Heroic Work Feeds Us

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What do I mean by heroic work?

Work that serves to lift up those around you: that’s one way to be heroic.

When you become involved in an organization that serves others, it does something to you: it feeds something inside us. There is a part of me, that I think exists in everyone, that lights up when we lend a helping hand.

This is what drives us to grasp another’s hand, to hold the door open, or to ask if others are okay, and it feeds an essential need, deep inside the core of our being. Being a part of any uplifting work feeds us in many ways, but before I get in to that, I want to give you some context.

herowork-logoSome of you may know that I volunteer for a charity called HeroWork. I first found out about this charity through my blog writing, and some searching for heroic ideas to write about in my own hometown.

HeroWork essentially renovates charitable institutions, but in a modern barn raising fashion that are called “Radical Renovations”. With the entire community getting involved, from the trades, to the food providers, and everyone in between that prepares the event, it is a team effort. They only last a few weeks, and the event is bookended by very public and engaging opening ceremonies, complete with a march on to the site, and closing ceremonies that give us the “Big Reveal” about the new look.

The inception of HeroWork is a most fascinating tale. Please read about it on the HeroWork website from Paul Latour, the Executive Director and person behind the charity.

During the most recent opening ceremonies, the march to the site consisted of a police escort, a 16 piece military band, and all of the volunteers that were slated to start the careful dismantling of the site that evening. Watching the procession walk the seven or so blocks to the site, with a bouncing “LOVE” ball pushed from one portion of the parade to another, was a marvel to see and hear. As the marching band reached the site and the crowd parted for them, everyone was brought to the stage. It was a delight to see!

From that point on, the event started reshaping the physical building and grounds of the site, but what keeps coming back to me is something that was shared during a team building exercise we all had as volunteers on the project, and it came from the recipients of the project renovations.

To hear the story, as told from the service providers that HeroWork helps, was another jolt that underscored the reason I became involved, and it broadened my perspective, and gave greater understanding about what these charities mean to the persons they serve, and HeroWorks role in all of this.

rk-logoTo the layperson, the recipient of the latest project, The Rainbow Kitchen in Esquimalt, BC, which is run off the side of the Esquimalt United Church, the name may indicate that they simply feed the community, and indeed, they do that. What is not immediately apparent, is the other more subtle, but no less important, functions they serve.

People seek assistance when they clearly need it, and going to the Rainbow Kitchen for food is something that many people do on a daily basis; after all it serves 36,000 meals a year. If you were like me, you probably thought the clients were those that may be homeless, struggling with huge obstacles to overcome in life, and happy to receive any assistance they could find.

Not so true, and this is perhaps a stereotype that is perpetuated by those who simply are not educated on the matter, like I was. You simply don’t know, what you don’t know. Becoming involved in this project taught me more about the fundamental needs of not just the disenfranchised, but also the broader base of people that the kitchen provides for. Seniors that are home poor and can’t afford proper food also visit the kitchen, but let’s consider the average person in Canada.

With the reality and burden of the Canadian debt load, a sudden change in employment status can leave us faced with real world challenges of finding shelter, never mind food. If you are a family provider, your issues just expanded exponentially. Do you have enough savings to last a couple months with no income? What if you lost your job due to an illness or accident outside of work? Could you survive without services such as this?

Many single parents, seniors, or otherwise challenged adults are simply a couple paycheques away from homeless, and may look to supplementing nourishment through these facilities before that becomes a survival reality. The Rainbow Kitchen feeds their bodies.

But aside from serving a variety of people, they serve a variety of functions. The Rainbow Kitchen, and places like it, don’t just give them food to survive, they also provide a place to meet other people; it’s a social atmosphere.

A senior who may otherwise be sitting at home eating toast and drinking tea, alone, can come and visit with other people that become associates, and eventually friends over time. The tireless staff greet them with smiles and a cheery attitude that can buoy their spirits on a rough day.

The people who have been there for years welcome the new people, and a mixture of simple ‘hellos’ and long stories create a buzz or word sounds melding with those that are happy simply to feel food in their mouths and help clear their mind. The Rainbow Kitchen feeds the heart of those that come in.

It literally creates community within a neighbourhood, as deep and complex as any planned neighbourhood with respect to the relationships that are formed.

Going from a well-loved establishment, to one that exudes a freshness, crisp lines, brilliant paint, and a smell of newly hewn wood, there exists perhaps a growing sense of pride for the physical environment with which the patrons will experience after the Radical Renovation that HeroWork leaves behind. This legacy, of not just paint and wood and appliances, but also that of lovingly decorated facades, signage, and other embellishments, are lovingly created specifically for each targeted site. They enrich the newness of the renovations with the heart of the original, and I hope it serves to indicate to those that use the facility of their worthiness.

The fact that this building and physical form was demonstrably and significantly upgraded, refreshed, and rebuilt with an eye to sustainability, lower maintenance costs, and a beautiful look, must indicate to the patron the value of the site, and the service it provides. Ultimately the worth transfers to the user.

We absorb the environment we are in, be it our friends, our career, the natural environment,or built. If it is ugly to us, we treat it that way, but if we see the value in it, we start to develop and exchange that value within us as well. HeroWork feeds the spirit of the users.

The end product is simply a newer building and grounds. It’s a physical thing, with nothing more to it to the uninitiated or uneducated. It has a dollar value and a different look than it did before, but there is so much more that is transformed.

Work that serves to uplift others is heroic. It feeds us; our bodies, our minds, and our spirit as human beings that are hard-wired to help one another. In targeting other charities that benefit from the Radical Renovations, HeroWork helps organizations like the Rainbow Kitchen feed a broad base of local people; each one in need of nourishment of one kind or another. A place for food, social interactions, and always a warm welcome, it serves a deeper connection many seldom get to witness.

By the time a few weeks are over, and the renovation is complete, the HeroWork volunteers will have all gone their separate ways, returning to their typical lives. But the lasting legacy of what they were able to accomplish in that short time frame will impact the hundreds of people, and thousands of days, of feeding a community.

To find out more about HeroWork or the Rainbow Kitchen, follow their link, or to get involved in some heroic volunteer organizations, type “I want to volunteer” in your favourite search engine. Here is one such link that I found in doing so: Volunteer Canada.

Hungry for change? Feed your mind, body, and spirit by volunteering. HeroWork still needs your help too.

I hope you will join me, and the entire community, October 2nd at 4pm for the “Big Reveal” of the legacy that will be the brand new Rainbow Kitchen!

To Have Never Known Loss

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I have loved, and I have lost, but life is in the giving, and not in the cost.

dsc00612Love, I mean real, passionate, make you speed down the road to see her, run up to the door, heart-pounding love…I’ve had it. One of the beautiful things about my heart, is that there is no room for regret in it. It keeps a little bit of everyone I ever loved in it. That also makes it unique.

All my foibles and triggers are all rolled up in to one heart, and sometimes it takes me a long time to realize some of my weaknesses. But, that’s not you, right? I mean, you probably know yourself pretty good, why would this post interest you? Well, maybe, just maybe, you can learn a little from my past mistakes, or simply have a laugh or two as I recount a bit of my past.

I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people I know. I have loved several people throughout my life. I recall my very first girlfriend. At one point we were neighbours in townhouses: it was surreal as a teenager to have your girlfriend right next door! I know we broke up and got back together several times in those adrenaline and hormone driven times; That’s high school for ya.

My next love was as a senior in high school. My friends used to say I was always running on MT (empty), as if I was out of gas, but always thinking of her. They were right, I was in love. We must of broken up at least five times. Well, I guess that’s that’s adolescence for ya.

There was another girl that ran with the pack of us crazy 20 year olds. We were on top of the world, and we had so much fun together. Even though we broke up a few times, I knew we were destined to be together because one of the very best things in my life happened with her: my son. He is my realized Hero. He is his own person, and I know that if I learned anything from my life and was able to come back as another person, it would be him. That’s young love for ya.

Then, I met a woman that I would soon marry. I loved her as well, and she would be a person that I knew I could be with to the very end of my life. I had the capacity to love her if she was fat or sick or lost her mind. I would care for her forever. That forever lasted 1.5 years until it fell apart. Even after we were divorced, we tried it again. Why do we do that? That’s blind love for ya.

Life was…learning to live with myself for the next 10-15 years, until I met the most magical woman of them all. She was as beautiful as she was smart; so smart in fact that she blew my mind at the things she brought in to my consciousness. I grew so much with her, but that growth alone would not sustain us. We broke up at least four times. Each time we grew so much, and, as we called it, we healed broken parts of our heart from past loves. We knew we were better for it as people, but not for each other. That was truly conscious love.

Now, as I reflect on the patterns of behaviour around love and relationships, I see a startling fact. With each significant relationship in my life, we broke up several times. I’ve been brewing about this, and in doing so asked myself some questions. Was it different circumstances that dictated this? Was I just constantly learning  over and over again with each person? No, that’s not me. Once I learn something I rarely duplicate it. Funny then, I must not be learning a much needed lesson, because I keep repeating the same pattern over and over again.

I think, however, I have an idea about what it is. Interestingly, it comes from a movie I saw; which will be no surprise for anyone that knows me. Have you seen Hancock? Will Smith plays a being with super-powers, much like Superman, but when he gets physically closer to the woman of his dreams, he becomes physically weaker. He loves her, but he can’t live with her.

This strikes a chord with me. When I live my life, I am strong, certain, and live life with verve and action. Then when I get involved with anyone I fall for, I become a lesser version of that. I look to them, I care for them, they become somewhat more important to me, than me.

That’s a hard thing to admit, that I stop feeding my own soul to offer what I always thought was my love to another person, but it seems that what I was doing was creating some kind of co-dependant relationship with them. The relationship centres around caring for someone else as if I was a caretaker and protector. I think I was caring for the relationship, not the person, perhaps out of fear. Sure the stereotypical male role models are a little like that, protectors and financial care takers, but that’s an old outdated model.

As soon as I start living my own life, I start shifting my awareness back to me. I depend less on what someone else thinks and I simply do. I live the perfect solitary life and I feed my self everything I can give it. I can’t give it everything it needs because the affection of another person is desired, but I can feed it the love and attention it deserves from myself. There is a balance to be struck between the ‘relationship’ George  and the ‘independent’ George, as related in Seinfeld.

I have learned that it’s okay to move on from a relationship that isn’t working. Here’s what it wasn’t: a high school thing, a young love thing, an adolescent fling, or a circumstance of being blinded by love: it was me. When there’s a pattern, odds are that issue is you.

Let’s be real about our selves for a moment: we have been brainwashed by school and society and advertising for over 40 years, and even if we spend several years working hard trying to become the idyllic version of our self that we hold in our mind’s eye, we may not make it there in the time frame we want. There is too much to overcome, and that’s why the journey to self realization is what’s important, not that destination as Eckart Tolle suggests. In that way, we can continue to live in the moment, and not look to the future as some goal.

Although I was striving to always hold the relationship together, perhaps because I bore witness to my parent’s failed marriage when I was very young, I became unable to end it for my own sake. That is also a part of that co-dependancy thing I’m sure. I become the relationship, not my self. I haven’t done any research on the topic, but I am thinking I seem to be a pretty good candidate for a change.

So, how do we know what’s good in life?

How would you know if you didn’t know pain, defeat, anguish, loss, or death? It is because our lives are full of stress, and drama, and fear, and pain that we seek refuge in a safe, loving harbour. It is because we are human, with reactions and passions that over-rule our mental capacities at times, that makes life interesting! for the Matrix believers out there, recall the versions that didn’t work, when life was perfect?

‘To err is human’. In fact, it defines us.

Not only are we reckless at times, we all have different versions of reality in our minds, and we all take things differently, and we all have different tolerances, and triggers, and passions that weigh in on us. We each have beliefs, lessons, behaviours, and traits that are uniquely our own, and it’s that crazy uniqueness that binds as as one human population. I have a theory that if you let Chaos run wild, eventually you get a homogenous mix of everything; that’s us: chaotically similar.

What’s the take-away? I always ask that of others, so this time I’ll ask my self that question.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

For those that finally ended the relationships with me: thank-you for being strong enough to do what was necessary for your own self. I have learned that lesson.

From all hurt: a lesson.

So, life without loss would be a live never really lived, a humanity that never thrived, a heart with no scars to define us. Talk about a boring life. Not for me, thanks. I want it to keep pounding, keep driving me to the edges of my sanity and locking my eyes on the love of my life, but I will keep one foot firmly planted in the haven of my world, and one hand tenderly around my own heart. This way I won’t loose myself in another, and I will always be aware of my own needs. I will keep giving it plenty of ‘me’ time, but paying more attention to its solitary driven needs of the individual.

I do love one more person, and that person has been with me through everything, thick and thin, sometimes hanging on for dear life, sometimes dozing out of weariness: me. I love the fact that my humour has stayed intact through all the bat shit crazy times, and the lonely crappy times. I’ve been a better friend to myself lately and I think that’s a good starting point for anyone.

Do I regret anything? No. I loved every minute of every person I have ever loved. I love each and every one of them even now, and they fill my heart when I feel alone. My life is passionate for all of them, and now I’ll  put that passion to good use in my own pursuits.

What is heroic about all of this? Knowing who you are is one of the hardest things to accomplish in life, so when we are able to see, for the first time: who we are, what we are doing, how we are operating, as a broad picture, we start to become more aware of that which eludes us during 95% of the time: our self. When we understand our self better, we can consciously shift our life’s patterns to match that which we understand to be our essential true path.

I hope there is a takeaway here for you as well. Not everyone shares stories about love, yet it is an essential part of life. What I hope to have illuminated was the fact that sometimes patterns we initially think are circumstantial can actually be caused from within. We can be the problem. The good news about that is that we are also the solution. Find the lesson, learn it, and move on.

Every day is another episode of life; don’t miss out!

The Hero’s Journey

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You have all heard it: the Hero’s Journey, the Walkabout, or rite of passage journey to discover, or rediscover one’s self. In the day to day life, and by saying that, I mean the unconscious daily routine or expectation by others for our duty, we can lose our inner self. We can lose that which we were born in to: the real person we harbour deep inside.

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At some point, a crisis forms. We start to sense the split, or divide, between who we are, and who we have become. It usually grabs us as a startled realization after we slowly creep, slide, and are pulled away from the essence of who we are. It’s so slow, we never know it’s happening.

It is said that when we first take this adventure, whether travelled in miles or in thought, there are two of us in our mind. When we complete it, and regale the lessons learned and experiences of life between them both, and say all there is to be said, only one shall remain. That is the reconnection of our true essence with our current being, and it is what we all seek every day of our life, if we are open to experiencing it.

In the beginning we simply are. We may not know what that is, but we embody that ‘beingness’ when we are born and are young children; our nature is clear. Then, through the very thorough beating down of our minds to conform, we are changed, but, we always harbour a way back home. Like the salmon that long for the place of their birth, we too need to rediscover the wellspring of our true nature.

It grounds us, and without it, we are wandering nomads, Ronin, masterless. Our inner spirit, whatever you wish to describe it as, is the safe harbour in which we can strike out, confident in who we are, and how we desire to act, all in accordance to our desired nature, personality, and ultimately, our character.

It seems, in real terms, that this comes at our mid life time frame. Consider most people, who have children and put their life on hold for two decades or more, only to discover they have lost touch with just what their life meant to them. The children leave home and we are left, bereft of a foundation and a concrete sense of self. That happens about our fourties or fifties does it not? It makes sense.

I am 47yrs old. Even though that scenario was not exactly mine, I had a child in my early twenties, and I lived a most unconscious life until three years ago. I worked, I paid debts, I looked forward to the weekend retreat, and I did it all over again, day after day, week after week. It was senseless and eventually I stopped trying to make sense out of it. I became dead inside, cold, and lifeless.

I tried to tap back into who I was, my connection to Nature, my desire to meet people and interact on a social level, but it all missed the mark. It was good work mind you, and I caught a glimpse of who I was in some activities that furthered the challenge to find it once again, but it wasn’t enough.

I was fumbling slowly forward,and at that pace, I wasn’t sure I was going to make enough progress and still be healthy enough to enjoy it in my lifetime. I needed some other impetus to drive me forward. What I didn’t know is the extent to which the Universe was matching my mind state, all along my entire life. It was giving me what I dwelled upon, all along.

When I was worried about bills and debts, I was inundated with them. When I was regretting my choices, my life became a despair, and when I sought small victories of self, they were achieved. What I needed was something more, and just as my entire life had shown to me, it came to meas well.

I met a kindred soul.

I met a person who was on her own journey in life, but was ahead of me, and she was willing to light my path from her beacon of life’s lessons. I was so attracted to this lightness of being, like a moth to a flame, that I dove into the concept of self development, conscious awareness, and meditation with abandon. I was so dry, so cracked, from disuse in those areas of my mind, that these constructs whetted my appetite for more.

The more I read about Bruce Lipton, Wayne Dyer, Rumi, Bhudda, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Oprah, Socrates, Michael Singer, and SO many more authors and figures of history, recent and long past, the more information about selflessness, and inner thought and personal power I began to experience.

This was nothing to the discussions I would have about the struggles in real life I faced with my kindred soul. I mean, when you put a book down, that environment washes away, and what is left is the environment you live within. When you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings about that which rails against you, with another human being, and learn more about yourself in that moment, and the experiences that follow, damn, if that isn’t one of the most enticing experiences of your life!

I lived this way for years, talking, experiencing, dialoguing, dreaming, planning, and slowly forming a basis for foundational thoughts of self. Understanding the mechanisms of mind and brain, and where our triggers come from, ways to recreate them; essentially the deconstruction of self. That’s it really, you learn to deconstruct who you are now, in order to see what is at the core. Hopefully that brings you back to the thing we all lost: our essence of true self.

At that point, we can rebuild our self, we can choose what aspects to keep with us as we move forward. We can choose to hide less of our truth than before as we continue the journey of self discovery.

I’ve simply started it, here in my 40s, and it intrigues me so much. I suppose I am in my mid life, or rather I would like to think this is my mid life. I may not live through the night, or I may live considerably longer, a fact I have begun to embrace within reason, and without abandon through the act of surrendering my sense of control over it.

This journey we go on is magical when we first set foot upon the path, and that is an intriguing moment that I love hearing about. I love to hear what it was that set our foot upon the path in the first place. What was it? What tipping point did you encounter to bring your mind about to consciously feel or acknowledge the divide between your true self and your current self? What made you stop and think about where you are in life? What crisis of self did you experience? Or was it a crisis? Did you arrive there out of some other emotional experience? There is so much to learn!

It was the offer of learning, the experience of a guided meditation, that I seized, grasped with all my might, and brought tears to my eyes, that brought me to the point where I simply had to have more.

The kindred spirit that offered me the teachings, and discussed life with me for several years, brought an enlightenment of sorts to me, enough to see where I was, and where I wanted to go. Who can ask more from a person? As our kinship grew, it faltered, and grew, and faltered, and grew, until it ultimately let go, like a teacher must set free the students, to inspire others and share the love they fostered of life and self.

It is at this point that we now walk on our separate journey, lighting paths for others, gently offering insights and lessons, hard learned, and openly shared. It is time for me to plan my ultimate journey into other lands, to experience other cultures, other worldly lessons, other experiences of self, to confront my yet inner self.

The hero’s journey is the journey we must all take before we breathe our last breath. Some take on on their death bed, others walk it from birth. I’m pretty typical in that it starts a bit later in life, but I am willing to take it to the next level and let lose the heartfelt adventurer within me. I plan to explore several countries around the world. A part of me needs to do this. I know without a doubt that I am compelled to do this.

I must travel, I must talk boldly and deeply with people living in different cultures, in differing circumstances, in lightness and darkness. I want to behold the essence of life that calls me to hike in forests and hilltops. This yearning to explore and capture all of life’s meaning is almost intoxicating as I wonder it even now and I want to share in the encounters of others, and what they feel is the essence of life.

It’s not the number of countries I visit, nor continents I stand on that matters; it will be the people I encounter that will enrich my life. That experience of embracing the multi-varied essence of life is the treasure I wish to share with everyone upon my return. That will be the gold under the rainbow, the ‘golden fleece’ the hero is summoned to receive, and the prize I know will be worth manifold the time it takes to embrace it.

This ‘walkabout’ the globe to seek the essential truth of being, in self and others, this Namaste Adventure, is so close to my heart, I literally feel it pouring out from it right now. I am overflowing with gratitude from the encounter the Universe gave to me with my kindred spirit, my teacher, my partner in life’s adventure, my rock, my counsel, my closest and most essential friend.

I am now ready to step forward and embrace the world. Thank-you to everyone who has been a part of my most recent journey of conscious awareness. It will take a year to plan for this trip I wager, and that is what I dedicate this blog to next; how does one prepare for this reconnoiter of sorts? The scouting of world experiences that embrace what life is all about internally and externally is surely to be an interesting segment of my life.

Now to the plan!

Do you have some worldly experiences you wish to impart to me? Let’s talk! Please send me a comment below and I’ll get ahold of you.

 

The Power of Checking-in

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Better check-in, or they could be checked out.

How many times have you started a conversation, a message, a lecture, or a speech, and you didn’t get a sense from the audience about where their minds were at? Many times we are so absorbed with what we want to bring to the conversation, we forget a key step in getting everyone to the same starting point.

Maybe you need to get closer to your target group, or they need to step it up a bit to get closer to your frame of mind, either way, know that it is virtually impossible to be at the same jumping off point. You need to check-in.

It can be as easy as “How are you feeling today?” or “Where are you?” Or you can share a little about where you are at. Give the audience some context about where you want to go. This ‘gathering technique’ allows everyone to go from wherever they are, and get closer to your point of view. From that point, it is a lot more comfortable to ride in a similar make believe ship, to the end of the stormy tale of surviving the seven seas, if you get my drift.

I know this first hand, as many of my tales come from my own experiences. I had intended to have a meeting with a close friend when, on that day, I was feeling somewhat down, slow, and not my usual upbeat self. I set that feeling aside and moved forward in the conversation, but although my mind wanted to move forward, I was disconnected with my body, and it was felt.

“Where are you?” came the question finally. I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. It had been a down week and I was starting to not do all the things that I liked to do in order to get myself centred. I was withdrawing, watching more movies, and eating. Although my food was still good food, it wasn’t just to nourish my body, I was trying to fill a void again.

It wasn’t a big shift in that direction, nor was it a noticeable single shift, it was small and incremental. Each day a little more than the last, until a week down the path, here I was: stuck.

Let me tell you what would have happened a year ago. Given the sensation that my energy was low, and I was in no shape to discuss anything on a higher level, we would have parted company, until I was in that frame of mind. We both may have ruminated about how awful that felt, and I would have punished myself about why I can’t just get on board with an obviously lighter, happier person. This scenario totally sucks.

That didn’t happen. Instead, my wonderful cohort asked me how I was feeling, and I had the sense to describe exactly what I was feeling. It wasn’t enough just to ask the question, you see. The person feeling down has to be aware enough that they can describe their feeling to the other party, so they understand. So they both understand.

The more I expressed my feelings, the more I was getting back in touch with my body. This allowed me to express the fact that there are times when I am just at a natural low. A biorhythmical low that comes after a high. There are clinical terms for a characteristic like this, but I believe we all have biorhythms in life, and our job, no matter what they are, is to manage them. It doesn’t matter what you label them as, you simply need to become aware of them, and manage how you deal with them.

When I am low, I move more in to my mind and I am less social. I think a lot more, ruminate, and that can cast me into a desire to just sit with myself, and stew in a sense. But sharing how I felt, the feeling of being lower in the energy spectrum, actually fed a release inside. I started to feel lighter, as if I was lifting a blanket from over my head to reveal my vulnerable self to another. In this sharing, I released the desire to hide it. And in releasing that desire, I no longer put any energy to that task, and I, rather suddenly, had more energy.

We decided to step outside, go for a walk, then head to some water. On the drive I could feel my more confident, bolder self taking hold. When I am in that lower energy, I am not powerful, nor bold, nor exciting, but simply am; and feel somewhat drained. When I am able to connect with my true self, I am much more confident in my speech and mannerisms. It is a real transformation that occurs!

I wonder how much energy we exert when we hide a part of ourselves from others, if by demonstration of this small event I felt so changed in the time frame of an hour. By simply sharing how I felt in the moment, I was able to let go of the disconnection, dive in to myself, and reveal my vulnerability to another person. That is courageous, and that is powerful stuff.

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There is nothing better than knowing you can share your complete self with another human being, and know that they will be there for you.

This one event can have many outcomes, but when you are courageous enough to dig down deep inside your self and discover where you hurt, where you feel sadness or insecurity, and simply lay it out to another soul…or even yourself, only truth is left. The power of ‘what is’ can only result in more energy for you, and more love, especially from within.

We are all taught to desire to be powerful warriors, us men. What I described above takes more courage than most things, and results in a more powerful concept of self. If you did this, you just upgraded your self image, and self worth in the eyes of any your shared it with. Well done!

Congratulate yourself with a walk outside and a connection with those that fill you up. You just rocked what takes others years to achieve. I know I learned a valuable lesson that day. Always check-in with whomever you are with to see how far apart you might be in the moment, and don’t be afraid to share your truth with that same person if you desire that powerful connection.

Checking in is a must do, no matter where you are in a conversation. It’s never too late to get closer. I was literally shocked at witnessing the internal transformation that I went through that afternoon.

I am grateful in so many ways to being reminded to search my feelings, bring them to the forefront, and release that energy. I couldn’t do it without my dear friend, and in saying that, my next step forward is to be able to do this on my own, and know where I am in my own check-in.

May you be as fortunate as I, and don’t be afraid to search your inner self for the real reason you might be feeling down. Share it and let it go, then you can get back to being the real you! If it isn’t you, ask the question with the intent to be there for the big reveal; you might just witness something beautiful.

You Will Never Know

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It came to my attention whilst having dinner with my best friend. I will never really know what she means when she shares something with me, and likewise, she will never fully understand what I mean when I say something in return.

Never, ever.

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Kind of like two people holding one pair of binoculars, focussing and bending the eye pieces to see the full message for each person.

Oh, we will get close, for sure, but I have no way of being inside her mind, seeing the movie that runs in her pre-frontal cortex, and how she is interpreting every word that leaves her lips. My ears hear the words, but I have my own meaning attached to them. The way I interpret her bodily gestures adds meaning to the way she intones each one, and layer upon layer, I try to read in to the message, her intent for me.

It hit me hard when I realized it’s not actually possible to get the exact same message that she intended for me to reach my mind, 100% intact. There are so many filters, journeys, translations that must be made from mind, to lips, to gestures, to eyes and ears, back into the recipient’s brain.

How we are actually able to communicate at all is somewhat of a miracle once we understand this fact!

We always have to look at things from their perspective in order to get the most from the meaning of the sender, and how often do we do that in just talking to people? We most often stick with our meanings of words, and then use more words to sort out misunderstandings, like this:

“I went down to the river today”

“What do you mean? Did you drive there?”

“No, I walked there, it’s close enough”

“Oh, you mean Arbutus River, not Cottonwood Creek. Arbutus River is the one out back. I thought you meant the creek”

“That’s where I went!”

“Where?”

And so on. Some people never really get on the same wave length. It’s funny we say that: ‘wave length’, because I really believe we can get a lot closer to the meaning of another, if we are at the same frequency in our energy; be it love or anger oriented.

Given that we can never communicate the exact same thought we are having to another person, regardless of how close they are to you, be it a relation, or if you are in love (perhaps especially if you are in love, given that sometimes love can be quite blind), it is important to acknowledge how we ‘take’ messages.

When we look to don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote about The Four Agreements, one of the agreements is ‘Rule #2: don’t take anything personally‘.

It’s so easy to take statements personally. Our ego spends much of its time trying to protect its own existence, therefore, if it can find a way to take a message personally, it can puff itself up. The ego, if we allow it, can feel insulted, or hurt by statements that are actually neutral. In doing so, they project a new meaning to the message from the recipient’s point of view, and can start a chain reaction of actions.

We’ve all heard messages that we thought threatened us, were hurtful to us, or meant something to us that the sender had no intention of. When we take messages personally, it adds a greater amount of complexity to the message, so much so that the initial message can get lost.

When we release the ego, and listen with an intent to understand, the ego lessens, or is a non-factor, and we get closer to the initial meaning of the message. Often this understanding is enhanced with an understanding of the circumstance and mindset of the person who said it.

The more we try to understand the context of the message, the better our chances of interpreting the message’s original intent. The more we stick with our ego, which tries to separate ourself from others, the greater the chance of misinterpreting the message, and by a significantly wider margin.

Knowing that what we hear, what we see, and what we feel from a message is, at best, a guess to the original intent, doesn’t it behoove us to do our very best to search for the context of it? We must spend a significant amount of time understanding the bearer of that message, in order to understand the message as intended. This takes listening skills, and good contextual questions.

If you think you got the message the first time your heard it, I applaud you, but I would scarcely believe it. Words are such primitive ways of getting a message across, that so much is lost.

The more I ponder this truth, the more I understand why not labelling something may be better for understanding.

How do you label a two hour dinner and conversation that stirred your soul? Was it a good dinner, or a conversation with food? You see at once that it requires more words to describe the mood, the food, and the conversation. You could write a book on exactly how it might have felt, or you could say simply that time passed, and the conversation was as nourishing as the food, without labelling it.

It simply was.

Trees exist in so many multi-varied essences that escape the label of tree, that to label it as such, is to limit the understanding of what a tree could be.

To convey your feeling for another human being by simply looking at them, using the emotion as a guide to how to express what you feel, and surrendering your body to it, is far more real, and readable, than any language you can intone with your mouth.

Think about what gets lost in translation the next time you have a conversation to a friend, a family member, or lover. Think of all the myriad of ways one word can be misinterpreted, and then choose your words with deft ability to be precisely what you mean, in the manner in which you desire, and use your body to complement your words, so you are saying, with many languages, what you intend.

The first agreement of the four, by don Miguel Ruiz, is to ‘be impeccable with your word‘, and I believe this not only helps us be the person we desire by living up to what we say, but it also minimizes the misinterpretation of what we may say. It lends credibility to our words when we live them to the utmost, and it creates clarity of purpose.

We can never, ever, send our thoughts as we see them, with our meaning, to another person, but if we try to understand one another, we can get very, very close.

The Heroic Loving Self

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I’ve been bullied much of my adult life,

But that was my fault.

I never found the self,

in need of attention.

I never found the self,

requiring lamentation.

I may have never found my true self.

In all the years of ‘not being bothered’,

it had me.

It held me.

I was my own captive.

I could always do better.

I could always perform greater.

I would struggle to earn your appreciation,

only to lose my self.

I was strong,

but ultimately weak.

I was great,

but ultimately worth less.

I was really … a mess.

BUT,

I am tired of behaving like this!

I deserve more,

better,

real,

deep,

soulful,

trusting,

relationships,

based on me,

and my feelings,

and my beliefs,

and my desires.

I AM WORTHY of LOVE!

I was willing to walk away from you,

and that was the hardest choice of all.

But, I chose me.

I chose me for self love,

for self worth,

for self preservation.

I love my self so much more than I did a year ago.

And in loving me,

I can now love you.

The Power of Fellowship

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What is a life led is isolation? A wasted life.

“What if that person attained Enlightenment? Wouldn’t it be worth it?”

“To whom?” I would reply.

If you can’t share your path to consciousness, awareness, enlightenment, or just a way out of town with another person, then what do you offer the community?

We are social beings after all; not that we all have to be, and certainly not all at the same time, but there’s a reason we are social. There’s a reason we advanced so much more over the last 100 years than we did the last 1000. It’s because we connected with so many more people. We shared ideas, thoughts, and paradigms.

If we go through life with little or no interaction with other people, then we run the risk of dying without sharing our natural abilities, gifts, or points of view. Who are we to deny our community the gift of a different perspective?

Our society is gaining conscious awareness because we can share this idea of personal growth with so many people around the world. It’s growth is exponential not because it has one single vision for the future, but that it embraces all paths to the inner journey to self awareness. All perspectives are welcome and embraced.

When I was your typical totally unconscious person that identified myself with my profession, I worked, then escaped, then worked, then escaped, whether with food or movies. I needed to because of how I felt at work, and I wasn’t yet aware of the power I had inside.

My boss was a tormentor, and I was tormented. In this routine, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to explore new relationships, to find friends with similar interests, or buddies to hang out with. Thus, I floundered in making friends and had only one close buddy, and he lived in a different city. I was missing out, and I knew it. I tried rationalizing it, but in the end, I wasn’t seeing the diverse value it might bring in to my life.

It’s rough having friends too, I mean when they want to hang out and you want to escape. It can be scary to reveal the real, drama-laden you to your friends. What is this preoccupation with always wanting to share a positive vision of you? Can’t we be real for a moment? Can’t we drop our mask for one time and just be?

Have you noticed an explosion in pet ownership in recent years? Doesn’t that make you think? Why? One article in the National Post suggests that young people are taking up pets because they are always positive. These have even been referred to as “fur babies”. I’d quote an articles, but I think that time has sailed when it was a new phenomena; there are literally dozens of shops especially catering to the needs as pets as significant as any family member.

2014-10-13 14.34.31Are we lacking social stimuli from the opposite sex and seek companionship in pets? Are we unable to handle the crisis of conflict and seek the waging tail as a constant comfort? The dog above is a friend’s pet that I have had the pleasure of getting to know. His name is Shrek and he certainly showed his fondness very openly.

Everything comes, exactly as needed, at exactly the right time. It’s true with me, as I now find myself visiting with several friends on a weekly basis. It was personal growth inside that I needed to work on before I was capable of interacting on a meaningful level with others. I share, they share, and we leave with both of us feeling nourished and enjoying the friendship.

I value all of my friends, because I haven’t had many for a very long time. I value men that I can share my life’s uniquely male journey with, and women that I can be honest with. In turn, they are open with me, and that sharing, that camaraderie, is so extremely valuable.

I would say to any one person out there that doesn’t have very many friends, if any, out there, that maybe, just maybe, you need to be willing to be the first one to say hello. Maybe you need to be the first one to share something honest. Maybe, like me, now is the best time to seek inner growth about what’s important in life.

If you can, find just one person to share deep conversations with it is enough for now. Just one person can bring about the biggest transformational changes that can peel back the layers of your well crafted onion-like facade, to reveal just a little bit of the real you, and sometimes that revelation is for both of you. I was lucky to have one special person awaken me to my own consciousness. She saved me really, and continues to provide me with clarity on my more cloudy days; and I on hers. JM you are a most blessed friend!

Fellowship, camaraderie (I just learned how to spell that), and friendship are so vastly underrated in today’s society, and yet displayed so thinly in popular media. It’s no wonder many people can’t cope with conflict, problems, or reality, and seek the winsome and positive com’fur’t of pets or numbness of substances.

I am so grateful to those that I spend time with, that enjoy my company, and seek a meaningful discourse. You really fill my heart with meaning and purpose. If you would enjoy spending some time on a hike, or talking about life’s journey, please feel free to contact me. It may have been years since we even saw each other, and in light of my 30th year high school reunion being in a few weeks, if that is the case, call me up and let’s talk!

 

Focus Pocus

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It was supposed to be my day off. A rest day. I wanted to have two rest days considering I pushed it pretty hard last week with all my hiking. Well, my body was having none of that today. I felt great. I ate my aunt’s shepherd’s pie last night and that definitely did me some good. MMMmmmm good!

My mental check went like this: runners are at the door, I see my phone and earbuds, and if I fill a bottle of water I can simply take off, with a walk that goes practically next door up a nice hill; Christmas Hill in fact. I like that name because, as it implies to me, every visit is a gift.

So I gather up my items, don my runners and head out the door, and when I get to the actual start of the park, I pull out my phone, which doubles as my GPS and camera, and start taking a few pics.

I notice, and perhaps it is simply the time of year and weather and so on, that there aren’t many flowers or things that ‘pop’ out to my eye in various colours. “Oh well” I say to myself as I carry on down a path.

There are so many branches that cross over my head, getting in my visual space, that I actually can’t help but put my lens up to them. They are so close, and the texture of each branch is so different, some with bark, others with moss, that I start experimenting with the focus of my camera. It’s not adjustable really, and sometimes I have to trick it to focus closely on objects, but I see the result of bringing the focus up close, then far away.

I actually didn’t want to shoot many pictures today. I knew I had to meet family for a movie in town, so I had limited time to enjoy the view, but that’s not what happened. When I started taking pictures, I started to think about them. First here, then a few steps over there; and what about this? Each step brought me to a new perspective that begged for a photo. I was even starting to feel that it was pulling at my lens, drawing me in to ‘click’.

I started to think about how we focus in our daily lives to things that are both far and near, and I wondered, just like the photos showed, if we were missing the bigger picture. ‘We must be’ I thought to my self. My self is such a good listener, always willing to hear what I have to say. 

Each image tells me something, or rather speaks to me about an aspect of life. They are no longer a picture of a leaf, or branch, or other close-up, they are aspects of life that it represents to me. What do the images say? Let’s have a look.

IMG_3635The first picture I took looked out to another mountain I love; Mount Douglas/KPOLS. I just rather thought it said “Hello, I see you there walking on my brother!” Funny thing that, for a mountain to have a voice and all, but it speaks to me. Just like sunsets, and images of soft fragile aspects of life do for others. When we start to wander in and among the leaves and branches, trees and forests, we start to see them differently. We start to understand the impact they have within us.

IMG_3654This leaf was at eye level and begged me to notice it. It looks as though it has a sickness on it. These spots represent another part of Nature interacting, and as soon as I call it a sickness, the idea of disease and infestation may occur to you. But what if it simply feeds other beings, like jumping oak galls, which are small wasp eggs or such. What if someone were looking down at our earth from my vantage point to the leaf, wondering what these stretches of cleared forest represents? Or mining pits, or farm watering circles, and so on. It served it’s purpose on me today, and got me thinking about perspective. Perspective and focus are two intertwined ideas.

IMG_3656What do we see when we focus on things farther away? We might think we see the whole picture, but we may not. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “You were too close to it to see”. Sometimes, that which we have grown very familiar with, no longer triggers the brains awareness of it. That’s the brain for us. Always looking out for new things, threats, learning, so if something is close to us, and always there, then it mustn’t be a threat, so there is no sense having our awareness spend precious energy on it.

GoodIMG_3657 brain, right? Well, when we can bring awareness closer and closer in to our centre, in to our habits and personal actions, we mights start to see something that has grown, changed, or in some manner modified itself from it’s innocent beginnings. That desire to watch a movie has grown in to a habit of escapism where we find ourself on the couch, munching through a bag of chips like a horse’s feedbag, wondering why our back hurts and we’ve gained two pounds over the weekend. We need both perspectives. We need to see the far and the close with equal regularity.

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We don’t have to start right up close. We can look at things that are somewhat close. We may be aware of scars, or bare patches, where we know we are particularly vulnerable. We can look around at those and get comfortable with the idea of simply being close to that past hurt.

 

Where we focus is a choice.

I quite enjoy seeing birth in IMG_3661death, or the image of something from nothing, as most see it. This little fern grows from a wall of dead, or let’s say, brown dried-up fern, because they aren’t actually dead from tip to tail. It represents, to me, the light that can come from darkness, the ability to have a great idea amidst fools, the ability to generate love from abounding failure, and the power of inner courage against a backdrop of incessant suffering.

IMG_3664What some may find ugly, I prefer to peer in to. I wonder what judgement is made, and where it may have come from, and what I might see if I really got close to it. Would it change it’s shape, or colour, texture, or roughness. Would my looking deeper invoke a clearer view with less lenses and bias? What would I see for sure? And so I look, deeper, and deeper until I can start to see something different than what I thought I saw before.

IMG_3669What do you see when you really look at something, at someone, at an issue? Do you see your bias, your coloured lens of past experience, or your beliefs and lessons? can anyone ever really free themselves from personal bias? Perhaps we can when we are babies, and it is that primordial brain that holds the images we once saw way back in our subconscious, that we can never recall.

The irony, that we could see it at one time, but never be able to recall it.

IMG_3671What do we miss by focussing on the very close as well; the details of life, when so much awaits the run? We might get so caught up in the minutia of each branch that crosses our path that we can’t see the path we are on. It’s easy to do; to get caught up in our errands, the things we have to ‘do’ every day. “I have no time to simply be” we might say to ourselves in exasperation. Is that so?

We have to stay vigilant about our path or direction we desire to go in life. This is our intention, and without an eye to it, we can get mighty distracted IMG_3663by each branch that falls, momentarily blocks, or obscures our vision of the path.

Can you see your path? Does it have a grand design? Is there a structure or form to it? If there is, you may be  getting fooled by your Egoic want, rather than your intention. If we accept that any end goal, or desire for some end state is a goal, or dharma, or purpose, then what happens when we get there? It looses its lustre. We begin looking for the same want; the Ego does this.

IMG_3681Instead, your purpose in life can better serve you, and all those that surround you, by your doing the very best you can, in what you are doing. If you are writing, then you write with passion and depth of character. If you are walking, then walk with awareness of each step. If you are listening, then you listen with rapt attention. When you do what you do, with perfect alignment and awareness of purpose, of that which you do,IMG_3677 you are living perfect awareness of self! That’s a mouthful!

Do you feel successful, full of life life, driven to achieve, on a purpose to bring something to someone? Know that you have nothing, but your self, in life, which is keenly felt at the time of our death, in our possession. What we have, ultimately, are experiences, feelings, and memories of our time here. That is all. Are you cultivating them? Are you sewing them? If you are living your purpose, then you can’t help but reap the fruits of being the best version of ‘you’ no matter what you do.

Our mind is the most magnificent organ in our body. It allows us to perceive and witness all of our other organs as much as we can. It also does what we ask it, if we remember we are ultimately in control. It’s easy to live a lifetime without any awareness whatsoever, but if you want to really live this life you were given, you mustn’t allow the comfort of your mind to ensnare you from the wilds of new experience.

Dream, love, learn, and imagine, every day. This is good training for living your purpose. In doing so, remember to adjust your focus, look around you, and especially inside your knowing self for deeper meaning. It all rests within.

Happy Adventuring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reacting Creates Powerlessness

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It became crystal clear when I was listening to Eckhart Tolle talk about a way to learn about becoming non-reactive. Like his article suggests, the power of nonresistance does not come from resisting the force of another. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

Respond

What he suggests is that we take some time to witness the feeling that desires a reaction. It may be from a spiteful comment, an untruth, or slander, but simply wait and feel what it is like. Can you feel yourself shrink in humility, or grow in reactive anger?

Take three breathes. Each one slightly deeper than the other with a full, deep, stomach breathe at the end. Do you still ‘feel’ the same reactive force? you might think you do, but most likely your body has had time to lessen the emotional discharge, and it is likely less emotionally charged.

Seek the root of the pain, or the trigger that affects us. With any comment or action that we desire to react to, we are sensitive to it. Ask yourself why. Be curious about what the root cause of our sensitivity. Then, given the time to literally catch our breathe, we can choose our response, if any.

Why is it more powerful to communicate from this position, and not react to what a person says right off the bat? This isn’t intuitively forthcoming. When someone says or does something that provokes a reactionary state in us, we want to tell them in no uncertain terms that what they have done is unacceptable. That may lead us to say “Hey! That’s not okay!”

If we took some time before reacting this is what it allows us to do:

  1. Distance our perception from the act (reducing our risk of taking it personally)
  2. Tame our need to say or do something immediately (gives space to calm down)
  3. Allow us to think about what the real cause of our reaction is (seek the root of it)
  4. Find our power (speak or do from a nonreactive state)

What I feel is the most important step is the last one: Find our power. If we react, the power is coming directly from the person provoking us. From their perspective they may even enjoy provoking you because you always react. Can you imagine them saying to a friend, or inside their head, ‘Watch this. I’ll get a rise out of this person.’ just prior to provoking you, and if you react, it reinforces their assumption, and their power over you.

If we react, it creates a state of powerlessness, because the provoker manipulated us like a doll or marionette. If we do not react or do anything from that mindset, but simply wait until we understand what it is that is hurtful or provocative, we can state facts, or give feedback, or simply decide that no reaction is worth your time.

Can you see how deflating that would be to a person that expected a reaction from you? They went to pull your string and nothing happened! You cut the string by choosing to witness, breathe, and choose. That isn’t the reaction they want, and it comes from a place of personal power, one that is not derived from the other person.

In short, it frees you from the bondage of others. The more you react, the more it controls you. Struggle = dominance. You may think that reacting and ‘winning’ is possible, but I guarantee you, the ‘winning’ way will keep you in the battle far longer than surrendering or yielding to the temptations of another; often long after the actual event has taken place.

It’s good to remember that what we react to in another is something we may dislike in ourselves. If we truly felt loved, confident, and settled in all that we are, why would we react to a person? What they said could never hold any sway over us if we felt completely whole. Therefore, a reaction exploits a weakness we feel in ourself.

The next time you feel the rumble of an emotional volcano, or the sting of a mean word, witness it. Let it sink in to you, and see if you can’t find the root of where we sense it the most inside. Breathe at least three complete breathes, then see if you can state, from your own place of knowingness, what is true for you. Or simply choose not to react at all.

The choice, and the power, rest with you. Don’t let it slip away and shackle you to another’s manipulative manner. Yield to overcome the lashing tongue of another and you will find freedom!

 

The Hidden Truth

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Heroes often have to ‘uncover’ some kind of hidden truth in their journey, be it physical, mental, or spiritual, and many times the hidden truth is about ourselves. I ran across an old speech I gave (circa. 2011) that talked about the hidden nature of truth and I thought I would share it with you. It’s one thing to read it, it’s another to hear it. I’ll include a recording of this speech soon.

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This speech is dedicated to the pursuit of the elusive hidden truth.  It is called that, because it is hidden, but “it” also has a truth.  The pursuit of which is sought in places that tend to loosen our grip, our footing, on reality.  Let’s explore some areas where we might find something other than what our senses are telling us is real.  Let’s explore the Hidden Truth in everyday life.

It is said that we use 10% of our brain’s capacity.  So if we can use only that much, it begs us, does it not, to use it wisely.  To get you thinking, let me ask you a few questions, and in doing so we will explore each one in more detail:

What is real? 

What is truth? 

Who are you?

These questions are seldom asked, but worthy of much thought.  Popular Society would have us learn the answers from them, naturally.  But, oddly enough, when we ask philosophical questions like these, the people who are striving to answer them are physicists, biologists, chemists; people steeped in science.  They are starting to discover how deep the rabbit hole really goes.

Can we trust our own brains to tell us what’s real?

Our senses tell us what’s real.  But what are our senses but electrical impulses from our body to our brain that stimulate neurons in a way where we perceive these senses as reality.

How would we know, how could we know, if are bodies are a capacitor, transistor, a conduct-or within a Matrix like product-OR plugged in to a master machine that precisely panders to our delicate desires and creates a per-verse uni-verse?

How do we know?  How can we tell?

Perhaps we should consider truths.  They are solid, verifiable, and unchanging, aren’t they?  Sometimes the truth doesn’t just hide, it gets buried .

The first electric car was made in the 1830’s and held land speed records in excess of 100km/h before the year 1900.  What killed the electric car was Ford’s mass production of gasoline powered cars, the discovery of oil in California, Texas, and Oklahoma, and the construction of highways that took advantage of the longer range of gas engines.  Is it any wonder why it has taken so long for them to come back? Someone (whisper: oil & gas) might not have wanted (whisper:oil & gas) the electric car to take hold of the burgeoning car market (whisper: oil & gas).

I could go on, as the list of similar hidden truths is a long as the number of breaths we take, the number of statements we make, for Goodness sake!  Each is a truth, said and unsaid, read and unread, dead and undead.

But enough of these hidden obscurities.  Let’s get personal.  You know who you are right?  But do we know who you really are?

The hidden truth is what lies beneath.  Behind the veil of fantasy, the picture of sanit-E, lies the slippery, the sly, the truth of m-E.

Every person has a truth that is hidden from each and every one of us.  Our society does not teach us to live a revealing life, but a concealing one.  Passwords, keys, and owner Ids are mainstays of the world today.

Peel away the fake, the facade, and reveal the inner truth that we all possess.  Many of us take great pains to shield, hide, and conceal, when we should embrace, illuminate and reveal.

Time taken in the pursuit of illumination, the pursuit of inner knowledge and wisdom, can often lead a person to outward recognition.  I need not repeat these words in rapid succession or random repetition for you know that it is not what I say that matters, but how I say it that flatters.

May your journey be one filled with thoughtful progression, critical thinking, and personal insight, for a person that thinks, is.

May your journey be one of discovery no matter where you go, what you see, or what you feel.  Remember that our brain is used to telling us what it thinks is real, but if we try very hard, and relax the rules that it tries desperately to match with what it finds, we might just get a hint of something interesting, something hidden from view.  That just might be the Hidden Truth.

I’ll end it here and not after, If you will, Mr. Toastmaster

[This was a speech I gave in Toastmasters, (#4 How You Say It) I wrote it somewhat phonetically as I hadn’t memorized it and that helped me emphasize it how I wanted. Much of the colours and formatting is not shown as it got lost in copying it here from Word. I removed traditional Toastmaster introductions for clarity of the subject matter.]