Friday, November 14

Make like a tree…

Ok, so I was lying on the back of my car the other day…yes…I said laying ON the back of the car. :-) And I was thinking. OK, really my mind was just free floating and wandering. As I lay there looking up at the sky, I noticed that the tree I was laying under blocked out portions of the sky, but not all the same portions. See, there were layers of branches, some higher, some lower, and they each blocked out a certain part of the sky.

That got me thinking about people, and life. It seems to me that WE as people live a lot like trees do sometimes. We filter our lives and our feelings and our thoughts and everything else through a giant set of layers that block out certain things. And eventually, we get what we call Life.

So Life actually becomes distilled and patchwork as we take out pieces to suit our own filters. I think that’s why certain moments in our lives become SO powerful to us. We experience them without all our filters on.

The sad thing is that you can’t simply deal with all the filters at once and be done with them. See your filters a formed in layers, with each layer unique and different in every way from the other layers. We have layers from every phase of life, baby, child, teen, young adult, adult…etc. We have layers from momentous moments in life, weddings, deaths, births…etc. And we also get layers from those events that seriously impact our lives, mental status, emotional status…etc.

So what does this mean for us? Think of it like life coming through a decanter. Bits and pieces of it get filtered out and you either don’t acknowledge them or don’t deal with them. It also means that in order to start pruning your own personal tree, you’ll need to deal with things that happened all throughout your life and at all the various stages you’ve been through.

The good news in all this? As you strip away each layer’s filter, you can start to get more from the sunshine of Life. And as you start to feel more of Life, it makes things a bit easier when you go to deal with the remaining layers.

Have you ever seen a Master pruning a Bonsai tree? They shape it into the form that it already has. They trim and prune and shape to bring out the beauty that is within. That’s a great image of what you’re going to do here. Your tree has simply become overgrown. We don’t take care of or deal with things as they come, so now we’re standing under the branches of a tree that just might be blocking most of Life’s Sunshine out. The only way for us to reveal our own inner beauty, which exists within each of us already, is to take up the clippers and start pruning your trees branches and letting the light come in.

Wednesday, November 12

Faith of the Heart…

“'Cause I've got faith of the heart
I'm going where my heart will take me
I've got faith to believe
I can do anything
I've got strength of the soul
And no one's gonna bend or break me
I can reach any star
I've got faith, I've got faith, faith of the heart”
– “Faith of the Heart” - Russell Watson

Ok…in the last couple posts, I’ve tried to nail jell-o to the wall. So…let’s be done redecorating for the moment and talk a little bit about how to withstand the waves of shite that will pound over you in this life. :-)

Think you are ready to brace yourself through it all? You might be. I’ve met several people that have an innate ability to weather shite. Of course, they are few and far between. If you happen to resemble the rest of us in this life, then you are woefully UNprepared for, not only the sheer volume but, all the various directions that life will be slinging shite at you. It’s almost like being in the zoo, surrounded by monkey cages on all sides. You never know where the next volley is going to come from.

Is there ever REALLY any way to prepare for the things life throws at you? In all honesty, no there isn’t. How do you prepare for the unexpected death of a friend or loved one? Or perhaps the loss of employment in a single income family? Or even, the hostility and anger that MOST people walk around with boiling right under the surface?

We tend to learn things through repetition. Science tells us that it takes being exposed to new information 3 times before we will completely retain it and it will be usable to us. OK…but the above situations REALLY don’t lend well to repeat performances.

So, then how DO we prepare for the awful things that tend to happen in life?

Well, it seems that the stronger you are in yourself and your core, the better you weather hardship from any source. But I don’t think that’s enough. I think that there are PLENTY of people out there that have pretty good self esteem, and confidence, and all the other things that come from a solid core, and yet, they crumble when something terrible dumps on them. They drown, just like everyone else.

I think it’s because they don’t have a solid Heart. They don’t have that Faith of the Heart that will get them through the absolute worst that life can throw at you. See, Faith of the Heart brings things that a solid core can’t even begin to match.

Peace, comfort, hope, emotional strength, compassion, and many other blessings. These are the true tools to get you through the wave after wave of shit from live. Without a firm foundation of Heart, then the worst that life does will rip through your Heart and soul and leave you fluttering in the breeze.

“OK,” I hear you thinking, “How do I get this Faith of the Heart?” Well…see that’s the trick here. :-)

Faith of the Heart comes after, and really at the same time as, you build a solid core for yourself. One CAN build upon the other and nurture the other along. Your core is all about who you are, in and of yourself. Faith of the Heart is the relationship that you have with your Heart and Soul and THAT interaction with the rest of Life. (Hey, I NEVER said it’d be easy. I KNOW this shit is complex!)

To develop one without the other, while possible, is probably going to hurt you more in the long run, as you’ll come to believe that you can handle anything that comes down the pipe, only to find that your weakest link will be the one life leans on the hardest.

To develop them both, you have to come to understand that YOU are not the ultimate power in Life. There is something greater than yourself. That’s where you’ll find the interaction of Heart and Soul and the power to unify everything into your own life. That’s when you can stand tall and proud, secure in your ability to handle life on any terms it would like to play. And you can proclaim, just like one of my favorite songs…

“Seen all the screaming and fighting
Lived through the screaming and lying
I'm fine, you can't deny
I'm unbreakable
I'm invincible
Come on bring it to me
Cuz I'm always gonna be
Come on give it to me
Cuz I'm always gonna be unbreakable”
– “Unbreakable” - Bon Jovi

Monday, November 10

Happiness is…

“Have you ever felt so out of place
That the smile on your face
Was to keep from cryin
I don’t know how we get so out of touch
But I don’t want much
Just to find out
What happiness is”
– “Happiness Is” - Verve Pipe

Ah yes…today I’m going to try to tackle another of those pesky nonspecific, emotional, nailing jell-o to the wall, feelings. :-)


Ya feel it? Ya know what it is? Ya think?

So, let’s get Mr. Webster’s minimal contribution out of the way first. Shall we?

Happiness is a: a state of well-being and contentment: b: a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

Yup…well, that’s not much help is it? Well-being and contentment or a pleasurable, satisfying experience…OK…so, then even bad sex could count as happiness. Right?

OK…all kidding aside…what the hell is happiness? I mean, it’s part of the American Way, isn’t it? So how can we pursue something that we haven’t a clue as to what it is? How do you know when you’ve got it? And more importantly, how can you keep this fickle bitch around for longer than a few moments?

We’ve all experienced happiness. Don’t even try to tell me you haven’t. Oh, I’ll grant you, it may have been a LONG time since you feel you’ve been really happy, but we all know the feelings that happiness brings. There’s the warm glow that surrounds your heart. The smile that simply appears on your face. You feel at peace and as though you were a part of something SO much grander than your own self. For the moment…you’re on top of the world. Then, of course, the world yanks you back down to the ground and your happiness skitters away like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

Does it HAVE to be this way? What is it about the human condition that prevents us from living in a state of happiness for our entire lives?

The answer to the first is easy. No, it doesn’t have to be this way. It IS possible to have happiness as a constant companion. (And you don’t have to be “special” for that to happen either!). The second question in brief is simple to answer, but it’s much harder to detail and put into practice.

The problem that we as humans face each and every day that is a stumbling block to our continued happiness is, in truth, ourselves. We live as though we deserve to be happy and deserve for everything to go as WE plan it. K…let me tell you a little joke here.

Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell Him YOUR plans for the day.

Life very rarely works out the way we plan it. Why? Well…there are these plan disrupters called “other people” that just go around waiting to fuck up every plan you make. :-) It’s called life and we all live within the same environment when it comes to life. Your actions affect everything around you, as do everyone else’s actions. There is contention when actions result in contrary results. And, sadly, we humans are proud and vain enough to believe that our way is the best in most all situations.

I’ve talked before about trying to live life without any expectations. That’s a big challenge, but it’s got some far reaching results if you can succeed. One of the biggest is a lot more happiness in your life. Expectations are like the big white elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about them, especially if they aren’t being taken care of. And a pissed off white elephant is nothing to laugh about. :-)

We have had some AMAZING examples of people that have moved past the need to live with expectations and I believe that they truly had happiness as a constant companion. Even when they went through more serious shit than you or I will ever deal with. Who are they? To name a couple right off the top of my head…Gandhi and Jesus.

Gandhi lived a life that was in all honesty, beyond the mundane of this life and world. He was profound in his dealings with all others. Sure, he wanted the best for everyone around him, even those that were attacking him, but he only expected them to deal with their own shit in their own way. He lived his life with an easy peace, tangible grace, overwhelming love, and pure happiness.

Jesus knew what His path was to be and how it was going to end. I thank God that I don’t. And yet, He still lived and loved and only wanted the best for those around Him. Even the men that would eventually kill Him. Read a bit of His story. He lived with total peace, unconditional love, and complete happiness. He smiled easily and always had kindness for everyone.

Now, don’t think I’m saying that theirs are the only ways to a life of happiness. But understand that the world’s view of happiness (Money and stuff) won’t cut it for lifelong, lasting happiness. I think that the parallels between Gandhi and Jesus (peace and love) are the real source of complete happiness. Find yourself, work for peace in your life, and learn to love unconditionally. These are the keys to happiness. And they are DEFINITELY within your reach.

Be sure to wave, I’m the guy over there that is happy and smiling like an idiot. :-)