We Crave Connection, So Let’s Connect!

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You are enough, you have everything it takes to survive in this world, including all of your issues. We are awesome like that.  But, when it feels like more than we can handle, when it feels daunting and scary, sad and lonely, we forget about our own resources, our own awesomeness, and when that happens, our world begins to shrink. It is at this time, in particular, than a friend’s ear, soft shoulder, or hand in ours, can be the most comforting, most rewarding, experience that we recall for years to come.

The ear hears many sounds and, I think, feels many vibrations beyond those we can rationalize as sound, which is why I believe deeply in listening to what people say. Just like our ears, I know our eyes take in much more than our brains can visualize into an image. There is so much to take in, however, that we can become masters at deflection, avoidance, and short-sightedness in order to calm our own living world.

When we meet, what do you say? “Hi” usually followed by “How are ya?” That’s how it is in my social circle and culture, and it is so common, that we hardly wait for an answer, or our answer is so routine that we unconsciously answer “Fine” with a fake smile before we have even had time to process that question. We mask it up so well, and depending on the social circumstance, it may not be deemed appropriate to divulge what we are actually feeling or thinking. For most of us, this can get close to 100% of the time.

And so we push it deeper inside our brains, which pushes that thought into our body, and chemicals are created that create a feeling, sometimes in the pit of our stomachs, or our diaphragm, or our heads. It eludes us until it demands our attention, and sometimes we just don’t know why.

This is why it is so monumentally powerful when a person actually hears your answer to “Hi, how are you?”. If you say “Busy, it’s been a busy week” and they get curious by asking “Oh? How so?” That can almost catch you off guard! We aren’t used to people listening to us. We aren’t used to providing real answers to social or polite questions. What does this say about our society?

What does this day about what we get used to? We are all walking around with plenty of armour on, which protects us from getting close to everyone we come in to contact with. To a degree, this is a necessity, but we have to remember we are wearing it! I often don’t take my armour off, and I offer less to those around me because of it.

In this evening’s class to be a volunteer counsellor, the topic of suicide was raised. I thought how much we interact with others, and how many people hardly ever, if at all, are heard, are listened to, are seen, or even acknowledged in our society. And I’m not just talking about the disenfranchised cultures and minorities, but regular people like our neighbours, that guy you sit across to at work, your spouse, your son or daughter. Do we spend enough time to ask them, with genuine curiosity, “How are you doing today?” or “How are you feeling?” We live so much of our lives in our head, on the computer, on our phones, texting, that our world is like a surreal matrix, void of touch. I mean touch as in physical, emotional, and spiritual.

It’s easy to slip unnoticed by so many people, and it is specially relevant right now, as we head into yet another frenzy of holiday experience. It can be seen from those that have no family, like they don’t belong. Where do we get the kind of connection we need as a person if not from our family? If we don’t cultivate friendships?

One of the best aspects of my previous job was fielding complaints from the public. I never took their complaint personally, which helped me acknowledge their view, and often I felt what they were feeling, and I was able to see their point of view, and after that was accomplished, I’ll tell you, it didn’t really matter if any action came from the phone call. I could already feel a palpable release of tension in their voice. That says something. If we could simply be the sounding board for one other human being, we may never know the difference it makes, but isn’t that beautiful?

We could actually save a person’s life simply by listening, interacting, really ‘seeing’ someone for the first time.Listening, seeing, acknowledging, witnessing, empathizing, sharing, times, stories, events, anything…is enough.

Share the essence of you with the essence of another and you will be rewarded.

???????????????????????????????If they ever speak to you about a darkness, about leaving this world, about checking our or suicide, please refer them to a counselling service, a friend, and stay with them. Listen to them and offer the best medicine of all: your genuine time with them. We can not make anyone live, nor can we make anyone die, but we can explore reasons for living, connections to this world, and maybe, give someone hope where they simply forgot it.

Remind the world why we are human: we crave connection. So connect with someone today. It may not be your life you save, but I bet both will change with every new connection.

These acts of genuine kindness and compassion are indelible in those that received them from another. That shows their power, their gift of connecting people to the very core of their existence. That is enough. You are more than enough to share with any other human being.

Share the gift of time this holiday season and you will have shared what no billionaire can possibly buy, nor what any heart could genuinely deny.

The Gift of What Is

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The world is a sad, fearful, wasteland of drugs, war, racism, and greed and we are pawns in an unchanging, ruled society by the few people who control everything.

Or is it?

By all accounts, that’s what I hear almost every day. That’s what I see on the news. That’s what I hear people talking about, and you’d think I could have become adjusted to it by now. I was adjusted. I used to watch TV after work, and look forward to the weekend to let loose, but after many years is begins to lose it’s appeal.

I spent several years of my life wanting to escape from that opening paragraph, and being successful to a degree. Problem was, I escaped from everything, my friends, my family, and most importantly, myself.

Then something happened. Something changed. I couldn’t tolerate listening to it anymore. I couldn’t stand it. I hated hearing how the world was going to hell and we had no say in it. Then, one day, I was given a gift. Not a real material gift, but a gift of understanding that I had the real power in this life. It just came to me: I was the person that got to choose what my world was, not anyone else. It was my choice.

img_4607I chose to stop believing in that world view, because it wasn’t my world view.

I chose to eliminate the voice of fear and greed and hatred by turning off the news. I got rid of television. I stopped watching the news. I stopped reading the newspaper’s first section, and when people at work talked about the world, or gossip, I left or I turned away, and gently thought to myself ‘I know there is more out there’.

I knew, from somewhere deep inside, there was another world, that was kind, was full of love, and giving, and fun! This was the world I was born into. This was the world I lived in when I was a child, and I explored, and learned, and shared, and laughed.

I didn’t create this world, that seems so cold and isolating and indifferent. But, I didn’t do anything about it either. I’ve spent the last few years searching for a way out. Looking within. Examining my beliefs and my personal agreements, and I’ve decided that it’s time to get rid of my fear. It’s time to wash away my prejudices and my judgements and see things as clearly as possible. And in this light, I will hope for only one thing: to see what is.

What is can not be described by anyone because it would be coloured by their lens.

What is is not anything I can describe to you for the same reason.

When I can see what is, I will no longer fear lending my hand to a stranger. I will hold that door open no matter who you appear to be, and give you the change in my pocket.

When I see what is, I will hear you, I mean really listen to your words, and I will stop you when I hear gossip, and say “that’s not okay”.

I’ll strive to speak up, and say what I believe when my gut tells me something isn’t right. I am a unique individual, with an experience nobody else has shared, and when I have something to say, it will be meaningful and genuine and true, at that moment.

That’s the key, right? We can get caught in the struggle to always be the same person our entire lives, but we have to realize we are changing every day. With new experiences, and new learning opportunities how could we ever stay the same? I choose to embrace the multifaceted, ever changing, sensitive, and sometimes shy, and sometimes bold side of me. What I say will be what I believe, and I will have peace between what my gut is feeling and what’s on my mind.

When I can see what is, I can let go of my own insecurities and strive to love myself more. One of the things I’ve learned is that we can get lost looking for the love of our life, and still feel like something is missing. Until we can feel that love from within, our romances will continue to be as hollow as fast food: seemly filling until an hour later, leaving us craving for more, then disgusted, then swearing it off, then seeing it again and craving a taste.

When I can see what is, I can rest. I can sit with myself, with nothing but the hum of my fridge, or the sound of traffic, or the whispers of a warm breeze echoing the sound of willow wisps and crows caws. When I can sit with my self, I can really listen to you. And in listening I can really see you. Then I can then really interact with you.

What I choose to see, is something that isn’t news. It isn’t print-worthy. It’s not sellable. It is, however, more fulfilling, and satisfying that anything I will ever see on television, in a newspaper, or in an advertisement. You can’t purchase it, you can’t trade for it, and you certainly can’t lead a genuine life without it. That’s why it doesn’t matter who rules the world, when you control which world you see.

There may be people who want you to believe you are powerless, that you have no say, that you don’t matter, and they want you to keep consuming, and fearing your neighbour. They may even want you to keep doing that until you die, with your pet on your lap, in front of your TV.

So turn off the news. Take a stroll after dinner in the wind and rain. Grab a friend and go for a coffee or juice. Write a story and share it with your friends. Who knows what the future holds for you. You might even change your career for something ultimately fulfilling.

This is a life worth living. Living is for relating to others. For new experiences that challenge the way we think, and remind us that we are all real people, with real insecurities and real judgements, and prejudices, and flaws. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

When we take a stand against the collective view of the world, and decide for ourselves what we want to believe in, the world shifts. It changes in the slightest, most magnificent of ways, just for us.

When we choose to embrace what is, and see the world like we used to see it, when we were much younger than we are today, we can see the joy again, the laughter comes to us, and that rainy day is just another excuse for gumboots and puddle jumping.

My life is about choice: my choice.

It’s your world too.

My Personal Journey with HeroWork

Helping to bring a project full circle from inception to fruition, which happened just yesterday for the Rainbow Kitchen, one that exists simply to help others, is an extraordinary feeling. My latest involvement in a project helps feed 150 people every day, 36,000 meals a year, and it feeds not just their belly, but their social connections, self worth and an essence of spirit. That’s the ‘Radical Renovation’ of the Rainbow Kitchen through the actions of community, driven by HeroWork. Its like a modern day barn-raising, if you can visualize a community of volunteers coming to help fix one building.

But what has it done for me, personally?

I want to bring you back to how I first heard about HeroWork, because I feel as though I was directed to it, and I know, after talking with many of the people involved, that others feel the same way.

I was on a personal mission to write this blog about the meaning of heroism in everyday life, when I ran across a local organization that rebuilds charities in such a way that it caught my eye. It was HeroWork, naturally, and I mentioned it in this earlier post in December 2014. Lending a helping hand, sharing a smile, or simply acknowledging someone creates a lightness of being that brightens this world. It just does, and when many of us get together and do it, the light gets brighter.

The second time I was impacted by HeroWork was when I saw Paul Latour tell his inspiring tale of how it evolved out of an act of giving; by helping a neighbour with MS deal with their yard work. Pretty humble beginnings that have flourished and grown every year to the completion of the latest renovation that is estimated at $500k over three weekends with hundreds of volunteers. This takes the total tally to $1.8M in the Victoria area. Amazing, but I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s get back to the final crossroad where I decided to become involved.

The third time I heard about HeroWork was when a friend of mine told me they were renovating Citizen’s Counselling Centre where she worked. Now, I don’t always ‘get it’ when something is trying to grab my attention, but I saw clearly that in less than 10 months I was being directed to become a volunteer and work on that building. I signed up to volunteer on the very first day and I was a grunt worker that carried out lots of broken up concrete, sand down some doors and various other odd jobs. I felt like I was part of something bigger than just myself, something that made a difference. Isn’t that what we want out of our lives? We want to matter, and this involvement accelerates the process of making a tangible difference in your very own community.

That was it: I was hooked. Over the next few weeks I became instrumental in the fundraising campaign by organizing the silent auction items through a team of gifted volunteers. Such a stark change from absolutely zero knowledge to becoming passionately involved. Life can take some serious corners, and when we see them coming it’s all the better.

After that event was over, I had to focus on my day job of teaching and I didn’t get to become involved until about 8 months later when Paul Latour asked how things were going. The preparation steps were starting to get underway for the next project and I was asked to come in and see if there was a position that suited me.

I had just finished my teaching contract and the timing was right to get involved once more. After reviewing the potential positions, I was thinking quietly to myself that I like talking to people, so perhaps something on the Neighbourhood Liaison Team would be a good fit. Paul started to ask me what I thought, and as I was sorting out what I thought, a most beautiful moment happened.

As if time stands still, I almost feel as if the light in my brain got brighter and Paul indicated with his finger on the outlaid brochure of potential positions, pointing to one particular spot: Project Manager: he saw me as one of the three event managers outside of the renovation.

“What?!” I quietly breathed to myself. I’m sure my eyes widened slightly, but not wanting to give away both my feeling of inadequacy and my thought of potential, I sat for what felt like many minutes. I’m sure it was just half a second, but I said out loud “Oh, yeah. I can do that,” then ended off with a smile that may have shown off some false bravado mixed with a dash of panic.

Although I had led projects of similar financial value before, it was with large government agencies and many professionals to assist me if I ever needed help, and I also was an expert in my field. I was jumping in to something that I was simply passionate about, without having the experience of what it actually meant.

Over the next few days I felt that in this role I just might be over my head. But at the same time, while I felt challenged to fulfill a role I did not feel particularly prepared for, I also didn’t want to shake the confidence Paul Latour saw in me. That feeling of knowing someone you admire greatly has confidence in yourself, is so vastly comforting, and so incredibly powerful.

I started leading two teams in the project, and liaising with the other two project managers. Time flew by and I was both nervous and excited, trying my hardest to perfect meetings and inspire action and connection.

Paul shared with me that meetings are not just a time to get answers, they are also a time to connect with teammates. This is done though being genuine, asking questions, and sharing stories, like “What brought you to HeroWork?” which is one of my favourite questions.

I dealt with personnel conflicts, and issues that I alone could not solve, but what I realized is that I was partnered with people that have been through many projects before, and they had all the answers I needed. I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, I merely needed to be present, ask questions, and allow everyone else to do their part.

I learned to ask “What does that look like?” when presented with an issue, and be specific in details around logistics, because during the event, knowing when, for how many, and what options are available on the food service team will determine if certain people can eat the food we spent the summer preparing for delivery.

My teams were food and volunteers, and dealing with significantly different teams and personalities was exciting and educating. But, there was a common thread that was present throughout the entire preparation phase, and the event: we are all there to do our best in making a difference for others. It is such a giving environment! We were a diverse mix of people that started to create a community of common purpose.

One of the startling things I learned was how different people operate in a planning environment versus the real event. Some people I hardly knew, and thought weren’t really processing the planning of the event ended up being stars, shining brightly due to their particular “can do” attitude and on-site leadership ability. This startling realization reaffirms how each of us learn differently. Some through simple paperwork and discussion, others through role-play, and acting out live scenarios; which I find are great for those complex decision-making environments.

There have been times when I sat down after one of the ‘rush’ times on the site and simply smiled at the energy of my teams. Smiling, encouraging, and willing, even amid the chaos of arrival time of the waves of volunteers. When problems arose, they were handled with curiosity and genuinely seeking amends and corrective action. It was beautiful to be able to take in those moments of gratitude during the event.

I learned so much during the first weekend, especially from my veteran team mates, that it came full circle from planning to doing. The wisdom that comes from those that have been there, and done all of the jobs before I ever got involved was so extremely valuable!

Now starts the iterative phase of documenting the process for improvement on the next project. But, getting back to the original question: what has it done for me, personally? It has:

  1. given me an appreciation for the complexity of the renovation
  2. broadened my understanding of the entire HeroWork role
  3. expanded my comprehension of the impact of this work in the community
  4. given me more skills negotiating people
  5. helped my project related skill base
  6. brought me closer to all of my team members as real people with whom we all share a common underlying goal
  7. sent me home each night after a day at the event with tangible evidence of the difference we strive to make every day
  8. made me happy to get out of bed at 5am to be on site at 6:30am to start the renovation day
  9. expanded my family of people I care about
  10. given my efforts greater meaning in this world, and though my actions, my life. I know my life is achieving more.

Together We Achieve More [TEAM] and HeroWork is all about teams, which are just small communities. Like it says on the back of some of the volunteer shirts, “It takes a community to rebuild one“, and I feel like I just spent the summer helping to create a community of likeminded individuals work singleminded on a project that brings such lightness into this part of the neighbourhood.

I envy the landscaping as it is desirable to visit the location, but there is so much that nobody will ever see about the project, like all of the electrical work, the plumbing, the crawlspace work, the roofing, and everything that is hidden behind the last closed door, wall, floor or ceiling. Isn’t this like getting to know the spirit within people?

I know so many more people now. I appreciate the time and effort I contribute to these types of projects and my life has greater meaning. I feel better about what I do during my time, and I am confident that my light shines brighter having risen to the challenge of Mr. Latour’s level of confidence in me.

I owe much to leaders who see in us what potential we have and ask for one step toward it. Often we are too close to see our own potential, so we need these people in our lives. I am so glad the universe brought Paul Latour in to my life so that he could challenge me, and I could make a difference. Now there are many of us, through this latest project at the Rainbow Kitchen, that can share the light around our own communities and together brighten this place we live in.

I liken the difference HeroWork makes to a pebble in a pond, that ripples out from the tangible legacy we leave at each charitable location that is renovated. The pebble is tossed high in the air by every person that gets involved in the project initially, then the ripples of the pebble as it plunges into the pond are felt as each person is impacted by the new facility.

One by one each person feels the difference this project made, and that will go on for many years to come, impacting thousands of people through our complex social interactions. Every time I interact with another person I will strive to remember, this is a ripple moment. What I say and how I respond can direct the feeling of this moment in many different ways.

I am a different person: more enriched, with more connections, having made a greater impact on more people than ever before, and I am grateful for every single second of it.

Hoo-Haa!

[a chant from those that know it]

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 homelessness, and may look to supplementing nourishment through these facilities before it 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!