Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Reason for My Absence

Greetings! I know I disappeared without warning. I have, what I believe, is a valid explanation!

Last Tuesday, my home was burglarized in broad daylight. Many items were taken from my home - including several very sentimentally special items from around the world. Oh yes... one of my cars was stolen as well (and used to transport some of the larger items away from the scene.)

It has been quite a journey. Dealing with the fact that the thieves took a house key, and kept a car key (although they abandoned the car and it is now safe and secure). Making sure that my home is safe against further intrusion, trying to access the 'losses' and dealing with the psychological impact of the violation that occurred has been pretty consuming.

I've had some emotional reactions, but thankfully after the initial shock and hysteria (which only lasted a very few minutes), I feel like I have come through it pretty well. I was surprised by how vulnerable I felt. I didn't get into too much anger. It was mostly just sad, disappointed and frustrated by the immense inconvenience and extra work this situation creates for me. All of this uses time and energy that I would rather be directing at efforts to help other people live better lives.

I wanted to ask these guys who burglarized my house how they had come to such a sad and desperate way of life. They are obviously drug addicts (syringes in the car... lots of used Kleenexes, indicating their general poor health). I wanted to say, "There is a better way to live... this CAN'T be fun for you either." Some of my friends find me incredibly naive... but honestly, I couldn't respond any other way.

There were a few flashes of anger (I can't lie). Mostly when I discovered that particular sentimental items were missing, and also my laptop, which is extremely important to my daily functioning. Not to mention the horrible feeling of knowing that personal data is out there potentially be used for ill.

For the most part, however, I went in to action to document all the missing stuff, secure my home and notify my neighbors of the problem. Our neighborhood is having several security problems, and I really felt it was important that we all start to get to know each other, communicate and watch out for each other. That may be the really neat gift in all of this. I think I'll know my neighbors (after living here for 8+ years) and form a healthy, supportive community. That would be very cool.

As I navigate these waters, working with insurance, trying to balance a responsible approach to self protection with a desire not to get jaded and become distrustful of people, I'm sure I'll hit bumps and potholes along the way. I've always been a very trusting person, and I'd like to preserve the best spirit of that part of my psyche. I will, however, be a bit 'wiser' about how I conduct the material affairs of my life.

I once heard a teacher talk about taking security precautions as a 'spiritual practice.' He explained that by making it more difficult for people to steal or abuse our trust, we actually help thwart people from giving in to their worst impulses. We put up barriers to their self destructive impulses. We don't 'cooperate' as easy targets. I like that analysis. Especially at this moment.

I don't encourage paranoia... or hysteria. Neither is fun. Neither is useful. I do, however, advocate taking care of oneself, and not cooperating in the self destructive of other people. A lot of my precious possessions, helped those guys who robbed me get more drugs. That makes me sad. I hope they find a way out of the hellish life they are living. I wish for them the same freedom that I wish for us all.

I still may be a bit sporadic in my postings as I navigate these waters... I'll be back when I can.


Dewi Sri - The Balinese Rice Goddess
May she bring peace and healing to whoever she is with...
She will be missed in my home, but I trust that she will work her magic
wherever she is... on anyone she encounters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Economic Turmoil

It's hard to remain optimistic when news comes out like we saw from Wall Street today. More financial bad news. On the heels of the Freddie and Fannie Mae crises, we now have a HUGE insurance company and a 2 major investment banks in danger of collapse and bankruptcy. We seem to have an avalanche of bad financial news that has continued for a seemingly endless length of time.

The sub prime mortgage crisis is seen as spurring much, if not all, of the current economic slide. The true answer goes deeper than that, however.

What we are seeing is the simple reality of consequences following action. The universe is always giving us feedback - individually and collectively, about the decisions we make and how we are living our lives.

We are currently getting a huge dose of universal feedback on the dangers of uncontrolled spending, insatiable appetites for the material, basing our sense of value or happiness on the size of our homes and expecting to 'have it all' without a lot of effort.

ALL of the current financial crises can be linked to greed and insatiable desire. Guess what... when we define our success, value or happiness by the size of our house or the car we drive, or we try to fill an inner void with material 'stuff' we get ourselves into trouble. Collectively as a country, we have gone done this path.

Corporations in their lust for profits have capitalized on that, taken advantage of it, and thus is born the credit crisis (deeply rooted in the horrifically predatory mortgages packaged and sold by banks and eagerly gobbled up by consumers who wanted homes they really couldn't afford.)

The bottom line in this mess, is that as individuals we need to get a grip on what is really important in our lives, work to reduce our insatiable appetite for material goods, and gain some balance in our lives. We need to want less and be happy with what we have. We need to get back to a mentality of working for what we want, rather than expecting it to simply land in our laps.

I'm a big believer, obviously, in positive thinking and visioning/goal setting as a way to manifest abundance. These spiritual practices, however, do not call on us to abandon our connection to reality! We can't wish away what is on our way to what we want. There are steps and procedures we must go through to transform our level of prosperity. The answer is not to do it on credit and wait for God to pay the bill.

There is more 'financial feedback' on its way from the universe. We are in for a bumpy ride. In the end, I hope we all (myself included) learn some valuable lessons from this experience and take some corrective action. All of us can learn from what is going on. It isn't pleasant. It isn't easy. It can, however, lead us to a brighter future and a more solid foundation!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Butterfly is Coming

I watched a favorite preacher of mine giving a talk yesterday on television. His theme was transformation. One of his primary teaching examples was of the caterpillar and the butterfly.

I have always resonated with this real life example of radical transformation. Who isn't mesmerized by the amazing process by which a creepy crawly worm-like creature becomes a beautiful, enchanting creature that has complete freedom to fly anywhere it wants.

The caterpillar is earthbound. It knows only what is in its immediate vicinity. It can't travel very far or very fast. It eats only what it can find on its path. It's vision is limited. It's world is finite.

The process by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly is a true miracle. The caterpillar goes into a cocoon, and seems to dissolve. It is as though there is a death of the creature to anyone looking on. Motion stops. Eating ceases. All of what was once 'known' to the caterpillar ceases to be.

Then, one day, the cocoon begins to crack and break apart. A new creature begins to emerge from the tomb. A resurrection, of sorts, is occurring.

What emerges from the cocoon bears no resemblance to the wormy critter that went in. The beautiful butterfly that emerges can take off and fly through the skies - free and unencumbered. It's an entirely new life for the transformed creature.

We are all like the little wormy caterpillar. We are moving through our lives thinking we know what is available to us by looking around our surroundings. What we lose sight of, is the fact that we are in the process of transformation. We ourselves are in process. We haven't begun to tap our potential or realize all that we can become.

The key is to realize that we are 'in process.' The secret is to KNOW with absolute certainty that we are on a journey of change and growth. We aren't "there" yet. There is so much more waiting for us!

The butterfly is in us. It has always been in us. We are becoming what we were born to be - each and every day. We may feel far from where we want to be at this moment. That's OK. Our job is to keep on keeping on. Our job is to do what is before us today and BELIEVE that our true nature, our divine potential, is being created and revealed one day at a time.

Being in the cocoon can literally feel like death. We almost have to completely 'dissolve' what was, to release what will be. That is not a comfortable process. It is not comfortable, but it is inevitable if we are to attain the heights available to us.

The butterfly is coming! Believe it!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's a Small World

Back in 2000, I led a small private tour to Israel/Palestine for a couple from New Zealand. It was a particularly difficult time in the holy land. The second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) was raging. It was a tough time to travel in that region.

It was an especially magical time to be there in one respect. That year, Ramadan (the Muslim holy month of fasting), Hannukah (the Jewish Festival of light) and Christmas (the Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ) all intersected that year. My ideal day was Christmas eve. I fasted during the day with my Muslim friends, broke the fast at sundown with suvganiot (jelly filled donuts which are traditional at sundown during Hannukah) with some Jewish friends, and read the Christmas story out of the New Testament of the Christian Bible with my tour clients. A perfect day for me! Touching each of these traditions during a most sacred time was indeed a powerful experience for me.

We had another wonderful experience on that trip. My clients were from New Zealand. There were very few people touring in this region, at that time, due to the political situation and the ongoing violence. We had most sacred sites to ourselves. Other sites were very difficult if not impossible to reach (because of Israeli military closures). We did the best we could and visited as many of the holy sites as possible.

One day we spent time visiting the holy sites in Bethany (a Muslim and Christian Arab village near Jerusalem, on the southeast slopes of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem.

Bethany was the home of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:38-44), and his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus often stayed in their home.

Jesus was anointed at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany (Mark 14:3) and returned to Bethany after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:11). According to Luke 24:50, Jesus ascended into heaven near Bethany (commemorated at the Chapel of the Ascension).

While we were in Bethany, we had a special and unexpected encounter. I believe we were visiting the church where the tomb of Lazarus is traditionally believed to be. It is a site revered by both Christians and Muslims (who respect the miracles of Jesus and consider him a great prophet).

When my clients from New Zealand and I entered the church, we found it empty except for 2 people who were at the front of the church, singing. They were the only other tourists we had seen on our journey. As I mentioned, due to the tension and violence that was occurring in December of 2000, tourism had come to a grinding halt. These two people were singing in English. There music as so powerful that as I stood there and closed my eyes, it literally felt as though en entire choir was singing there! The music was inspiring and powerful.

When they were finished, we walked up to them to appreciate their singing. As we got to chatting with them, we discovered that they too were from New Zealand! The only other tourists we encounter on our tour, up to that point, were from the same place that my clients were from! What are the odds? The chances? It was really quite amazing. We had a nice visit with these folks and marveled at the ability of the universe to put us in exactly the same place as these people in order to share that special moment of unity and connection. It was somehow reassuring to find them there, in that special church.

We are always in the right place at the right time... at least as far as the universe in concerned. I truly believe that something greater than ourselves guides and directs our every step. We can cooperate with this power, or we can resist it. Our response to it doesn't change the fact that it exists. We can, however, tap into it more and more fully and revel in the wisdom of universal intelligence!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jeff Halper: Story of a Modern Day Hero

I greatly respect and admire the work of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. Here is their website: ICAHD Website. I encourage you to spend some time perusing their site and their work.

I was privileged to meet Jeff Halper on a long past trip to Israel and Palestine. He gave a very informative (and heart breaking) lecture to the group I was with on Israeli land and settlement policies. He is an absolute expert on all that goes on in this region regarding land use and the Israeli occupation/appropriation of Palestinian land.

As an Israeli Jew, he has a unique and powerful voice to speak about what is happening there. It takes a lot of courage to do what Jeff does. He continually stands up for what is right and just, regardless of the potential dangers to himself. Not many of us can claim this type of courage. The world would be a better place is more of us conducted ourselves in this way.

Jeff recently joined an international group of activists on a boat traveling from Cypress to Gaza. The "Free Gaza" journey was meant to bring international attention to the suffering of the people in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli blockade which has been in place since shortly after Hamas took control of the Gaza strip. The entire civilian population of Gaza is suffering unspeakable horrors because of this closure.

Jeff Halper was arrested after his successful journey into Gaza aboard this ship. This is an account that he wrote of his experience. I wanted to republish it here.

Here too is a link to the article on ICAHD's website:
End of an Odyssey - by Jeff Halper

End of an Odyssey
Jeff Halper
September 1, 2008

Now, a few days after my release from jail in the wake of my trip to Gaza, I'm posting a few notes to sum things up.

First, the mission of the Free Gaza Movement to break the Israeli siege proved a success beyond all expectations. Our reaching Gaza and leaving has created a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world. It has done so because it has forced the Israeli government to make a clear policy declaration: that it is not occupying Gaza and therefore will not prevent the free movement of Palestinians in and out (at least by sea). (Israel's security concerns can easily be accommodated by instituting a technical system of checks similar to those of other ports.) Any attempt on the part of Israel to backtrack on this - by preventing ships in the future from entering or leaving Gaza with goods and passengers, including Palestinians - may be immediately interpreted as an assertion of control, and therefore of Occupation, opening Israel to accountability for war crimes before international law, something Israel tries to avoid at all costs. Gone is the obfuscation that has allowed Israel to maintain its control of the Occupied Territories without assuming any responsibility: from now on, Israel is either an Occupying Power accountable for its actions and policies, or Palestinians have every right to enjoy their human right of travelling freely in and out of their country. Israel can no longer have it both ways. Not only did our two little boats force the Israel military and government to give way, then, they also changed fundamentally the status of Israel's control of Gaza.

When we finally arrived in Gaza after a day and a half sail, the welcome we received from 40,000 joyous Gazans was overwhelming and moving. People sought me out in particular, eager it seemed to speak Hebrew with an Israeli after years of closure. The message I received by people of all factions during my three days there was the same: How do we ("we" in the sense of all of us living in their country, not just Palestinians or Israelis) get out of this mess? Where are WE going? The discourse was not even political: what is the solution; one-state, two-state, etc etc. It was just common sense and straightforward, based on the assumption that we will all continue living in the same country and this stupid conflict, with its walls and siege and violence, is bad for everybody. Don't Israelis see that? people would ask me.

(The answer, unfortunately, is "no." To be honest, we Israeli Jews are the problem. The Palestinian years ago accepted our existence in the country as a people and are willing to accept ANY solution -- two states, one state, no state, whatever. It is us who want exclusivity over the "Land of Israel" who cannot conceive of a single country, who cannot accept the national presence of Palestinians (we talk about "Arabs" in our country), and who have eliminated by our settlements even the possibility of the two-state solution in which we take 80% of the land. So it's sad, truly sad, that our "enemies" want peace and co-existence (and tell me that in HEBREW) and we don't. Yeah, we Israeli Jews want "peace," but in the meantime what we have -- almost no attacks, a feeling of security, a "disappeared" Palestinian people, a booming economy, tourism and ever-improving international status -- seems just fine. If "peace" means giving up settlements, land and control, why do it? What's wrong with the status quo? If it's not broken, don't fix it.)

When in Gaza I also managed to see old friends, especially Eyad al-Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, whom I visited in his office. I also received honorary Palestinian citizenship, including a passport, which was very meaningful to me as an Israeli Jew.

When I was in Gaza everyone in Israel -- including the media who interviewed me - warned me to be careful, to watch out for my life. Aren't you scared? they asked. Well, the only time I felt genuine and palpable fear during the entire journey was when I got back to Israel. I went from Gaza through the Erez checkpoint because I wanted to make the point that the siege is not only by sea. On the Israeli side I was immediately arrested, charged with violating a military order prohibiting Israelis from being in Gaza and jailed at the Shikma prison in Ashkelon. In my cell that night, someone recognized from the news. All night I was physically threatened by right-wing Israelis -- and I was sure I wouldn't make it till the morning. Ironically, there were three Palestinians in my cell who kind of protected me, so the danger was from Israelis, not Palestinians, in Gaza as well as in Israel. (One Palestinian from Hebron was in jail for being illegally in Israel; I was in jail for being illegally in Palestine.) As it stands, I'm out on bail. The state will probably press charges in the next few weeks, and I could be jailed for two or so months. I now am a Palestinian in every sense of the word: On Monday I received my Palestinian citizenship, on Tuesday I was already in an Israeli jail.

Though the operation was a complete success, the siege will only be genuinely broken if we keep up the movement in and out of Gaza. The boats are scheduled to return in 2-4 weeks and I am now working on getting a boat-load of Israelis.

My only frustration with what was undoubtedly a successful operation was with the fact that Israelis just don't get it - and don't want to get it. The implications of our being the strong party and the fact that the Palestinians are the ones truly seeking peace are too threatening to their hegemony and self-perceived innocence. What I encountered in perhaps a dozen interviews - and what I read about myself and our trip written by "journalists" who never even attempted to speak to me or the others - was a collective image of Gaza, the Palestinians and our interminable conflict which could only be described as fantasy. Rather than enquire about my experiences, motives or views, my interviewers, especially on the mainstream radio, spent their time forcing upon me their slogans and uniformed prejudices, as if giving me a space to explain myself deal a death blow to their tightly-held conceptions.

Ben Dror Yemini of the popular Ma'ariv newspaper called us a "satanic cult." Another suggested that a prominent contributor to the Free Gaza Movement was a Palestinian-American who had been questioned by the FBI, as if that had to do with anything (the innuendo being we were supported, perhaps even manipulated or worse, by "terrorists"). Others were more explicit: Wasn't it true that we were giving Hamas a PR victory? Why was I siding with Palestinian fishermen-gun smugglers against my own country which sought only to protect its citizens? Some simply yelled at me, like an interviewer on Arutz 99. And when all else failed, my interlocutors could always fall back on good old cynicism: Peace is impossible. Jews and Arabs are different species. You can't trust "them." Or bald assertions: They just want to destroy us. Then there's the paternalism: Well, I guess it's good to have a few idealists like you around...

Nowhere in the many interviews was there a genuine curiosity about what I was doing or what life was like in Gaza. No one interested in a different perspective, especially if it challenged their cherished slogans. No one going beyond the old, tired slogans. Plenty of reference, though, to terrorism, Qassam missiles and Palestinian snubbing our valiant efforts to make peace; none whatsoever to occupation, house demolitions, siege, land expropriation or settlement expansion, not to mention the killing, imprisoning and impoverishment of their civilian population. As if we had nothing to do with the conflict, as if we were just living our normal, innocent lives and bad people decided to throw Qassam rockets. Above all, no sense of our responsibility, or any willingness to accept responsibility for the ongoing violence and conflict. Instead just a thoughtless, automatic appeal to an image of Gaza and "Arabs" (we don't generally use the term "Palestinians") that is diametrically opposed to what I've seen and experienced, a slavish repeating of mindless (and wrong) slogans which serve only to eliminate any possibility of truly grasping the situation. In short, a fantasy Gaza as perceived from within a bubble carefully constructed so as to deflect any uncomfortable reality.

The greatest insight this trip has given me is understanding why Israelis don't "get it:" a media comprised by people who should know better but who possess little critical ability and feel more comfortable inside a box created by self-serving politicians than in trying to do something far more creative: understanding what in the hell is going on here.

Still, I formulated clearly my messages to my fellow Israelis, and that constitutes the main content of my interviews and talks:

(1) Despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict and there are partners for peace. If anything, we of the peace movement must not allow the powers-that-be to mystify the conflict, to present it as a "clash of civilizations." The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is political and as such it has a political solution;

(2) The Palestinians are not our enemies. In fact, I urge my fellow Israeli Jews to disassociate from the dead-end politics of our failed political leaders by declaring, in concert with Israeli and Palestinian peace-makers: We refuse to be enemies. And

(3) As the infinitely stronger party in the conflict and the only Occupying Power, we Israelis must accept responsibility for our failed and oppressive policies. Only we can end the conflict.

Let me end by expressing my appreciation to the organizers of this initiative - Paul Larudee and Greta Berlin from the US, Hilary Smith and Bella from the UK, Vaggelis Pissias, a Greek member of the team who provided crucial material and political input, and Jamal al-Khoudri, an independent member of the PLC from Gaza and head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege and others - plus the wonderful group of participants on the boats and the great communication team that stayed ashore. Special appreciation goes to ICAHD's own Angela Godfrey-Goldstein who played a crucial role in Cyprus and Jerusalem in getting the word out. Not to forget our hosts in Gaza (whose names are on the Free Gaza website) and the tens of thousands of Gazans who welcomed us and shared their lives with us. May our peoples finally find the peace and justice they deserve in our common land.

(Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at .)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Intuitive Flash

On a recent hike, I had an experience that reminded me of the power of intuition.

It was the first time I ever hiked wearing headphones. I decided to listen to music as I did a particularly strenuous hike. I wanted to experiment with my 'attitude.' I often find that when my physical fitness limits are tested, I doubt my abilities. I wondered if listening to uplifting, inspiring music would help me counter my natural tendency to doubt myself. Incidental, it worked like a charm! I zoomed right up the mountain while listening to my 'feel good' music!

The one challenge this introduced to my hiking was that I couldn't hear other hikers approaching from behind. I had to pay careful attention to make sure that if someone needed to pass, I moved out of the way.

When I was on my way down the mountain this became even more important. I have more trouble going down, at times, than I do going up. The knees, don't you know. One particular time on my way down, two young ladies were coming towards me, on their way up the mountain. We passed each other each on our different missions. About 10 seconds after they passed me, I suddenly felt the need to turn around. As I turned around to look up the trail towards them, I saw that one young lady had dropped her water bottle and it was rolling down the rather steep trail, rapidly, towards me. I am not very good at catching moving objects, but it was far enough away from me, and coming straight at me, so I was able to reach down and pick it up. The young woman was very grateful. If I hadn't been there, I think the bottle would have gone off a cliff edge somewhere - to be lost forever. I was so glad I was there. The young woman would be in need of that water and, as I mentioned yesterday, I abhor litter on the trail!

How did I know when to turn around? I hadn't felt that need on the entire hike up to that point, about 3 hours by then. With my music volume shall we say, a little loud, I couldn't hear anything. Something in me just said, "turn around... NOW."

I believe we all have this intuition somewhere within us. Call it guidance, the voice of Spirit, intuition... call it what you will. In my perspective, we all have access to this guidance or wisdom. We simply need to cultivate our attention and awareness of it. Like anything else, if we exercise it and practice it - it will strengthen and improve. It can become dependable, in fact.

Intuition is a powerful tool. Got intuition??

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hiking Etiquette

I've been doing a lot of hiking this summer. Getting out in nature is so healing and nurturing to the spirit. The combination of physical exertion and all that beauty is a powerful tonic.

One of the rules of hiking that is most important to me is the admonition to 'leave it as you found it.' Another version of this is 'if you pack it in... pack it out.' It is a rule that demonstrates respect - for both the the nature that is being enjoyed as well as for other hikers that will come later. The practice is meant to preserve and protect the environment so that it remains unspoiled.

On most of the trails I hike around my home people are pretty good about this. You don't find deliberately strewn litter in most cases. (Public beaches, however, are a different story for a different day.) The 'litter' that appears on these hiking trails is most often accidental: a piece of torn energy bar wrapper, a piece of black tape off of piece of equipment or the occasional Kleenex. Yick!

Many of us on the trail go way beyond being careful with our own trash. Some of us are downright obsessive about cleaning up the trail no matter who dropped what. I generally try to remember to carry a plastic bag in my pack, so that I can pick up whatever I find. Often I forget my little sack, so whatever items I find end up in my jacket pocket or my backpack. I have a strict rule that I cannot leave anything on the trail if I find it. (I must be honest though, if I find a dirty Kleenex and don't have anything to pick it up with, I leave that for a better prepared compulsive hiker to tend to.)

My commitment has sent me over the side of a few embankments to retrieve water bottles before - much to the dismay of hiking companions.

It's a powerful concept - this hiking rule. Technically it 'isn't my job' to pick up after anyone else. I'm out on the trail for my own enjoyment, not to clean up other people's messes... right? While that is true, there is a higher responsibility that beckons. We all share the responsibility of keeping our world clean and protected. When other people can't or won't, we do have a duty to step in and do the right thing. That's my opinion anyway.

I'm always hopeful that if someone else sees me pick up the litter, they too might adopt the practice (if they haven't already). You never know who is watching your actions and who might be positively (or negatively as the case may be) influenced by them.

Bottom line, it just 'feels' good to me! I love walking through the woods and seeing a pristine landscape. I don't want to see people's trash on the trail, or along side it.

I carry this practice into other areas as well, although not with the same level of obsession. If I picked up every piece of trash on the street, I'd have a full time job most days. I have a different practice for 'off trail' litter. I'll share that one another time.

We can all have a better world if we step up to the plate and do our part to protect and preserve it's beauty. I encourage you to give it a try!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Power of Attitude

Yesterday I dropped off a donation at a local charity that supports foster children. It was a bag full of school clothes and a couple of backpacks. As I was handing the donation to the organization's worker and receiving my receipt, a young woman left the building with a couple of bags in her hands. She was pretty and well dressed. She walked outside as I completed my business.

Suddenly I heard a frustrated exclamation from outside, 'GREAT!' and I heard something that sounded like falling and scattering objects hitting the pavement.

As I walked out to my car, I saw the young lady picking up the contents of one of the bags. She had attempted to toss it into a huge trash dumpster and the bag handles had ripped, sending the bag through the air in the opposite direction of the dumpster. The contents had scattered all over the parking lot. there were broken hangers and other trash. She obviously worked for the organization.

I rushed over to help her pick things up. I said, 'Boy, they sure don't make that easy... do they?' I was referring to how high the dumpster walls are. You have to throw things way up in the air to get them inside. She didn't answer.

I tossed a handful of debris into the dumpster and went back for another bunch.

"One of those days?" I asked.

"ALL of my days are like this," she answered. Her voice was sad and dejected.

All I could muster was, "I'm sorry to hear that."

She thanked me for helping and assured me that she could take care of the rest. Most of it was picked up at this point.

I said goodbye to the young lady and continued on to my car.

I felt bad for her. She seemed pretty defeated and discouraged. I longed to have a chat with her, hear her story and help her lift her chin a bit. The time and circumstance was not right.

I don't know what is going on in her life... but whatever it is, I wanted to talk to her about the power of attitude and perspective. I've been in her shoes and walked through life with that type of outlook. It just keeps perpetuating the problem. We really do have the power to influence our circumstances through the attitude that we walk through life with.

I hope for that young woman, that she finds the power inside herself to change her life experience. No matter what is happening to us or around us, the one thing we can control is our attitude and our response to it.

She seemed bright and was certainly attractive and able. She has more going for her than she seemed to realize. I hold good thoughts for her... and her future!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

When It's Lit - It's Lit

I recently attended a wedding ceremony. I had a rather amusing experience at the reception I'd like to share with you.

Once the beautiful wedding ceremony was concluded, we moved under a tent (this was an outdoor wedding) for the reception. Many last minute preparations were under way by the event staff. One such task was to light the candles on all of the tables.

Two young men were scurrying around with flame makers, lighting these candles. When one of the guys came to my table I collected the candles closest to me to help him out. As he began to light the candles, I was amused at how he would light the candle wick once, and then continue to spark the flame maker - and repeatedly light the same wick - over and over and over. All I could think to myself was, "Dude... once it's lit... it's lit!"

Seeing this happening, got me thinking about how often I think I'm 'not ready' for something or I'm "not finished" with something when I really am. I believe we often don't give ourselves credit for what we already know, or where we actually are in our evolution or preparation for some task. We keep preparing - well after the time to just "GO" has presented itself. We feel we need to prepare more, accomplish more or do more before we are 'ready.'

I think we often doubt our readiness and our abilities and hold ourselves back in our endeavors.

We need to realize that once our candle is lit... it is lit! Let's stop trying to light the lit candle and take the light out into the world!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

If It's Broken Give it a Rest

About two months ago, I injured the tendon in my arm, below my elbow. I overused it (gardening of all things) and inflamed it to the point of great pain. Through the next few weeks I attempted to let it heal and it improved about 50%. Then, the healing process seemed to stall out.

That part of your arm is involved in almost everything you do! I would never have realized that before. I was doing everyday things, like brushing my hair, and it would cause great pain - quite unexpectedly.

After 7 weeks, I was still in the same place with the injury. It was about 50% healed, and not improving. I was frustrated. I can't do my complete workouts, I can't garden, and I can't do a lot of normal activities, like using scissors!

I suddenly realized that my arm needs complete rest in order to heal. Even simple motions (anything involving lifting) are causing it injury. So about 5 days ago, I started wearing both a 'tennis elbow' band and a tendonitis brace. The two things together impede my ability to go on autopilot and use my arm! I've been really successful at not using my arm during this time, and it is already tremendously better.

Complete rest is not easy! It is very inconvenient. It is extremely frustrating. It is also entirely necessary for this healing process to take hold and complete itself.

Sometimes we have to do what is inconvenient and frustrating for a time in order to restore ourselves to full functioning. I've certainly seen that up close and personal with this injury! Hopefully within the next couple weeks my tendon will agree that it is time to return to more normal activities. Until that time... it's on holiday!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Don't Take the Drive if You Don't Look at the View

I have a friend visiting me from California at the moment. We took a glorious drive up on Mount Rainier today, and did one of my favorite hikes from Cougar Rock Camp Ground to Narada Falls (and back). It's a 5.4 mile hike with stunning views of the Paradise River, Carter Falls and the crowning glory, Narada Falls. We had a wonderful time driving through the park, then hiking this gorgeous trail and engaging in delightful conversation all the while. I was driving in my convertible, the weather was fairly cooperative and it felt wonderful to be out in nature enjoying all that it has to offer.

After our hike as we were driving down the mountain, we went by a place in the road where another waterfall cascades very close by. The car in front of me stopped so that the passenger could snap a photo. I didn't mind at all. We were all driving so slow anyway, and after all, that's why we were there. I stopped for a second as well so my friend could snap a photo. I was paused no more than 5 seconds when the guy in the car behind me laid on his horn. It was one of the rudest encounters I've had in a long time!

There was a long line of cars winding it's way down the mountain. The speed limit ranges between 35 and 25 miles an hour. It's a scenic highway, not a thoroughfare. People on that road have come to enjoy nature and the park.

What was this guy's problem? My friend and I were shocked. I did make a frustrated gesture in the review mirror. (No... not the one you are thinking of), and I think it actually embarrassed the guy, because he backed off and kept his distance as we drove down the mountain, even though we were all driving pretty slowly.

It begs the question... why the heck was he so irritated and impatient? For all the reasons previously mentioned someone being that impatient was completely out of the range of normal behavior. If you don't want to look at the scenery, for goodness sake, don't take the scenic drive with those who do!! Or better yet, take a deep breath, relax, and ask yourself, "What would I do with those extra 3 seconds if that person wasn't snapping their photo?" It's a great question.

Let's all show each other a little bit of compassion and patience for goodness sake!

Monday, September 01, 2008

My Guardian Door Frog

Little things in life can bring us such joy. I am often amused at how happy I become over the smallest things.

My office is in a daylight basement. For those of you who live in areas where basements aren't common, that means that although part of the room is underground, at least one wall opens up to ground level.

I have a set of double french doors that lead out into my garden. About a month ago, I opened the doors to step outside for a breath of fresh air. As I started to take my first step, a bright green spot caught my eye. It was about between the size of a dime and a quarter. I looked down examine the spot and discovered that it was a bright green little frog!

On that particular day it was a welcome little gift from the universe. I garden organically and attempt to make a hospital environment for critters of all kinds. Seeing this little fellow proved that he (and his kind) feel welcome here.

I watched the little guy for a while and that must have made him a bit nervous because he finally hopped over and crawled underneath one of my Balinese guardian statues that flank my office doors.

Imagine my surprise when the next day I returned to open the door and find my little green friend in the exact same spot! This must be a good "bug gettin" location, because this little frog is there almost every day. I notice that on super hot days he doesn't make an appearance, or on particularly cold days either.

He has become a little companion for me. I can't go into my office without checking to see if he's there. I have also shared his presence with several visitors, who can't quite believe that I KNOW he will be sitting right there.

He's just plain cute. Everyone that has seen him feels happy after the encounter.

May we all be able to not only see these small gifts around us, but may we also be able to fully enjoy and appreciate them for all they are worth!