August, 2012


28
Aug 12

The Good & Bad of Different

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Hi… thanks for checking in with me.

The photograph above is another beautiful shot of ballerina Aesha Ash.

Like the picture in the last blog, the stark contrast of a poised ballerina on the streets of New York enhances her beauty not distracts.

Being different from your surroundings forces attention in your direction.  Some people thrive on the attention of being different.

The weird thing is that many people try to be different only to end up looking like everyone one else in their crowd.  They look different… just like everyone else.

But there is more to the being different story than meets the eye.

Yes, being different can enhance your positives, but it also magnifies your negatives.

As I said earlier… different screams attention.

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Photos like this are visually striking.  Two contrasting worlds collide and makes for a great picture.

But in real life different can be a blessing, or a curse.

Being different always brings pressure.  The surroundings always try to force us into conformity.

I have several friends and have heard numerous stories where good performance in a job was frowned upon because it made all the other workers around them look bad.  They became the subject of ridicule and pressured to conform.

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Another interesting dynamic about being different is that pressure is created.  The majority always seems to press for conformity.  It doesn’t have to be intentional… difference feels pressure to conform.

Take for example the media barrage of societal expectations.  The pressure is not direct for conformity but the sheer volume of messages will beat the crap out of your self image.

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All I know is that there is good different and bad different.

I struggle just like the rest of you.

I like being different but I’m not weird… well… maybe sort of… but not much.

Well, I think I have rambled enough.

Ciao.


24
Aug 12

The Beauty of Different

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Isn’t this a great picture?

My wife took this shot during a trip to Poland a few years ago.  The picture is of a sculpture in the main market plaza in Krakow, Poland.

I really like things that catch you by surprise.

What grabs my attention most are the things that feel foreign to the surroundings, such as this picture for example.  Here you have two young ladies having lunch with this huge head in the background… very cool.

I must be getting salty or weird as I age.  I used to like nice predictable pictures that were both beautiful and inspiring.

I guess I still like them but I have really gotten into the quirky things that cause you pause when seen.

Take for example this picture of dancer Aesha Ash.

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I love it.

Here you have a ballerina in tutu bowing gracefully in pose on the street next to a street musician.

The stark contrast of the subjects in the picture brings out the exquisiteness not lessens it.

The same ballerina pose on stage surrounded by other dancers would not reveal the same level or dimension of beauty.

The elegant beauty is enhanced by the rawness of the street.

I guess it strikes me so much because we as humans tend to gravitate to sameness.

Side Note: I can hear 99% of you reading this blog saying that in no way you want to be the same as anyone else.

Yep… you’re different just like everyone else.  Stick with me I think you will agree.

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Yes, there is variety in the world with a lot of different people and groups.

But look at your world.  The reality is, we are attracted to likeminded people.

What really amuses me when I see someone who wants to rebel against the conventional establishment and become alternative or Goth or something.

It makes me laugh when they end up looking and being just like the rest of their world.  People get smug because they think they are different.

They are just like the people they associate with.

Even the artsy fartsy elite that has distain, for quote, “average America” all look the same.

That’s why I am enamored by contrast.

You are never different if you are only around people who are the same.

Side Note: Yes, I know.  The last sentence was a B.G.O.

A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious

A person that is Goth has no distinction with other Goths.

A middle America church goer looks no different than middle America church goers.

The snobby artistic elite are the same with the other artistic elite.

But place any of these in the other person’s world… wow.  That’s when you see the real difference.

I think I will talk about these real differences on Monday.

Ciao.


21
Aug 12

The Nothing Day

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The picture has absolutely nothing to do with the blog.  It was just a picture.

I have nothing to say today.  I’m not kidding.

For some reason my head is dead.

I was supposed to have this blog entry written yesterday morning.  Here it is late in the afternoon and I have a dead head.

So what does a person do when they feel empty and void… share something from their journal.

Yep.  I am very reticent to share my journal, but I am.

Also everyone needs to know that there will be some God talk.

“GOD WARNING”

Just because I am going to talk about God don’t get all weirded out.   Those of you who have been hanging out with me for a while know that I don’t expect you to believe the way I do nor am I trying to make you believe the way I believe.

All I ask is to take it as it is.

Journal Excerpt – July 18, 2009

I feel shallow…

Humiliatingly shallow.

You think you’re about to wrap your mind and heart around a spiritual concept and then God cracks the door… ever so slightly and that whisper of a glimpse reveals the folly of being able to capture even a small piece of God.

You cannot grasp God. He grasps you.

If you let Him.

He lovingly reveals Himself in mysteriously subtle glimpses that slowly unfold and reveal more as we are able to grasp, absorb, and cherish the gift of revelation.

What a gift.  What joy!

There is nothing… absolutely nothing that is so refreshing as His Spirit quickening our hearts with His presence.

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I’m not sure why I decided to share this piece of my life.

It must be for someone.  What I said is very true.

There is nothing… absolutely nothing like sensing and experiencing the Spirit of God.

I futilely attempted to talk about feelings in the last blog.

There are some feelings that are hollow and end up being a dead-end.  Generally these are the feelings we get from the things we use in life to create a cheap buzz to help us escape.

God stuff… no escape there… no cheap buzz.

I hope to see you Thursday.

Ciao.


16
Aug 12

Feelings… nothing more than feelings

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Hi there… welcome.

In the last blog I poked around at the topic of our identity and the things that we think define us as a person.

Toward the end of the blog I made a statement that I fully believe and I would like to unpack a little more.  I said that your feelings will always default to your true identity.

Feelings reveal who we think we are and what we think we want to have or do.

You will note that I did not say that feelings reveal reality.

Feelings are powerful – very, very powerful.  They are powerful because feelings infer reality.

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“I feel, therefore it is”

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If I feel it then it must be real.  And if it’s real then we act on our assumption.

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Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
-  Samuel Adams

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To add to the complexity our society reinforces the notion that feelings rule.  The entertainment industry and marketing world thrive as purveyors of feelings not facts.

If it feels good do it, if it doesn’t feel good don’t do it.

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God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.
- Chanakya
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Wow… can you believe he said that “Your feelings are your god.”  According to Chanakya then, you must obey your feelings.  How futile.

Anyway, by the way Chanakya looks by his picture I recommend he find another god.  His feelings don’t seem to be working for him.

OK, Back to the topic.

As we continue looking as society’s influence, have you noticed how everyone in the advertisement is happy, good looking and has money?

They are selling a feel good dream.  You can have this too if you wear their deodorant or drink their beer.

On the other side of the feeling coin is fear or disapproval.  They market these negative feelings to spark action.

There is another side to this feeling trap.

There is so much emphasis on feelings, that the lack of feelings carries as much influence and power as what we feel.

What we don’t feel weighs as heavily as what we feel.

For example, if I no longer feel in love with my wife then I need no longer to be faithful.  Why should I stay in a relationship if I don’t feel like I love her anymore?

Here’s the scariest reality of all.

If I don’t have good feelings about something then I must find the thing that makes me feel good.  The focus is on the FEELING not the need.

Most of the time what we need in life does not feel good.  But focusing on the deeper things in life brings a happiness and contentment that no deodorant or beer buzz could ever provide.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like good feelings as much as the next person.  I want good things.  I like to feel good.

But when tickling your feelings is more important than the foundational things of life… oh boy… are you in for a very rocky road.

We’re going to continue to open this “feelings” box.

It will be interesting to see what we stir up.

I’ll keep writing about this as long as I feel good about it.

See you Monday.


14
Aug 12

Who are you?

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I’m really glad you popped in to visit but… who are you?

If we just met and you thought I was serious with the question you would probably give me your name and basic data.  This would give me some data but no real information.

Who are you?  Probably the more probing question is, what is your identity?

There are things that identify you like the color of your hair, height, etc.

But… what is your identity?

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An un-named song is like an un-named child, it has no identity.
- Robyn Hitchcock
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This is a harder question for some of you than you may think.

Our identity is who we are as a person, not data about us.

There are different levels of identity.  Much of it is wrapped up in things such as our family, culture, likes and dislikes, and an assorted other tidbits of stuff.

But there are deeper, more profound things that are part of our identity that impacts daily how we live out our lives.

Toward the end of the last blog I started raising questions about our identity when I suggested that many people’s identity is tied to something very negative in their life.

Seriously… ask this question – What is my identity?  What is my deeper identity?

What comes to mind?  Does it tend to be something negative or positive?

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I don’t need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.
- Jay London
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I was talking to a guy friend that was sexually molested as a child.  As he got older he started acting out in sexually unhealthy ways.

Somehow, over time, he started to believe that unhealthy sexual behavior defined who he was.

He started living his life around the thing that he felt defined him as a person – his identity.

It’s sad but true that many live their life defined by negative experiences.  Some of these experiences were not of their own choosing and other negative experiences they brought on themselves.

Many of you are probably saying that things like sexual abuse are not part of your life or a part of your identity.

Maybe not, but there are many of you, who when asked, see yourself (your identity, definition) by some other negative thing…

  • I’m a failure
  • Not good enough
  • Not valuable
  • Not talented enough
  • Insert your own negative moniker

The point is, regardless of how you feel, or no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve been told… this is NOT your identity.

You are not trapped by this self-imposed straightjacket of identity.

The first step of shedding this straightjacket is allowing the truth that I am speaking to seep through the cracks of your heart and head.

In times like this you cannot trust how you feel.  Your feelings will always default to the identity you have of yourself.

We will try to make more sense of this as we hike up this mountain.

Ciao… see you Thursday.


10
Aug 12

Good Bad Decisions and Bad Bad Decisions

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Yes, the picture is disturbing.   And yes, I agree with what it says.

I also find myself asking the question, “Why did she have to make it so LARGE?”

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Consider every mistake you do make as an asset.
- Paul J. Meyer
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Hummmmm… I don’t think so.  Not in this case.

Thankfully most of our bad decisions don’t involve being permanently inked for public display.

But my guess is that you have done something and immediately wondered… what the hell was I thinking!!!?

I guess we all have.

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Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
- Franklin P. Jones
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The natural follow-up question is, do you have a tendency to repeat the idiocy?

Most of us could probably say yes to this also.  Wow… the ignorance of youth.

But let’s be real for a moment.  There are mistakes, and there are MISTAKES.

Failure and mistakes are a part of living that provides learning and context to life.

These are life experiences that bring dimension and perspective.  We really are better off by the mistake made.  These mistakes shape us.

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The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you’ll make one.
- Elbert Hubbard
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But unfortunately there are mistakes that trap us.  Instead of being a positive the negative mistake becomes our identity.

There is no question that we make mistakes and there are consequences for our decision.  But having consequences does not mean that the mistake becomes who we are and the trajectory of our lives is permanently altered.

The kind of mistake that traps us must be put in its place.

Whatever you have done, no matter how bad, it is NOT your identity.  You do not have to live under the shadow of the failure.

I hope and pray that over the next couple of days you have a keener sense of how you see your identity.

I think we will unpack that a bit more.

Ciao… See you Monday.


6
Aug 12

Giving up freedom sets you free

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I wasn’t planning on expanding on the last blog entry but I was reminded of a powerful and important truth that relates to what I had written.

In the last entry I talked about the counter intuitive notion that proper restriction or resistance allows us to soar.  Without restriction we would never reach our designed potential.

If the last sentence made no sense then I recommend that you check out the last blog entry.

The paradoxical truth that I want to talk about is that true ultimate freedom requires giving up freedom.

Now before you get the yips, this is not a political or military policy statement.  There may be some application but it is definitely not the point of this entry.

Nor is this an entry about the Spiritual or religious implications, which there are many.

I ran across something I wrote over two years ago that illustrates what I am talking about.  I would like to share a few paragraphs (italics).

I have music in me… lots of music.  There are times when I sit 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 remains 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.

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.

It is said that you can tell who the professionals are because they make it look so easy.  All you have to do is look at the picture of Gabby Douglas.

I marvel at the ability of some dancers or athletes.  The freedom they have to release their body in different ways is literally amazing.  This level of freedom only comes through forced discipline.  It is the relinquishing of the freedom of the moment for the freedom of the ultimate.

Take a look at this quick video.  It illustrates the amazing beauty, ease, and elegance of a body that is free.

YouTube Preview Image

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Freedom… that’s what this life journey is all about.

It is through giving up immediate freedom you gain ultimate freedom.  This is true in virtually every aspect of life.

We relinquish our freedom to spend money on something we want now for more financial freedom later.

Humm… freedom… what treasures are trapped in you that are fighting to be released.

Don’t get discouraged.  Keep at it.

I ran across a great quote that encourages me.  William Stafford, (1914-1993) was a prolific and highly respected American poet.  When asked by a reporter how he began his career as a poet he said,

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“I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is, why did other people stop?”

Don’t stop.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

See you Thursday.


3
Aug 12

Bound and high in the sky or Loose and down to the ground?

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I don’t know about you, but I like having my way.  I don’t think I’m that unusual.

Humans are funny like that.  We want what we want when we want it.

We don’t like anything to get between us and where we what to go or have anything hinder us from getting what we want to have.  We don’t want resistance or restriction.

Most people just get irritated because it’s not a big deal.  We don’t tend get to pushy or become too nasty when something stands in our way.

But we can get very angry or nasty!

There are two factors that kick us in the pushy or nasty category.  The two factors that elevate our antagonism or frustration are the level of one’s desire for something plus the level of restriction we feel keeping us from it.

Regardless of the level of restriction, I’m just saying that we would prefer having life without it.

But is having no resistance or restriction what we really want or need?

I think not.

Having resistance is one of the greatest hidden gifts we can receive in life.

Think about it.  Where would your life be today if you never faced any resistance?

What kind of a person would you be?

Resistance is a good thing.  It enhances vs. detracts.  The right restriction or resistance strengthens us as-well-as channels energy to have greatest impact.

For example, the kite would never soar without resistance of the string.

The string allows the kite to catch the air that lifts.  The tether that seemingly restricts is the very thing that allows the kite to fulfill its purpose.

Without something holding the kite back it would never reach its full potential.  It would just drift back to the ground never to fly.

Another example is the balloon.  The helium in the balloon needs the restriction of the rubber to keep its qualities to lift intact.

Reaching the heights would never have been accomplished without the restriction.

It’s so easy to be upset or disgruntled by things that seem to hold us back.  The proper amount of resistance is the very thing that makes us better and creates the success.

When faced with things that seem to hold us back we have one of two choices.  We either channel our energy fighting it, or we channel our energy to align ourselves with the resistance to get the most out of it.

Now I can hear a lot of you yelling at the computer screen with all kinds of examples of where restriction can be a bad thing.

Yes, it’s true.  Too much restriction can be just as bad as too little resistance.

But our natural default is to resist anything that we feel hinders us.  There is much more positive that comes from resistance than negative.

Ciao… see you Monday.