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Can You Escape Your Cave?

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.

“See human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave.  They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only The Wall in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their head all the way around.” ~ Plato

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

Diversity Beyond Black and White

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.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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

 

The “Us versus Them” Effect

Recent events in our world have left me wondering what happened to the shades of gray in our world. Everything is, pun intended, black and white. It leaves many of us, like me, who live in shades of gray wondering where do I belong in this new paradigm, do I belong? There is a strong message being perpetrated that if you believe in one thing you are obviously against another. For example: you either support law enforcement or you support batman_slapping_robinblack lives matter, you can’t support both; you either support the Standing Rock tribal interests or you support US supplied oil pipelines; you cannot support Donald Trump if you support women, Latinos or Muslims; if you support Hillary Clinton then you do not support the Military; you either support immigration reform or support a great wall construction. I have faith in our humanity that we can dig a little deeper and we are more complex than the Us versus Them Effect allows us to explore.

The list goes on and on but the most important point in my humble opinion is that we have lost our ability to look for what connects us as human brothers and sisters, and instead we are encouraged to focus and judge each other on our differences. Fear has eroded our sense of social empathy, instant gratification has compelled us to judge and react without consideration and contemplation. I am one of those irritating people who have to think about everything. I am open to listen to everyone’s ideas and experience. However, when people give me data that needs to be confirmed I am compelled to check the facts before I form an opinion. It’s the geotechnical engineer in me, I get the soil data and that tells me the information in a small location but not necessarily what is present throughout the entire site. So I use other methods and experience to determine does that small piece of data represent the conditions for the whole site.

I am very concerned about this climate where we encourage people to react quickly, accept information without confirming its validity, judge motives instantly. Where we criticize each other so disrespectfully. I have watched adults criticizing young people harshly for sharing their beliefs because they do not coincide with their own beliefs. So the message that young person receives is “my thoughts are somehow wrong and should not be shared.” That’s not the world I want to foster. I want compassion, kindness, innovation, love and peace. A world where we are encouraged to think for ourselves.

I want to encourage the sharing of information and respectful challenging of ideas. There is an anti-intellectual, anti-science trend I am seeing and quite disturbed about in America. Many members of Congress deny the validity of climate change despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Our culture no longer values education as many other countries do and it is going to have devastating effects for our children and our children’s children. Schools and college’s primary mission used to be to foster understanding and to educate and more and more I see the trend towards training student to pass tests or for jobs. We can do better!!!

I encourage everyone reading this to engage in encouraging reading and discussion about issues and ideas, not online but in person at a coffee shop or the dinner table. Encourage everyone to read challenging books with ideas that may oppose their own, turn off – the computer, the smart phone, the TV. Go for a walk and discuss world events and ideas to improve the human condition. Reach out to someone who doesn’t look like you, does not practice the same religion as you, or subscribe to the same political ideas as you. See where you connect and what you have in common. It’s always easier to criticize or hate a group when you have no personal attachment. Let’s reach out to each other and recognize what connects us where we have mutual goals, dreams and desires to make this world a better place for all. Smile at strangers, bless those you do not agree with. The next time someone says something that causes an unpleasant reaction in your body reflect on that, think about why that is and then think about one redeeming attribute that person or group has, you will be begin your path to a higher place, a place of dignity and truth.

Rather than being with me or against me let’s start a movement ~ let’s find out where we compliment each other, where our combined energy can create good and raise the tide for all.

We had people of all backgrounds coming together – all races, all creeds, all colors, all status in life. And coming together there was a kind of quiet dignity and a kind of sense of caring and a feeling of joint responsibility. ~ Dorothy Height

 

 

What is Your Pace Doing for Your Life?

A recurring theme has been swirling around me lately, PACE, as in the speed at which someone or something moves. I experienced my first worldly nudge about recognizing pace during my book writing process. I am working with Nancy Baumann “The Book Professor”Woman-running-in-autumn and in one of our recent lessons we learned about pacing in our writing. How the structure of the sentences in our writing reflects on the pace of the story. Quick short sentences especially with words called onomatopoeia’s like hiss or swish, convey a fast pace. Whereas, long, descriptive sentences give a sense of a slower more relaxed pace. We learned when each are more appropriate to the story line we are communicating. Hmmmm interesting, since it was my first nudge I found it very helpful information but left it at that.

My next poke about pace came about during a discussion on the seasons, a friend was sharing how she slows her workouts down during the winter months. She told me she follows nature’s pace, as fall approaches she slows her activity level down and tends to cocoon during the winter months, focusing on quieter less strenuous activities. However, as spring starts drawing near she picks up her pace. Her activity reaches its peak during the summer. She was unapologetic about this and said she is simply is following her mammalian seasonal rhythms, I am not exactly sure what a mammalian seasonal rhythm is, but it sounded great to me!

As any good engineer will do, when I see a pattern forming my attention is drawn to it like a moth to the flame. I realized how interesting it is that I had two conversations about pace in one week. I reflected on my own current struggle with pace, prior to 2010 I was at my peak pace professionally, say that 10 times in a row. I was running at high-speed and high-efficiency. Meaning with less effort I could go from 0 to 100 mph. Now with a lot more effort I am still only at 65 mph. At my so-called “peak” I realized I was missing a lot though, as my speed increased my peripheral vision narrowed. Recently I have felt very frustrated that I cannot seem to go at the pace I used to, but I also know I will likely never be at that pace again. I have learned life is not about what is up ahead or behind me, life is all around me at this particular place in this particular time. When running at a rapid pace you can’t experience life you are flitting from one place to another missing the scenery along the way.

So I am adjusting to a new pace, I am also adjusting to a changed landscape. This new landscape is unfamiliar so it will take time to get used to. I have struggled with trust through a series of recent unfortunate events so my pace needs to slow as I gain trust. My trusting nature has given me gifts beyond my imagination it has also led me down some treacherous paths.  So I am working to establish my new pace, which is tied to trust, which is tied to magic, which is tied to fun, which is who I am.

If you can see joy in this very moment regardless of the circumstances of your current situation – you are blessed, you are a success! ~ Marsia Geldert-Murphey

Completion

It always feels good when the job's complete!

It always feels good when the job’s complete!

I am great at starting things, in fact many of my friends and family have asked me to help them with business plans, project plans, house plans anything related to planning or start-up. I have a great passion for the genesis of almost anything.

It truly is hardwired within me. And it is not just projects, it’s true with people too. When I meet someone I am always interested in how they got to be where they are; philosophically, spiritually, geographically, any of the ally’s. There are people who are passionate to tell their story and I should always be paired with them because I am passionate about hearing their story. There are members of our family that are sick and tired of hearing the same old stories from aunts and uncles, I honestly never tire of it. I can’t explain why I just love to hear how they started out, their beginnings.

Contrary to my provenance loving side, I have come to understand through much self introspection, suffering, tears and sleeplessness nights, that I struggle with completion. I am not even sure what completion really means because to me everything is always a process, each moment a new beginning. However, if I am chained to the idea that I am in a repeating cycle and there is no genesis occurring, no new beginning, no new discovery I feel the need to, well honestly, get the hell out of there, so to speak.

So that brings me to the issue that sparked this stream of consciousness, the book I am writing. In the beginning my keyboard was smoking; I could not type the words as fast as my mind was “speaking” them. Eventually, the keyboard sat there forsaken and each time I approached it I looked like a member of a chain gang being forced to break rock with a sledgehammer.

My book is about the process I went through during a series of personal losses most profoundly the death of my father. Several people referred to that period of my life as the “shitstorm”. However, what I have come to realize is the parts of the book where I focused on everyone else; my dad, my uncle, my brother, those were the easiest to write. However, the remaining chapters actually go right to the intent, the purpose of my book, how I navigated these turbulent waters and came out of it albeit cut up, bruised and knocked around but stronger. The back story to me is very important, obviously, but now that I have to get to the essence of the story I am struggling. Why? I guess because now it’s about me, just a woman and her thoughts, as they say.

Please don’t misunderstand I am not this holier than thou person, I can be as self-serving as the next gal, just ask my husband! It’s really about looking outside, it is so much easier than looking inside. That’s why gossip is so engaging let’s talk about everybody else’s faults, but please let’s not talk about mine. It’s interesting I just went through a relationship where it absolutely drove me crazy, I perceived this person as disconnected from their own spirit. Let me make this clear, this is my perception, my reality, nothing more. However, I realize the discomfort I felt in that relationship is because the behavior I perceived is that which I was most uncomfortable with myself.

When I type those words, the words that describe the real feelings and breakthroughs I experienced as I emerged from the shitstorm, I am fully exposed. I have been there before, during the darkest days of the shitstorm I was fully exposed, I felt stripped naked and exposed to the world. The level of vulnerability was so heightened I can actually feel my toes tingling right now, as if I am on the edge of a 100-story building looking down. So I have to put myself back in that very tender place to complete this book. It’s one thing to wander in there unaware, it’s another to trudge back fully aware. As the saying goes I am pulling up my big girl pants, I am going in! There is work to be done and I will complete this book.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. ~ Buddha

Muddy Water

Look Mom at all the amazing things you can see!!

My ontological coach Lynn gave me a reading for my entrance to meditation called Muddy/Clear: the Mirror of the Water by Ira Prograff, it is a message of clarity and I can always use clarity.  Basically when our thoughts are muddled and chaotic everything is fuzzy and we cannot see clearly.  The same is true with muddy water, when the sediment is all churned up you cannot see through the water or get the whole picture.  When we are all churned up we cannot clearly see any situation.  If we can be still, turn off the chatter and just be, clarity manifests, just as when muddy water sits still the sediment settles back to the bottom and the water becomes clear and you can see, clarity appears.

I have been very aware of this reading and the message it conveys as I travel a newly discovered path in my life.  Because this path is unknown to me I am both exhilarated and afraid.  When fear takes over it is really easy to churn up the sediment, it’s also very easy for others to participate in churning up the sediment.  When I am coming from a place of love the exhilaration kicks in and discipline and patience are present to bring forth clarity and peace.  Right now I vacillate between muddy water then to stillness to settle the sediment and clear the waters.  That’s where the patience comes in, coming from love not only applies to others but it applies to how we treat ourselves.  I remember that I need to treat myself with loving kindness as well as the other souls I encounter each day.  I know when other people hurt me it means they are hurting.  So it is also true that the ability to love others reflects the ability to love ourselves.

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now so eloquently described – “Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being.”  In other words all this noise and sediment is just a haze that is covering up our essence, our soul, our presence as conceived by God. I know I have a higher purpose here and through stillness and love I will find the path God has set forth so I am living from the highest of intention and purpose.

So beautiful readers go forth today in clarity and if you feel frazzled by your own thoughts or hurt by the thoughts of another just be still and present.  Take three cleansing deep breaths and hold for a moment at the peak of the inhale and exhale.  Look around you, notice your surroundings really see what surrounds you, where your feet are planted, without labeling any of it, just drink it in, take three more cleansing breaths. Ahhhhh how wonderful.  Be still and you will know peace and love.

“It is the stillness that will save and transform the world.”

Eckhart Tolle

Is Your Control, Out of Control?

I’ve Got it Dad, I’m in Control!

One of the interesting side effects of the past two years of my life is that I learned in a “baptism by fire” kind of way that I am really not in control.  I have, through out my life, tended to be a controlling person.  I believed that bad things happened to people who just did not exert enough control over their own life. Actually as I am typing those words I realize how absurd that sounds but I truly believed it and lead my life with that motto in mind.  I approached each goal with precision and planning, and let me say here that some planning is certainly good, I would not advocate bouncing through life with no intention. 

However, occasionally things would come up that would shake my control but I could compensate in other areas.  So when work or school tended to be out of control (remember this is a flash back and my silly self believed I could control most things) that’s ok I would rigidly control things at home.  My closets, pantry and home office would be in ship-shape and organized.  Likewise if things were out of control at home everything at work would be organized and tidy.  So I could focus on the area that was in control and just sort of drink the kool aid and believe all is well.  My obsessus controlus mode could continue on in fine working order. This was working out well until both my personal and professional life collided in a series of events that rendered me literally out of control in both arenas.  Obsessus controlus tried desperately to snap one of them into shape with no luck at all.  At work I need to convince someone to completely change how they were being so I could function better, sounds easy and reasonable huh!?!?!? In my personal life cancer and strokes were ravaging four of my closest relatives, and I thought completely changing a person was difficult, take on cancer or brain damage you want to realize how little control you have cancer will give you a resounding lesson in lack of control. 

So I began to retreat, what do I do now?  It’s like being the coach of a team that has made it to the playoffs by following a well scripted game plan and the damn plan goes up in flames seconds before the game starts and no one remembers the game plan.  How do you approach the game with no plan?  My first response was flee, get the hell out of there.  I can’t there is a stadium of people sitting there waiting to watch a game and I made a commitment to play, my intention was to lead this team.  Crap, now what.  Frustration was my first, middle and last name during this episode of my life. 

After floundering in what felt like swimming in a pool of caramel, I realized the more I fought it, the more tired I became, the more frustrated and the less able I was to function.  So I began to really look at what I was doing.  I began sharing how I was feeling with trusted advisors, friends, my life coach and I put things out there understanding that once it was out there I could not attach to it or the result.  I found out very quickly I had to develop trust, trust in myself, trust in my creator and trust in the universe.  I had to trust my gut, I had to respect everyone else’s journey as much as I respected my own.  I have also learned that we can only control our mind really everything else is not in our control.  By controlling our thoughts we truly can change the world.

This did not happen over night and I still have to remind myself what I am up to when that old obessus controlus mode kicks in, some days I do better than others and that’s ok. There is a higher plan at work here and I have come to realize the more I try to control the less I am living.  I see people everyday who have that same obsessus controlus mode and because of the path I have travelled I can get caught up in it, it stirs up strong emotions inside me.  Almost like a post traumatic response, I have a physical reaction.  I have to remind myself they have the same right as I did to travel this path to find their way, it’s part of their journey.  The response I have to seeing others in this mode is very similar to how I feel when I see my kids making a choice that I wish they wouldn’t because I know from experience that something undesirable may happen.  However, I also know as long as it’s not life threatening the lessons best learned are through experience and not necessarily tutelage from someone else.

I do have great compassion for my obsessus controlus brethren like a sorority we are connected.  So if you think you are a fellow sorority sister or fraternity brother in Alpha Beta Obsessus Kai here are the top ten signs that you may be a member:

  1. When someone sends you a personal letter you feel obligated to point out the grammar and spelling mistakes.
  2. When someone shares an idea you feel the need to tell them how it could be better or give them an even better idea.
  3. When someone shares a traumatic experience you need to share your own that is slighty more traumatic than theirs.
  4. When someone is planning an event you feel the need to direct them as to exactly how to do it so the event is successful, if they do not follow your directions precisely, you know it could have been better if they would have.
  5. When someone does something completely different from the way you would have done it, you become agitated and irritable and tell them how you would have done it with a strong indication your way is better.
  6. Reject all ideas that do not occur to you as either folly or ideas you have attempted and they did not work.
  7. When things go bad immediately search for someone or something to blame, it cannot be you, you are in control.
  8. You frequently have thoughts that if everyone would just do their job right your life could be better.
  9. People let you down all the time due to their lack of intelligence or motivation, and wish they would model your hard work and aptitude.
  10. You honestly believe if everyone would just do things your way and live life the way you do, life would be a garden of Eden again.
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.  – Buddha
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