July, 2011


28
Jul 11

Hurry! Hurry! Step right up and see the bearded lady!

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Howdy.

I have come to the conclusion that I am in a weird mood today.  I don’t know about you but some days just seem strange for no apparent reason.

As you will see very quickly, this blog entry will be a pretty good indicator of my weird mood.

The pictures of the old banners from strange sideshows strewn throughout this blog are a pretty good indicator of weirdness.  Or maybe the better indicators are the sequined flip flops, spandex tank top and New York Yankees ball cap that I am wearing.

Just kidding… just kidding… I don’t root for the Yankees.

Being in a weird mood is different than being weird.  I have a friend that says that people who write blogs are weird.  He says blog writers are narcissistic because they actually think people are interested in what they have to say.

Whew… I feel better now.

For a minute I thought I was a narcissistic weird person.  According to his definition I’m ok, because the reality is; I am not writing this blog for anyone else but me.

Side Note: Now I have to be totally honest here for a moment.  I will say that this blog thing is much more fun when people are hanging out with me.

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But I have never been under the illusion that I have anything profound to say.  Writing makes me think and hopefully it makes you think and look at things a bit differently.

I wonder if my friend thinks that anyone who reads blogs is weird.

Just so you know, anyone who reads my blog, like yourself, is not weird… you may need a little more excitement in your life… but not weird.

But… then again… I’m not the one reading an obscure blog about a metaphorical journey after all.

Side Note: As you can see, I really have a unique way of building blog readership huh?  Here I am poking at people who read my blog.  Hopefully everyone has thick skin.

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But seriously (but not for too long), the words weird, strange or odd are defined as something out of the ordinary of the individual making the judgment.

People are constantly making judgments and assessing some level of normalcy or oddity.  If something or someone slides too far down the person’s oddity scale then it is judged as strange or weird.

I once thought that it was weird for people to get a tattoo.  I don’t think it’s weird now.  I don’t fully understand all the reasons, but not understanding something is not a judgment.

Some people may think I am weird because I go to church regularly, buy Starbucks coffee or because I like to watch reality shows on TV… well, ok… I will give them the reality show judgment.

The point is, we think something is weird if it is outside our definition of normalcy.  Now there is no question that societal norms factor in the equation of what we define as normal, which is kinda scary.  But I don’t want to go there.  That is a bit more complicated and academic than I want to dig into today.

I hope that as you go through your week you will be more attuned to your oddity meter that assesses and judges people.

The interesting thing about assessing others is that it tells us more about ourselves than it does about the people we judge.

See you Monday.


25
Jul 11

Not just for Rabbits

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Hello, me again.

I know that I may sound weird saying this (well, weirder than usual), but I love the picture of the carrots.  I think it’s great.

It very simply illustrates one of the greatest joys and gifts that life offers… VARIETY.

Yes, you are correct.  I have gushed all over this topic before but the carrots just set me off again.

Side Note: Did you realize there are nearly 70 varieties of carrots.  Who would have guessed?  There is even a carrot museum in the UK.

Don’t worry, this blog is not going to be about carrots… but in case you’re interested the web site is http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk

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OK, enough with the carrots.  But I would like to poke around a little more about this variety thing because the picture of the carrots crystallized a new insight.

I realized that I am moved by the variety that comes from nature but not from variety that comes from human hand.  Yes, we humans have created an abundance of things to entertain us and enjoy.

I am not putting down the fact that we have over a 100 different flavors of soda, 210 cable channels, an endless selection of wallpaper, or 72 reality shows to choose from.  These are all fine… well, except for any of the Housewives reality shows… give me a break.

But nothing created by human hands stops me and causes me to stand in quiet awe as does the variety that is natural

I am moved when I see a hummingbird with feathers with different iridescent colors hovering at a feeder, or a new sunrise blasting an array of color across the sky, or a multitude of variety of spices for our pleasure, or even carrots.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am pleased we have a variety of things in life to choose from to make our life easier or more entertaining.  It’s just that nature is a different dimension.

I know the list is far from complete but here’s how I see the difference between man made variety and the natural variety by the hand of our Creator.

  • Human bombards the senses, natural soothes.
  • Human feels strangely hollow, natural possesses a sacred quality.
  • Human competes for our attention, natural is just there.
  • Human is forced on us, natural is quietly discovered.
  • Human encroaches in our lives, natural expands our lives.

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Take a look around.  If you are open you will gain a newer and deeper appreciation of what we have gifted to us.

Hopefully you will see something that causes a moment of awe.

See you Thursday.  I gotta go to see if I can find some purple carrots.

Ciao.

The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.
-Felix Mendelssohn


21
Jul 11

The Rougher Path

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Hello, me again.

Well, I think that I have spent enough time dissecting the quote tattooed on the arm of a girl.  I am sure that most of you are really happy that I finally got the tattoo thing out of my system.

So with that said, it’s time we hit the trail again.

Side Note: Huh?  What do you mean trail?

If you you’re wondering about the reference to hitting the trail, you’re either a newbie or your memory is on a down hill slide.

This blog was started as a journey for myself and I invited anyone who felt inclined, to join me for company.  Read the first couple of blogs and you will understand where I’m coming from.

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As you can see by the picture I am working hard on this journey not to take the easy path.  I can guarantee you that writing this blog is not the easy path for me.

I am not a writer.  For some people writing is an effortless flow of words from the heart and head through their hands.

For me, I wrestle every time I write.  The words in my heart and head struggle to become a reality and find life.

I am not complaining, bragging or trying to get your sympathy.  I’m just letting you know that for me, this is the path I believe I am to take and I have chosen to do so.

It has been a good choice.  My life is fuller and more vibrant.

Here’s the powerful learning for me… taking a bold step may not change your situation or circumstances… but it does change you.

I am different, I feel it.

One of the sad realities of life is that people tend to spend most of their time and energy trying to change things around them.  The focus is on changing the situation or the people around them to conform to their wants and desires.

In life I have seen people tirelessly try to change their spouse, kids, boss, employees, work, church, club, friends… you name it.

The natural outcome is that anger and frustration grow and eventually only two options prevail… escape or change.

I have said for a long time and believe even more… Change affects change.  Because I am different things are different.  I work on me.

Let’s face it.  We all struggle with life stuff.  Frankly, I think most of us make the process much more difficult than it needs to be.

I can’t remember the exact situation but I was getting frustrated because what I was trying to do wasn’t working.  A phrase struck me that really helped.  It is a phrase I use often.

“I may not know what will work, but I know what doesn’t work.”

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The reality of me needing to change crystallized.

So over the years I have spent more time trying to grow, learn and stretch myself.

Wow, the ride has been much more fun and rewarding.  I really wish it were something I learned sooner.

But I don’t focus on or bemoan lost time or missed opportunity… that is the thinking that sucks one into the black hole of self and sameness.  That is a dead end path.

Now for the big question, what does this mean for you, the reader?

It may not mean anything.  But if something stirred within or caused you to tilt your head in thought and question… great!

This means you are hearing a voice from beyond where you are calling you to explore.

I don’t know what step you are to take… but take one.

If faced with two options… take the bolder.

See you Thursday.


18
Jul 11

The Path of Least Resistance

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Hi there… beautiful picture isn’t it?

You might not see it at first glance, but there’s a lot for us to learn about life from the winding path of a meandering river. 

There is no question that a winding river can be very beautiful.  Interestingly, the river gets all the attention and accolades while all the time it is the terrain that is the sculptor of the river flow. 

The water of a river follows the contours of the land.  The rise and fall of the land creates a path for the river to follow. 

This is key:  It is a path that is predetermined before the water even begins to flow.  The river has no decision or choice as to where it goes or its speed.  All of this is dictated by the surroundings that currently exist.

The water simply flows along the path of least resistance.  It bows in deference to any point of resistance that is stronger and dutifully adjusts course.

Ok, I know that some of you are beginning to hyperventilate because you want to make sure that I not forget the power of water.  Don’t worry… I am not dissing water.

Yes, water can be extremely powerful and destructive, able to move rocks and destroy buildings.  It all depends on the amount and force of the water.  But what I have said earlier still holds true and is the focus of this blog. 

So what’s the learning for us?

Like the natural terrain of land there is also a terrain in life.  The terrain in our lives is based on things like our surroundings, experiences, beliefs.  Therefore, each of us, fairly or unfairly, faces our own distinct life terrain.

Like water… we flow and navigate the unique terrain assigned to us.  But unlike water we can choose what we do when faced with a point of resistance.

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.”

            . – John Dewey

There are always decisions to be made.  Sometimes the choice is easy.  The contour of the land coincides with the life you desire and so you naturally and easily flow with the terrain.  These times where we follow the path of least resistance are joyous… yet all too rare.

Usually we are faced with the harder decision, the pressing against the forces that try to shape our destination. 

The accumulation of these small decisions ultimately make the greatest decision… the decision to let the natural terrain of life determine our path and destination, or do we decide.

There’s a lot to learn from a meandering river.  I hope I am worthy of its lesson.

See you Thursday.


14
Jul 11

Strength in the Struggle

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Wow, as I poke at this word resistance, it continues to take on a variety of shapes and meanings.

In the last blog entry I talked about having resistance to forces that are trying to shape and mold us.  Today we take a look at resistance from the opposite direction.  The resistance we are faced with and feel when we are trying to advance or move forward.

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. . I was introduced to a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.   It is a very interesting read.

Although this book initially targeted creative types who struggle with the blocks that hinder the creative process, the simple universal truths apply to every aspect of our lives.

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Pressfield spends a significant portion of the book on the reality of and the struggles we face in life with the constant force of resistance.

The reality is, life has a natural headwind.  Any meaningful movement faces opposition.  Pressfield writes…

“Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled.  But it can be felt.  It’s a repelling force.  It’s negative.  Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” (page 7)

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How true.  I feel resistance every time I write this blog.

I have come to accept that resistance is the nature of life.  I heard someone say one time that the only trouble with life is that it is so constant.

The more powerful reality is that the resistance is felt when moving forward … especially anything noble or good.  It is nice to have this belief validated in The War of Art.

Pressfield says that resistance comes when…

“…any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.  Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.  Any  of these will elicit resistance.” (page 6)

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“Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher.  It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a higher station morally, ethically, or spiritually.” (page 17)

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Yes, moving forward can be tiring.  But oh the amazing things you see and experience.

This blog was started on the premise that we are made to move… journey.  We are not made to sit, atrophy and rust.  Yes, that is the easier path.  It is downhill and you have tailwinds to make it even more effortless.

I started this blog journey by talking about hearing a voice (no, not the kind of voice you need medications for). A voice beyond where I was, started calling me to more.  I scaled the comfortable walls I had built… peeked over the top … and saw things to do and territory to take.

Nope, it hasn’t been easy.  But when you begin to move, something is released that makes it all worth while.

I don’t know where you currently feel resistance, but you can be assured the resistance is a signal that you’re moving in the right direction.

On Monday I plan on talking about the other alternative… taking the path of least resistance.

Later.


11
Jul 11

Is it really?

Hi, good to see you again.

In the last blog entry we started tackling the last segment of the quote tattooed on the arm of a girl.

This series of blogs started out as a dissection of a quote but now it is turning into a dissection of the meaning of the last word of the quote – RESISTANCE.

I was intrigued by the choice of the word.  My first impression was that rebellion would be the natural word to use.

In the last blog entry I started talking about the difference between the words rebellion vs. resistance.

Yes, some use the term resistance for those who fight for a cause such as the French Resistance during WWII.

The picture is the French Resistance logo.

Side Note: I just have to say it, French Resistance seems like an oxymoron to me… OK, I know, cheap shot, sorry.  Just so you know, I have never claimed to be perfect.

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But for our discussion I am looking at these words in their purest form.

Rebellion is active and aggressive in nature … a lashing out … an intentional act of retaliation toward something or someone.

Contrary to its counterpart, resistance originates from a totally different center or frame of reference.

Resistance is a refusal to be impacted or influenced.  It is a strength that prevents an opposing force making an impression on who we are and what we do.  Logic demands that when pushed… push back.

It is not strength to necessarily push back but a solid presence that keeps us anchored, immovable and unimpressionable.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

- Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

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In the second blog in this series I talked about the messages and life events that bombard every aspect of our existence.

I said in the June 16, 2011 blog the following…

Messages come from all directions in a multitude of shapes and sizes, subtle to blatant, verbal and non-verbal.

We cannot underestimate the power of messages.  They, in reality, are invisible hands from a variety of sculptors.  These hands shape and form us as people.  This is especially true when we are very young, impressionable and moldable.

In a short period of time the shapes and molds begin to harden us into the people we are… for better… or for worse.

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It takes a strong and discerning person to navigate life’s waters.

First a person needs discernment to determine whether the force trying to mold them is good or bad.

Discernment is exactly the right word to use here.

Let’s face it; there are some forces in life that look unfriendly and hurtful when in reality they are strong hands that are preparing us for life.  These are individuals who are more concerned about our character than our comfort.  They love us enough to endure our displeasure as they help us grow.

Unfortunately the opposite is true.  There are forces that seem to bring freedom and enlightenment while leading us down the yellow brick road of promises that lead to things that trap and injure us.

Strength is the power to withstand the negative and minimize any effects.

As I write this my mind bounces around wondering what I am to learn regarding this powerful word – Resistance.

My immediate thoughts go to the things that I have resisted and I am proud of my firm stands.

Then of course I eventually circle around to the areas of my life where I succumbed to the messages and beliefs that have proven poisonous to me.

What insights strike you when you think about our topic – Resistance.

The resistance I talked about today is where one stands against forces that press us.  On Thursday I will talk about resistance we face that keeps us from moving forward.

Ciao.


8
Jul 11

Rebellion vs. Resistance

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Hi there.  It is good to return to some normalcy even though I am a day late with the blog.  My bad.

OK, back to the tattoo quote.  As most of you know I was in the process of dissecting the quote before I got sidetracked a few days ago.

I decided not to re-post the picture of the tattoo as a reminder of the how all of this started.  Even though I have looked at the picture many times I still find it disturbing… repulsive.  If interested in seeing it just scroll down the page.

As a reminder, the quote tattooed to the underarm of a girl was…

“Being told you are a worthless piece of shit and not believing it is a form of resistance.”

In the blogs to this point we broke the quote down this way.

  • “Being told you are…” – the messages that bombard us daily
  • “…a worthless piece of shit…” – the types of messages
  • “…and…” – the decision point of what we do with those messages
  • “…not believing it…” – the decision made

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Today we tackle the final part of the quote, “… is a form of resistance.” – the statement made or action taken.

I was very intrigued at the choice of the word Resistance.  There is so much to read into the entire quote but the final word is particularly loaded with meaning for me.

My knee-jerk guess at a choice of the word would be Rebellion vs. Resistance.  I think either word works on one level, but each of them comes from a completely different center of attitude or belief.

Being slammed with the message that I was “…a worthless piece of shit…”, my first inclination is that a person would lash out, act out, fight, and rebel.  Expend tremendous energy to prove otherwise.

In my life I have come to the realization that whatever you expend energy on and attention to, defines the importance of that thing.

Think about it.  What we expend energy on defines its importance.

For example, I heard someone say that the opposite of LOVE is not anger.  The opposite of LOVE is apathy.  Anger has energy… it means that the object of attention has a level of importance worthy of the spew of anger.

Whereas apathy loudly shouts the reality, that the object of attention has no value worthy of energy.

Also, on some level we empower the point of our energy.   This is the problem with certain rebellion and anger.  We end up empowering and giving strength to the very thing we hate.

I personally know some people that believe that they have been wronged (maybe legitimately so) and they spend years in anger and hate trying to make the other person pay for the violation.  The focus of their attention becomes a part of who they are.

The object of their energy has grown more powerful… so powerful that the good they desire and seek for their life is displaced by the object of hate.

This is the powerful reality, extended exertion of energy (good or bad) defines who we are. It’s true.

We expend energy all the time just on living.  But the things that define us are the discretionary things that we expend energy on over a period of time.

Some expend energy on good and noble things because those things improve their life and the lives of those around them.

One can also choose to work hard to displace evil in the world with good.  These are noble endeavors.

Now you can begin to see why the choice of the word resistance was so intriguing.  I will poke at what this means a little more on Monday.

Later.


4
Jul 11

Freedom Fanatic

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Hi there.  Happy Independence Day.

Side Note:  Before we tackle the topic for today I thought I would let those of you who are interested know that the Memorial Service went very, very well.  (See last blog entry to know what I am talking about).

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As you will see, because of last week, I am totally out of sync in my blog writing.  I figure you will be as confused as I am before this blog is over. 

Those of you who have been hanging out with me for the past few weeks know that I have been talking about the coarse but thought provoking quote tattooed to a girl’s upper under arm.

This is the out of sync part… I won’t be writing about the quote until Thursday.  Last week totally disrupted my rhythm.  So, Thursday is the day to get back to the quote.

But this being the 4th of July I have to poke around at one of my most favorite topics, FREEDOM.

On March 13, 2010 I wrote about freedom.  I wrote…

I have music in me… lots of music.  There are times when I have sat at a piano, placed my fingers on the keys, closed my eyes and believed the music inside would explode into melody.

But the wellspring of music within remained trapped… frustrated by its inability to find release and purpose.  There was no avenue for escape because I had not provided a path of freedom.

Now I’m really going to confuse us all.  FREEDOM requires giving up freedom. 

When younger I could have taken piano lessons.  I could have given up the freedom to do the things I wanted to do and channeled that time into a forced discipline of training my mind and fingers.  But my freedom in the moment was more important for me than ultimate freedom later.

This principle is true with virtually everything I can think of.

  • Finance
  • Children
  • Education
  • Household chores
  • You name it 

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What struck me when I reread the blog was the quote, Freedom requires giving up freedom.

In essence we must give up our freedom of the moment for greater freedom later. 

Unfortunately there are messages bombarding us today that rob us of our future.  These are things like do your own thing or don’t let anyone or anything restrict you.

Those who are unable to succumb to the confines of the moment will never… NEVER experience full freedom. 

I am thankful that I am in good company when it comes to understanding this reality.

To enjoy freedom we have to control ourselves.

- Virgina Woolf

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

- Thomas Paine

The 4th of July is a wonderful celebration of freedom. 

But during this time when freedom in the fore of our thinking, I encourage you to be open and receptive to what freedom may be saying to you.

If we are attuned to ourselves we will sense the deep intuitive notion that there are better deeper things for us to experience and enjoy.  We live so far below what’s available… there is so much more for us. 

What freedoms do you need to give up now for ultimate freedom later? 

See you Thursday.