Category Archives: Spiritual Journey
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave he teaches us to question every assumption we have about the reality we call “real.” The power of his message was encouraging a way to develop the skill of thinking for yourself and discovering your own unique solutions to any problem.
When you trust no one life is hard. When you deceive yourself of your own truth you lose connection to your intuition. This results in a life and the life of those you influence filled with worry and fear. We all become habituated to certain roles and beliefs in life, bound by invisible chains that keep us from some turning our heads and minds in another direction.
Rather than focusing energy on blame or a feeling of superior beliefs, can we embrace curiosity? Look at great discoveries that advanced our condition. The wheel, electricity, and penicillin just to name a few. Were these advancements the result of a mind entrenched in annoyed complaints or judgement of others? Can young minds develop to further advance our race and experience in an environment fed by pained annoyance? Or a feeling of superiority?
When I examine the life of people who’s energy and spirit seem to breathe life and grow almost effortlessly. They are like the plants that simply live off of air no soil or water needed. I see people who embrace wonder and curiosity, they talk about ideas and experiences not people. What they impart I want to be more like they add to our pool of knowledge and resilience.
Our greatest scientists and inventors had curiosity coursing through their veins. Curiosity leads to tolerance, noncritical attitudes, unconventional thinking, and yes even duct tape! A personal favorite invention of mine.
Consider a world where we can hold our differences and still be one; you, me, us. Have you considered the benefits of engaging in the world as a curious observer seeking wonder? Creating an environment that fosters a love of learning and a hunger to know more.
By remaining in our caves and chained to past roles, beliefs and solutions we are being taught to fear and worry and that we cannot grow and expand the world for ourselves or anyone else. If we study and contemplate for ourselves and discovered our own unique solutions to any challenges we face, can you imagine the possibilities, the potential that could be unleashed!
Knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. And that reasoning needs to be gained through our own journey of wonder and curiosity, not from the shadows in a cave, chained and bound through our own complicit imprisonment. Venture out risk the sights of a new world, go on an intellectual journey and discover beauty and meaning by thinking for yourself, not what others tell you is reality. You will be reluctant to go back once you adjust to the light outside of the cave.
“Your thoughts have the power to control; our being, our emotions, and the way we view the world that surrounds us. If you don’t constantly re-think what you think of on a daily basis, how do you ever expect to evolve into a being of; wisdom, truth, understanding, love, and above all, to be there for others?”
― Martin R. Lemieux
I was in a business class for entrepreneurs and the instructor said business owners frequently pay dumb tax and her job was to lower ours as much as possible. Dumb tax is the price we pay for what she characterized as “dumb mistakes”. I thought the whole notion of paying a dumb tax analogy was really clever. I have paid heavily toward the dumb tax in many areas of my life not just in business. And I know I am not alone.
Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash
I feel we are currently paying a hefty dumb tax through our current apathetic response to norm violations. When I was growing up my elders would teach and reinforce for me important benchmarks, those unwritten but understood rules of society, that preserve order. I am not referring to social or traditional customs but the understood code of conduct regarding vices like the seven deadly sins; hubris, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and laziness. I was taught growing up this was God’s way of running a morally balanced universe, and that seemed reasonable to me. I find it fascinating and deeply concerning many of our elders and leaders today seem willing to pay dumb tax or eagerly impose that tax upon us to pay. Mistakes manifested by indifference or disregard for these very standards, that keeps our universe scrupulously equalized, carry a massive tax for that indifference.
Photo by Caleb Stokes on Unsplash
This all puts a great onus on all of us indvidually to to be more discerning about the source, author and dates of information we are consuming. The use of algorithms in social media sites predict what you want to see and forward that to reinforce what beliefs you evidently hold. Its like taking a car out on a race track running a quick lap and assuming you’ve gone somewhere when you actually end up right back where you started. We are all running in circles and paying high taxes, even those who oppose all taxes, the dumb tax does not discriminate we all pay it. Rather than worrying about the danger from others or others insulting us, lets not insult our own intelligence and be our own source of danger.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Diversity is not just about race, culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, political affiliation, economic systems, sexual identity, social status, geography, language, philosophy, hobbies, education, heritage, life experience or world views it’s about all of these and and so much more.
It’s also interesting to see corporations have discovered that in their C-suites and board rooms a monoculture is not good for business. If you surround yourself by sameness it does not cultivate an idea-rich, innovative environment, so boards actually try to balance points of view, talents and personalities to maximize their potential for success. It is ironic that in their own board rooms they see the value of a polyculture, and why? Because they want growth and enhance the prosperity for their company’s shareholders and bottom line. Studies have a shown a rich corporate multicultural tapestry is powerful, sustainable and attracts the best and brightest. And yet these same corporations ask our farmers to engage in the very model they avoid in their own corporate board rooms – monoculture factory farming and monoculture crop production. They encourage a monoculture political climate through financial support focused on single-issue endorsements. For many executives in this conundrum view the morality of this approach as transactional leadership. Meaning following the decision that serves the immediate desired benefit rather than committing to a viable long-term mission or vision.
The history of the craft of tapestry over the centuries supports this philosophy of diversity. As many tribes, clans, customs, rituals, ceremonies, ideas and experiences were brought together over the years new materials were combined; wool, silk, linen, cotton, gold, and silver and new dyes were incorporated. The more diverse the tapestry the more durable the tapestry proved to be. These tapestries have survived in vibrant color and great condition for thousands of years. They combined new approaches, ideas and materials to produce a more enduring result that was intended to last beyond the weavers and recipients lifetimes.
Embracing diversity from this perspective is adopting the perspective of the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, philosophers, healers, and architects that forged the building blocks of the world we live in now. Escape the pull to sameness and invite an idea-rich mosaic that will sustain us for lifetimes and pull the magic out of us all!!!
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilizations ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Diversity: The art of thinking independently together ~ Malcolm Forbes
I am what some people graciously call unique and the less gracious among us call odd. I always seem to welcome challenging situations. Rather than trying to hypothesize what would be the “right” way to react to a situation, I generally react from my gut and intuition. I do listen to others characterization of my behavior and will attempt to adjust as necessary if I feel it is consistent with who I am. However, I began to realize my rainbow sherbet life was slowing becoming bland vanilla with too much adjusting.
I am very open and honest, my motto: is TMI a bad thing?!?! I trust easily, and yes, I have been hurt because of it. I try to live a vulnerable life. It can be scary sometimes, but I really cannot see living any other way. So, what you see is what you get whether you see me at a project site, the beach, with my kids, with friends, with family, with co-workers. I also try to respect others journey. I don’t feel the need to judge where others are at in their life, a beautiful thing happens when you judge less and live more. Everyone can bring you wisdom, joy and life lessons.
I suffered a traumatic brain injury in a terrible accident a few years ago and had to face my toughest challenge, mounting a rehabilitation and recovery plan. As part of my recovery I had to become very dependent upon others, not a concept I am used to or enjoyed. I have been extremely blessed because I have so many family and friends who care about me and helped me through that difficult time. I received many gifts from that accident, one was a greater appreciation and perspective for others in a similar situation. It’s a gift to have some idea of what it is like to walk in another’s moccasins.
In addition to the amazing love, support and kindness I received then and still receive now is a lot of advice about my recovery, which is a mixed blessing. When you are struggling to get back on track after any major disruption in life, whether it’s a traumatic injury, death of a loved one, or loss of a job, it can be very difficult to navigate and understand your path. So I thought about the principle referred to as Occam’s razor – the basic watered-down definition is simple is better. And I like simple solutions, simple is less stressful for me, easier to navigate and understand. I see people who have their work persona, their home persona and their church persona etc…. honestly, I am just not that talented or able to pull that off, and honestly I just don’t have the desire. So now people who knew me before the accident say I have lost my filter. It’s more than that, I have lost the need to be anything other than what I truly am I have gained the ability to say and do what I truly believe. There is less burden in living this life when you don’t have to carry the load of judgement, worry and fear. Unburden yourself by truly fulfilling your curiosity, speaking your truth and enjoying your wonder. Or be simple and odd like me!
Cherish and allow your authentic self to be experienced by all you see.
“The greatest challenge in life is to be our own person and accept that being different is a blessing and not a curse. A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values. A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited.”
I have known many people who have been forced to take a path less traveled through betrayal, illness, loss, or injury. When I saw their lives being derailed I felt a strong
empathetic reaction and tried to provide any support I could. However, there is no lesson better learned than the one you experience first hand. And this is where I was taught the most profound and painful lesson of my life. I was fortunate or unfortunate enough, depending on your opinion, to experience a drastic unexpected turn that shook the foundation of my life. How did I get here? I took a very mundane trip on a hotel elevator one beautiful sunny day that ended with me in a coma with a traumatic brain and spine injury and my family being told to make necessary arrangements because this may not end well for me. As you may suspect since you are reading these words, the worst did not happen, I survived. The path since that time has been both heartbreaking and heartwarming. The heartwarming moments were the friends and family that mobilized to help me and my family through my rehabilitation and recovery. The heartbreaking moments are the debilitating pain I have suffered from since the accident, the loss of pleasurable pastimes and the drastic change in my career trajectory. I owned my own company, I was a runner and ran several times a week with a group of marvelous women who had become more than running buddies they were my emotional support system. I was a lover of food, my guilty addiction was binge-watching the food network. I own a BMW motorcycle and loved to go for rides with my brother and friends. Not only did I suffer brain trauma but I also suffered spine trauma that has required two surgeries to repair the damage. I have not been able to run since the accident, I have been told by the medical experts I should not ride a motorcycle again, according to the doctors I cannot afford another head injury. I have completely lost my sense of smell which has affected the flavors I experience. So the foods and drinks I enjoyed before do not hold the same pleasure now. I sold my company, my recovery demanded my focus and required an abrupt career path change.
These adjustments due to my unexpected turn, while regrettable, are trivial when all is said and done. But the adjustment I did not anticipate is the shifting sands of my support system. Two friends that were my stalwarts through this whole event both relocated out-of-state. Their sudden absence was difficult for me and my family. That coupled with the more subtle shifting sands of friends connected to specific pastimes and activities I can no longer participate in has been disorienting and disquieting. As a result, I have come to understand the inherent voluntary nature of friendship that makes it subject to life’s whims and unexpected turns. This path was unforeseen and has required me to release expectations of myself and others, which admittedly is a work in process. I have friends who have put me up on a tenuous pedestal as an inspiration and I have friends who have chastised me for infractions of judgment. Both are uncomfortable realities of my new path. Change is generally distressing for all, those riding out the storm as well as the onlookers. My ask for you dear reader – be gentle with yourself and others embroiled in change. There are many people traveling unexpected paths and they no longer fit in the box they have been dutifully building for themselves. Therefore to view or deduce them from your own constructed framework or ethos will prove frustrating for all.
I refer to us “unexpected path pilgrims” as phoenixes. A phoenix attains new life by arising from the ashes of its forebearer. There are many of us out there, for those who love the phoenixes in your life, understand the phoenix no longer has their rigid framework, it was obliterated. There is a blessing in that glorious cacophony as well as turmoil. So relating to your phoenix with your own rigid framework will be disappointing. You can both grow from this experience and peek outside your own cage and search for connections in unlikely places not previously explored. If you are only drawn to people who see and experience the world as you do, and one of those conformists suddenly takes you out of your comfortable allegory, it’s scary. Your phoenix may no longer fit in the story you have created. I encourage you to explore a new narrative. I have always loved mosaics, the beautiful randomness of divergent colors, shapes, sizes, and flow that come together to paint a beautiful image is a wonderful example that a change in path or perspective can lead you to an unexpected and powerful result.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading ~ Gautama Buddha
There is a belief among the Lakota people, of a very powerful and important person called the heyoka or as they were called by early European anthropologists, “clowns,” who misunderstood their contrary behavior and role.
Because they use their powers to help their people, they are held in great reverence. The heyoka is a lightning bolt that cuts to the truth in an uncomfortable way by inspiring confusion or anger by not following the rules and asking difficult questions. Ultimately their role is to inspire others to a higher place. Being a heyoka is not an easy path, and someone does not “become” a heyoka but is so from birth, they are essential to the sustainable functioning of a tribe.
Essentially by doing the opposite of what is accepted behavior, it teaches the tribe moral behavior by achieving a better understanding of their own foolishness, hypocrisy, and ignorance.
I have been thinking about the heyoka a lot lately, and their role to help us confront our own demons so we may reach a higher calling. I see so many people in disbelief that we are in such a confusing time in our world. Where the social norms we used to follow no longer seem to have a place in our society. People are focusing on what divides us, particularly by using labels. In Lewis Carroll’s book “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There,” Alice walked through the wood of no names, where there are no individual names and no awareness of qualities that set them apart from others. Alice loses her identity and meets a fawn who also forgets its identity and accepts Alice completely and fearlessly. There are no distinctions in this place between human and animal, self and other. The eradication of distinction allows their universe to expand.
Rather than apply labels to dehumanize others’ unconventional behavior, or to make us feel “right” wouldn’t it be magnificent if we used this wisdom to recognize our connectedness. Recognize what we are feeling when we see, read or hear a message by another and how it relates to our own fears, beliefs, and misunderstandings. Labeling is extremely divisive and distancing. Instead of our tendency to separate from each other by applying labels, what if we listen to each other and our unique perspectives. Labels smear your glasses so you will never be able to see the person or their perspective clearly. When we label or base our opinion of a group based on religion, race, gender, sexual identity or political affiliation we have merely stunted our own growth which stunts our collective growth. It is powerful when we can discuss ideas or approaches without labeling or deciding the worthiness of the person in the discussion.
We are barraged with messages of what to think and believe. What is true. Who is good or bad. May I suggest instead listen to your intuition, your gut so we can learn to trust our instincts again rather than seeking from others what is true. And our truth may not conform to others and may have aspects that conform to those who despise each other. Heyoka’s are a powerful teacher and while they taught through contradiction and satire they were honored because of the value they brought the tribe.
“I am a fierce combination of confusing contradictions that add up to magical possibilities.” ― Unknown Author
My wish for humanity this year and moving forward is the ability to gracefully
and respectfully address, challenge or confront ideas, NOT people. Many people engaged in discussions with a compelling argument on opposing sides, rather than a thoughtful discourse on ideas use the statement “you are……, he/she is………they are………” which is frequently followed by a label, insult or disrespectful moniker. We determine the worth of the ideas by the moniker or label we attach to the person. The judgement we use determines the value we assign to the idea. How limiting and suffocating! We are all let down by the potential power of the moment when people are attacked and diminished rather than a healthy vetting of the idea or philosophy. Unfortunately the recent election in America has seemingly given permission to this manner of communication. Please be aware that assigning blame to any particular person, party or persuasion, is not important and ill advised, a wise elder I know says, stay focused on the signal not the noise. Focusing on the noise, which our ego will compel us to do, will entangle us in a quagmire of stagnation and drudgery. So let us focus on the signal instead and ascend to a more satisfying and expansive world by concentrating on possibility, potential, courage and abundance.
We all have an important decision to make henceforth to truly affect what kind of world we want to manifest for each other; our children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters. We have to resist becoming idle in our comfort zone or paralyzed by our fears. So this year dear readers consider as part of a New Year’s resolution to fly towards a life of exhilaration and authenticity. Let us be mindful in all our interactions and observations to advance each other. Remember this simple approach in our communications both written and verbal; is it true, is it necessary, it is kind, and will it improve humanity.
We all have the ability and power to create our own journey and in turn impact the journey of others. So it is up to us how our journey will be, we can choose a rugged or a flowing path. Things will happen that effect us, but how we perceive these events and take action from there is our choice. Speak up when doing so advances our humanity. When engaged in a challenging discussion scrutinize the idea not the person. Try to avoid “I” or “You” statements, remember the vision of humanity is to focus on we and us. Look for common ground when areas of conflict appear remember the strong foundation we share first and then work through the conflicts. When we see injustice or unkindness be courageous speak up for our vision of humanity. Let us celebrate and spend time with what is refreshing and rejuvenating in our community and lives. Let us encourage fellowship and kindness. Each day focus on what supports this vision, the signal, rather than what doesn’t, the noise. We all seek belongingness and to sustain a peaceful and thriving existence we have to find ways to advance the feelings of acceptance to each other while also advancing our cleverness.
Let us all transform and break out of our cocoons of fear and spread our wings to create a humanity of oneness!
If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other ~ Mother Teresa
From a very early age I have always been fascinated by the human condition. Why some people can face incredible hardship and come out stronger more centered and at peace while others literally self destruct. What is the secret?
I believe it all comes down to what you tell yourself. Those little voices in your head. I have become very mindful of the tapes I play in my head, and notice when they are not helpful. I want to succeed but many times my thoughts are feeding fear and failure. My cousin told me, you have to put a bubble around negative thinking. Now I will admit this sounds crazy, but I get it! Putting a bubble around negative thoughts is not burying your head in the sand, it’s actually like applying sunscreen at the beach. The damaging rays are beating down so you apply a barrier. I need to develop a barrier to those damaging thoughts.
It’s interesting how hurt I am when someone else says or does something I feel is negative. Yet internally I will “take myself out to the wood shed” constantly without reproach. Unfortunately I am my most ruthless critic. I am very quick to forgive others and move on but I do not give myself the same forgiveness.
I know when the voice in my head attacks me or anyone else it is not my highest self. When I am aligned with my highest self and live in alignment with grace, love and compassion the path is gentle. We can use our power of choice to choose our thoughts, to choose our path, to choose our reality.
I see so much self-induced misery in this world. Be mindful of your thoughts what are they telling you? Have you become captive to your negative thoughts? When you listen to those negative thoughts what manifests in your life? Watch the people you choose to surround yourself with, do they facilitate alignment with your highest self? Are you drawn to discussions about people or ideas? Do you focus on gratitude or grievances?
Try an experiment for one week pay close attention to your internal tapes, when your thoughts become negative gently interrupt those thoughts and think of one thing you are grateful for, it can be as simple as being grateful you are alive. Continue each time to replace your negative thought or grievance with an acknowledgement of gratitude. See what happens and share your experience here.
Take tender loving care of your thoughts, they will guide your life and your experience in this world. You have dreams to manifest let your thoughts lead the way.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein
Being an entrepreneur in the business of consulting engineering has always been an incredible journey for me. The freedom to choose a particular path, the creative energy devoted to developing a great team, the excitement of watching exceptional people rise to the occasion. These are the aspects of the business that have always held the highest appeal for me. However, there is a side to the business that is a slippery slope for me and I find myself disenchanted each time I encounter it, I call it the “hobnob façade”. We’ve all seen it and to be honest I have participated in it in the past, and each time I experienced a very unsatisfactory feeling afterward. So what is the hobnob façade? It goes something like this:
“So how is business going?” Says Dean Goldberry, CEO of Initech Corp.
“Fantastic, we are blazing new trails, can’t seem to count the money fast enough it’s pouring in so quickly.” Says Earl Lee Riser, President of Dunder Mifflin, Corp.
“We are too, this level of success was really inconceivable to me,” Dean adds enthusiastically.
Earl responds, “we should get together and see how we can join forces and conquer the world of paper and data.”
“Absolutely, I will get in touch with you in the next couple of weeks and we will formulate a plan to seal our deal,” Dean says.
“Well….(as Earl awkwardly fumbles with his phone) I need to get going my wife just text me and our dog desperately needs a flea bath I am the only one who can do it. Let’s get together over a grande sugar-free vanilla latte soon, I’ll call you.” Earl declares as he hastily power walks to the door.
This is a dramatization of real events, the names were changed to malign the guilty, no lattes were actually harmed in the making of this dialog.
All silliness aside, this is a very real, albeit heavily embellished, side of the business that is not consistent with my way of being in this world. I feel the most powerful, the most in sync in this world when I am being honest, kind, patient and brave. I also like to have fun, so I will go along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and add silly to that list. I try to measure my words and actions by those benchmarks. It’s so interesting as I have become more successful in the realization of my intent, life simplifies and my relationships have transformed. I find myself attracting like-minded souls. The hobnob façade, which used to repulse me, has become a practice of observation and presence. The presence to know I am up to something else, and the compassion to recognize others are on their own journey which has nothing to do with what I am up to. In other words I’m OK and they are OK.
I notice, particularly on social media, this overwhelming need by many to engage in the repulsion of others, I get it, I have done the same in business. I invite us all to consider a new thought, a new way of looking at it, and recognize what bothers you, be present to it and make your choices from there. These moments of repulsion are not an invitation to lay down and roll in that same mud puddle, they are an invitation to be present, to recognize where you are being pulled or repelled from and make a choice from that place. Always, always, always go back to intent and harmonize your thoughts AND your actions, your intention AND your words. Peace out.
“Great intentions become tragic actions when delivered without careful thought” ~ Michael Dooley The author of, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.