Life manifests who you are

Life manifests who you are

Stop sitting back and acting as if you had no responsibility for what appears in your life. That’s the old paradigm, where life just appears around you fully formed, always a surprise, usually an unpleasant one. Most of us were raised that way – you trudge through your life with various levels of expectation, but little hope that we could seriously influence life’s outcome.

There’s really a huge disconnect between what we’re told in school and how things actually work out.  So in school you’re told to study hard, so you get a good job. That’s it. You’re not encouraged to dream, even dream big. No, no! Don’t get too uppity. Remember your father was a simple farmer  with few opportunities in life. What makes you think you can now go out  and create some fantastic  ideal existence? Just be content with a nice little job, working your 30 years, paycheque to paycheque, then retiring to a life of relative poverty.

A huge shift is happening today. Thank God! And most people still don’t believe it. The news is that you were the creator of your life all along. Surprise! All your mediocre thoughts just automatically served up a life for you of mediocrity. And even if you wanted to reach a little higher, your fears got in the way and shot down any great ideas you might have.

I confess I lived a mediocre life, had mediorcre marriages, raised children as best I could but all I could give them was what I was. And dreams? You kidding? No, no real dreams. Just mundane worries about money and relationships and what the neighbours thought. But I’m starting to grow up. Starting to manifest what I really want. Starting to dream.

Let’s dream a new dream together!

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The low level violence of being comfortable.

The low level violence of  being comfortable.

When you’re very comfortable with who you are, where you are, as you are – you’re in trouble. You’re forgetting that the only constant in the universe is change, and if you’re not busy growing, you’re busy dying.

The recent research into brain health affirms that we need change in order to function at our best, to not deteriorate as quickly as some elderly retired people do. It’s not uncommon for a man to have worked 40 years at a job, who retires amidst a great to-do and shortly after expires. I like the analogy of one  columnist, describing someone of a certain age, who said “he was one who was well past his best-before date”.

Now this doesn’t mean that we should never be comfortable. Life is difficult enough  without not being able to catch your breath occasionally and just enjoy  some comfortable habit.  But the trick is not to stay there too long and end up with mental arterial sclerosis and  a due soon expiration date.

Habits are actually addictions. (Right Use of Will). This makes perfect sense because being comfortable is such a huge draw, it really is a certain level of addiction. Something we crave for, pant after.” Oh, just to get home  and be able to put my feet up on my favourite chair!”

Life is a great adventure that takes energy and courage to keep moving forward. That takes willingness to change, to learn, to grow. Only those who listen carefully to new ideas with an open mind  and an open heart,  not shy away from making the necessary changes in their lives can move themselves and humanity forward and upward yet again.           Couraggio, my friends!

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The low level violence of being a follower

The low level violence of being a follower

I ‘m driving to New York city. Lots of long stretches of highway straight ahead, and I get to thinking what my driving instructor told me: the safest place on the road is the place where you have lots of space around you, not boxed in by all kinds of cars.  Got it! Makes sense.

I can see the pattern of cars moving in chunks all around me. Where there’s one car there tends to be two or three close beside, traveling together, in a way. It feels like a normal human bonding kind of thing to do. True it’s not as safe. The closer you are to your car friends, the more likely you’ll have fewer choices in case of an accident. It really is the more dangerous choice.  So ok, so I tend now to drive out between the clusters of cars into my own space, a good safe distance away from everyone around me. True it’s safer, but a little lonely.   So I cheat.

What I tend to do now is to find some  one car that is travelling about my same speed, seems sane enough, steady enough for me to follow. But I don’t follow him/her directly. What I do is follow them from the other lane, but at  good distance, keeping pace as it were, with lots of space around me, sort of.  OK it’s not exactly what I was told to do, but heck, it feels good, and you can’t always do as your told, can you?

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Depleted Elementary School Curriculum

Depleted Elementary School Curriculum

Who makes these decisions anyway? Todays curriculum is written in language that  only a lawyer can understand. Written by academics for academics. It’s a huge tome put out by the Toronto District School Board, which takes  more than a bit of muscle to carry around. What exactly does it tell us?  Lots  and lots and lots of detail. About particular subject matter and methodology and aims and specific outcomes. And what exactly are you left with after you’ve gone through it, besides confusion? Do you really have a good picture of the child you’d like to produce from all this? Likely not.

100 years ago in Ontario there was the Gray Book. A small little document probably under 50 pages that told you what kind of child we wanted to see after his/her 8 years of elementary school with us. It was an uplifting piece. Short and to the point. Its recommendation for curriculum was 10% music 10% gym, 30% literature, 10% math, 10% art. We’re nowhere near that. Our children are often obese for lack of exercise. Music and art get short shrift and often considered “fringe” subjects. There ‘s an overemphasis on math and computer skills, and little consideration for total screen time that the child’s exposed to.

To raise real human beings, not just automaton human “doings”, we need to rethink our approach to education and curriculum in particular, and stop doing violence to the children under the care of the school system. Dr. Aymen  the well known author of “Change your Brain Change your Life” can be seen on U Tube advocating  for less drugs for our kids, advising natural remedies and supplementation as a first course of treatment for  our behavioral kids. I agree. Nutrition and supplementation should be the schools concern. Nutrition, adequate sleep, freedom from abuse. These are necessities. Psychologists realize now a child can’t learn anything if  these life’s necessities are not covered before the child arrives at school.

Then once he/she is at school half the time spent in program, should be spent  either out in nature or studying nature: learning responsibility, relating to the plants and animals, learning gardening and how to grow what we need to eat. Then teaching children meditation and mindfulness, as is done in some experimental programs now, would be a huge step forward towards living an inner authentic life, in touch with our feelings – a far cry from the bullying, backstabbing, shunning school yards that have become normal. Tribes training – learning how to work in real groups. Right brain training as well as left brain training.   Sure skills will have to be taught and trained, but we’re no longer needing to raise robots for our assembly lines – which are on their way out. But rather fully human beings who are raised to love life and love themselves and have the confidence and creativity to create all our futures. Amen

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Not living in today

Not living in today

We do a violence to ourselves when we live in yesterday or tomorrow, spending time  and energy worrying about things. (Mark Twain  once said “ My life was full of awful events, most of which never happened.) Holding grudges, planning revenge, allowing past hurts to fester and infect us, living in fear of eventualities that grow every time you think of their possibility, that even become self-fulfilling prophecies.

In the Power of Now, Eckhardt Tolle, tells us you can’t get to there from anywhere else but where you are. Enlightenment happens from here. The more “here’ you are the better chance you have to do it. That’s where meditation is very helpful, living in a state of mindfulness with all your antennae up and observing and drinking in every moment. Truthfullly acknowledging what you’re feeling to yourself and also to others. You don’t need to be constantly attacking people with your “truth” but when you do comment on something , tell it as you feel it.

The Royal Airforce was said to have 3 rules :
1.  Always tell the truth.
2. Never tell the complete truth
3. Never pass up the opportunity to go to the washroom

Sane advice,
After all you only have today really. Yesterday’s gone – you can’t do anything about it. Tomorrow’s a dream. But today we have totally, completely, with all its joys and all its opportunities. Whatever kindness you can do, do it now. Smile at the tired store clerk, her feet are probably aching. Look in your lovers eyes deeply, appreciate them.   “I pass this way but once…”

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Ghomeshi trial and low level violence

Ghomeshi trial and low level violence

There really was no contest about whether or not he did it, nor did he ever deny he did it. The question really was: was there consent? Nothing that came up in the trial really indicated there was. Sure the women were conflicted, sure their reflections after the fact varied and seemed to question their assertions that he was being violent. But look at the cultural context. Look at the huge power differential.

This man was next to a rock star. The CBC were hungry for stars. He was allotted a huge office, his own TV show, and all the adoring fans he could handle. Talk about handling, those around him knew not to send him younger girls unattended, that was already embedded in their culture. He could do no wrong. Sort of.  The size of the ego here, must have been huge. And the fall that came  was also correspondingly  huge.

Then came the revelations.  So when these incidents came to light, and the women’s stories started to make the news, and finally the whole thing came to trial, the women’s stories were questioned because of their varied reactions. The violence was there. The consent wasn’t. But the whole story hinged on the afterthoughts. But this is an old story. Domestic abuse cases: he beats her up but she hesitates to call the cops – she knows he really loves her – and he may go for quite a while being nice even. Too she has but limited choices, to walk out of a stable financial situation into what?  Work harassment: the boss wants you to do him favours; or at school, the professor likes you a little too much. Power differential , big time.  Same here. He would be quite a catch – maybe it wasn’t all that bad – maybe it wouldn’t happen again – maybe she could get around it somehow. If, if, if…

We haven’t come as far as we thought we had, in the relations between the sexes. Our women are still  not free to make the choices they really want. We have still to achieve a power  that really is equalized. Real freedom to choose is still a dream away. Let’s dream a new dream together.

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The low level violence of “sinner” thinking

The low  level violence of “sinner” thinking

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”. Now the author of the song evidently thought himself a wretch, and for him these words were particularly apt and appropriate. Not a problem, he was a slave-driver and certainly had his own issues. But he’s not singing this privately to his God anymore. Everyone in the church sings this as a declaration of their faith. Not faith in oneself certainly, but faith in his God, his religion, his community. A great deal of self-worth doesn’t come out of this, evidently, nor is it meant to. The theology of the day emphasized humility and sinfulness. Co-creation, power and a deep self-worth were not in the cards yet.

One of the chief problems of our world at the moment is the amazing number of people walking around with a deep sense of not being worthy. Religion only underlines the problem and only pretends to offer a solution.  But the solution that most religions offer rely heavily on the patriarchal model of the world, Rely heavily on belief in the childishness of humanity, where solutions come from above, from your father or mother, from your priest , from your God.

We’ve given away our power when we do that. The responsibility we feel lessens, the load is taken off our shoulders, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Relying on the world around us to fix us, to offer the real solutions to our problems.  Conversely, we then blame everyone but ourselves for our problems. Why not? I didn’t do anything wrong, it must have been somebody else.

When we accept our title of “wretch” we buy into the low self-esteem life of little responsibility, and blaming others is a natural consequence.  It’s time we left our “wretchedness” behind and moved into being full- fledged adults and start taking  and adult sized sense of responsibility for our lives. Then the whole ballgame will change.

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The low-level violence of one-mindedness.

The low-level violence of one-mindedness.

So you’ve finally decided what it is you want to do?  Great   !Once you determine what it is you want to concentrate your efforts on, you can move forward quickly in that direction, with determination, clarity, and elation.  Wonderful!

But then what? Our culture seems to encourage your drowning yourself in this one purpose, rewarding your for doing it to the exclusion of everything else in your life. What  often happens then  is a neglect of other areas of your life.

Without really meaning to you Inadvertently fall into neglecting other things in your life that could bring you joy and balance.

Life is like a fine soup  and  needs, of necessity, to be a mixture of different ingredients, different flavours, different intensities, different streams of life-force.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ( among other things).

So you often hear  how this over-zealous one-mindedness can take over one’s life   and you end up losing what you said you loved the most.   We hear stories of the hard working executive, totally dedicated to his work, leaving aside family concerns, letting someone else deal with those – till one day he wakes up to an empty house to find  that he has no family left to come home to.  What you ignore tends to ignore you. What you pay attention to, tends to stay around.

it’s becoming more and more recognized that everyone needs to have a balance in their lives. And that yes, it’s really not enough to be totally dedicated to your work, You also need to spend quality time with your family, you also need to develop  other interests, as well as be involved in community affairs.

I saw a man recently in a Tai Chi class I took, Of retirement age he’d spent his whole life hunched over a computer such that he couldn’t, literally, straighten out his back and his balance was way off.  A little late to come to the realization that the amount of time he’d spent that way was way overdone – compared to all the other things that life has to offer.   Let’s diversify!

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… more co-dependence

… more co-dependence

My own story of co-dependence is one I can only report in hindsight. As with any child, your life is just your life and your family is just your family. No comparison is possible when you’re very young. But two incidents regarding emotions stand out for me. As a young teenager I remember having to “vent” big time. In some social group that I was part of I untypically blubbered all over who was available at the time, I can’t remember over what. Unembarrassed, letting it all hang out! Certainly not how I was trained to be!– remarking to myself that this had never happened before. Another incident I recall was in my early 20’s was a temper tantrum I had at my house over something my brother had done. I remember clearly how it was received – my parents were truly aghast – no one at our house ever ever raised their voice about anything, much less had a raging melt-down. No wonder my strongest memory regarding emotions was of me walking along the street near my house and chanting to myself: “you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel anything!”

What these incidents tell me now is how little emotions were valued or allowed. One felt them, perhaps, quietly by oneself when you allowed yourself to feel, but mostly they were just background, unacknowledged, somewhere way behind you, nothing important, nothing meaningful.

When you take that attitude and put it up against the latest research in emotional intelligence or EQ, there seems to a shocking disconnect between what I and many of us were taught as children, and what actually runs our lives. Emotions? Not important? They say most of our purchases are based not on rational decisions but on emotion. Surprise! Our reactions to people – we decide in the first few seconds on meeting someone, what we think of them, on rational thinking? No! on our emotional reactions! They say to understand a person best you need to know their EQ much more than their IQ!

As a recovering co-dependent, I believe them.

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The violence of co-dependence

The violence of co-dependence
In his book Lost in the Shuffle by Robert Sully he makes the point that co-dependence has taken on a new face. From the narrow original definition of one lost in an addictive relationship, doing what one needs to do to make the dysfunctional relationship work, to the much broader definition that probably includes most of the human race. By this newer more encompassing definition we see included any dysfunctional family rules that prove counterproductive in the long term: e.g. the implicit rule not to express emotions, any emotions; the rule to not talk about family difficulties to anyone; the rule that says we smile and tell people “everything’s fine” no matter how much we’re hurting or what we’ve just been through, among many others.
This reminds me of the ending of the book “Code to Joy” where the author bluntly tells us, after reams and reams of lists of family problems and wrong messages that children walk away with into adulthood, he says: wouldn’t it be wonderful if could all raise our children with positive healthy messages that will actually serve them to grow and prosper: like, encouraging them to find what they like to do and encouraging them; brushing over mistakes, underlining achievements, loving them unconditionally, accepting wherever they are, etc.
Otherwise we end up like the co-dependents in Sully’s book or the wide range of ailments addressed in Code to Joy, with messages that we need to at some point address and change, if we want to heal.
I recently took a hypnotherapy program, part of which was to write a paper on your own co-dependent story. I found that a little puzzling as a general assignment until I started looking into the co-dependent literature and found how all-encompassing this category is and how we’re virtually all affected by the dysfunctional rules we grew up with. To think otherwise would be to assert that I alone among all my friends, grew up with perfect parents. I wish!

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