meaningofstrife

Seeing the best in life's challenges

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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Sticks and Stones….

There’s some confusion over whether words hurt or not.  It’s ALWAYS true, to me, that digging into a topic like this is the best way to understand it and get more clear.  So this is the topic of the day and here we go…

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names will never hurt me.

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That old adage is one we’ve all heard.  It used to be taken for granted as true.  Let’s break it down.

Sticks and Stones – this is referring to physical violence that can result in physical damage.

Names – this is referring  to name-calling, words, that cannot physically hurt someone.

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Can’t argue with that statement, right?  It’s talking about physical damage.

But what about emotional damage?  That’s a different thing.

It was shocking to me to search Google images for “Sticks and Stones.”  The thinking on this matter has really changed since I was a kid.  Yikes.  I’ll leave those ‘til the end.

These days, people strongly disagree with this adage.  They think it means that it’s ok to say mean things.   But I think there’s a misunderstanding here.  I don’t think that is the intent of the adage.

I always understood that the intent of the “Sticks and Stones” adage was to empower.  It’s a declaration of resiliency – YOU can say all you want, but YOU can’t touch me!!  It’s a defiant statement — at least that’s the way I thought of it as a kid.

The adage in no way, shape or form is saying that mean words are ok.

For me, what makes this issue so much more clear is to remember that there are two different sides to the uttering of mean words.  There is one whole set of issues with a person who is spewing mean words, and there is an entirely different set of issues associated with the person who is the receiver of mean words.

Of course we want to teach our kids to always be kind, compassionate, helpful and understanding.  Of course we strive to be this way ourselves.  There is never any reason to say mean words to another person (or are there??).  You don’t have to agree with them, you might point out your differences to them, you can have a debate, but there is no reason to be mean.

But there are reasons that people say mean words, and it helps to try to figure out why mean words are coming out.    Are these reasons legitimate?  It’s worth thinking about that.  Mean words are a reflection of what is going on with the person saying them.  They are not a reflection of the person at the receiving end.

The main reasons people are mean, are fear and anger.  Someone who is hurt and afraid is like a wounded animal backed into a corner.  They are hurt and afraid and all they can do is fight to protect themselves.  They can’t tell whether the person near them is friend or foe, and they can’t take that chance, so they lash out.  A good offense is the best defense, right?  So if someone is saying mean words, remember, it might be because of some troubles you know nothing about.  It’s not about you.

A lesser form of this is when someone says mean things because they are insecure.  Insecure people tend to want to put other people down, thinking that makes them look better.  Sometimes this happens with groups of people – being in a group makes them feel more secure, and lashing out at someone helps them feel powerful.  Fighting back at this type will only make them do it more.  Just have compassion for them knowing how badly they feel about themselves.

Sometimes people say things that everyone would consider mean, but they are oblivious and unaware.  They don’t intend to be mean, they are just ignorant.  In this case, if you respond with anger, you will just confuse them, and probably make them defensive.  It would be like you pushed them into that corner we just talked about.  So instead you can respond with information that lets them know more about what they just said.  Then, they will probably just be embarrassed and sorry.  You can assure them that you know they didn’t realize what they were saying.  And they probably won’t say those things any more.

Sometimes people say things just to see if they can get a reaction.  They care mostly about having fun and the challenge of seeing if they can get a rise out of you.  Some people do this with clowning around or acting stupid, some do it by joking about you, but sometimes it can get a little too mean or a lot mean.  For this type of situation, if you react by getting mad, you are just doing what they are trying to make you do!  If you react, they will only do it more, and the whole situation can escalate.  If this person learns, through trial and error, that people just ignore them when they are mean, they will stop because what this type of person wants is the interaction with others.

The bottom line is, when you are reacting to the words of others, you are in total control of your reactions.  No one can tell you that you have to react one way or another.  You are not a victim of someone else’s words.  You are in control.  If you choose to get offended or angry, the situation will probably proceed in a predictable manner.  But you can always choose not to react and not to take the words personally.

It can take a huge amount of skill and self-confidence to pull this off.  But at the very least, if you understand what’s going on, you won’t take it personally.

We can tell people to be nice, and we can make rules against saying mean things, but we won’t solve the problem unless we help people solve their underlying issues. That’s a whole other topic…

So can words cause emotional damage?

When we hear mean words directed at us, we can feel hurt.  We can feel misunderstood, unfairly accused, unwelcome, etc.  This is our initial reaction.

Then we have a choice.  Do we want to accept or engage this negativity?

And this is the key right here.  We can just refuse to accept or engage it.  Mean words coming from somewhere else only have power over us if we let them.

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If I stand in the woods, alone, next to the proverbial tree,

and spew the most hateful words I can muster….

will they hurt anyone??

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If we promote the idea that we have no choice, that mean words always hurt, then we give away our power.  We choose to be victims.

But the common wisdom we are teaching our kids these days is that they have no choice:  as a victim of mean words, they are automatically damaged.  They have no control, that’s just the way it is.  If people are mean to them, they will automatically do awful things to themselves and they will never be able to recover.

BY ALL MEANS, TEACH KIDS TO BE NICE!

BUT DON’T TEACH THEM THEY ARE VICTIMS!!!!!!

This does not mean that there are not very difficult situations in the world where gangs of people are spewing hate via their words.  Of course we know this happens.  But if we approach these situations from a position of Power, rather than getting sucked into a sparring match of hate-for-hate, we have a chance of breaking the cycle.

ALWAYS promote kindness, compassion, openness and understanding.  Let this be what you and yours broadcast out into the world.  Let others know that this should be EVERYONE’S priority.

BUT when you are on the RECEIVING end of hate, don’t let yourself get sucked into the downward spiral and the trap of victim consciousness.  Claim your POWER to be kind, compassionate, open and understanding.  STAND your ground because you know those words are nonsense and aren’t worth engaging.

OF COURSE mean words are not ok. 

But they only have power if we give it to them.

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Check these out.  What are we promoting — resiliency or victimhood?

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Paradigms and People Power

Let’s talk about Powerful People.  We might describe them as those who are focused, determined, have strong ideas, and make things happen.  They may or may not hold a Position of Power.  When I think of a Powerful Person, I think it is more an internal energy kind of thing.  You can feel that the person is powerful.  I think it’s an interesting thing to think about. 

I know powerful people.  They can be intimidating.  They are a force to be reckoned with.  They tend to get respect. 

Power is something that expresses very differently in the Old Paradigm than in the New.  We are all familiar with how Power has been expressed in the past, and it hasn’t always been so “good.”

In the Old Paradigm, the approach to Power could be summarized as Might Makes
Right.  A powerful leader would determine the rules of engagement and enforce this way of being.  HOPEFULLY, if the surrounding people were lucky, these rules were fair and compassionate, so that life would be pleasant for everyone.  Unfortunately, we are all aware that this has not always been the case.

In the Old Paradigm, the “Powers That Be” could be the most loving and compassionate individuals, but as long as the paradigm is about “right” vs. “wrong,” there are still “haves” and “have-nots.”   There’s a pecking order and some have privilege and some do not.  Who has privilege and who doesn’t might change over time, but it’s the same old story.

And there’s another dynamic with Power that goes along with the Old Paradigm.  A Powerful Person who wants to do “the right thing” and who really cares, will of course not want to be “wrong” or seen as “wrong.”  This Power wants to be on the side of the Good.  Those who lift up the Power and encourage the Power and reinforce the Power will make the Power feel it is doing “the right thing.”  Those who present a different perspective, or point out pitfalls, will make the Power feel “wrong” even if that is not the intent.  (Thus the joke of Not Killing the Messenger.)  Under the ground rules of the Paradigm, it HAS to be one or the other, right?  Friend or Foe.

So Powerful People operating under the Old Paradigm tend to become surrounded with “yes people.”  They tend not to be open to differing perspectives, unless they really work hard to be open to them.  Even if they are open to other perspectives, those who surround Power will tend to block out “the other side.”  Nothing brings people together like a common enemy.

Which brings me to the New Paradigm. 

If we truly make the transition to a Paradigm that doesn’t need to see things in terms of “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong,” Power no longer feels vulnerable to attack.  Power does not have to be defensive.  Power is only about Love and Compassion and maximizing Joy.  It is no longer about Controlling everything to ensure that it’s Right.  It’s all about being Open.  It’s Safe.

Power in the New Paradigm is a whole different animal.  It is self-sufficient and does not need approval.  It is more likely to exist in all kinds of places and situations, because it does not need external support.  It comes from within.  It does not impose its will on others.  So there is no need for Others to fear this kind of Power. 

This kind of Power makes no sense in the Old Paradigm. 

Jesus was trying to get us familiar with this new kind of Power.  Love is patient and kind.  Love your neighbor.  Love your enemies.  Things that made no sense to The World and seemed backwards.

The Reverend Martin Luther King embraced this kind of power. 

IF you believe, as I do, that we are in a transition phase from Old to New, you might agree that it is a HUGE challenge to know how to handle Power these days. 

We can recognize a powerful person just by their presence, but under what terms of engagement are they operating?  This is important to figure out, because the two kinds of Power operate very differently.

Old Paradigm Power will get defensive or dismissive when presented with an opposing view.  It will isolate itself, surrounding itself only with others who are similar and have similar views.  It will identify enemies.  Its priority will be to be Right.  When threatened or questioned, it will attack.

New Paradigm Power will be very solid in its core, but will not impose itself on others.  Its priority is to understand, rather than to be right.  It will seek outside information, in order to gain as much understanding as possible.  But it will rely on its own discernment to decide how to proceed. 

Old Paradigm energy includes the energies of fear, guilt, shame, worthlessness, competition, anger, pain, revenge, helplessness.  It’s priority is to survive and maintain itself.  It has unresolved issues.

New Paradigm energy is loving, compassionate, kind, patient, allowing, affirming, including, healing.  It is more powerful, yet secure.  It is open and expansive, but not vulnerable.  It is whole and complete, yet humble.  It is balanced.

One can still feel intimidated by New Paradigm Power, because we are so used to the Old kind of Power, and we assume that any Power has to be intimidating.  That’s all we’ve known.  Jesus was extremely powerful, yet loving – and we know how negatively some reacted to Him.  MLK as well, was hated despite the fact that he was working for equality in a non-violent way.

Working with Power is even more complicated, because, realistically, most individuals are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Old and New.  (That’s why I label it a Transition.)

But at least we have come a long way since biblical times, and even in the last 50 years.

For me, it’s useful to look at this issue conceptually, because if I understand the overall picture of Power and how it is used and how its use is changing, I can better understand the world and my interactions with others.

And it’s important to say that I share my perspective in the spirit of the New Paradigm – not because I’m “right” (Old Paradigm) but because I am curious, interested in building connections and discussion, and am in the process of working on embracing my own Power in the spirit of Jesus and others who inspire us to lift ourselves beyond the chains of fear and control and oppression. 

This is my new way of seeing the world.  I have found a lot of others who have similar perspectives, and we are working this frontier together.  None of us have it all figured out completely, but we are working on that.  We share, we discuss, we ponder, we wonder…..all without making anyone “wrong.” 

And the more I read, the more people I find working the same puzzle, the more I integrate this into my being, the more I am convinced that not only is this transition possible, not only is it happening, but it is already too far gone to go back. 

But I could be “wrong.”  

(I hope you know that was a joke LOL)

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Divine Time (reblog)

Here’s an AWESOME reblog to get us thinking about TIME.

All is Divinely Timed

February 25, 2014

Greetings Dear Ones!

Today we wish to speak to you of Divine timing. There is a cycle and a pattern to all things in the universe. Just like a symphony when each instrument has its moment of joining the chorus, so too are events and happenings orchestrated to create a perfectly timed, beautiful, event.

We understand that in your world you have become very accustomed to the construct of linear time. However, time and timing are two very different things. If you were to suddenly throw away all of your clocks and man made devices that you use to measure the concept of time, how would you know what time it was? We want you to further ponder this question by asking that if the concept of time didn’t exist, would it matter what time it was?

Have you ever experienced a moment when you are sitting at your desk or driving in your car and you suddenly feel your body’s need for food that manifests as hunger? Many of you would say “I feel hungry, my body needs food so it must be time to eat”. Then many of you would continue by looking at the clock and saying “How can I be hungry? it’s only 10AM?” Would you then deny yourself the food that your body is asking for based upon the man made concept of time?

Or would you trust your body’s intelligence and feed it as it is asking to be fed? The same thing can occur when your body is asking to rest or to sleep. You may say “Wow, I am so tired, but it is only 9PM. I can’t go to bed now”! We find it curious that you have been taught not to trust and honor the wisdom of your bodies. We wonder, who decides when it is time to eat and sleep? You, or the clock?

Consider for a moment that you have decided to plant a garden. You have a vision of the beauty of the plants and flowers and food that you are going to grow. You sow your seeds in late Winter or early Spring and you know that it will be some time before the seeds start to sprout and yet you understand that there is a natural cycle that must be honored. The flower cannot bloom before the seed has sprouted. You know this and you trust this. Would you then, ever conceive of running out to your garden three weeks after the seeds have been planted and saying “These seeds don’t know what they are doing, it’s time for flowers and they have barely even sprouted!” We know that you would not.

Your eagerness to see the beauty of your garden manifest may cause you to feel impatient, but you would never curse the seeds for not showing you the flowers before they have had a chance to germinate. We ask you then, why do you not honor the wisdom of your hearts and of your bodies the same way that you honor the wisdom of the seeds? Your heart knows all. Your heart knows when it is time to take the leap, to start a new venture, to end or begin a relationship. Your body knows when it is time to eat and when it is time to rest. It is only when the rational mind tries to take over and override the natural rhythms and cycles that things go a little haywire.

As you begin to follow your hearts and let your hearts be your guide we anticipate that you will begin to see the irrelevance of time. It is yet another concept of illusion that in many ways has been created to keep you feeling separate and to keep the illusion in place that another has control over your life and your choices. As you begin to become the masters of your lives via living through your hearts, you will see that the Divine timing and intelligence that coordinates all things is always perfect in its planning and execution.

A master painter never curses that her creation is taking too long to finish. She knows that when it is finished and ready to hang in the gallery, that she will just know. Just as a master chef doesn’t necessarily need the clock to tell him what time his creation will be finished cooking. He trusts that by using his sense of sight and his sense of smell and taste that he will know when it is time to remove it from the oven. A master builder knows that the house cannot be built until the foundation is complete.

The same is true for you Dear Ones. You know when it is time to make your move because your heart tells you it is time. You know when it is time to eat a meal because your body tells you it is time. The concept of linear time is yet another way for you to rely on something outside of your own inherent wisdom to tell you when to go and when to stay. As action is taken according to Divine timing, you will eventually see the next step unfold.

We wish to remind you that all is connected and there is no separation. For since all came from Source, all is Divinely orchestrated by Source. When you have begun to manifest something from your desire, the wheels are immediately put into motion to bring it to you. The timing is always perfect. It is only your insistence on not trusting the knowing of your hearts that prevents it from arriving.

Like the master gardener knows, the flowers and the crops are going to come to fruition when they are ready. It is only the gardener’s resistance to Divine timing that ensures that they will be harvested too early or too late. From our perspective a clock is useless when one listens to the rhythm of their heart and their body. To begin to trust that you are Divinely guided and to trust that your desires will arrive when the time is “right” ensures that they will.

So Dear Ones, we ask you to go within and trust the intelligence of all that you are connected to. Trust that when it is time to act, your heart will tell you to act and when it is time to rest your body will tell you to rest. As you allow things to unfold according to Divine timing, you will see the perfection in the unfolding.

In Love and Light we leave you.

Rejoice!

TLO

Copyright © Andrew Martin. All Rights Reserved. You may copy and redistribute this material so long as you do not alter or edit it in any way, the content remains complete and you include this copyright notice link: http://www.andrewmartinartist.com/andrewmartinblog

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Recognizing Soul Connections

We are all used to looking at relationships with our minds.  When we meet another person or even become familiar with another person without meeting him or her, our brains automatically notice lots of things about them.  How do they appear?  Do they seem nice and friendly?  Are they happy or sad?  Are they physically attractive?  What is different or noticeable about this person?  What do they do for a living or how do they spend their time?  What do we have in common?  We do this so fast and so thoroughly, that despite the fact that we do it with our minds, we don’t really think about it.  But we can tell pretty quickly if this person is someone who is compatible or not.

But there is another layer that we also do automatically, and it’s also something we don’t think about.  Because we also touch base through our heart, with our soul, to feel and know if this someone resonates with us.

Everybody does this.   We “click” with certain people.  We say someone has a certain vibe.  Another person just makes you uncomfortable, and you can’t say why.

As one becomes more aware of our “soul-based operating mode” it becomes really interesting to notice this other layer of interaction that is occurring all the time.  For many people, it’s still under the radar.  But the more you pay attention, a whole new world opens up with a whole different understanding of what we do for each other as souls.

I now see every person as a blend of 1) who they are in this life as a physical human being born into certain circumstances, and 2) an eternal soul with their own special essence.

I went to see a speaker a couple of years ago.  As I went to stand in line to check in, a woman did the same at that very same moment.  There was a feeling of instant recognition – how fun it was that we were both there at that moment! We immediately laughed about that and felt comfortable and shared like old friends.  On the surface, we didn’t have that much in common, yet we enjoyed learning about each other.  We had a great day.

What’s interesting is that we only kept in touch for a short time.  To my brain, it’s kind of strange that we didn’t keep in touch and become traditional friends.  However, what I know is that during our one long phone conversation, she told me a story about her life that gave me a huge revelation/insight into something relevant to my life.  My heart knows that we made this connection partly for this reason.

If my mind were the only part of me that were evaluating this situation, I might decide that I was wrong about her, that she really was just acting friendly, and she really wasn’t meant to be my friend.  My mind might want to put her in a box of how a friend is supposed to be, and if she didn’t fit, then it might decide there was something wrong with her.  Or maybe my mind would start to wonder what I did “wrong” that led to the disappearance of a relationship.  Instead, I am extremely grateful for the connection that happened, and who knows?  We may run into each other again, and I would be so happy to share that moment with her!!  I don’t need to have expectations of a relationship at the soul level.

I also have some soul connections that have been facilitated through music.  Few things speak to my soul better than the music and lyrics of Van Morrison, Jack Johnson, and ALO.   The idea of a “soul family” feels like the best way to describe the connection I have, and I am not alone.

One experience really got my attention and got me thinking about this.  Our family traveled to Maui in 2006 to attend the Kokua Festival.  The entire trip seemed “charmed” – we were able to use points and miles for hotel and airfare, which always seems difficult otherwise, what with blackout dates and limited slots.  When I went online to get tickets at the moment they went on sale, I was able to get 5 seats in the fourth row (how lucky was that?).  And to top it off, after the show, we hung around, wondering if there was any way that we could meet Jack.

My husband noticed a door where people were going in and out, and said, let’s go over there.  We went to the door, mentioned a guy we knew, and the person asked us who we were.  We said our last name.  (OK, yeah, right.)

And then he let us in.  I still have no idea why.

So here we are, backstage, and we meet Jack.  He is super nice to the kids, asking them their favorite song, and they are totally starstruck and speechless.  And I find myself talking to him, one on one, and it was the most interesting feeling, a feeling that I have had a couple of times since.  First of all, the experience definitely felt “guided.”  There’s no way I was there without some divine intervention or alignment of the stars or something.  Somehow, it was just clear that this meeting was about something deeper than words.  Words seemed awkward.  And to be clear, the feeling of closeness was like seeing a brother that you hadn’t seen in 40 years, and you had no idea how you could ever catch up in a few minutes, and you knew that’s all you would have.  You were just glad to see each other and have that moment.

To experience this was, at the same time, the most comfortable thing I have ever experienced, yet the most disconcerting.  There was access to a realm where so much energy and love is available, and you never knew it existed.

At this point, your mind may want to turn this into something familiar, something you can put in a box and dismiss.  You’re just a groupie and you’re attracted to this guy, he’s famous and you think you’re so great and special that you think you are connected to him.  That’s how the mind processes this kind of thing, because it makes no sense to the mind. My mind wants to label it, my Soul feels no need to do that.

On to another concert, this time ALO in New Jersey.  I had become familiar with them because of Jack Johnson, so I took a couple of kids on a summer day and it was great fun.  And I met a wonderful, open, friendly woman who remains a friend.  She gave me some inside scoop on the guys, and introduced me to a couple other people there.  This was my introduction to the family of ALOvers.

Nicole is someone I have come to admire greatly.  She is doing great things in the world, and I love reading about her travels.  I consider her to be soul family.

We run into each other from time to time.  On the “who we are as physical individuals in this life” we don’t really have that much in common.  So that can seem kind of weird to the mind, which likes to put us in places and with people who are “like us.”  Yet, I have great love for her in a different, deeper way.  She is a soul sister that I greatly appreciate.  We don’t need to hang out (except occasionally at a concert) to have that bond.

My ALO family, including the guys, feels just like that, a family of brothers and sisters.  Our specialty is caring deeply about brotherly love, while having fun and silliness.

As a matter of fact, I recently read an article that described the different words the Greeks used for love.  One of the words was Ludus, and here’s what it said:

Ludus, or playful love

This was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers. We’ve all had a taste of it in the flirting and teasing in the early stages of a relationship. But we also live out our ludus when we sit around in a bar bantering and laughing with friends, or when we go out dancing.

Dancing with strangers may be the ultimate ludic activity, almost a playful substitute for sex itself. Social norms may frown on this kind of adult frivolity, but a little more ludus might be just what we need to spice up our … lives.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

As I tried to research and read more, it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to get a good handle on those Greek words.  But no matter.

The point is that there is a place for playfulness and fun in life.  And as I thought about it, it’s true that many think this is folly and something to leave behind as we get older and serious about life.  And I think that leaves a hole.  The soul is all about the heart, and the heart is all about joy.  What better way to experience joy, than play and banter and silliness and dancing??

So my conclusion about why my soul family loves ALO so much, is that we are all enjoying Ludus together.  Fun, dancing, silliness, joy, smiles, caring, happiness – it’s a kind of love that just makes you feel good.  It has nothing to do with romantic love or desire.  It’s all about liberating that inner animal!!

I suspect that every person who is becoming more attuned to the desires of their Soul is finding their own way to experience joy, beauty, playfulness, and fun.  To the mind, these experiences might seem out of control or weird.  I should really act my age and stop embarrassing my kids, right?

And so, on the serious side, I also have soul connections in the form of friends that are very close.  These are people that I can talk to about anything.  We have a lot in common, similar lives and circumstances, and there is no doubt that we have been brought together to support each other.  These connections are easy to recognize, but what is really amazing is how these connections deepen when you open yourself to them.  We have exposed ourselves and our insecurities, our fears and our doubts, our discoveries and challenges, in a way that used to seem impossible.

As I step into a more heart-based way of living, it is these Soul Connections that reassure me that it IS possible.

And along the way, why not have some fun????

(I want to say a huge thank you to C for commenting and pointing me to this blog post: 
http://enlightenmysenses.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/holistic-cornermusic-from-the-heavens-blue-christmas-why-i-am-crying-over-paul-walker/ 
I highly encourage reading it, and the links to the rest of the story.  Awesome!)

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger!!

Back in the old days, any information that contradicted the status quo was considered a threat.  And what to do about a threat??  KILL IT!!  Eliminate it.  Stick your fingers in your ears and wiggle your tongue and make noise and refuse to engage with it!

Sure, mankind has come a long way.  Still, we retain more of this behavior than we’d like to admit.  We don’t like hearing feedback that questions us.  We don’t like information that doesn’t fit.  We want to feel good about how we see the world and how we fit in and what we are doing, so information that contradicts any of that feels threatening.  And if we are confronted with a messenger that is different from us, we are suspicious.

Most of us, in a comfortable moment, if we allow ourselves to think about it, would agree that feedback from a source that we trust can be very helpful.  It might still be hard to hear, but if we can set aside the discomfort and think about the feedback in a detached manner, it can be invaluable for our personal growth.

Still, it can be hard for even a close friend or family member to bring up honest feedback.  We all hesitate to share observations if we anticipate that the person receiving it won’t take it well or if their feelings might be hurt.  This dynamic is a barrier to honest communication, and it limits the possibilities of personal growth.

So it’s not terribly difficult to learn to be open to information that comes from a trusted source.  If the source seems safe, if you know the person or source has your best interests at heart, it’s much easier to consider it.

If the goal is maximizing personal growth, one would want to get better at remaining open to all kinds of information, not only from sources we know but also from those outside our comfort zone.  One would work on their personal abilities in discerning what resonates or feels true as well as feeling comfortable knowing when information doesn’t fit.  One would want to be as open as possible, without feeling threatened by any information, regardless of how it was delivered or how out-of -the-box or crazy it seems.

So let’s talk about the messenger.  The messenger is just someone who is communicating information.  A Messenger is someone who is just passing on information or repeating what they have been told.  The messenger doesn’t have an agenda.  The messenger himself really doesn’t pose a threat.

There’s a lot of information “out there.”  Are you only open to messages that come from others who are “like you”???  For example, if you are a Christian, do you only trust Christian messengers?  How do you know if the person really is a Christian?  This way of thinking applies a filter to determine whether the messenger is credible.  Rather than focusing on whether the message resonates or is helpful, sometimes we get stuck and distracted by who is delivering the message.

How many people have been deceived by someone they trust?  How many times have you ignored the feeling that something wasn’t right, because of who the messenger was?

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that there are messages all over the place, and I have decided to be open to them, no matter who the messenger is.  I’m focusing on my own sense of whether a message is useful to me or not.

Another way to say this is, God is everywhere, especially in the places we least expect.  There are messages, opportunities for us to learn and grow, in what’s familiar, but even more so in the places that are unfamiliar.  There’s no limit to God’s reach, so why should I limit the places I look?

We still retain the fear of the unknown, the fear of the unfamiliar messenger, the fear of anything different.  This fear holds us back from our potential.  Is it time to let it go?

How?  Well, try practicing.  Find an unfamiliar source, a book about an unfamiliar but interesting topic, a video that seems far-out.  Read or watch with an open mind, all the while trying to see through to the concept that is behind it.  Don’t feel like you have to agree or disagree, or decide if it’s “right” or “wrong.”

At the end, you can just conclude that it was interesting to hear a different perspective.  As my friend says, “That’s information.”

Notice how it feels to do this.  Did you feel threatened?  Look, it’s just a book or a video, you will never meet the messenger, no one else in the world even ever needs to know you put yourself through this exercise.  No one is making you agree.  Why do you care what this person says?  Why do you care if they have a different opinion?

If you were triggered, ask yourself why.  What are you afraid of?  Why does this feel personal?

The point of all this?  You will learn about yourself.  You might find that you are closing yourself off from information or feedback due to fears.  As a result of becoming aware of this, you might be more open to growth.

In addition, you might find yourself becoming more open to others.  You may expand your ability to communicate more fully and honestly.

The downside?  All hell could break loose.  You could be forever changed.  That might sound dramatic, but I’m not kidding.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But I’m just a messenger.  You will know if the message is for you or not.

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Freeing the Ego

The Ego has gotten a bad rap lately.  First of all, there’s the common criticism of the person who’s got a big one.  We don’t like the idea that someone thinks they are a big shot and better than everyone else, that the world revolves around them.  Give me a break, right?

For those who on a quest to mature spiritually, there is a lot of advice telling us that we have to lose the darn thing.  While there is truth there, of course, I think this is an oversimplified goal that can seem impossible.

What exactly is your Ego, anyway?  It may appear in some people as over-confident, selfish behavior, but those are just symptoms.  If we can understand the Ego better and get clearer about what we are trying to “lose” this issue can make a lot more sense.

I like the term “Ego Mind” because it better describes what I’m trying to define.  When our souls are born into a physical body on Earth, we come into a place where we have to learn to cope with the conditions here. As part of this experience, we have a “Veil of Forgetfulness” that hides our awareness of our Soul, so we conclude that physicality is all that exists.  We need food, clothes and shelter.  We need love and companionship.  Being separated from the spiritual world, we have to figure out how to survive in this wilderness.

So we have a built-in mechanism, a predisposition for self-preservation.  The Ego Mind Operating System is in charge of how we deal with the physical world.  It is set up to protect our physical bodies and maximize our physical experience.  This is a good thing.  Our brains learn early on how to interact with other people and the world, to get our needs met.  The brain is clever and creative, and will figure out a way no matter what our situation is.  The baby born to a family that is loving and has all the material comfort it needs, will develop certain methods of interacting with the world, and the baby born an orphan in a third world country will develop others.  We are hard-wired to survive in any circumstance, from one extreme to the other, and everywhere in between.

Over time, the Ego Mind Operating System has become highly efficient at maximizing all aspects of the physical experience.  Humans have accomplished all kinds of feats in interacting with and “controlling” our world.

Some humans are totally immersed in the physical world, their Veil is solid, their Ego Mind runs the show and everything is the way it’s supposed to be.

The Ego Mind system has been the primary operating system running for humans for a very long time.  We are all used to it, so much so that we haven’t really thought about it.

So that is one side of the coin.

But many recognize that there is something more than this physical experience.  All religions point to this fact.  Over time, philosophers and religious figures and social activists have prompted us to question the deeper meaning of our existence.

Many people have personal experiences that lead them to search for answers.  The Veil is thinning and lifting.  Many are “waking up” to an awareness that there is something more.

Existence for the Soul is very different than physical existence.  The Soul is eternal.  “Survival” is a given, so worrying about it doesn’t make any sense.  We have built-in mechanisms that can be used to operate from our Soul Desires, but most of us don’t use these too much.  I reblogged the most amazing description of how this works here.

The Soul-based Operating System is centered in the Heart.  It assumes that all is well, that we never have to worry about safety, or doing anything “wrong” or any kind of down side.  Our Soul can grow and learn, but it cannot be harmed.  The assumptions of the Soul-Based Operating System are in opposition to the assumptions of the Ego Mind Operating System.

As one begins to explore and expand into the Soul Operating System, the actions of the Ego Mind start to get in the way.

Since it is focused on Survival, the Ego Mind takes any threats to its control of operations very seriously.  It will do anything to survive.  This Operating System will not back down on its own.   It will resist and fight anything that is not familiar or tried and true.  It’s not designed that way.

The Ego Mind wants more than anything to feel secure.  In the absence of any knowledge of the Operations of the Soul, it feeds on fear and doubt and puts up walls.

As the Soul Operating System emerges and gains strength, then of course there will be clashes with the Ego Mind.

“There is nothing to worry about.” 

ARE YOU CRAZY??

 

“We are eternal spiritual beings.”  

But you could DIE tomorrow!

 

“Trust that everything will work out in Divine timing.” 

I CAN’T LEAVE ANYTHING TO CHANCE!

When one discovers or becomes aware of the Soul-Based system, it is very tempting to blame the Ego Mind for it’s obsolete methods and to reject it and say we need to leave it behind.  But while we exist on Earth in a human body, the Ego Mind remains very useful.  It continues to help us make good decisions to protect our bodies and maximize our physical experiences.

The Ego Mind is great at dealing with physical life, but it knows nothing about the life of the Soul.  It just doesn’t have any information about it.  It’s a closed system.  The Soul doesn’t make any sense to the Ego Mind, but remember, the Ego Mind is good at learning and adapting.

So, how do we reconcile the two Operating Systems?  How do we transition from one to the other?

It’s a process, and just being aware of what’s going on is half the battle.

As we become more aware of how the Soul operates in a physical body, we have to understand our Ego Mind and how it works.  We have to educate it and give it time to get used to the new Operating System that will run alongside the old one.  We can pick the parts that work well and let go of those that no longer serve our best interests.

So, rather than blaming the Ego, let’s honor and thank the Ego Mind for doing such a great job, and reassure it that it is loved and appreciated no matter what.  As we release it from it’s obligation to feel threatened and its need to control everything, it can relax and shine and do what it does best as an integral part of the human experience.

NOTE:  The day I wrote this (yesterday) someone found my blog by googling:

“they say it’s not a competition but what if it is”

and this totally blew me away because:

If one is operating under the Ego Mind Operating System, LIFE IS A COMPETITION!!!  Absolutely!!  But as one moves into the Soul-Based Operating System, life is no longer a competition.  If you are not aware of where you are in the transition process and where another person is, it will be very, very confusing why one person is operating under the assumption that it’s a competition, yet the other person is not.  It’s an incompatibility in Operating Systems.

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