30 May 2012

Love What You Have by James Allan

We live in a disposable society.

We buy things, use them and then throw them away.

Our landfills continue to grow, despite no one wanting garbage in their own back yard.

Meanwhile, debt is also growing.  People continue to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need.

We need to come back to reality.  We need to focus on growth in our bank accounts, not on growth in the landfills and growth in our debt.

So what’s the solution?

How can people grow their savings, while shrinking their garbage and depleting their debt?

Love is the answer.

We need to learn to appreciate what we already have.  We need to love what we have.

If you love what you have, you don’t feel the need for more.  If you love what you have, you can easily say no when you’re bombarded with 3000 marketing messages to buy each day (as estimated by Doug Hall at doughall.com).  If you love what you have, you’re not going to throw something out once it gets a little used.

People who love what they have are happy.  They see the beauty in what they’ve got.  When they buy new stuff, they are very selective--because it has to be something they can love.  People who love what they have perform proper maintenance, and ensure they get the most out of their purchases.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce the money you spend this year, spend some time admiring what you already have. Love your possessions.  Maintain them so they last longer.

Disposable items are always more costly in the long run.  Loving what you have costs nothing, but can save you lots of money.  It can also save you time.  You won’t need to run out and get something new just because you have money in your pocket.  Why would you want something new?  Save time and money by loving what you already own!

Is it any wonder that the average "millionaire next door" has a car that’s eight years old?  People that are rich love what they have.  They know the value of quality, and they know the value of getting the most out of their purchases.

Do you spend time dreaming of a new car, or loving the car you’ve got?  Do you spend time dreaming of new furniture, a new house or new clothes?  Or do you spend some quality time loving the furniture, house and clothes you’ve already been blessed with?

What’s going to save you money and make you happier?  Loving what you have, or dreaming of what you don’t have?

Save your money, your time and your environment this year:  love what you have.


James Allan is an inspiring writer who wants you to achieve success in the twenty-first century.  His first book, Street Hockey Millionaire has received international acclaim, and his Score Your Financial Goals home study course is helping people enjoy their dreams of having more money, more time and more fun in their life.

29 May 2012

What's Your Plan?

I just read an interesting line in a book that made me stop and think for quite a while.  A man writes about a question that he asks in seminars that he delivers:  “How many of you want to leave the world a better place for you having lived here?”  After almost everyone raises their hands, he asks them another question.

“What’s your plan?”

Wow–there’s the question of a lifetime.  If I want to leave the world a better place, in no matter what level of influence I may have, then don’t I really need a plan?  I think I do.  Do I have a plan?  I think I don’t.

So my goal right now is simply to get others to think of where they are on this issue, just as I’m thinking about where I am.  Do I have a plan?  What kind of plan might I make?  Which of my gifts and abilities need to be reflected in that plan?  I know in my heart that as I think of this, I’m going to discover some ideas and possibilities that I never have thought of before.  And when I do, I’ll make them a part of my plan!

27 May 2012

An excerpt from Ari Kiev

The Direction of Your Life

You control the direction of your life.  Only your self-concept limits you from achieving your fullest capacity.  Since changes in behavior generally precede changes in attitude, action directed toward your vision will increase your sense of purpose and belief in the possibility of success.

How can you develop a self-concept linked to your untapped potential?  First, you can decide on the kind of life you would like to lead in ten or fifteen years.  This will give you a standard for making decisions about current activities and will reduce the inclination to compare yourself unfavorably to others.  Learn to ask, "How would I handle this situation were I the person I hope to become?"  And then take action in line with your vision.

If an activity has no relationship to your vision, you may realize that you don't want to choose it.  Would the person that you want to be take on those extra tasks, drive a particular automobile, engage in particular business practices?  Defining your vision will minimize your indecision in making choices about matters unrelated to your goals.

Many people promise themselves that some day they are going to "let go" and do what they want to do.  Unfortunately, the day never comes.  Only when circumstances push them to a point where they have "nothing to lose" do they do what they have always wanted to do.

from his book A Strategy for Daily Living

25 May 2012

Life's Journey

Over the years I have learned that life is a voyage of discovery and not a safe harbor.  It is on the voyage that we learn how to steer our own lives and with them the life of the nation we love.  We learn to coexist with our fears, to surmount the obstacles before us.  We find ways to defy danger, even as we reach deep within ourselves for solutions to the challenges of the age.

Katherine D. Ortega

* * *

To take a life, your life, and steer it in the direction you would like, toward the career you want and the fulfillment of your dreams, is the journey--the only real journey.  No matter how rich or successful you think you are, unless you harness your dreams and continue to grow and develop, a boring, sedentary life will set in.  Similarly, those who think they are at the bottom of the barrel, who feel apathetic and numb or think their lives have no chance--they, too, can turn it around and change.  Whether you feel you're unsuccessful, at the bottom of the barrel, or somewhere in between, it's time to shake yourself into action and onto the road of your dreams.

Milton Katselas


24 May 2012

Creating Love (an excerpt)

I learned two important things. . . that confronted my family of origin teachings.  I learned that love cannot happen unless I am willing to commit myself to making it happen.  And I learned that love is a process that requires hard work and courage.
This may not be news to you, but it was revolutionary to me.  I was brought up to believe that love is rooted in blood relationships.  You naturally loved anyone in your family.  Love was not a choice.  The love I learned about was bound by duty and obligation.  You could never not love your parents or relatives, and loving them meant that you couldn't ever disagree with them or want something they disapproved of.

To question any of these teachings was to risk being labeled a "black sheep" or just plain crazy.  To actually go against them was to feel cellular guilt, the price of breaking a sacred promise you never knew you made.

At the same time, love was supposed to be easy.  When you grew up and the time was right, the "right person" would come along.  You would recognize this person immediately.  You would fall in love and naturally know what to do to develop that love.

I'm thankful to Scott Peck for challenging these notions of love, but I do not blame my family for passing them on.

My family taught me our culture's rules and beliefs about love.  Over the past few years, it has become obvious to me that everyone I knew growing up was raised either by parents who followed these cultural rules or by parents who were reacting against them. . . . I suggest that these cultural rules created a deficient form of love, and that even with the best intentions our parents often confused love with what we would now call abuse.

John Bradshaw, from his book Creating Love

23 May 2012

My wife and I are facing a certain time of forced austerity that will keep us from spending the money that we earn in our normal ways.  Now, we aren't by any means extravagant spenders--we rarely eat out, we don't go out to movies, we don't have expensive home theater systems or any of that.  But because we want to buy a home, we're going to face a certain amount of time during which we spend even less than normal.  And in order to be able to afford the mortgage, we're going to have to give up some of the things that we take for granted right now.

I don't think it's important to sit down and make a list of things that we'll do without.  Such a list, I believe, leads to inflexibility and probably resentment about our austerity.  And heaven knows what kind of effect it would have on me if I were stupid enough to put something like chocolate on such a list--and believe me, in a moment of unjustified optimism, I could see myself putting chocolate on the list of things I would do without.

I think the important thing for me to do is to prepare myself mentally for making small decisions every single day, and making larger decisions as time goes on.  When I go to the store and I see something really cool that I don't really need, I'll have to decide that I can do without it, even though now I tend to get such things, especially when they're on sale or on clearance.  When we have to decide whether or not we want to eat out, we'll have to ask ourselves whether we want to spend 50 or 60 dollars at a restaurant or to put that money into our account to take care of necessary payments.

No matter what, these will be simply decisions that we'll have to make.  They won't be that difficult, for we know what we really want and we know what our priorities are.  Life is like that--when we decide what we truly want, then making the decisions necessary to make that a reality is suddenly a simpler task, and making sacrifices definitely is not something that causes pain or resentment--rather, it's something that helps us to achieve the goals that we have in mind.

22 May 2012

The Rules for Being Human (unattributed)

When you were born, you didn't come with an owner's manual; these guidelines make life work better.                                  
  1. You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it's the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life.
  2. You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called "Life on Planet Earth."  Every person or incident is the Universal Teacher.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of experimentation.  "Failures" are as much a part of the process as "success."
  4. A lesson is repeated until learned.  It is presented to you in various forms until you learn it -- then you can go on to the next lesson.
  5. If you don't learn easy lessons, they get harder.  External problems are a precise reflection of your internal state.  When you clear inner obstructions, your outside world changes.  Pain is how the universe gets your attention.
  6. You will know you've learned a lesson when your actions change.  Wisdom is practice.  A little of something is better than a lot of nothing.
  7. "There" is no better than "here."  When your "there" becomes a "here" you will simply obtain another "there" that again looks better than "here."
  8. Others are only mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate in yourself.
  9. Your life is up to you.  Life provides the canvas; you do the painting.  Take charge of your life --or someone else will.
  10. You always get what you want.  Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have.  There are no victims, only students.
  11. There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences.  Moralizing doesn't help.  Judgments only hold the patterns in place.  Just do your best.
  12. Your answers lie inside you.  Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written.  You know more than you have heard or read or been told.  All you need to do is to look, listen, and trust.
  13. You will forget all this.
  14. You can remember any time you wish.

21 May 2012

Some Nice Thoughts on Nature

I was utterly alone with the sun and the earth.  Lying down on the grass,  I spoke in my soul to the earth, the sun, the air, and the distant sea far  beyond sight.  I thought of the earth's firmness--I felt it bear me up:  through  the grassy couch there came an influence as if I could feel the great earth  speaking to me.  I thought of the wandering air--its pureness, which is its beauty;  the air touched me and gave me something of itself.  I spoke to the sea:  though  so far, in my mind I saw it, green at the rim of the earth and blue in deeper ocean;  I desired to have its strength, its mystery and glory.

Then I addressed the sun, desiring the soul equivalent of his light and brilliance, his endurance and unwearied  race.  I turned to the blue heaven over, gazing into its depth, inhaling its exquisite  colour and sweetness.  The rich blue of the unattainable flower of the sky drew my soul towards it, and there it rested, for pure colour is rest of heart.

By all these I prayed; I felt an emotion of the soul beyond all definition; prayer is a puny thing to it, and the word is a rude sign to the feeling, but I know no other.  By the blue heaven, by the rolling sun bursting through untrodden space, a new ocean of ether every day unveiled.  By the fresh and wandering air encompassing the world; by the sea sounding on the shore--the green sea white-flecked at the margin and the deep ocean; by the strong earth under me.

Then, returning, I prayed by the sweet thyme, whose little flowers I touched with my hand ; by the slender grass; by the crumble of dry chalky earth I took up and let fall through my fingers.  Touching the crumble of earth, the blade of grass, the thyme flower, breathing the earth-encircling air, thinking of the sea and the sky, holding out my hand for the sunbeams to touch it, prone on the sward in token of deep reverence, thus I prayed that I might touch the unutterable existence infinitely higher than deity.

Richard Jefferies

20 May 2012

Thoughts on Spirit

Sometimes I forget that at the very core of my being, I am a spirit.  I’m not simply this human being on this planet at this particular time–rather, I am a spiritual being here for a limited visit to this planet.  This experience is not the be-all and end-all of who I am.  I have eternal feelings because I’m an eternal being here for an experience in this corporeal form that I’m borrowing for a certain amount of time.

And if this is true (and I’m convinced it is), then it’s important that I not neglect my spirit.  It’s important that I not get so caught up in the non-spiritual things in my life that I make my spirit suffer from a lack of attention and a lack of development.  I need to choose my activities carefully so that I can continue to learn things that will benefit the very core of my being–the spirit that shares in oneness with all the other spirits that are here on this planet with us, in any form that they happen to be in.

It’s also important that I pass on lessons that can be important to those other spirits.  The lessons I teach in a classroom don’t need to be limited to a process or to information–they also can relate to the spirits who are my students.  Perhaps something that I’ve learned in life can help someone else to reach an important point in their existence, and they can learn it only if I pass it on.  There are millions of great people–great spirits–on this planet, and I most certainly can contribute to their well being.

I celebrate my spirit.  I hold it in great regard, for it is exactly I.  There is no difference between the “I” who is sitting at a computer and writing and the spirit who is in touch with the eternal, who is one with all there is.  The only way that spirit is pushed down is through my neglect, through my forgetfulness, and I hope to be much less forgetful and much less neglectful–and much more strongly in touch–with each day that I pass on this beautiful planet that’s been given to us as a wonderful gift to help our development.


Whether you know it or not, one of the most important relationships
in your life is with your Soul.  Will you be kind and loving to your Soul,
or will you be harsh and difficult?  Many of us unknowingly damage
our Souls with our negative attitudes and actions or by simple
neglect.  By making the relationship with your Soul an important
part of your life, however, by honoring it in your daily routine,
you give your life greater meaning and substance.  Use your
experiences–all of them–as opportunities to nourish your Soul!
Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

18 May 2012

Nice thought on diversity from Iyanla Vanzant

Some people do things completely differently from the way you would do them.  It does not mean that they are right or that you are wrong.  It means that people are different.  There are things that people say which you would probably say in a different way, at a different time.  It does not mean that people are wrong to speak up, to speak out, or to speak their minds.  Nor does it mean that you are wrong for choosing not to do so.  It means that people are different.  Different is not right or wrong.  It is a reality.  Differences become problems only when we choose to measure ourselves by our difference in an effort to determine who is right and who is wrong.     ~Iyanla Vanzant

17 May 2012

The Fence

There once was a little boy with a bad temper.  His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the back fence rather than take it out on other people.

On the first day, the boy drove 37 nails into the fence.  As the days went by, though, the number of nails gradually dwindled down.  He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all.  He told his father about it, and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.  The days passed, and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.  The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

He said, "You have done well, my son, and I'm very proud of you.  But look at the holes in the fence.  The fence will never be the same.  Remember that when you say things in anger, your words leave a scar just like this one.  You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, and it won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry'--the wound is still there.  A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."

Author Unknown

16 May 2012

Four Words That Make Life Worthwhile by Jim Rohn

Over the years as I've sought out ideas, principles and strategies to life's challenges, I've come across four simple words that can make living worthwhile.

First, life is worthwhile if you Learn.  What you don't know Will hurt you.  You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed.  Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences - negative or positive.  We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong.  We call that a positive negative.  We also learn from other people's experiences, both positive and negative.  I've always said that it is too bad failures don't give seminars.  Obviously, we don't want to pay them so they aren't usually touring around giving seminars.  But that information would be very valuable - we would learn how someone who had it all then messed it up.  Learning from other people's experiences and mistakes is valuable information because we can learn what not to do without the pain of having tried and failed ourselves.

We learn by what we see so pay attention.  We learn by what we hear so be a good listener.  Now I do suggest that you should be a selective listener, don't just let anybody dump into your mental factory.  We learn from what we read so learn from every source; learn from lectures; learn from songs; learn from sermons; learn from conversations with people who care.  Always keep learning.

Second, life is worthwhile if you Try.  You can't just learn; now you have to try something to see if you can do it.  Try to make a difference, try to make some progress, try to learn a new skill, try to learn a new sport.  It doesn't mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try.  Try your best.  Give it every effort.  Why not go all out?

Third, life is worthwhile if you Stay.  You have to stay from spring until harvest.  If you have signed up for the day or for the game or for the project - see it through.  Sometimes calamity comes and then it is worth wrapping it up.  And that's the end, but just don't end in the middle.  Maybe on the next project you pass, but on this one, if you signed up, see it through.

And lastly, life is worthwhile if you Care.  If you care at all you will get some results, if you care enough you can get incredible results. Care enough to make a difference.  Care enough to turn somebody around.  Care enough to start a new enterprise.  Care enough to change it all.  Care enough to be the highest producer.  Care enough to set some records.  Care enough to win.

Four powerful little words:  learn, try, stay and care.  What difference can you make in your life today by putting these words to work?

To Your Success,
Jim Rohn

Reproduced with permission from the Jim Rohn Weekly E-zine.
Visit jimrohn.com for more info!

15 May 2012

Creating Your Own Life

You are so much more powerful than you give yourself credit for.   Even if it occurs subconsciously, you are fashioning your life to support  the image of who you think you are.  If you see yourself as a helpless victim,  you will attract events and scenarios to support the story of "Poor me, why  does this always happen in my life?"

It happens because you create it.  The universe is simply doing its job of  giving you what you say you want.  Maybe on the unconscious level, you  enjoy the negative attention that being a victim brings, and if you convince the universe that you are a victim, the universe will deliver.  Isn't that a good enough reason to change your negative, self-defeating thoughts into those that exude power and possibility?  Let that victim role go, and start thinking of yourself as a magnificent, powerful, and courageous being.  Then sit back and enjoy the gifts the universe showers on you.  These new, fresh experiences will reflect your healthy, empowered vision of yourself.

Lucinda Bassett

14 May 2012

What "Success" Means to Me

I've seen lots of definitions of success, and the ones that I feel most comfortable with are those that talk about success being a result of doing things for others, of doing things that one really feels called to do, of taking risks and doing the best one can do no matter what the outcome.  As a teacher, I feel a great sense of success when I see a student (or two, even!) "get it," and suddenly realize something very important.  I feel successful when I see a student's writing improve over the course of the year to a point at which the writing is quite good and the student's confidence in his or her writing is very high.

I'm not at all attracted to a type of success that would gain me fame and fortune.  While there are certain advantages to both fame and fortune, I don't feel called in that direction at all.  I feel a calling to work one-on-one with people to help them reach inside and find the talent, the ability, the skills that have been buried for so long.  And when I see that happen, I feel very successful.

The most successful people I've known in life have been those who have followed their callings, their gifts, and have done what their hearts guide them to do.  These people aren't in the news or on the covers of magazines, but they're held dearly in the hearts of people who love them and who appreciate all that they've done for them.  And on the day I die, whether that be tomorrow or forty years from now, I want to look back on my life and feel that I've used my God-given gifts to contribute to the lives of others in ways that have been truly unique to me.

My success doesn't depend upon recognition or reward.  It doesn't depend on financial gain or material wealth.  My success comes as the result of giving all that I can give to people who have need of what I can offer, and doing so without thinking of rewards or recompense.  Because if success is to be the result of giving, then shouldn't that giving be unconditional?

Most people see success as being rich and famous
or powerful and influential.  Others see it
as being at the top of their profession and
standing out from the rest.     The wise see
success in a more personal way; they see
it as achieving the goals they have set for
themselves, and then feeling pride and
satisfaction in their accomplishments.
True success is felt in the heart, not measured

by money or power.  So be true to yourself and
achieve those goals you set.  For success is
reaching those goals and feeling proud

of what you have accomplished.

Tim Tweedie

12 May 2012


Give me wisdom over book knowledge any day.  I've spent many years in college--twelve years as a student and twelve teaching, and I can say without hesitation that I would prefer the company of an unschooled wise man or woman to that of a person who knows much, but feels little.  The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course--many educated people are also wise, and many unschooled people are also unfeeling.  But it seems that the more knowledge we have, the more we tend to look at ourselves as knowing what we need to know, and that couldn't be any further from the truth.

What I need when I talk to people is feedback about my life, about me.  If I'm to advance as a human being and become better (which to me means becoming more useful to my fellow human beings), then I need feedback that helps me to see what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.  I need a wise person to tell me that this person's course of action is ineffective because he or she isn't taking something important into consideration, to tell me that my words were too harsh or too soft for a situation, to tell me that what somebody did to me wasn't at all as I perceived it, but something different entirely.

Most of all, though, I appreciate the examples of the wise--the lives they live and the way they tend to be content with just what they have.  They tend to be much more accepting and understanding, for they see where people are coming from inside--they're able to see past the facades and the attention-getting and know what a person is about.

Wisdom is a quality that I strive after, and I would rather have a pound of wisdom than a ton of knowledge.  It's too late, though--I already have a ton of knowledge, and I'm trying my best to purify it, to take what I need to live a useful life from it and leave the rest behind, so that I may grow in wisdom and thus grow in usefulness to my fellow human beings.  it takes a great deal of maple sap to make maple syrup, and what's not necessary or vital is evaporated as the sap is boiled down.  It's a mistake to think that all of our knowledge is necessary--we need to let some of it evaporate as we search for the wisdom that will most help ourselves and others.

11 May 2012

Thoughts on Forgiveness from Rachel Remen

The baby girl, feeling his attention shift away from her, reached forward and grabbed his nose. Gently he freed himself and continued the sermon. After a few minutes, she took his tie and put it in her mouth. The entire congregation chuckled. The rabbi rescued his tie and smiled at his child. She put her tiny arms around his neck. Looking at us over the top of her head, he said, "Think about it. Is there anything she can do that you could not forgive her for?" Throughout the room people began to nod in recognition, thinking perhaps of their own children and grandchildren. Just then, she reached up and grabbed his eyeglasses. Everyone laughed out loud.

Retrieving his eyeglasses and settling them on his nose, the rabbi laughed as well. Still smiling, he waited for silence. When it came, he asked, "And when does that stop? When does it get hard to forgive? At three? At seven? At fourteen? At thirty-five? How old does someone have to be before you forget that everyone is a child of God?"

Back then, God's forgiveness was something easily understandable to me, but personally I found forgiveness difficult. I had thought of it as a lowering of standards rather than a family relationship.

Rachel Naomi Remen

10 May 2012

What Do I Stand for?

I believe that it’s true that we have to decide over and over just what we stand for in life.  I believe we have to decide constantly because what we think, what we believe, and what we feel changes as we grow older and learn more about life and more about ourselves.  It seems to me as I meet and get to know more older people, I learn how important it is to trust ourselves, to trust our hearts, and to trust our intuition.  And these parts of ourselves can help us to learn just what we stand for in life.
Do we stand for honesty?  Integrity?  Fairness?  Kindness?  All of the above?  None of the above?  We all have certain areas that affect us more strongly than others, certain topics that make us feel more strongly, that arouse our passions, much more than other areas do.  When we learn to recognize what they are and to trust our feelings about them, then we can start to learn what we stand for in life.

It’s hard to conceive of someone standing for the same things at 80 as he or she stood for at 20.  I know that in my life, my thoughts and ideas and passions have changed considerably over the last few decades.  There are certain things that I considered to be extremely important years ago that no longer feel so urgent to me, and other things that are much more pressing.  For example, the tendency to encourage other people was very weak in me when I was younger because I didn’t think that anyone would be affected by my encouragement back then.  Now, though, I realize that it’s important to encourage others because I have no idea at all what will affect them and what won’t.  And there’s a good chance, I’ve learned, that my encouragement will be not only heard, but helpful.

Many people prefer not to stand for anything, choosing instead to allow life to go on without thinking about their own contribution to it all.  And because they never really consider the contributions that they’re making–or could be making–they often end up not contributing at all.  Taking, probably, but contributing, no.

I hope that when the end of my life here on this planet rolls around, I can look back and say that I really stood for something, that I tried to teach others about something very important.  And it won’t matter if what I stood for at 20 was the same as what I stood for in my 60’s–as long as I’ve examined my heart and my conscience and trusted what they had to tell me about where I should stand and what I should do.

09 May 2012

Some thoughts on education

The word education comes from the Latin word educare, which means "to draw out."  We do not teach our children the love of learning.  We do not hold knowledge before them as a powerful tool for personal development.  We don't produce broadly educated, well-rounded leaders for tomorrow.  We teach more and more about less and less.  We don't draw out the individual.  We impose upon the individual--systems and structures.  We don't reverence individuality, we don't treasure it, we stifle it and try to stamp it out.  We don't educate, we formulate.  We abandon the individual in his or her own need and uniqueness and "impose" the same upon all.

We provide an education in specialization.  We produce clones for the modern world.  We throw people into a mold, which we call an education system, to form cogs for the global economic wheel, all the time dangling the golden carrot before them as incentive and reason.

Truth be told, our modern education systems crush the very spirit they claim to instill.

Matthew Kelly

08 May 2012

Things Change, part two

Because of all the changes that have happened completely outside of our control, we find that even the things within our control are different.  Our spending is different, our opportunities have changed, our possibilities for many things are not the same as they were three years ago.  While then we could plan to take a five-day trip to Yosemite, there's absolutely no chance of that now.  Then we could spend our money on things that weren't completely necessary, but now we have to watch every penny.

The main point for us to keep in mind, though, is that this isn't such a bad thing.  When we wake up in the morning, we have a roof over our heads, we have heat, and we have food for breakfast.  I have work that I enjoy to go to.  We take many daytrips, and we do our best to see the things that we've really wanted to see in our area.  Our clothes aren't in tatters, and we're able to afford gas for the car.  So all in all, compared to the vast majority of the human population on this planet, we're doing pretty well.

We also have the chance to seek out change to improve things.  I've found work in an area with a much lower cost of living, and we'll be moving there soon.  The job looks to be much more fulfilling in many ways than my current one, and we're moving to a town that looks friendly and attractive.  We're also hoping that there will be work for my wife there, something that never materialized here.

The change doesn't intimidate us, and it doesn't frighten us.  We'll be fine--we both know that.  I'm good at what I do, my wife is good at what she does, and we both adapt well to new situations.  The most important part for me, though, is that we're both willing to take the risk and move on, as we both see it as necessary.  Staying here would not be a positive thing at all, and the change will help us in many ways.  I know many people, though, who aren't willing to make changes, even when life seems to be telling them rather clearly, "You need to be moving on to something new!"

Older cultures used to be good at looking for signs that the winter was coming, signs that a storm was on its way, signs that the world was changing.  We seem to have lost our ability to look for those signs, though.  In my life, I want to keep my eyes open so that I can see the signs, and then decide to make changes or not based on what I see.  Our world really does talk to us, but we have to have our eyes open to see and our ears ready to hear the messages.  Otherwise, we won't be able to make the changes that really need to be made.

07 May 2012

Things Change

It's fascinating to be living through life with everything changed from a few years ago.  Three years ago, my wife and I had just bought a house, had no credit card debt, and were doing very well.  Then came the layoff at the school where I was teaching, and pretty much everything went to hell in a handbasket, so to speak.  Life went on, but boy did it change.  First of all, we had to foreclose on our home.

Now, I've read about a lot of people who foreclose who simply stay in their house as long as they can.  We didn't want to do that, though, so we moved out as soon as it was clear that we could no longer afford to make payments.  My school was in a small town, and there were no other jobs with comparable pay there.  So we gave it back to the bank as soon as we could so that they could sell it quickly, and we moved into our RV.

After more than four months out of work, I finally found a teaching job, but it was four hours away from home.  My wife and I ended up living 250 miles apart, seeing each other only on weekends and school holidays.  After six months of this, we decided to move to a place where there were more opportunities, so we packed up and moved two years ago.

I did find work, but unfortunately the job was also in a small town, and this time, my wife has been unable to find full-time employment.  So for the last two years, we've been living on the one salary while trying to take care of the debt that we incurred during my unemployment and our move.  (Unfortunately, we had to pay to move twice, as I found a job in a different state than the one we had moved to.)

So for now, we're still pretty heavily in debt and we don't seem to have too many options for raising our income in this area.  For many, many years, I had wonderful credit and I could get any credit card or loan I wanted.  For the past three years, though, we've been living with virtually no credit at all, and very little money.  It's definitely doable, but it is different.  And I'll expand on that tomorrow. . . .

06 May 2012

Words on Awe by Michael Goddart

"Awe" is just a word to denote a quality of spirituality that cannot be described.  It's a noble emotion of wonder.  It's having your mind blown while getting a glimmer of the unfathomableness of God.  It's getting an understanding of who you are, individually and in the larger scheme of things.  It's catching a ray of knowing the answer to where you come from and where you are going.  Getting closer to the answers of these questions is receiving a peek of how exalted things are.  And it's a promise of what can come.

If you believe that you feel awe, even if you're not really sure, just concentrate on it.  Awe is an evolving feeling that becomes more profound and more full of wonder as your spirituality becomes focused and mature.  The answers, as inarticulate as they may be, grow with the gathering of your spirituality.  For now, feel awe if you have any deepening convictions about your spirituality.  These convictions may be that you can come to know yourself, that there is an eternal power that is the All-Knowing Creative Power, that you've had an inkling that you can come to know God.  Whatever convictions come now, love them, and when you ponder these questions, let yourself move with the awe.

Michael Goddart

05 May 2012


I come from a background in which anger and resentment were rather normal.  It wasn't that the people in my life liked being angry and resentful--they just hadn't learned how to deal with their feelings in other ways.  Because of this background, though, it took me many years during my young adulthood to unlearn this pattern, to realize that such thoughts were not only negative, but also harmful.

One of the most important accomplishments in my life has been to learn how to forgive.  I don't always do so quickly enough to save myself a few miserable days, but I have learned to view people's actions in a much more objective light, taking them much less personally.  Usually I see behavior that affects me negatively as a reflection of bad things that are going on in other people's lives, and this helps me to forgive much more easily.  Did that guy cut me off in traffic?  Maybe he's in a hurry because someone's sick.  Did that person talk about me behind my back?  Well, maybe she's feeling insecure about herself, and she has to knock someone down to make herself feel better. Her words don't change who I am.

Being able to see things this way has almost no effect at all on the other people involved in any situation, but it does have a strong effect on me:  I'm able to feel more peaceful, more relaxed, and more able to help others.  I feel that things are okay apart from this one small aspect of my life, and my forgiveness helps me to realize the relative insignificance of this aspect.  I'm not here on this planet to control other people and have them ask for forgiveness when I feel they should do so--the only person's actions and thoughts over which I have any sort of control are my own, and I can forgive if I choose to do so, knowing that doing so helps me.

There's a common misconception that forgiving someone implies that the action that's being forgiven was okay, but I always keep in mind that I'm forgiving the person, not the action.  Hurting other people is always wrong, but we all make mistakes and hurt others.  I'm very thankful that some people in life have forgiven me for some of my actions, so why shouldn't i show the same courtesy to others?  Forgiving doesn't make wrong right or take away responsibility-- forgiveness just says it's not up to me to judge, and I'm not going to hold a grudge against you just because you made a mistake.

04 May 2012


I suppose that if I could choose to be any sort of inanimate object, I might choose to be a lighthouse.  I say that simply because I was just sitting here thinking about a topic to write about and glanced at a calendar I have of lighthouses all over the country.  What a great metaphor the lighthouse is, though–something that provides guidance for others constantly, keeping them safe and sound, just by doing quite simply what it was made to do.  A lighthouse helps sailors find safe passage, and as it does so it’s providing a valuable service to the families of the sailors, the owners of the ships, the people who benefit from the safe passage of the ship. . . all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.

I’d like to think that tomorrow I can shine just as a lighthouse shines, that I can provide guidance and safe passage to people whom I influence in life.  I’d like to think that I have a light that shines for others, a light that they can see and trust and know that it’s there for them whenever they may need it in the future.

A lot of companies and schools use the lighthouse as a symbol, though I’m not quite sure that it symbolizes what they want it to.  After all, doesn’t the fact that a lighthouse is on land mean to the people on the ships “Avoid this place!”?  To me, though, it isn’t the message of the lighthouse that’s important–it’s the light and the trustworthiness of such an important object.

As the song goes, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  In one version of the song, there’s a verse that goes, “I’m not gonna make it shine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  What a wonderful image this is–there’s no need to try to force things to happen how we think they should through our efforts; rather, just being who we are is providing the world with a very valuable asset.  We all have light, but do we let it shine?  Do other people see that light shining in us?  Is it a beacon for others to see and to respect and to be grateful for?  Or do we keep our light covered out of fear of someone else putting it out somehow?

All I know is that when I see a picture of a lighthouse, I see a picture of something that I’d like to be, even if I’m speaking just metaphorically.  I have light and I want others to see it.  Perhaps when they see my light shining, they’ll find the strength to let their own light shine as bright as it possibly can.

03 May 2012

A Role Model

A troubled mother took her daughter to see Mohandas Gandhi,  who was world-renowned for his great spiritual discipline.  It seems  the young girl had become addicted to eating sweets, and her mother  wanted Gandhi to speak to her about this harmful habit and convince  her to drop it.  Upon hearing this request, Gandhi paused in silence  and then told the mother, "Bring the girl back to me in three weeks  and I will speak to her then."

Just as she was instructed, the mother returned with her daughter, and Gandhi, as he had promised, spoke to the girl about the detrimental effects of eating too many sweets.  He counseled her to give them up.

The mother gratefully thanked Gandhi, but was perplexed.  "Why," she asked him, "did you not speak to my daughter when we first came to you?"

"My good woman," Gandhi replied, "three weeks ago I myself was still addicted to sweets!"


02 May 2012

Without a doubt, the most valuable aspect of my life has been the period that I've lived in Europe.  I've spent five years over there--over two in Spain and over three in Germany.  I've also spent four years in the army, and I've lived in every geographic area of the United States.  I've also spent over eight years in college, studying literature (especially world lit), Spanish, Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language, which has also opened up my eyes to many different ways of looking at the world.

These things have been important to me because I've felt my eyes and my mind open up considerably, especially in the way that I'm able to see wisdom in the words of others.  I've learned that there are many wonderful people on this planet, and I've had the great honor and privilege of meeting many of them, though you would have heard of none of them.  But they're people I can learn from, if I but keep my mind open to their lessons, if I but listen--no, hear--when they speak, if I pay close attention when I read their works.

Living in so many places has helped me to see just how differently people from other places and cultures see the world, and just how valid their perspective is, no matter how much it may differ from mine.  People in Spain tend to see relationships differently than people in New England, and the Germans tend to see work differently than people in Arizona.  And that doesn't matter--neither group's perspective is wrong, and neither is necessarily a perspective that others should adopt.

Perspective can cause us to see a beautiful sunset as a boring, ordinary part of daily life, or it can help us to see the beauty in the many "ordinary" things that surround us. Almost everything we see or have access to is a miracle, either in its simplicity or complexity.

The flowers that grow in our gardens have gone through an amazing process of turning from a seed to flowers.  The rivers that flow are fed with water that has gone through an incredible cycle of evaporation, falling as rain, flowing to a certain area where it can join the river.  The fact that I can write these words and put them on the internet so that friends I shall never meet in South Africa and Hong Kong can read them is one of the greatest miracles of our times, yet the internet has quickly become "normal," a tool for businesses to make more money.

But I've recognized something very important--I can refuse to see the world and the things and people in it as "normal"; I can choose to see the marvelous qualities of everything, but I have to work at it, for our societal norms tell us to value conformity and the status quo.  I'll always look for the beauty in trees, the soul in the eyes of the people I meet, the wonder of the flowers that come out each spring, the loveliness of children at play.

And I'll do so because I choose to do so, for those are the important things in life.  I'm not here to make money or become famous--I'm here to love and to live.  If I focus on that and maintain a great deal of responsibility (yes, i will work), then I can't help but live a full life, for there are many more rewards available to those who are easily satisfied and entertained, and I choose to be more than satisfied with the reward of a child's smile or a friend's "thank you."