The Journey Beyond


5
Sep 13

The Lie about Lying

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Just so you know, I’m not trying to be cutesy with the title.  I don’t want to dilute the message of this blog entry by trying to be clever.

It may sound weird but there are lies about lying… really.

When I look at the issue of lying and habitual liars in particular, I tend to see people falling into three groups.

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Side Note: My writing about lying seems very strange to me.  I don’t know much about lying.  Frankly, lying is not one of my personal issues.  Believe me when I say I have plenty of flat spots in my life… but lying isn’t one of them

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As I was saying, I see habitual liars falling into three groups.

Group One:  Proud Liar

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, there are people who are really good liars… and proud of it.  They clearly know they are liars and are proud of having mastered the art of deception and enjoy working their craft.

After a successful display of deception they stand puffed in conquest over the carcass of the gullible.

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The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.

-        John Ruskin

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Group Two:  Diluted Liar

There are those who know they stretch the truth or may leave out relevant facts to reach their end goal.  But they have no idea that they are in reality, habitual liars.  They have lived in the shadowy world of lies for so long that their lives have lost distinction of color between truth and lies… there only exists shades of grey.

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The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

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This type of liar, lies to himself.  They conveniently apply the same false logic to themselves as they do to their prey.

They alter the reality of who they are to accommodate the lie they want to believe about themselves.  They lie to themselves, and believe the lie that they are not liars.  They justify their craft by believing that they are not as bad as other people, or that the situation demands the stretching of truth.

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I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.

- Michel de Montaigne

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Group Three:  Trapped Liar

These are the people who have given in to their dark side and have done things that no one knows.  They live a lie and are entombed by their hidden choices.

They live in fear that someone will find out the things they have done and their world will collapse.  As much as they put on a good face to the world, fear is slowly suffocating the life out of them.  They feel the slide of the slippery slope into the darkness.

To the person reading this who is in this last group… I say very directly and loudly…don’t believe the lie that there is no way out.

Yes, there may be consequences for decisions you have made.  But the ability to breathe the fresh air of freedom is worth it.

This blog entry is not meant to be dramatic.  I write what I think I am to write.  Who knows, God may use my simple words to do a profound work in someone’s life… maybe yours.

See you later.

Ciao.


27
Aug 13

The Truth About Lying

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I am not totally sure why I am digging into this topic today.  Nothing has happened in my own life that added the flake that started the avalanche of thought.

But I feel pressed about this topic, so I write.  I am a firm believer that God on occasion (probably a lot more than we think) will reach down and prod someone to do something for the purpose of helping someone else.

So I believe that I am writing this for someone.  I don’t know who it is, but someone out there in cyberspace needs to hear about and think about lying.  I have a feeling this topic will require more than one blog entry to do it

Here goes.  I want to tell you the truth about lying.

First of all, it’s important to know that I am not going to get into the weeds of what constitutes fibs and white lies.  Yes, telling children there’s a Santa and a Tooth Fairy is a lie.  We have our adult versions of white lies too; such as telling someone you’re busy so you won’t have to go to lunch with them.

Spending time to dissect this surface layer of lying will only clutter the landscape and keep us from the deeper truth about lies.

Let’s be real for a moment.  You know when you lie.  You know the kind of lie I’m talking about.  The lie you tell (or the truth you don’t tell) that crosses the line where trust is violated and destruction begins.

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I’m an algebra liar. I figure two good lies make a positive.

- Tim Allen

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There is an insidiousness about lying that corrupts us on levels we cannot gauge and distorts the reality around us.

A lie can be a blatant mistruth or the withholding a truth.  Some people lie just as boldly by leaving out information or a truth as one who conjures up misinformation.

As I said, lies are insidious.

There are some people where lying has become an art form.  They actually take pride in their art to manipulate and distort and then brag about their exploits.

They laugh at the gullibility of the trusting and afterward arrogantly preen their egos by reflecting on their skill to manipulate.

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The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.

- Stephen King

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But what the liar does not grasp is the fact that their mind becomes darkened by the lies they tell and they are unaware of the trap they have created for themselves.

They are consumed in a lie they do not see.  Lost in a life that has no reality.

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The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.

- George Bernard Shaw

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We’ll continue digging in to the issue of truth and lies next time.

See you later.

Ciao.


19
Aug 13

Can I have a decision mulligan?

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Welcome back.

A couple of entries ago I talked about the dangers and consequences of being indecisive.  Today I want to poke around at the dangers of making decisions too quickly.

There are two ends to the decision continuum.  Everyone has suffered the consequences of being indecisive about something or making a decision too quickly.  Even though we have been guilty of both we tend to gravitate to one end of the decision continuum or the other.

Our default toward one end of the continuum or the other is what we need to explore in more depth.  Which end of the continuum do you tend to be… too slow in making decision or too quick?

Let’s dig into the challenges and consequences for being too quick.

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Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.

- Sophocles


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Haste is of the Devil.

- St. Jerome

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I don’t think haste is necessarily of the devil but it will get you in trouble.  But St Jerome looks like he is a little preoccupied with the devil.

Those who are too quick in making decisions are the toughest to get to honestly explore the downside of their behavior… and for good reason.  The world seems to reward quick decisions.

But allow me to dissect this a bit.  I hate to burst your bubble but it’s not the decision that society rewards but the timely action.  Action is honored.

Some of you are saying that fast decisions and action cannot be separated.  Not so.  They can and should be separated.

Yes, timely action is critical.  I have written several times about the power and importance of action.  Do not wait… do it now.  But it is important to take the right amount of time in the decision that drives the action.

Most decisions in life are pretty simple.  You look at the circumstances, examine the important factors, make a decision, and act.

But there are some decisions that require time.  I am not talking about stepping back and waiting weeks and months, but an intentional step back to weigh the options and implications.

Have you ever wished you could have a Mulligan on a decision you made in haste?  Unfortunately life does not give us a “do over”.  We suffer the consequences.

I personally have found that the decisions that require the most thoughtful introspection are those that involve close relationships, long-term impact or tests my core values.  Most of us will slow down when faced with decisions along these lines.

But the dangerous decisions are those we are faced with that seem fairly elementary and simple on the surface but are tied directly to big life issues.

This is where being too quick to make decisions really hurts.  We don’t slow down enough to hear or listen to our discernment that warns us that the seemingly small issue has broader and deeper implications.

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Just be patient. Let the game come to you. Don’t rush. Be quick, but don’t hurry.

- Earl Monroe

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Yes, be quick but don’t hurry your decisions.

Ciao… see you Thursday.


7
Apr 13

Knocked down but not out

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Yep… me again.

This may sound like a weird question, but have you ever had the breath knocked out of you?

I have and it’s horrible.  If you have had such an experience you know what I mean when I say that everything stops.

You just collapse and lie helplessly trying to sneak in any morsel air into your lungs.  The twenty seconds of incapacitation seems an eternity when breath is absent and you have no ability to capture any air.

There’s a weird dynamic that takes place.  You lie there helpless yet on another level you know you’re not going to die.

After a bit you are able to gasp in a shallow breath, wait a few more seconds and take a little deeper breath.

When you’re able to breathe normally the first thing you do is to take in the deepest breath possible.  It is then that you realize what a gift and blessing a slow deep breath really is.

It’s only when you lose something that you realize its value.

What do you do when life knocks the breath out of you?

I don’t want to be an alarmist, but at some point you will get sucker punched in the stomach by life and the world as you know it will stop.  It could be a death of a loved one, broken dream, lost job, a relationship ended, or the realization of personal shortcomings that surfaced.

You will lie there trying to gasp for any breath.

Some of you reading this today are wondering why I am being so negative… you want something uplifting… some emotional happy juice.

Believe it or not, I am going to be uplifting.

Someone reading this today is emotionally lying lifeless on the ground and you can’t catch your breath.

This blog entry is especially for you.  You see, at just the right time God gives you a quick breath as you gasp for emotional air.

The reality starts to emerge that when life deals us a blow and empties us, good things are not far behind.

The important thing is that we have to believe it and receive it.

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Hard times always lead to something great.

- Betsey Johnson

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I am no different from anyone else.   I hate being punched.  But I have also found that it is only through loss that one finds the true value of life things.

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I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times.

- Willie Nelson

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Yes, you may be lying there today struggling for breath.

Relax… trust the reality that in a short while you will be able to take a long deep breath and experience life to the fuller.

Ciao.


25
Feb 13

Simply Divine

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Hi there, welcome back.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I am a sucker for anything creative.

I love it when I am stopped in my tracks by something completely unexpected because someone had a stroke of creative genius.

As you will see I have sprinkled a few pictures that I think are wonderfully creative and a few quotes thrown in for good measure.

How good is that?  Good pictures and a few good quotes.

Yes, I agree, this is a strange picture but I would have never thought of it.

The amazing miracle of creativity is that stirs that invisible something deep within.

I personally believe that we are moved by the creative because it reflects our Creator.  Don’t worry I’m not going to get all religious on you.  But there is something to be said about the Divine DNA we all possess.

Yep… whether you believe it or not, we all carry the marks of our Creator.

Don’t get all weirded out because you’re concerned I’m going to get preachy or syrupy religious.  I never have and I never will.  It’s not my place to get you to believe in a loving God.  I couldn’t if I wanted to.

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I think creativity is spiritual. I absolutely believe that.

F. Murray Abraham

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I just share interesting truths that make us think, cause us to ask questions, and just open our minds to consider new notions about life.

Creativity – what an amazing gift!

This gift allows us to step beyond the confines of the existing to the freedom of what’s never been.

Pretty cool sculpture huh?

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Creativity has more to do with the elimination of the inessential than with inventing something new.

-Helmut Jahn

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Creativity has as much with what you remove as what you add.  It causes us to see beyond where we are or what is known.

When we step beyond the confines of our current thinking there comes an irrepressible freedom.  It is a feeling of freedom because we dared to believe or explore the possibilities beyond the known.

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Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

- Erich Fromm

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Think about how good you feel when you come up with a creative solution to a dogging problem or create something out of your imagination.

Yes… creativity is divine… beautifully divine.

See you Thursday.


11
Feb 13

Don’t Fence Me In

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Yep… me again, and yes one more entry about South Africa (SA).

But before you grimace and start moving your cursor to the exit icon, stick with me.  I think you will find the topic quite interesting.

The pictures above are examples of the typical fence you see here in the US.

For the most part fences here serve as decorative accent and provide visible separation between property lines.  They are meant to keep little kids or pets from darting out of the yard into the streets.

Usually the fences in the US aren’t designed to keep people out.  Yes, we do have security fences around some businesses such as the one below but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

In all honesty fences like this are designed to be more of a deterrent than actual security.  A person can easily cut through the chains.  And yes, there are a few affluent areas where subdivisions use security fences and gated entry.

All of this talk about fences brings me to the second thing that screamed at me while I was in SA.

There are massive, keep you out, don’t come near, make you bleed, don’t even try, you’ll be sorry fences everywhere.  I mean everywhere.

Virtually every home, business, and church were surrounded by amazing security fences.  I am not talking about fences in just the nice part of town.  Even in the poorer areas, each little home had a fence and gate of their own designed to keep people out.

Here are a few pictures to give you a sense of the typical fence.

The only place you did not see these types of fences were in the “informal settlements” where the poorest of the poor lived.

Yes, SA has had very violent times in their history.  And yes, poverty is rampant thus making theft a major problem.  I understand all of this.

Here is the point that struck me.

I know the “Why” but I don’t know the effect on the people.

I have really wondered what the psychological affect is on the people where all they know is massive security fences designed to keep one safe by keeping people out.  You live your life behind a security wall.

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Fear is the highest fence.
- Dudley Nichols

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It is obviously fear based.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not judging them.  I would probably do the same thing if I lived there.

The point I am making is that there has to be an emotional toll living in a world behind a security wall.

What does it do to a person living with the norm of walled security?  Maybe nothing.

All I know is that when I returned home to fenceless neighborhoods and openness between houses I rejoiced in the feeling of freedom not needing to live behind a barbed wire topped wall.

The contrast between the two worlds was striking.

Like most of the entries I post, I don’t have a convenient answer to all the weird life questions I surface.

Maybe you have some insights that will shed light on the psychological or social impact of a world of barbed wire walls.

Well, enough of South Africa.  See you Thursday.

Ciao.



8
Feb 13

More than a SMILE

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If you read my last blog you know that I recently visited South Africa on a church mission trip and talked about the difference between the poor in Soweto and the American poor.

I was taken back by the amazing smiles on the people in the poorest of areas.  Beautiful wide-mouthed, teeth showing smiles.

I am in no way naïve to believe they were happy with their situation.  The surroundings are deplorable.

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Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.
- Dale Carnegie
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But the smiles, not just the children, were infectious.  Their was an endearing quality about the people that made me want to engage and get involved.

The type of engagement I am talking about was not the kind of “do gooder” involvement where you try to lift someone from the depths of their plight because you feel sorry for them.  NO!

I was saddened because of their living arrangements but their countenance did not demand sympathy.  Their smiles just made the desire for engagement easy.

It was as if they were a neighbor who could use a helping hand in assistance.

It has only been eighteen years since the fall of apartheid and full democracy in place.  One would think that a couple of busloads of white people winding their way through the narrow streets would be viewed with distain or considerable resistance or suspicion.

We felt no distain and little or no resistance or suspicion.  They smiled as we passed and freely waved as we responded in kind.

Somehow the American poor seem different.

I am sorry if this sounds judgmental, I don’t mean to be, but I don’t see the smiles or welcoming wave from the inner-city poor in the United States like I did in South Africa (SA).

So here’s my puzzlement.  Why?  Why such a difference?

The SA poor live in much worse conditions, have significantly less governmental support, with fewer opportunities.  To top it off health issues like HIV are rampant.

The majority of our mission trip was to clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  The principle said that about 40% of the children were HIV positive.

Take a look at this video I took of the kindergarteners walking to their toilet break.

school children 3

Although the school appeared pretty nice is wasn’t… especially by U.S. standards.

I think there is something to be said for uniforms and order.  The teachers maintained a fairly high level of order while still allowing kids to be kids.

Once again, don’t misinterpret what I am saying.  Just because the people smile and engage more doesn’t mean that people are satisfied with their lot in life.

Crime in SA is rampant.  People are scrambling for survival.  The poor there do not have nearly the amount of basic governmental or NGO (non-government organization) support for food and shelter that we have here.

But for some reason they seem to stand taller, look you in the eye more, smile and engage more readily.

I do believe there is a difference between being happy vs. satisfied.

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Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
- Abraham Lincoln

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I would really like to know your theory or reason for the difference between the poor in US and SA.  It was fascinating to experience.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


30
Jan 13

Back and better for it

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He’s back!  Yep, I’m back… jet lag and all.

Wow, was Kent Nerburn right.  In the last blog entry I quoted Kent from his book Letters to a Son.

I wasn’t planning to repeat his quote but it’s to apropos for the topic at hand not to.  So here it is again.

“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder.

Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting.

We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take.

But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.”

I’ve had the privilege to travel a good bit.  But for the most part my travels have been what some might say are safe travels.

What I mean is, the countries I have visited have been fairly westernized with the modern niceties that suit our American tastes.

The visits to Europe have been great and I have been stretched by the differences in culture, language and politics.  All of these visits have left their mental stretch marks but nothing to the extent that I faced last week.

I mentioned that I was going to South Africa for a church mission trip.

First of all the flight to and from Johannesburg was about sixteen hours in duration.  It made the typical seven-hour flight to Europe a leisurely Sunday drive.

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Side Note: Wow, that last statement dates me.  Sunday Drive?  I can’t imagine anyone taking a Sunday drive anymore.

Yes, to all of you too young to remember, people would actually just get in the car and drive in the country as a leisurely family activity.

And by the way, I am not nearly as old as the picture illustrates.  Well… maybe.  But I don’t feel that old.

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South Africa is a very interesting mix of cultures and wealth.  There are pockets of extremely nice areas that are jammed packed full of niceties that we pampered American relish.  But all of these pockets were surrounded by extreme poverty.

The focus of our trip was to help clean up and repair an elementary school in a very poor area of Soweto.  It was a church’s version of “extreme makeover” for a school.

Soweto, if you remember your history, was the epicenter for the movement to banish Apartheid in South Africa.  Now don’t worry, this is not going to be a blog about the ills of racism and the overthrow of the white regime.  There are plenty of history books or web sites that dissect those events.

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Interesting factoids:

1.  I thought the name Soweto was derived from some sort of African word.  But in reality it is the abbreviation of Southwest Township.

2.  Soweto is the only place in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

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Over the next couple of entries I would like to share a few things that stirred my comfortable little world.

Surprisingly, it is different than what you may think.  It’s not the poverty, although it was horrid, nor was it the history of racial oppression, albeit extreme.

It has everything to do with what make people good.

See you Monday.


16
Oct 12

Distorting the distorted truth

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Welcome back.

As you know we are in the throws of a very aggressive Presidential election.

Yes, I do plan on talking about politics.  But NO, I am not going to talk about a particular candidate or party.

I of course have a preference as to which candidate I think will be the best option for our great country but that is irrelevant to this blog.

This blog is about the fact that I am extremely frustrated with all politicians in general and both political parties.

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Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.
- Henry A. Kissinger
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I don’t know about you but politicians really irritate me.

It seems that all politicians ever do are take shots at each other and speak to us in scripted sound bites.  They don’t give us the big picture of their philosophy or values.

It doesn’t matter what side of the political aisle they because both sides are just as guilty.

They must think the American public are a bunch of idiots.

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If career politicians had the solutions, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are.
- Rick Scott

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Just for the record, there is no question we have our fair share of really stupid people… all you have to do is look at any one of the several Jackass movies.

But for the most part we are a country made up of hard working people trying to make a life for themselves and their family.

It’s true that some people have more formal education than others, some make more money, we’re large and small, pretty and plain, and many different religions.

But the vast majority loves their country.  We may have different views on what the country needs, but love it nonetheless.

I believe everyone has some basic God given common sense.  There are things that we intuitively know to be good and bad or right and wrong.  I am not talking about a moral sense of right or wrong in this case but a right or wrong in regards to dealing with life situations.

The problem is we don’t get “real information” to make an assessment of the situation.  Everything we hear is spun, twisted, distorted and completely altered to benefit the political bent of the person providing the information.

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I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
- Charles de Gaulle

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We are forced to make important decisions based on truth that is projected through the lens of a kaleidoscope.

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They make it look all pretty but truth is not to be found.

The sad reality is that this distorted truth poisons the well of our mind and then we mangle the truth even more because of our faulty lens.

This all sounds dreary and heavy, but not necessarily.

If we are willing to set aside our programmed notions then we have a better chance to sort through the clutter and find truth.

The most difficult thing as an individual is to realize that our lens is distorted and are willing to test the very beliefs we have.

This takes work and is extremely challenging but oh so rewarding.  Take a chance.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


12
Oct 12

Digging out of a Funk

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Hi all.  I’m vibrating at a pretty high speed today.  I know that you are thrilled for me.

If you have no idea what I mean by vibrating you will need to check out the last blog entry.  Just so you know, vibrating at a high speed is a good thing.

Also, please be assured that there will be no vibrator jokes today.  I am sure you can see a person can easily go in a lot of different directions (no pun intended) with that topic.

Now that I have escaped the Monday funk, life is all blue skies and happy dust.  I can’t help but smile and bob my head back and forth in happiness as I vibrate in my chair.

OK, enough with the happy dust and vibration.

In the last blog I passed along some helpful hints on how to get out of a funk that I found on the web.  Frankly, they were pretty pitiful.

Those ideas may work for some folks but for me they just depressed me more.  They were too gooey or something.

So I thought I would share my own tips on how to get out of a funk.  I will call them my Funk Busters.

FUNK BUSTERS

Buy a Vibrator – sorry… I couldn’t help myself.  It was too good of an opportunity to throw in at least one vibrator joke.  But then again, it could be a Funk Buster for you.

The Andy Griffith Show – I am actually somewhat serious about this one.  You can’t help but feel better when you watch something upbeat, funny, and especially wholesome.

Actually the point isn’t The Andy Griffith Show specifically, but something that lifts you up, takes you to a better time, and appeals to the better part of us.

For your entertainment pleasure I found a rare video of someone singing the words to theme song with some scenes from the show.

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YouTube Preview Image

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Find a puppy to pet – How can anyone stay in a funk if they pet a puppy?  I found a couple of cute videos.  The first is about someone putting puppies to sleep and the other is waking a puppy up.

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YouTube Preview Image

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YouTube Preview Image

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Feel better?  I do anyway.

A Baby’s Laugh – Yep, my reputation is officially ruined.  But the joy of a baby’s laugh is infectious.  And frankly, this is the kind of infection we all need.

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YouTube Preview Image

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I do have one more Funk Buster.  There is no video for this one but it is the most important one.

Do Something – Seriously.   I am no different than anyone else when I am in a funk.  It feels like I am swimming in molasses.  Everything is difficult… even the simple things.

The trap of a funk is that it causes us to focus on ourselves.

The videos I showed are a small start because they make you feel better.  This is when you need to make the decision to do something.  Take the joy of the moment and translate it into action.

It doesn’t have to be something big.  It can be anything that causes you to move and change focus.

So… after watching these great videos and reading this blog, turn off your computer and take a quick walk, go get a coffee, do something.

See you Monday.

Ciao.