Seeing the best in life's challenges

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…’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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”





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?


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.


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  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 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.


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.


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.


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??


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.



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.



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.



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:

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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.

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: 
I highly encourage reading it, and the links to the rest of the story.  Awesome!)



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