meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

About my Blood Pressure….

I’m writing this with the sole purpose of sharing my story. I strongly believe that each one of us is unique, and you can’t assume that what works for me, works for you. I am not a doctor. I am a thoughtful person, I am open-minded, and I am someone who is always looking at out-of-the-box possibilities. You might find this interesting, or you might think I am crazy. Which is totally fine with me.

When it comes to your health, you have to figure it out for yourself. Work with your doctor. Listen to the signals you get from your body. Think about your family history. Investigate your genetics. Read as much as you can.

Don’t take my word for it.

So why am I even sharing? Because we each have unique experiences, and we can learn from the experiences of another. Because I am a curious person, and I find it fascinating when others share their experiences.

And because this experience I am having is interesting to me, and what’s going on right now is hard for me to believe, when I know that I am the one having it.

It’s about my blood pressure.

I have a family history of high blood pressure and heart disease. My grandfather died in his mid-50s of a heart attack at work in 1971. He just fell over. My grandmother died after having a couple of heart attacks in her 60s. At the time, doctors couldn’t do much for someone who had had a heart attack. Medicine has come a long way.

My other grandmother had high blood pressure also, but she lived an amazingly healthy life of 89 years. She happens to be the one that I seem to physically take after. So I guess that’s a good thing.

My dad was on blood pressure medication from the time I can remember. Dinnertime conversations about blood pressure were common. So I know that in the 1970s, your blood pressure (upper number) was supposed to be 100 plus your age.

I remember going to the doctor when I was in high school, and he listened to my heart. He said I had “an athlete’s ticker.” I remember being glad to hear that.

So I’ve always been aware. And since the time I was an adult, my blood pressure seemed to always be “borderline high.” I also definitely have white coat syndrome – it’s always higher at the doctor’s office. But I tend to be healthy overall, and I haven’t been to the doctor’s much, so it never became an issue.

About a year and a half ago, however, I was 190 over something at my gynecologist’s office. Yeah, I was stressed that day, and yes, I know it can’t be that high. She gave me a prescription for Lisinopril and told me to get to my doctor.

The day had come. It caught up to me and I couldn’t avoid the issue any longer.   I was 52 years old.

The other interesting observation at this point of the story, is the automatic fear that is triggered as soon as you say that your blood pressure is that high. Yikes. People lose their ability to remain calm, and they start panicking about strokes and such.  People chastise you.

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Well, I was already past getting triggered by almost anything, so I just calmly knew I had to go see a doctor.

I didn’t have a primary care doctor that was working for me (hadn’t needed to go in over a dozen years – uh oh, there’s another trigger there….) so I got a recommendation, and went to try out this new guy.

He didn’t want to up the Lisinopril from the 10 mg dose I was taking, so he put me on Valsartan/HCTZ160/12.5 instead. This was late May. On it, I started to get light nosebleeds. I don’t think I have ever had a nosebleed previously in my life. I ignored the nosebleeds, telling myself maybe it was a coincidence, and they weren’t that bad. But when we upped the dose to 320/25 a month later, the nosebleeds got worse. I went back two weeks later.

When I told him I was having nosebleeds, he said “high blood pressure causes nose bleeds.” Well, apparently I had a problem with high blood pressure before coming to him, and I had NEVER had a nosebleed. I start taking a medication, nothing else changes, and I get nosebleeds.   Huh? All I could think was “It’s got what plants crave.” I’m not feeling real confident here.

In the meantime, we also did an EKG and an ultrasound of my heart. All good.

Next, we tried Procardia (Nifedical XL 60). My blood pressure was good on it (in the 130s I think) but it was miserable. The swelling in my legs was not tolerable. At my next appointment, I told him about the side effects. He told me to keep taking it. I said no way.

This poor doctor is obviously frustrated with me now. But then he had a thought, said wait a minute, and came back with a sample of Azor 5-40 and said to try that.

I tolerated that well, but the problem was, my insurance didn’t cover this drug, and it was really expensive. To be honest, I was frustrated as well at this point. It seemed that, regardless of the drug (except the Procardia) my blood pressure was always about 160 at the doctor’s office. I was taking my pressure at home also, and it was lower than that, but not under 140 consistently. I didn’t feel that there was any logic to what we were trying. There might have been, but the doctor didn’t share that with me. I felt like I was just being told what to do.

The other thing that is assumed, from what I gathered at this point, is that generally it is believed that side effects are inevitable, and you just have to live with them and not complain. That didn’t feel right in my gut.

Through other circumstances, about this time I happened to meet a cardiologist. He’s a really nice guy, and the timing seemed synchronistic, so I decided I would go see him, a specialist, who should be really up on all this stuff. Besides, with my family history, I figured having a relationship with a cardiologist would be a good idea.

With the cardiologist, we started back with the Lisinopril, but at 20. That didn’t drop my pressure enough, so we upped it to 40, then added Amlodipine 2.5. I tolerated these fine. But we soon upped the Amlodipine to 5, because my pressure was not low enough.

Three months later, my pressure in the office was 138/something, so we kept the dose at 5.

In hindsight, I was having side effects from the Amlodipine, but they weren’t too bad, at least I could ignore them. But at my next appointment, the pressure was up again (150s maybe?) so he suggested adding a water pill. I resisted, because I was convinced the diuretic part of the Valsartan had caused the nosebleeds. (A friend of mine had just told me out of the blue that she got nosebleeds after her doctor prescribed a water pill. Coincidence? I wasn’t even talking to people about this stuff, and this comes up? I’m trying to listen to what the Universe is telling me, here, I’m not going to ignore that…) I asked if we could up the Amlodipine, thinking that I had tolerated it well. He said ok. He did ask if I had been snoring, and I do think he was concerned with a dose that high and side effects.

The one thing that didn’t sit right with me was that this cardiologist kept saying he wanted me to be under 130.  And I know that’s what the standard had been, but the official, current number is 140.  A study recently showed no benefit to lowering it further than 140.   I don’t want to take any more drugs than absolutely necessary, as a general principle.

I eased into the higher dose, since I had some 5s and 2.5s already. And somehow the pharmacy didn’t get the call-in for Amlodipine right away. But at Amlodipine 10, I could no longer ignore the side effects. Yikes. Yes, I had gotten increasing complaints about snoring, but now it got really bad. I couldn’t feel my legs – they felt numb and swollen, even though they didn’t look swollen. I didn’t want to walk too far. I had been powering through the leg thing, I realize, but this was just too much. It startled me.

So I weaned myself off of the Amlodipone altogether, and that is when I realized how bad I had been feeling. It did kind of turn me into a zombie. Like I said, I powered through it….but without it, I felt great and like myself again!

But now, this is where the blood pressure fear kicks in again.   It’s the silent killer, don‘t you know?? You might FEEL great, but it is quietly killing you!!

So, yes, yes, yes, I needed to do something, but what? This conventional medicine, do what the doctor says, take your pills things wasn’t going so well. It didn’t feel right and we weren’t getting anywhere.

Around this timeframe, I’m off the Amlodipine but not sure what I should do next, and my daughter calls me to her room.  She asks me, do you want to do this with me?  She shows me the website blueprintcleanse.com, and I say sure, and we order a two day juice fast/cleanse to do together.  Basically, for two days you only drink the 6 juices a day, and give your system a rest.

Well, I definitely felt a little “off” and tired during those two days, but I was amazed at how I felt after.  It felt like my body did a “reset”.  I no longer had cravings that I had before, and I didn’t feel at all like overeating.  This felt like a continuation of changing habits that were already occurring, but there was definitely a noticable difference in how I felt.  About six weeks later, I did it again.

So here’s where I diverge, and I will give you some more background .

If you read anything else on this blog, you will know I have been exploring deeper insights into the meaning of life, the meaning of strife, and things of that sort. I am very interested in understanding what it means to be here, on Earth, in a human body, and how that relates to our roles as Souls who are eternal. That’s an entirely different world, and the ideas you find there are not anything close to mainstream. And to the conventional medical establishment, it’s all wacky stuff. I know that.

For a very long time, I suffered from headaches. They didn’t fit into the typical categories that you’d read about in magazine articles. Not a migraine. Not really a tension headache, although that seemed closest. They would last 3 days, and I could deal with them with Advil, and could power through when I was focused on a task, but I was a total grump and miserable.

Long story short, I tried a chiropractor after my third child was born and I was having some lower back pain. Xray images showed how my neck did not have the proper arc that it should have, and how this improved over time. There was one time, during the process, where I turned my head, felt something shift, and had an instant headache. I can tell you the spot in my kitchen where I was standing. There were several times that I went to an appointment with a headache, and the adjustment instantly took it away. My headaches have totally disappeared.

The other thing about regular chiropractic care (I went 3 times a week for the first year) is that you become really in-tune with your body. You learn how it feels when something is “off.” It basically gives you a lot of practice in feeling things that most of us have learned to ignore.

I must also say that I agree with the idea that it is our body that knows how to heal. Chiropractic attempts to take away any misalignments that make if harder for the body to function at it’s fullest capacity.  Whatever we can do to maximize our body’s ability to function, the better able it will be to heal itself. So, if we eat healthy, if we exercise, if we avoid toxins, etc. we will be healthier.

My experience with chiropractic opened me up to more possibilities. It made me question why something so non-invasive and gentle could have cured me of headaches, yet conventional doctors scoffed at it. People who had no experience at all with a chiropractor, automatically wrote it off. What was that about?

So I became interested in Alternative Medicine, and open to reading what came along.

One thing that came along, was a post by Lissa Rankin, M.D. It was a summary of a study that showed that fears can be passed to offspring of rats. I will find that post, but it’s going to take some digging. When I find it, I’ll elaborate. But it got me thinking, how much of this “high blood pressure expectation” is embedded in me? How much of it is not even “mine”??

It’s been even more interesting, as I have been doing some research on my ancestry, to see how many in my family died of heart problems. Genetic or otherwise, there’s a lot of history there. What kind of a role does that play??

I follow Lee Carroll’s channelings of Kryon, and I have also found the discussions of “mining the Akash” to be interesting. The basic idea is that we each have access to all of the information or lessons or abilities that we have experienced over all of our lifetimes, and that we can “replace” current attributes of our DNA with better ones from our storehouse.  If you want to know what I’m talking about, see the link below:

https://www.kryon.com/k_channel08_kelowna.html

So I’ve read this, and I absorbed it as best I could, but I didn’t really know with my brain how this would work. But I also have enough experience with these theings to know that we are learning, it’s a process, and that we will figure our way through it.

So all through my blood pressure journey, I have had these things in the back of my mind. I trust my body to communicate with me if I am paying attention. When I pay attention, I honor my body and it knows that I intend to work with it. Now, at each step, I  always make it a priority to pay attention to how I feel, not only how I feel physically, but what my intuition is telling me.

I tried not to think about my blood pressure for a long time. As long as there wasn’t a crisis, I could ignore it and pretend there wasn’t an issue. In order to have this journey, I had to have my crisis moment and have a really high reading, and be forced to figure out what to do to deal with it.

I went the conventional route, and tried the drugs. But I was aware and awake and paying attention, and the process didn’t feel right. There was not good communication. We were treating a symptom, not trying to understand or fix a cause. I am approaching life in a very different way now, very different from these doctors. I had to figure out how to work through this.

I have been trying to follow Kryon’s suggestions. We are to “talk” to our bodies. Huh? I had to figure out, that for me this meant I could get quiet and set an intention to work with my body, to listen to its signs. That meant that when my body was having an unpleasant side effect, I stood up and said “no” and changed course. In this way, my body knew I was listening.

Yeah, I know, this sounds weird. But the story gets better….

My Miracle

So, a friend of mind had told me about going to a Chinese Herbalist. She called him an intuitive doctor. Hey, I’m open to anything, remember. She had taken her daughter for some symptoms. He pegged it, the kid was fine.

After the leg numbness when I took myself off the Amlodipine, I knew I had to decide what to do next. I looked at the website of the Herbalist, and it felt right. It talked about how it is important to know the person, because what works for certain kinds of people is different than for other kinds.

When I read through everything written on the website, it all resonated perfectly with my perspective. I made an appointment.

When I told my husband about the appointment, he couldn’t believe it — turns out he had this guy’s name on a post-it on his computer screen for the last year.  His nurse practitioner had told him to talk to the guy about nutrition.

In the meantime, I had a scheduled appointment with the cardiologist.

I cancelled it.

You’re not supposed to do that, you know.  But I figured, it didn’t mean I couldn’t go back if the herbalist didn’t pan out.

But I was committing to giving this alternative a try.

I had an hour-long consult with the alternative doctor. He kept printing out research papers for me to read, on the natural substances he was suggesting for me. He was obviously a smart, curious individual, who was excited about the information he was sharing.  And he wanted to know all about ME and how my body was functioning.

It has only been one week since I started on the regimen he gave me. You should know that I am still taking my Lisinopril 40 as well. He has me taking my blood pressure consistently (which I was doing before I saw him, as well).  In what I have written, I have only been talking about the top number of my blood pressure reading. The bottom number was consistently between 100 and 110.  So the differences here are even more dramatic.

The numbers speak for themselves:

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If I did not experience this myself, I would have a hard time believing it. I am glad I have my husband as a witness. This is crazy.

But something happened here. Is it just the effects of the herbs he gave me?

Is this how “mining the Akash” works for me?

I am purposely leaving out the information on what I am taking now. Because I am not convinced that if I had skipped the steps I went through, the process of it, that I would have the same result. I think that this process of honoring my body allowed me to achieve the results, the healing, that I am experiencing. And I think it is necessary that I continue to honor the process.

This is a new way of being.   It is a new approach to caring for our bodies. It involves an openness and a trust in working with what appears in front of us, while at the same time, using our minds to help us figure it out.

But you can’t shortcut it. You can’t just ask me what herbs to take and be done. Because maybe the herbs are incidental. I don’t know that yet. I am still in the middle of the process. I have more to learn, and more experience to gain.

If you want the miracle, you have to follow your own crazy, winding path to find it. No one else can tell you how it will go, or what it is, you have to discover it on your own.

I just wanted to share this example. Hopefully someone will get some inspiration from it. I welcome your comments.

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No More Mr. Nice Guy

There’s that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It always seemed like a very good saying to me, but lately I’m not so sure.

We think of saying something that is “not nice” as being mean. And that might be the case. If a person is judging another, and they express that judgment, they would come up with some statement with the intent to put the other person down, criticize them, set them straight, prove them wrong, well, you get the idea. We are all familiar with these kinds of words.

But is the saying telling us that any kind of disagreement shouldn’t be expressed? Is it “not nice” to tell someone something they don’t want to hear?

Lately I’ve been observing people who only tell others what they want to hear (or what they think the other person wants to hear). And I’ve noticed people who get very upset when you give them honest feedback about something, that they don’t want to hear.

Many people would rather be “nice” than honest.

I think the saying needs some clarification:

If you can’t say something with kindness and without judgment, don’t say anything at all.

The presence or absence of judgment makes all the difference here. You have to work to minimize or eliminate judgment to have the kind of honest, safe, helpful communication that, to me, is the goal.

When your priority is to be “nice” and that includes avoiding disagreement and conflict, what you get is fake communication and pretend relationships.

It’s no big deal when you are interacting with people on a superficial basis – you see someone you don’t know doing something you don’t agree with, but it’s none of your business and it doesn’t affect you…..there is no need to put in your two cents. (Even though lots of people are into doing just that these days.)

But I’m thinking about relationships between people that interact on a regular basis — good friends, family members, or co-workers. If you can’t be honest, then there is no way, in the long term, that your relationships can deepen and develop trust. They will remain superficial. You can’t count on someone who isn’t telling you the truth.

When you are surrounded by others who are very similar to you, there is less conflict or disagreement, and it is very easy to just “get along” and be nice.

But our interactions with others these days are more and more likely to include contact with people who are not “like us” and as a result, more conflicts will occur. This can be seen as an opportunity to develop the communication skills that allow us to be honest and kind at the same time.

Those communication skills go both ways – we not only have to learn how to express honest feedback with kindness, we also have to learn to listen to and accept honest communication.

If you anticipate that an honest comment comes with an underlying judgment, you will get defensive. So you have to learn to pay attention so you can figure out whether the person is really being judgmental or not. Is this comment coming from someone who is judgmental, always telling other people what they should do, and criticizing people? Then it is more likely that the comment is judgmental.  Maybe the person is just being mean, and you should just ignore them.

However, what happens when you get feedback that you don’t like, maybe it stings, you definitely don’t want to hear it……but it comes from someone who you know loves you and wants what’s best for you, and is normally a kind person? At that point, you might try to figure out if something set that person off, or if maybe you should consider that their comment might be worth contemplating.

I live in a family unit of five very different personalities, but I can say that our family culture is very honest. This has been an adjustment for me, since I came from a very “nice” family. So I have spent a lot of time learning to be direct and honest, while still being kind. I’m not saying I have it all figured out and that I always do a good job…..but it’s a process I’ve been consciously working on. And because of that, I observe this issue all around me.

Other parents are amazed when they hear about the level of open communication we have with our kids. We definitely have lots of practice dealing with conflict, but we do it in an honest way, and our kids know that it is safe to speak their minds. There is no question in my mind that this is one of the life lessons I am here to work on. In a way, it feels like I live in a lab experiment! I have learned so much from the souls in my family.

I try hard to see these dynamics without judgment. Instead of thinking that people “should be” one way or another (and people tend to think others “should” be like they are), I see that we are all unique individuals with different personalities, and there is no reason why we can’t learn to interact with others while respecting their approaches.

Those who grew up in a culture of “nice” tend to be the pleasers, the peacemakers, the ones who have a problem saying “no.” If you want to develop an honest relationship with these people, you have to do what you can to convince them that it is safe to be honest. Try to communicate with kindness. But also realize that you can’t change them, they have to change themselves.

You can recognize the pleasers. They always say “yes” even if they are already over-committed and there is no way they can do what they just agreed to do. They anticipate the needs of others, and put those needs before their own.

The “opposite” type person is what I would call a self-advocate. They are clear what they think and what they want, and they don’t hesitate to express any of that. Just because they are direct, doesn’t mean they aren’t open to another view. You have to meet this person where they are, and communicate directly.

Most people aren’t all one or the other. Depending on the situation and who we are with, we might take on different roles. And both approaches are important.

As always, it’s about balance. There are times when we need to set our own needs aside and help and support others. There are also times when we need to set boundaries and say no. There are times when we need to love ourselves enough to advocate for our own needs and focus on ourselves above others.

Are you aware of when you have been dishonest, just to be nice and not disappoint someone? Are you aware of when you have been brutally honest, and didn’t deliver your feedback in a kind way?

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Running Scenarios

You can predict the future! And the future is now! Let me explain…

The idea or concept of “running scenarios” is something that I became really familiar with when I was doing financial analysis for real estate development projects.

Let’s say you are going to renovate an old apartment building with 5 units. The building is 80 years old and hasn’t had much of anything updated in a very long time. This means you have 5 kitchens and 5 bathrooms, etc. If you are looking at the financial aspect of this project, you would have all kinds of possibilities to look at – whether to use high end or inexpensive materials, whether to move any walls, what kind of upgrades you would want to make to the building systems, heaters, plumbing, etc. Every single little detail would have a cost associated with it. And that’s just the materials – you would also have to make assumptions about the cost of labor and the interest cost associated with any financing, how much cash you would need to contribute, and any fees that would have to be paid. And that’s just the costs. You would also have to make assumptions about the amount of time it would take to implement your plan, which contractors to use, and what you would do to relocate the existing tenants.

So, you would set up a spreadsheet and have a place where you would list all of your assumptions. You would set it up so that it automatically sums up totals for you, and you could also set it up to calculate measures of return, to get a sense of whether this project would be a good investment of your time and money.

The spreadsheet would allow you to change each assumption, so that you could run various scenarios and see what the results are.

If you were really curious about how much it costs, and how it works to renovate small apartment buildings, you might gather information on a bunch of actual projects to see what is typical. But remember, with old buildings, each one is unique and you always run into surprises.

A person who has been doing this kind of renovation project for a long time would have developed this body of knowledge. They would be an expert. And if you have ever encountered someone with this kind of experience you know that they can almost sense how much a project will cost and whether it will be worth it.

So what if this same concept applies to life here on earth? What if we are all “running scenarios” with our lives, in order to learn and become, collectively, experts? Can you imagine the endless possibilities? My life setup is a scenario in itself, and then each hour of each day, I encounter choices I must make, which changes the assumptions, which changes the outcome. Life is very dynamic, which is why we can learn so much from it. And when we become an expert at life, what we really become is wise.

Which makes me think of the “wisdom factor.” That person who has spent a lifetime renovating small apartment buildings has a level of experience that shows as wisdom, almost a sixth sense about what will work best and what might go wrong.

An “old soul” who has experienced all kinds of scenarios (life set-ups) will develop wisdom. What if, embedded in each life, the wisdom factor is one of the assumptions? Think of every single life, not in a linear sense (one after the other), but in a completely interactive sense. What if, as you gain wisdom in one life, the wisdom factor in all your other lives increases, and allows you to make wiser decisions and gain more insight?

A book that illustrates this concept is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. The book follows a girl’s life and the choices she makes, then restarts her life over and over. As she gains wisdom, she makes subtle changes in how she interacts with others and lives her life, and you can see how she matures.

I am in a physical life in form, and so I am living one scenario, as it unfolds. But there are all kinds of other potentials that could happen. It might be as simple as my own change of perception of a situation – for example, I could see it as a problem or I could see it as an opportunity to learn.  Or I could make a choice that changes the course of my life.  Any change would have ripple effects on the lives of others, and ultimately on the entire system.

It boggles the mind to think of the possibilities.

But this is exactly the process that is described in several places.

My favorite description comes from The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan. Billy describes his experience of a hologram that allows him to look at his life without judgment. He is able to see any scene from his life. He can feel what others were feeling at the time. He can also try out any possibility – he can run “what if” scenarios to see how things would have played out. Can you imagine what you would learn if you were able to do this?

The “life review” described by people who have had near-death experiences (NDE) is what people are talking about when they say “my life flashed before my eyes”. I just recently read the book Life After Life by Raymond A. Moody Jr., M.D. from 1975 and was struck by how similar the life review is to Billy’s hologram.

In Lee Carroll/Kryon’s book The Journey Home, the main character, Michael, has a similar experience, which he describes as if he is watching a movie of his life.

Kryon often explains “how it all works” from Spirit’s point of view  (here is an example):

First, there is no linear time – everything happens in the Now. That’s hard to get your head around. But think if you could put every single scenario on it’s own sheet in a huge Excel workbook. Think about each one being linked to all the others, in an elaborate matrix of formulas and assumptions, one of which would be the wisdom factor. Then go focus on one of the scenarios and let it play out. Change an assumption, gain more wisdom, and see how, instantaneously, the entire workbook would reflect the changes.

It’s not hard to me, to think that God could work something like that.

Second, Kryon also likes to talk about potentials. It’s not that hard for Spirit, which is all-knowing, to have a sense of who every single person on the planet is and what they are likely to do. Of course, humans have free will and nothing is certain, but it’s not that hard to predict how humans will behave. So Spirit can make certain assumptions, and using the giant Excel spreadsheet, come up with likely outcomes.

To a certain extent, humans can use this same skill of evaluating scenarios. We might not consciously know all the details, but we can use what we know to make pretty good predictions.

My personal view is that we all, as souls, have the ability to see life this way. But we have to set aside lots of human conditioning that precludes us from doing so.

We have to set aside judgment. There is no judgment in this kind of thinking–only learning and growth and understanding.

We have to be open to the idea that there is more than just this physical life on earth, and we have to be open to the idea that it is way more complicated than we can fathom with our brains. We have to go beyond the limits of our minds, and open our hearts to “feel” and “know” what is possible.

 We have to abandon fear. Become Fearless.

There are people who are “psychic” who can “predict the future.” Do you find this scary? What if the future (the scenario with the highest potential) isn’t going the way you want it to go? Would you rather not know? I’m personally not sure why some people are “connected” to Spirit in a way that they have access to past or future scenarios. We talk about “past lives” and “the future,” even though it is more like a soup of assumptions and potentials.

D L Zeta presents a discussion of interacting with our past and future here, that fits in with this way of thinking.

It’s really important to note, that having access to the “other side of the veil” or to Spirit, can be really overwhelming. This access can happen to people who are unprepared and have no idea what to make of it. On top of that, since most people in our culture are uncomfortable or unaware, there can be all kinds of negative reactions. Others might want to diagnose the person with an illness, rather than explore the possibility of a spiritual connection.  It’s bewildering to not know what’s going on.

It makes sense that some of the people who tap into this information are kind and nonjudgmental, while others have their own belief systems that influence how they interpret the information they get. A person is like a filter, and if that filter is gunked up with unresolved issues, it will be more difficult for the pure message to get through. Lee Carroll and Kryon have written a lot about the process of becoming a clear channel. Paul Selig’s books incorporate discussions of the times that Paul has to “step aside,” when he is having trouble with a teaching.

A psychic reader that is addicted to drama in their own life, would probably interpret or present information in a dramatic way. One who is having issues in their own life, might be more cynical when those issues come up in information for another person.

Just like I come up with an analogy having to do with real estate finance, because that’s what I am very familiar with. So, the lesson is, understand the person so you can understand what kind of filter they are likely to be.  Then set those things aside and try to see the underlying concept.

So, here’s how I think about it. The Creator we call God, would be the Master at running scenarios. If we are all part of the One, if we are all creations of God with His spark in us, well maybe we are here acting out an endless, amazing variety of scenarios, with the purpose of collectively becoming wise.  This makes the whole idea of not judging make all kinds of sense, right?  Because how can you become wise without experiencing EVERYTHING, the “good” AND the “bad”?

This is how the idea of reincarnation makes sense to me. Instead of a “one after the other” progression of lives, I see it as more dynamic and beautiful than that. Our concept of linear time makes it very hard to wrap our minds around ideas like being able to change the past. But if we are all connected to each other and all the possibilities, at any moment, we are a snapshot of experience.

Without judgment, it’s all good.

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A Balance of Personal Strength

I am thinking about what it means to be a strong person.

I am not talking about physical strength.

We talk about someone having a strong will. We talk about people having strong beliefs. People can be strong when they are resilient. Someone can have a very strong faith. We all know people who are solid. The rocks.

Maybe we think of strong people as those who have lots of opinions and don’t hesitate being vocal about them. We think of people who are self-advocates and go-getters, people who make things happen. They say “I know what you should do…” They do what they need to do to get what they want. Don’t stand in their way! They are in charge. They are direct and ask for what they want (from you). They are the chiefs that surround themselves with staff. Let’s call this Outer Strength.

OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic here, but you get the idea.

I am one of the strongest people I know. I hold ideas and beliefs that I have thought about and researched and tested and experienced. While I am open to new information, I have spent so much intellectual time on the ideas I hold to be true, that it is hard to change my perspective. It only changes with serious internal consideration. But unless someone knows me really well, they don’t see me as strong.   Let’s just say I have Inner Strength.

Think about people that you know. Which kind of strong are they?

What’s different about me is that I don’t impose my ideas or beliefs on others. I don’t talk a lot about them unless I am asked. I don’t try to convince others that my truth should be their truth. I love to share what I think to promote discussion, but I don’t feel like I need to convert anybody. I don’t ask anyone else to do something for me, unless there is a balance.

I will work hard to get what I want. But I won’t do it at someone else’s expense. It’s what feels right to me.

I have spent an awful lot of time around the more typical strong person. They usually don’t “get” me, and I think I can be very frustrating to them. I don’t make any sense, because I am operating under a completely different paradigm. I am not weak. They attempt to use their powerful approach to convince me or direct me, and I nicely say no, thank you, because I already have my own agenda. I am happy for them to have their opinion, so I don’t fight them.

Outer Strength that attempts to control others is not respectful. It takes a lot of Inner Strength not to get swallowed up sometimes.

So what would it look like if we all found a personal balance of Inner and Outer Strength without the need to impose our way on others?

There is nothing wrong with using a direct approach and asking for what you want. There is no problem with clearly stating an opinion that you have. There is nothing wrong with advocating for a position you believe in. There is nothing wrong with going after what you want.

But there is also nothing wrong with saying no. There is nothing wrong with plainly disagreeing. There is nothing wrong with opposing views. You can always choose not to participate.

I have learned that I don’t need to get angry when someone asks for what they want. They are free to ask for anything…….and I am just as free to say yes or no without getting an angry response.

Now imagine two people who each have balanced Inner and Outer Strength (or at least are working on it). They might not always agree, they might not choose to do the same things, but they are clear in communicating and they allow each other to be different. They learn the art of compromise. They don’t always have to get their way. They don’t tend to be telling each other what to do. They do, however, share perspectives and learn to understand each other.

What if everyone operated this way?

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Thinking about Motivation and Kids

This is dedicated to all the coaches and teachers and others out there who want to motivate the kids they are working with. As an observer and thinker about this, and as a mom of three active kids, I’ve witnessed kids with many different personalities in many different situations with many kinds of coaches and teachers and parents.

The bumps in the road with kids range from relatively small to very big, but a lot of the dynamics are the same along the spectrum. Don’t we want to understand what’s going on, so that we can minimize our problems? Whether it’s a better relationship with your son or daughter, or avoiding teen suicides, eating disorders, cutting, or other destructive behaviors, it’s worth digging into the dynamics of how we interact with our kids.

What’s the Goal?

So, we might assume that we all would agree that the priority when working with kids is to motivate them to do their best. This seems reasonable, but I am not really sure that this is always the case.

Like anything, lots of people in the world are running on automatic, without really thinking through or being aware of what their true priorities are. So stepping back and thinking about it might be a worthwhile exercise. When you work with kids, what is your primary goal?

From what I have seen, the prevailing model for dealing with kids, that we have used for years, is what I call the Crime and Punishment model. Many adults really just want kids to do what they are told, to behave, to obey. I am the parent, what I say, goes. Step out of line, you have committed a crime, you should expect a punishment.

This way of thinking might sound like this: “I have the education and experience, I know what is best, and they should respect that. I have been successful in my field, and I know more than anyone else here, they should do what I say.” My response would be, that might all be true, but if a kid is not motivated to go along with the plan, there might be some issues. And, likewise, if a kid is really motivated, they are going to strive to achieve, despite what the coach or teacher or parent does.

So I am not interested in evaluating or making a distinction about whether the adult in charge is competent or not. Let’s assume he or she is experienced and knowledgeable. The actual goals of what you want the kids to do are probably the same…..it’s more a matter of how you get there.

What I am interested in talking about is the HOW in how do you motivate?

Motivated kids make your job easier. If they are motivated, you don’t have to push, and that’s half the battle, right? Why are some kids motivated while others don’t seem to care?

The first thing to say is, one size does not fit all. Sure, that seems obvious, but when working with kids, one has to consider the various personalities and situations of the kids you are working with. Do you adjust your style accordingly, or do you just use your style no matter what? As a parent, you may have had the experience that what worked with your first, does not with your second. If your style is not effective with a child, do you adjust, or do you just impose that style harder?

So let’s talk about motivating kids. It’s only one aspect of working with them, but it’s an important one that determines how effective you can be. You can have more knowledge about your subject area or sport than any other person alive, and you can be great at explaining and demonstrating that knowledge, but if the kids aren’t motivated to listen and engage, then you will only get so far.

I have seen the exact same kid thrive and excel under one coach, and totally bomb under another coach. I have seen the exact same kid excel in a subject at school with one teacher, then I have been told by the next year’s teacher that this child doesn’t know what he’s doing. The kid didn’t change – so something else was going on. It’s not just motivation, but that’s usually a part of it.

I like to analyze and figure things out. It’s what I do. And as a parent, I want my kids, and all kids, to learn and grow and excel. So I have watched and thought a great deal about this.

Motivation is a key component. And not every individual is motivated in the same way or for the same reasons. I see two primary questions that help break it down to figure out what is going on.

Is this kid motivated internally or externally?

We all know people who are self-motivated. It comes from inside. Once they have set their mind on something, nothing will stop them. This is the kind of kid we all love, because the motivation is already there. They make it easy.

But where that internal drive comes from isn’t always the same. Someone might have a drive to succeed because they just love doing their best at anything they try. They may love the satisfaction of reaching a goal. They may do what they do because they enjoy the sport or activity and it brings them joy, or a rush, or gets them into the zone.

Others may be motivated because they have internalized an external motivation. The parents were both athletes and so of course I will follow in their footsteps, I am expected to be and I expect myself to be a star. Failure is not an option.

Some may be in it for the glory and the bragging rights. If I am the best, I will get the medal, or the trophy, or the all-State status. Others will know I am the best. The championship or the title will be the motivation.

At the other end of the spectrum is the purely external motivation of parents or peers or coaches. The kid is required by his/her school to play a sport, and the rest of the team is all about winning, and the kid doesn’t want to let the team down, so the external motivation is responded to.

The parents push their kid hard, have invested a lot of money in lessons and instruments or equipment, say, and have also invested themselves in their child’s success. The kid does not want to disappoint their parents’ expectations. Failure is not an option.

Every single situation is unique, and you can’t assume what a child’s motivation is, just based on the circumstances. One kid who plays a sport might be totally self-motivated and love his sport. Another on the same track, might be doing it because his three older brothers did it.

One kid might be a superstar at school, where the learning comes naturally and is enjoyed, while another might be responding to tremendous pressure from teachers and parents to do it all.  They could both get straight As with different motivations.

The second question is:

Are the motivation techniques I am using positive or negative?

Positive techniques are based on love. They include encouragement, a focus on improvement, and they build a kid up. Positive techniques support growth and taking risks and they let a kid know that the sky is the limit.  When a person embraces this kind of motivation, it becomes the best kind of self-motivation.

Negative techniques are based on fear. Fear of punishment, fear of being ashamed, guilt for not measuring up, fear of consequences, fear of anger and emotional outbursts. Coaches yelling at their teams.

(One parent recently told me of a coach who told young girls that if they performed like that again, they would be a disgrace to their families. Really?)

I am sorry to say, but many, many of the techniques I see used in schools to get kids to fall in line and behave, are fear-based. I suspect that those who use these techniques prioritize behavior and doing what you are told (control). What they may not realize, though, is how damaging this is.

You see, deep down, we all know that we deserve love and respect. We are all “good enough.” At the surface, some of us are sure of this, many of us doubt this, and some have been convinced that this is not so.

Bottom line, any time fear is used to motivate, this is insulting to one’s Soul.  It’s called manipulation.

So back to the secure, self-motivated kid who has messed up or missed the goal or made a mistake. If you slam him or her, and try to make them feel “less than” in order to “shape them up”, this will KILL their motivation. ESPECIALLY to a kid who has been raised to support internal motivation, who tries to do his/her best, but who knows they are a human who makes mistakes…..they do not need to be beat up. They already know that there is improvement to be made.

And the insecure, vulnerable kid? You can really do some damage. They already feel unworthy, and you are just kicking them when they are down. You think they will continue to try?

I am not saying that you won’t get what you want with a fear-based approach. Fear works, and in the short term, you may get those kids to perform. They may be strong enough and self-motivated enough to ignore your methods. Others may be unwilling to let their parents or their teammates down. They just might be scared enough of you to do what they are told.

But you will never empower kids by using fear. You might get what you want and win the battle, but you lose the war. You will not develop a relationship with these kids. Do you think any kid who has any kind of issue or trouble will ever come to you for help? Forget it. So without help and guidance, their troubles will get worse.

At this point, you may be saying, well their parents should take care of them. True, if the goal is to control kids and make them do what they are told and behave. But is that what we are trying to teach our kids? Or do we want kids who learn to navigate life, by making mistakes and practicing how to do better next time? Don’t we want to encourage kids to take responsibility for their own activities and decisions?

As parents, coaches and teachers, it is our responsibility to make kids feel SAFE coming to us with their problems. That is, IF our goal is to empower kids and help them learn and grow.

What has amazed me the most is how entrenched our culture is in Crime and Punishment. We aren’t even aware of this. Even kids with really open and caring parents are afraid to share their difficulties. Most kids wouldn’t dare discuss issues with their parents or other adults.

And teachers and coaches? You better believe that if you follow the Crime and Punishment model (which, by the way, often includes No Tolerance policies) there is no way kids think they can work things out with you. Instead, they will weasel their way through the best they can. Some will just quit. And you definitely WON’T be getting their best. Isn’t this obvious?

I have observed the kids who have been crushed by this system. It’s awful.

And the thing is, it’s unnecessary.

It’s not about assigning blame or figuring out who is wrong. That’s just pointless. We all make mistakes sometimes, we all wish we had done some things differently. We have good intentions, we are doing the best we can, and sometimes we are doing things the way we think we should…..and it turns out that’s not the best way.

It’s life and it’s how it works and nobody is perfect.

But everybody knows our schools and our kids are in crisis.  Instead of searching for someone to blame, wouldn’t it be more helpful to understand?

One little blog post can’t cover this topic. But to me, if everybody took some time to think through these issues, we could make dramatic improvement in our interactions with our kids. And in turn, we would be making the world a kinder place with more Love and less Fear.

 

 

 

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Stuck in the Details of Right and Wrong

Deciding who is right and who is wrong is pure judgment. Period.

IF you’re a Christian, it’s very clear that we are not to judge. Period.

So how does that work?

Step back, and let’s look at how “deciding what’s right or wrong” works, forget the mandate of “no judging” for now:

Take any argument that centers on what was right or wrong in the past. First, what is done is done. So what is the purpose of labeling something right or wrong? You could call this just semantics, but it’s not just that. If your true focus is on determining right or wrong, what does this really accomplish? Why do people spend so much time arguing who or what was right and who or what was wrong?

Even if we all agree on which label fits which party or situation, that label doesn’t fix or change anything.

When we don’t agree on where the labels should be placed, these “discussions” are usually attempts to convince others of our viewpoint, which can lead to anger, insults, and intimidation to convince others that we are right. So not only is there the question of whether the issue we are discussing is right or wrong, but we take it on personally to be which person is right or wrong. You may become a bad person if you end up on the wrong side. So the stakes in this game are high. Each person wants to win – this is really a competition.

I think most people approach things this way because this has been the prevalent way in the past. It’s just the way it is, and that way hasn’t been questioned. It’s the default setting.

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There are people who enjoy playing this game of right and wrong just to stir people up and see them squirm and see how much emotional reaction they can get. A friend of mine knows he does this – he calls it “hunting bear.” Are you tempted to decide he’s “wrong” for doing it for this reason? Hey, it’s just his choice. Who am I to judge?

Some people are very invested in being right and knowing all there is to know about whatever they are discussing. It’s a self-worth thing. They need to be right, and they need to defend that, otherwise they would be wrong. (If you are wrong then you are bad, and nobody wants to be a bad person.) People want to feel good about who they are, and they can get very emotional when threatened with a label of “bad.”

So it depends what your goal is. Are you just having fun messing around with people? Do you think you know more and are better than all the other idiots? Are you invested in being superior?

If someone is playing the judgment game, you can’t really discuss anything with them, because they are not as interested in digging in and understanding the issue or problem, as they are interested in being right. They may know lots of facts and background information, but the purpose for knowing all this is to be right.  So you have to understand where they are coming from. And they may never have thought about why they take the approach that they do.

This can be tricky to figure out, because those who are really good at the game (but aren’t aware they are playing it) use approaches that lead others to believe that they are really trying to solve problems. They know lots of details and could argue the finer points until the cows come home.

Look, they may really truly want these problems to go away. I am not saying people don’t have good intentions. I think most people do. I just think most people haven’t thought through what I’m talking about to the extent that they understand where it’s possible to get stuck.

 

And I don’t even expect others to agree with me on what I’m saying here. Really this is only my one perspective. What I am interested in, is non-emotional exploration and discussion of ideas. The only way you can understand anything, and especially the nuances of anything, is to hash it out and explore every possibility. Without getting emotional and defensive.

If a person gets triggered by someone who disagrees, that probably indicates that they are stuck in the “right and wrong” game. If they can agree to disagree, even if they are passionate about their perspective, then they have probably moved past that stage.

IF your goal is about understanding complicated issues, or trying to do the best you can with whatever the situation is, or trying to decide on policy or who to vote for or how to improve whatever it is, THEN you have to set aside the game of judgment. You don’t waste time arguing right or wrong.  And you don’t feel the need to put other people down.

Instead, you frame your discussions around what works to get to the goal and what doesn’t work. You talk about goals, what they are, and how sometimes two important goals can conflict.

You realize that life is complicated, each person and each situation is unique, and to make the best of anything, you have to think about it and do your best, and adjust the next time.

 

Some examples to think about:

Fear Porn

We all see lots of information about situations that exist in the world that cause pain and fear. A certain amount of this is really, really important, because we can only solve problems if we are aware of them.

To be aware of all the problems in the world can be overwhelming. No one person could possibly have enough time or energy to tackle more than a few. But how many pictures or posts do you see where the primary purpose seems to be to trigger feelings of guilt or horror at these types of situations? There are a lot. Their underlying message seems to be “Don’t You CARE????” So, is the purpose of a post to promote awareness, or is it to promote what is right?

ANYTHING that uses fear, guilt, or shame to motivate people, will only promote more of the negative. Because the motivation is to avoid being WRONG.

Are you a terrible person if you don’t rescue all the abandoned dogs on the world? If you don’t write your Congressman about every single problem that needs attention? If you don’t repost the picture of the girl/boy/men/women who have been mistreated? If you don’t feed the poor? If you don’t stand up for human rights?

I’m talking about issues that are ALL important, of course they are, and I can be aware and care and have compassion for all of them. I can also be aware of who I am and my place in the world, and I can do all I can to use my individual talents and situation to make the world a better place. Fear porn isn’t going to support me with that. In fact, fear porn only contributes negative energy. It doesn’t solve anything.

Of course it’s a balance. Sometimes we want to get people’s attention. Something that looks like fear porn to me, might be exactly what the next guy needs to see. My point here is to make people think about it. If all you are doing is posting sad, terrible stories, but you never get involved in a real-world sense to make something better, then maybe you are stuck trying to showing everyone else how wrong they are.

The Crime and Punishment Model of Parenting and Schooling

Talk about a subject area where people are obsessed with being right or wrong…

We motivate kids with fear all the time. Follow the rules or else. Zero tolerance.

When a child makes a mistake, we can’t wait to say “Gotcha!!” We are obsessed with making kids who slip up know that they are wrong, while we reinforce being right with praise.

This results in kids who are wonderful actors. They figure out what behavior gets them praise, and they hide (not always so skillfully) any behavior that will get them a “bad” label. We teach them to be superficial, rather than supporting them in building character, making smart choices, and learning to navigate the world.

Or, they see how it goes and they give up, because they realize there is no winning with this game. Kids are smarter than you think.

Look, everybody makes mistakes. When Mistakes = Wrong instead of Mistakes = Opportunity we miss our chances to understand and learn and grow.

Politics

I’m not sure that any of our problems are more rooted in the Right vs. Wrong paradigm than politics.

You know, it doesn’t have to be this way, by the way.

Politics in the US is all about us vs. them, being on the right side, my way is right, your way is wrong. If you operate within this paradigm, it’s a great place to exercise this way of being these days. What a thrill ride!

Doesn’t our current day political situation seem insane, unproductive, unworkable, inefficient, etc etc etc? Do you notice that cooperation between sides seems to be treated like a terrible threat? This mindset has a stranglehold on politics, and the only way out of it is to abandon the mindset.

If you spend all of your time arguing which President was good (right) and which was bad (wrong) you will never get anything done. If you keep arguing about which policy was good (right) and which was bad (wrong) you will never spend time creating a new policy that might work better, much less will you actually learn what you can from previous experience.

You might  discuss the very same issues, but the mindset and the goal that you have will determine whether you get stuck in an endless loop of competition between good and bad, or whether you think and learn and understand and contemplate better solutions for the future.

Details Don’t Really Matter

This is why I don’t really care about the details of what happened.

So yes, I know there are lots of situations in the world where we need to come together and tackle situations and help each other out. I already know that. So I don’t want to spend my time talking about how terrible it is and all the gory details. Let’s put that energy into cooperating and finding solutions.

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I don’t care whether the kid drank at a party or skipped class. I want to talk about what’s important, about making smart choices, about knowing what is important to that particular kid, and understanding how they found themselves in that situation. I want to use the opportunity to think things through and help the kid learn.

We might have almost the exact same conversation about who was there and who did what and what happened then. But instead of trying to convict the kid and make sure he knows he’s WRONG, the goal is instead to support decision making and learning how to do better next time. Build her up, not break her down.

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And please. Just please. Politics is not a sporting event. You don’t root for your team. We are supposed to be trying to find the best people we can who will be creative and find solutions and try. We can’t expect our elected officials to change the system, WE have to initiate that change by letting go of the ego’s need to be right and make others wrong. We just need to drop it and work together and know that nobody is perfect and put our ENERGY into solutions.  We need a new mindset.

THAT’s where I’m coming from.

THAT’s why I just don’t have much patience for fear porn, constant negativity, attacks on individuals, belittling others, scare tactics, condemnations, etc.  I am no better than you.  You are no better than me.  We are each unique, important individuals who contribute to the fabric of humanity.  Even the “bad guys.”  Even the other guy.  I will respect the other guy no matter what the perspective.

If you want to play that game, hey, it’s your choice.  I want to change the world, I want world peace, and I don’t think the competitive mindset of determining right and wrong will get us there.  So I will tell you that.  If you try to convince me otherwise, I will stand up and say “no.”  I will be clear.  I will not argue with you.  You have as much right to your perspective as anyone.  But you can’t intimidate me into feeling less than you by hurling insults.  Sticks and stones, bro.

Just don’t be surprised when we go our separate ways.

Let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Isn’t it interesting that “don’t judge” is an important concept we get from Jesus?   Maybe he knew what he was talking about.  But the difficulty is this:  those who are in the judging mindset, will feel judged by my little rant here, where no judgment is intended.  Just another example of how with “right vs. wrong” we can never win.

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California Earthquake: Should I Worry??

I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1987 to 1993, so I have felt some earthquakes. That includes the Big One, the 1989 Loma Prieta Quake, the most dramatic one that Northern California has experienced since the 1906 quake.

My undergraduate degree is in Earth Science and I tend to be more fascinated by quakes than afraid. Most people who have lived in California for a while tend to be pretty laid-back about quakes as well. But of course it depends on how big they are and how close you are.

If you are not so familiar with earthquakes, it’s hard to get a sense of whether you should worry or not! So this is a little overview that might help ease your fears about your friends and loved ones in California.

The USGS has a great summary of sizes of quakes and how they feel. It’s worth looking at to get a sense of what different size quakes feel like. The chart describes what an earthquake would feel like to someone near the epicenter, or ground zero, if you will.   The further away from the epicenter, the less intense the quake.

Because California has so many earthquakes, building codes are such that most buildings are designed and built to withstand them. So for most, say for anything under a 6.0 and not occurring right under you, you will not have to worry about buildings collapsing or major damage. In other words, in the USGS chart, most of California will fare better than the average in that category.

When an earthquake hits other parts of the world that have older buildings, worry more. When one hits California, worry less.  If one hits in an area where earthquakes are common, worry less:  people tend to be prepared.  If one hits in an area where they are less common, worry more.

It’s also good to know that earthquakes can feel different, even at the same intensity. Sometimes they feel like a quick shock all at once, and other times they rumble and rattle. Then there are some where it feels like the ground is rolling like waves. It depends on the quake, if it’s shallow or deep, and it depends on the ground and rock below your feet. I have a friend who was in the Marina district in 1989, and he said he surfed down Lombard Street.

If someone lives on fill from way back, worry more. If they live on engineered fill, meaning recently developed areas, worry less. If they live on hillsides that are prone to mudslides and it has been raining a lot, worry more. If they live on flat ground, worry less.

The media doesn’t help any, because they love to sensationalize. Even in 1989, the headlines showed this. Despite the wild ride I experienced on the 18th floor of the Clorox Building in downtown Oakland, when I got home to my house, built in 1988 on engineered fill on Bay Farm Island in Alameda, nothing was broken or damaged. Yes, most of the pictures were hanging crooked and the cat was hiding. The most amazing thing was, water had sloshed out of the toilet upstairs, so the house obviously did some serious shaking. Bottom line, they know how to build them in California.

By all means, check on your friends after an earthquake and let them know you are thinking of them!  Just don’t get sucked into unnecessary fear and worry.

Hope this helps.

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Here’s the copy of the front page of the paper from the day after the quake, that hangs in my basement.  FYI, the actual statistics from this source:

“This major earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries, and an estimated $6 billion in property damage. It was the largest earthquake to occur on the San Andreas fault since the great San Francisco earthquake in April 1906.”

 

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It’s just days later and there has been an 8.2 quake in Chile.  You might find this interesting:

 

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60 Seconds with God

If you could open your mind and heart wide enough, and imagine the possibility…..what if you could experience the sheer vastness, the total unconditional love, the perfect perfection, the shattering of everything you ever “knew”, all in one endless short moment of connection with God?

It doesn’t matter what you call God, or how you define it/He/she.  Whatever God means to you…..what if you felt that with all of your being, just for a minute?  Nothing held back, everything just as it is?  Truth.

What would you expect?  How would you react?  What if it wasn’t what you thought it would be?

Personally, I am convinced it would be too much for us to experience the full impact of the Divine all at once, even for a short time.  With that much energy, we would probably explode.  I don’t think our bodies could take it.

So what if you and I were given a glimpse, just as much as we could take?  How would that feel?

Did you know that this happens?  Think about how it feels when something touches your heart.  We’re comfortable with the little hints we get at weddings, when a baby is born, when someone reaches out to us when we are hurting, the kind smile of a stranger…..we get little glimpses of God all the time.

It also happens bit by bit as we get more in touch and open with ourselves.  Activities like yoga, meditation, being in Nature, or anything that individually works for you can do it.  Ram Daas talks about a woman told him she understood because “I crochet.” (see story here)  For me, regular chiropractic care played a part.  Music is also a way for many.  Whatever touches your soul and helps you get in touch with your own unique essence.

But it also happens in bigger, deeper, more dramatic ways.  We don’t tend to talk about it, because it doesn’t fit the “reality” we live in.  Or if we do talk about it, it sounds crazy to others who have no idea what we’re talking about.

James Redfield describes an example of this kind of experience in his book The Celestine Prophecy, a feeling of Oneness with all of creation.  Having this experience while being with Nature is not uncommon.

You can have one of these experiences in a dream.

I believe that each experience is specific to the individual, and is likely to occur in a way that is meaningful and appropriate to that person.  It may not make any sense to anyone else.

This is nothing new.  Remember how Paul was blinded?  (Acts 9 – google away, my friends!)

From personal experience, I know that this is impossible to fully describe to someone else.  One can become obsessed with trying to understand it and trying to communicate it.  Because it changes everything.

Eben Alexander is a great example of this.  His near-death experience obviously affected his entire being, and his description of how he “processed” his experience (described in his book Proof of Heaven) is so familiar.

So, yes, I have had 60 seconds of connection with God.  It wouldn’t make any sense to anyone else, but it made EVERYTHING make sense to me.  You would have to have lived my life and been me to understand.  All the pieces fit.

It changed everything.  Everything and nothing at the same time.  You still wake up in the same world, but you are not the same.

I know now that there is nothing that is not possible.  It made me realize how out-of-whack we are in the ways we live and interact.  It made me know that everything will be ok.  There is nothing to fear.  It propelled me into a frenzy of trying to figure everything out.

It’s why I started to write this blog, as a way to help organize my thoughts and share and process.

It’s all about Love, by the way.  It’s bigger than anything we could imagine.  I can’t totally explain it, but I know it.

Anybody else out there want to share a similar experience?

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Can I Be Honest with You??

I’m at a point in my life where I want to have honest relationships.  I want to be able to be my authentic self.  I want to be able to share any crazy old idea I have, and explore everything without having to hold back.  And I feel very fortunate to have found others who are able to have this kind of relationship.

So, how does this work?  Well, first, I am aware that most people are not totally honest.  It’s pretty hard to be that way in this world.  There are lots of pressures to be the way society thinks we should be.  So people hold back from showing their true colors.  And many are so conditioned to the way of the world, that they don’t even know who they truly are.

Be Honest With Yourself

So the first thing that is necessary, if you want to have a totally honest relationship with another person, is to have a totally honest relationship with yourself.  This is no small feat.

It’s probably safe to say that all of us have molded ourselves to some extent, based on outside expectations.  This is not necessarily a “bad” thing; it’s just the reality of how things are.  Parents teach kids how to behave.  Families have expectations of doing well in school, of what kinds of professions are suitable, of what kinds of people to associate with.  All this is done with best interests in mind.  Most of the advice and direction we receive from those who love us is well-intentioned.

But we don’t tend to teach our kids how to evaluate or double-check the advice we get from others to see if it feels internally authentic.  We tend to rely on following rules rather than developing wisdom.  And when you are just following an external set of rules, over time, you can find yourself somewhere down a track that doesn’t fit with who you really are.

Life is all about balance.  It’s important to us to get along with others, and what others want or expect from us isn’t always aligned with what we want for ourselves.  The key here is just to be aware of this.  Develop an awareness of who you are, what feels right for you, and know that there might be conflicts.  Be honest with yourself about it.

Single Dad Laughing just posted a great article that is relevant – you might want to check it out here.

Let me just summarize by saying:  It is almost impossible to have a totally honest relationship with another, if you are not being honest with yourself by knowing who the authentic YOU is.

So let’s say you have done a lot of internal work in understanding who you are, why you hold the beliefs you hold, how your life experiences have helped you grow the way you have grown, etc.  You are at a place where you are secure in who you are, you know what brings you joy and you know what doesn’t float your boat.

It Takes Two

It’s not enough to just broadcast honestly out into the world.  For an honest relationship, the receiver of the information has to be able to listen openly, without judgment or reaction.  Sure, a person can go around sharing honest, uncensored information about themselves or their thoughts, but for a relationship to develop and sustain itself as honest, the back and forth has to embrace honesty.

Think about a time you were afraid to share your feelings, or maybe an observation that you thought wouldn’t be well-received.  Maybe the other person was totally open to what you said, and you felt a great sense of relief that you were able to be honest.  This interaction will build trust and an atmosphere that will make honest dialogue more likely to occur in the future.  The person who was able to listen without making you regret being honest just gave the relationship permission to grow in an honest way.

Now think of something you wish you could share with someone, but you are afraid of what they will say or think of you.  We ALL have things we could share that others might not “like.”  We have all had experiences where we have wanted badly to be able to share a doubt, a question, an experience that might “make us look bad” or even a heart-felt emotion that might disappoint another person.  And sometimes we have taken that chance, shared a vulnerable piece of ourselves…..and sometimes, that effort has been met with an emotional reaction, a judgment, a refusal to accept it, a condemnation.  This situation will NOT likely encourage anyone to be as honest (and vulnerable) in the future.

So, let’s say someone you care about and trust shares with you information that is totally unexpected.  You had no idea.  Your initial reaction might be of shock, and you might inadvertently give the other person the impression you don’t approve.  The other person might regret telling you.  If you are paying attention to these things, you can easily keep the honesty open by communicating what is going on:  “Wow, I’m sorry I’m reacting, I just didn’t realize that about you.  I just need a little time to get used to this.  I’m glad you told me.”

We are constantly gauging how honest we can be with others.  Sometimes we find out that someone was not telling us the whole story.  The omission is a way of being dishonest.  Especially in new relationships, both sides don’t know how “safe” it is to be honest.  How many chances do we give another person?  That’s really hard to say.  When we see a pattern of an inability to tell the truth, we conclude that we can’t share openly or trust that person to do so.

I’ve gotten to the point where I try to verbalize my desire to be totally honest in as a clear a manner as possible.  And it’s easier in a new relationship — say I’m getting to know a friend in a deeper way.  I can say directly that I am trying to have totally honest relationships.  I can say that you can tell me anything, and I won’t freak out.  I can understand that others have a history of being afraid to share their deepest thoughts, and I can forgive them if they didn’t share one right away.

I have to be aware that the other person may have had bad experiences trying to be honest in previous relationships.  They may have grown up in an environment with very strong expectations to be a certain way, and it can be very uncomfortable to go against that and be vulnerable and real.

The more self-reflective we are, and the more open and curious we are about others, the more likely we will be able to understand where we are both coming from.  And if we both share the goal of being authentic and honest, the result can be an amazingly safe and nurturing relationship.

Where People Get Stuck

This section is just my opinion.  Feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t feel right to you.  If you think about it and it doesn’t make sense to you, that’s ok.

For someone to be totally honest with you, they have to know that you accept them exactly as they are.  This makes them feel safe.  This means you have no rigid assumptions about them and you do not have any expectations of who they are or what they should do.

I see plenty of people who are all on board about being kind, honest, compassionate, “good” to others, etc. then they have all kinds of ideas about what others “should” do.  Their “shoulds” are all “good” things, many times things that most people would agree everybody “should” do.  These people don’t realize it, but they group people into the good guys and the bad guys.  They are all about accepting people as they are, as long as they are in the good guy group.  They have a different set of rules for the bad guys.

If you are getting to know a person with this perspective, it will become clear that they will be wonderful to you as long as you fit into their “good” category, but you will also know that you better be careful not to slip into the “bad” one.  This person does not accept everyone, so you have to be on alert.

Do you accept everyone as they are?  Even the people who don’t believe the things you do?  Even the stupid people, the fat people, the people who don’t work out, the people who don’t look presentable, the ultra-conservatives, the liberals, the murderers, the druggies, the people who don’t care, the people who don’t “get it,” the mean people, the people who harm children, the people who try to control others?

You might not want to have many of those people in your life.  But that is a completely different decision.  You can accept people you don’t agree with or like, without having to spend time with them.  You don’t have to judge someone as a “bad” person, to decide that you would rather not associate with them.

At the root of this, is letting go of the need to be “right.”  To me, there is a fundamental principle that we have to accept if we are going to be able to embrace total honesty and authenticity.

It is very, very important to look inward and reflect and figure out what feels true and honest and authentic for ME.  These conclusions are terribly important, but they ONLY apply to ME.

I have to respect OTHERS to follow this same process in their own timing and learn for themselves what is true and honest and authentic for each of THEM.  And those things are only applicable for THEM.

It does not make sense for me to impose MY truth on another, because they are not ME.  And PLEASE don’t impose your truth on ME, as I am not YOU.

This is the ultimate in PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Think about how the world would be if EVERYONE followed this protocol.  If everyone spent their energy being the best at being themselves without imposing themselves on anyone else.  Just think if we all felt safe enough to be this way.

We would all be embracing total honesty.

You may think this is impossible.  I say anything is possible.  And in my own little world, I am putting my energy into practicing this way of being, into figuring it out.  No, this won’t happen overnight, but the more people who make it a goal and start working on it, the quicker it will become a reality.

And to those individuals who are working on this with me, you know who you are.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the space to be totally, honestly, ME.

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Ernie Fitzpatrick

I never knew Ernie Fitzpatrick — I only discovered him online, and I don’t remember exactly how.  I learned today via Facebook that he passed away suddenly last night.

I loved reading the things he wrote and posted at http://www.lrchouston.com.  He was one voice that I found that understood God and Jesus the same way I understood them.  I loved the short quotes he would post on Facebook.

I am very thankful that I “knew” him, and I send love and comfort to his family and friends.  If you got here via google, please visit http://www.lrchouston.com and take a look at the things he wrote.

Here’s a recent sample:

Love & Grace

It’s amazing the impact that RELIGION has had on perverting the historical, the real JESUS! There just seems to be this paradigm among Christians, especially fundamentalists, that life needs to be FAIR.

And in order that everyone is treated fairly, what is implied, and probably not understood, but there nonetheless, is that there’s no room for GRACE!

If you’re a bad person and you don’t repent this means God delights in sending you to hell with no chance of a get out of jail free card- ever! Where do you see Jesus depicting that as this Abba Father He loved so much?

You don’t. It’s not there.

You can only find it in many of the denominations.

John, the revelator, and others kept reminding us of the goodness of God. I John 4:16 is just one of the many “God is LOVE” statements. And how do the right wing fundamentalists, with their high value on MORALS (more so than on God or Jesus most often) miss this?

Everlasting torture is totally unacceptable and intolerable from a MORAL point of view because as Clark Pinnock said, “An eternal HELL pictures God as a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for His enemies. Who can love a God like that?”

Few indeed!

But thankfully that is NOT who God is. God IS LOVE!

Thanks, Ernie.

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