of the past in order to embrace the present.  Always being open to what is, takes courage, mental flexibility and a keen sense of detachment from the meaning we give it, which are our stories.

What we might not realise is that the changes we bring about in ourselves sometimes necessitate changes in others.  Our relationships with them undergo changes, like an elastic band between two fingers, where we try to flex only one finger and both fingers end up feeling the stress.   The very nature of relationship is the ‘relation’ it creates; always relative to who we are.

One of the most pervasive questions I have ever come across is this:

Who are you?

Two follow-up questions I like to ask are:

  1. Do you know what your passion is?
  2. What steps have you taken to realize your passion?

These worldly quests are on my plate, my next ‘to do’ list if you will.  They are not simple to answer, and may take on several different answers as I mature.

As I change, no doubt my relationships with the people around me will change too. I have to be willing to surrender those old ties, and appreciate the new ways I might connect with loved ones, friends and family.  It’s all very exciting!

I will continue to post my thoughts and lessons as they occur to me, because this is now a part of my life.  It may twist and turn through various subjects, but ultimately, I am on a Hero’s Journey, and I want to be able to tell you about what I see on the other side!

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Stay tuned, and in the present moment.  I think I hear the call to adventure!

A Toast To You Swan Lake Trumpeters

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Shout out #3 is all about mastering the art and science of toasting, making toasts, hosting, emceeing, speaking, greeting, engaging, inspiring, connecting, reading the audience, emoting, giving feedback, evaluating, leading, playing, evoking, and generally building up your inner strength of character so you give yourself the gift of a voice that can be heard by people other than yourself.  If you haven’t yet guessed, it is all about Toastmasters.

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It started when I had a couple of television interviews at work and I found myself…gasping…for…air during the interviews when I let the sentence runintothenextone.  ~Breathe.  I needed to find a course, or educate myself somehow, on how to overcome this stress response.  I wanted to be able to perform on camera as well as I envisioned I could.

Well, after looking around at available courses, a friend suggested I look at Toastmasters International.  Apparently, they can help you in these types of situations, and I learned that they can do a lot more.

I looked in to it, and behold, it sounded fantastic!  It charged very little to be a part of a club ( I would guess about $10-15/month for most clubs in my area) and it enabled you to work at your own pace, while reaping the benefits of listening to other people speak and be evaluated all at once.  Holy smokes!  How was this possible?  Some courses that were offered on public speaking were a couple thousand dollars and lasted a week or a weekend, with no follow up.

I could go to these groups after work, or before work, but travelling by bus meant I would spend a lot of time in transit, literally.  I then had an idea.  What about starting my own Toastmasters club?

Looking in to that idea started to make sense.  I worked for a large enough company with about 300 employees in one building.  I needed 20 people to sign up to officially charter the club, so I sent around an investigative email to explore the idea with staff.  I received enough positive emails that I started the push, and even though we weren’t official, we started meeting right away with those that took interest.

It took a full year to get the 20 people required to pay the dues and become founding members, and the Swan Lake Trumpeters Toastmaster Club was born!  With it’s policy of maintaining approximately 50% staff and 50% public members, it had an excellent mix of people that diversified the speaking topics.

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I participated in the group at several levels and I have to tell you, it gave me confidence to speak to groups, gave me courage to try new things, gave me skills needed to lead others, and gave me a chance to practice my skill in the real world where I and others emceed many local community events!

I owe a lot of my outward talent to the exercises I did in Toastmasters.  I finally finished my ten speeches in my Speech manual, and then my Leadership manual, to become what is know as a Competent Communicator and a Competent Leader and I now use all those skills in attempting to engage, inspire, and lead young, and not so young, minds in college education.

Truly, Toastmasters is for everyone.  It is a safe environment to speak for the very first time.  The encouraging advice and evaluations it gives new members gently persuades you to explore what you can do to improve your next speaking part and praises you for your courageous decision to speak up.

If you have ever thought that you wanted to perform better at work, speak more eloquently, be able to say your piece, be heard for your insights, talk to strangers, increase your sales, or simply improve relationships with other people, Toastmasters does that, and it can do it for you.  It simply works because it works simply, by building on fundamental building blocks, until you start flowing easier and easier.

The ongoing nature of Toastmasters, with it’s weekly, or biweekly meeting schedule, means that you can make significant progress with simple measurable steps.  And if you desire to put more energy in, and become involved in meeting roles, and/or executive roles, you can blossom as far as you desire!

Toastmasters broadened my skill set, and changed my life.  I feel competent enough to share how I feel with the most important person in my life, and many other people I am in contact with every day.  By spending the necessary time on my own self improvement, I have emboldened others to speak up as well.  I have elevated my relationship by actively listening, and I can succinctly give a response that takes in to account the other person’s reaction and feelings.

I love my Swan Lake Toastmasters, and now that I have changed careers, and there is a Toastmasters club where I now work, I will continue my never-ending journey of self improvement by joining that club, the First Canadian Toastmasters Club at Camosun College.

I hope I have impressed upon those reading this article that these clubs are very gentle on newcomers.  And if you go to one meeting and it doesn’t resonate with you, try another.  They are all slightly different in their flavour, and it may take a few visits with different clubs, as a non paying guest (so don’t worry about cash up front when you are just checking it out) ,to see which one fits you best.

If you really want to increase your performance by leaps and bounds, take in a few months of Toastmasters to get the hang of what it’s all about, then go to a Toastmasters Conference.  Here is a link to the next conference in the Spring of 2015 for District 21, which is for our area in British Columbia.  It is in Victoria this year!  No reason not to attend since you need not pay for accommodations if you live nearby of have friends in the area to crash with!  It will blow you away, and you will come back from the weekend event with significant gains in all areas of your speechcraft!  They are such a super deal at about $200 for a ticket that includes your meals!  But look, it’s $139 right now with the early bird deal!  You get to listen to world class speakers, and go to education sessions all day long! You can’t beat that bang for your buck anywhere on earth.

Do it!  It’s good for you, and what’s good for you is good for everyone you connect with.

The Gift of Exasperation

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This article #2 in a series of shout-outs to the things that have helped me in my journey of change.

I was living my life in an unconscious state, unable to see reality before I was inspired.  I was feeling lazy, fat, sick and tired, and I was desperate for a change.

I didn’t know at the time if watching movies was affecting my food choice, or if eating poorly was slowly making me more lazy, and drew me to becoming less active, and I started watching more movies.  Either way, it doesn’t matter: I was less active and I was watching a lot of movies on the couch.

I had felt this for some time but I didn’t believe in diets, and I had been very lax in exercise, so I was really feeling the burden of my body at the time.  I literally was exasperated and desperate for some relief.

Inspiration finally came to me on January 1st.  It was a cold, rainy day, and I was sitting on my cozy couch watching a movie; no surprise there, for people who know me, as I love movies.  But this particular movie struck the proverbial chord with me. The movie was “Hungry for Change.”  Considering my food choices to date, it just made sense.

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If you have Netflix, here is the link for you in Canada.

I can still recall the feeling I got from watching it.  It gave me hope that if I could simply add one healthy item into my basket when I shopped, it would gradually grow in to two healthy items, and I would eventually shift away from the junk I was currently craving.  I call that the ‘Universal Method’, because it can relate to anything we want to change.

This idea of gradually squeezing out the bad food was wonderful, and the documentary showed how other countries ate, it it was vastly different that the way I was eating.  I knew that I needed to start making smarter choices and this movie took my desire and provoked and action.

I felt like everyone does when they go on a new diet, or try something new: excited and focussed.  I got my next groceries focussing on the healthy components, and I started doing something that I never thought I would ever do: writing.  As a matter of fact, I never thought much about it at all.

I wanted to document the changes I might encounter while changing my diet.  This is what I wrote on Day One:

It’s 3:50am on day one (January 2013) and I am satisfied with this introduction, excited about the prospect of writing this book and for the rest of my life, which I plan to change one element at a time.  You will be coming along, seeing my journey as I make my way through each chapter and ultimately in the place I envision at the end.  Now I can sleep, and I feel like I will sleep soundly tonight.  There is much to be done.

When I started writing, I found that my ideas for a better life started growing.  I started eating better and my mind kept expanding.  In a few months I had carved out the basic components for eight chapters on how I could change my life, and what areas I could achieve this.  I wrote it in such a way that anyone reading it could do the same.

write-bleed-e1354300066951I was quite shocked at how I took to writing.  The comment from Mr. Hemingway pretty much sums it up. All I tend to do is sit here and my thoughts are connected to my fingertips and literally what I think falls out to the keyboard.  each of these posts as a matter of fact probably take me an hour and a half per 1000 words to write, which means I have spent about….calculating…lots of hours pressing keys with my mind.

Anyway, I felt this connection to something that spawned a sort of awareness within.  It wasn’t quite consciousness as I know it today, but it was a place where I could reflect on how I felt and write it down so I could see what I was feeling at different times.  It also provided me with a clear trend of a project.  I have this character flaw that I don’t complete projects.  Mostly it’s because I get bored and move to the next.  I can see how it will play out after a certain point, and if I can see that far, the creativity loses it’s flavour.  I am drawn to solving problems and issues because it fosters creativity.  But, progressing along a project to it’s end also has it’s advantages and it is character building.  I am still continuing to develop that trait.

This writing gave a me a place to say what I needed to say, just to myself.  That’s all I needed to take the first step in recognising I needed to do this.  in doing so, I started to seek out ways of changing my habits, and I started questioning the things I was doing that were slowing my progress; like driving to and from work, which was a 20 minute walk away.  So I sold my car.

It wasn’t that of a decision: the clutch blew out and that was going to cost me more than the car was worth.  I was able to sell it to my mechanic friend who fixed it up for his daughter: win-win.  You know, I look back on some of these events in my life with the view of synchronicity and it just makes sense!  I wanted a healthier life and I knew that I was driving too much: so the universe said: here you go, Bam!

Some are carrots and others are sticks.  The car was a stick and the movie was a carrot and it started me on a clear path.  It was just a baby step, and it did not completely transform me, but it got me to a place where I was open to change.  I was able to start the conversation with myself about taking serious steps to making it happen. If I didn’t take the bait and start this journey at that time, I would still be living the life that so many other people live: tired and unhappy, looking for happiness in all the wrong places.

There are so many ways that we can become inspired.  Sometimes, it just happens at the right time.  I heard once that it takes seven exposures to one particular element for a person to even notice it, which is why the tenet of advertising is repetition.  It’s no wonder given the exposure to advertisements that the average person has today, even if you don’t watch TV.

This reminds me of another element I changed: I gave up cable TV.  I was so bothered by the increased noise level, the sporadic light shows to catch my attention, and the general lack of creativity in advertising that I opted out entirely. I really only watched documentaries, the Nature channel and other educational type shows to stimulate my brain, but I would occasionally watch popular shows as well.  I found it just wasn’t worth it and my life has become calm at home.

One side effect of this is being near a TV when I am out at a restaurant, or at someone’s home, if it is on.  My eye is literally drawn to it, and I need to reign them in with conscious effort to looking away.  Just be warned, if you attempt to do this and try to have a conversation with someone and not look at the TV.

In looking back, you can say that my journey started by giving some things up that I knew were bad for me.  They bothered me, and I was sensitive enough to how that made me feel that I was able to do something positive that made my life healthier.

I am still doing that today, and I feel that this journey I am on, and so many other people are on, is a life long journey, and every step I make in improving it is worth it.  I am embodying the Universal Method, adding positive elements to my life, one step at a time.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, even in the midst of what some may call an addiction, as certainly sitting and watching something for hours on end can become, and it was for me.

great-book-of-amberOnce I removed cable, and my car, I started seeing life from a brand new angle. While walking to work I would notice things about the area I had never seen before.  I would gaze in wonder about the beauty that I lived within.  I truly am blessed to live in such a beautiful place.  I also read more and love it again as I used to do.  Right now, I have chosen to reread the very first book I read when I started to read for fun.  It is the Amber series by Roger Zelazny and it is great fun ready the fantasy again.

Exasperation’s cure is inspiration.  Wherever you find it, in a dream, watching a movie, in the bathroom, at a restaurant, take it and run with it. When you put the intention out there to make a change, it comes true.  By ‘out there’ I mean to the universe, the energy that connects us all together.  I believe that there is some underlying connection between all of us and I can not name it.  It may not come to us in the manner that we expect, and in fact, if it did, it we would have seen it long ago.  The fact that it comes to us in a way we do not expect it to means that the universe has found a way to affect change in your life and whatever happened to you to make a change is proof.

It is said that the universe is multi-dimensional, and with every decision we make we step into one dimension or another, like a rotating door. It waits for us to decide, then rotates to provide us with the appropriate dimension.  Know that in making a new decision in life, especially when you have no ides what your next step will be, that what you need is already been sent to you.  You are attracting it by the very essence of desiring it; by giving it your fullest attention.

The mere fact that I am still writing, and a I have written the entire year on one positive theme that has enhanced my life, is something that I cherish.  I still find it hard to complete projects, but this is one area of my life I was able to maintain and complete, and I am proud of myself for doing so.

I hope that you can find inspiration for whatever change you may desire in life. Perhaps you are desperate for change in some area of your life.  Find peace that this is the perfect time to affect change.  It means that you are ready to undergo meaningful transformation!

It certainly has changed my life for the better, and if you have managed to make a change in your life, leave me a comment and share what it was, and what inspired you to make a change.tumblr_static_hungry-for-change-dvd

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