Saturday, December 31, 2016

50% or Less - the political standard

How would you handle learning that a friend told you the truth less than 50% of the time?
What if you placed an order with a company and they provided 50% of what you paid for?
What if your child got 50% on their next test at school?
During this last election cycle, fact checking revealed that the best of those running for office provided accurate information and made accurate statement 50% of the time. The BEST was a mere 50% truthful and accurate. Our next president was well below even that low.
When did we lower our standards so low? At what point in our history did we decide that politicians lie and that's ok? Or is it that our population has simply gotten lazy and we don't even look for truth any longer?
It's really important that we seriously discuss and debate approaches to problems. If we don't even know what the truth is regarding the problems in the first place, we have no hope of achieving rational and reasonable solutions.
If there is one thing we should all agree on, it's that 50% is a terrible standard. No one would accept getting just 50% of the pay they should. No one would accept an employee showing up 50% of the time or doing 50% of the work assigned to them. You can't drive a car with 50% of the parts needed to make it run. A book with 50% of the pages ripped out is not going to make much sense.
Why are we accepting a leadership standard that's 50% accurate or less
If we want a greater nation, we have to set greater standards. We had better start with ourselves and our own ability to get to the facts of matter. We seem to be straying further and further from that. Worse is the indication that a large percentage of our population seems to actually hate truth because it fails to fit the inaccuracies they have embraced. We have to break this cycle fast. It's truth that sets us free. Anything other enslaves and destroys us.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016? Preparing to be MORE amazed....

Do you love New Year's celebration?
It's a bitter time. We look back over the past year. Something is lost. We have lost someone or something. The human experience can be filled with pain.
It's a sweet time. We look back over the past year. Always we have much to be thankful about that we can carry with us into the new year. The human experience can be filled with joy.
As we greet the new year we measure the before and the after. What were the markers of your 2016 life? What is the promise of your 2017 life? What is the bitter of the past year and the sweet to carry forward?
I celebrate each new year with anticipation of this time of personal reflection. Beyond our control, there will always be loss. But what did I desire to achieve at this time last year? What did I believe could happen? What did I create as my 2016 focus and what did I actually do? Am I in a better place due to my choices and my efforts? Have I created a path that will lead in the direction I want for 2017?
I love to enter a new year prepared to be amazed next year at this time. If, indeed, I am amazed, the year goes on my list as a very good year. If I can describe a year as "before" and "after", it's a big year. This has been a BIG year in joyful ways.
A year ago I had a different job - one I had known for some 20 years. It's a job I loved. But the culture above me had changed drastically in recent years and that culture did not align with my values any longer. At this time last year, I wanted something that better aligned with my vision but lacked the confidence to cut the ties of "certainty" and simply go for it. At this time last year, it was just a seed of desire. I see now that seed was just one among many seeds planted in previous years. In 2016, the garden suddenly bloomed. Looking back, it seems like magic but it wasn't just magic. It was five years in the making with focused effort.
Five years ago, music started on Holly's front porch. Five years ago, I started making funny, funky, simple instruments in the basement. Being the sales/marketing guru she is, Holly started marketing what we were doing. While I planted a handful of seeds, she planted more. Those seeds grew. Websites, social media, photos, video.... Our little musical endeavor grew.
And then she grew another vision. "If I can do this for us, I can do this for others." And she did.  At the time, she had a different job - one she had loved for nearly 20 years. But she had a new vision - one she could drive and grow. That was 2 1/5 years ago. Her huge "before" year was a little while ago. That's when her years of working for someone else ended and she started Gibbons Business Solutions (GBS). This time last year she was saying we needed to be collaborating full time. This time last year, there was a tiny whisper of a seed that we could pursue our musical passions while growing the GBS marketing company - full time - together.
Seeds grow in the most magical way imaginable. This time last year I would not have believed that I would be working full time with a music store and my own editing suite in a loft above in my own home town! I could not have imagined last year that I would be meeting with and collaborating with such talented people - visionary people - and feeling so valued. Seeds grow in the most magical ways.
I am loving celebration of this new year. 2016 will always be a marker year. I am thankful and so very much looking forward to the 2017 celebration expecting that it will be every bit as awesome! I am prepared to be amazed - Again and again.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Honorable Christmas Message

One of the things I believe most Americans actually have agreement on is the sense of honor. We can see ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with like minded people working to achieve a common goal. I believe a vast majority of Americans have a strong desire to be honorable and to achieve honorable things for their community and for the nation.
Look around you. Consider all the people you know. What are they trying to achieve in their lives? Most love their family, their community and their nation. Look around you. It does not matter what ethnicity, what age, what income, or what political party they belong to. They are all trying to achieve something more. They want something better. If they are struggling, they are more focused on their family and immediate needs. If they are doing a little better, they are more community focused. If they are doing a little better, they are more nationally focused. They are all trying to achieve something more. They want something better. We all want something a little better.
I believe in a gospel truth and believe very strongly that it is the core of the message of Jesus. It's best described in this song that is, in my humble opinion, the essence of honor.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Am I a "Liberal"?

Liberal! It's a word that's tossed around a lot these days. And it's a label assigned to me by many.
Should I embrace it or define myself?
As one of my sisters said long ago, I'll only wear sensible shoes. No heels for me. I will dress conservatively. Nothing provocative for me. I'm frugal with money. Nothing extravagant for me. I have no need for fancy cars, fancy hair do's, or fancy clothes. Mink coats and BMW's are not my style. I don't need a big title or a big bank account. I don't need a big house. I'm not impressed by riches and material things. It seems to me, conservatives are impressed by these things.
Am I liberal? I guess I'm liberal about taking risks about people. I'm liberal about inclusivity. I'm liberal about service to others. I'm liberal in believing if I have enough, I then have plenty to share. I'm liberal in believing that what I share will return to me in dividends, not in material things but in something that matters more. I'm liberal in trust and belief.
I've been wrong. I've trusted and believed and been treated badly in return. I've been "taken" from and I've had kindness met with rebuff. I've offered empathy and had something other returned.
Ahh but those many, many times I've been right were so much sweeter! And they so outnumber those other times that it's those dividends that matter to me. I have also offered gifts without expectation to know the outcome. Those dividends don't show up in a bank account or in any material way but I know them. My spirit knows them. Those dividends count where it matters most.
I am liberal in my risk of trust and belief in better outcomes for people. I am liberal in spirit. I will continue to believe. I will continue to seek a path of better outcomes for all - even the least of these. I don't need much for myself. In that way, I am conservative. In being conservative, I find I have plenty. As I have plenty, I have much to liberally share. That's how I plan to be. So, liberal it is. No, I'm conservative so I can be liberal in spirit. It is in spirit, I give.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Russian Hackers?

Did the Russians hack the DNC and/or Republicans with a motive to influence our election?
We know someone was doing some hacking and provided some of their collection to wikileaks. And it appears the CIA has additional information leading them to believe they have, at least some, evidence as to the culprits. Should we take this seriously? Should it be further investigated?
If we focus purely on the implications of this election, it's serious enough to cause concern but there is a much greater concern. How vulnerable is our entire cyber infrastructure to hacking? No matter who the hacker is, Wikileaks, the Russians, or a 400 pound guy in his bed in New Jersey, how vulnerable is our entire cyber infrastructure? What danger does that pose in every realm of our society - corporate, banking, the stock market, health care, small business websites, your personal "smart" devices, etc?
The next round of terrorism may not be using the traditional weapons. In fact, they are probably already developing their hacking skills. We need to get really smart about protecting ourselves from cyber attacks.
Should we be taking hacking of every kind seriously? You Bet! And we had better get to know who and how.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Lay back and enjoy it"

In 1981 I was living in Spokane, Washington where a series of rapes had remained unsolved for several years. A journalist asked the Police Captain what a woman should do if she was attacked by a rapist. His answer was "lay back and enjoy it."
When someone says "suck it up" shut up and sit back as this new president rapes the county, I feel the same outrage I felt in 1981. This cannot be remotely compared to the election of Barack Obama or anything his administration attempted or actually did.
This next president is setting up a totalitarian regime. And while his followers are lapping up deranged false news stories with full belief they are true, he is expressing desire to control actual journalism. His staffing choices are beyond bizarre and promise to undermine the very departments they are charged to head.
His motives are clearly power and greed. He's quickly lining his pockets and aligning his global business dealings to build an empire for himself. He will undermine democracy and defy the constitution to achieve his goals.
No, we should not "suck it up", shut up and sit back quietly as this new president rapes the country. We need to call it what it is and tell it how it is. This is not a normal and decent person. This is not a normal transfer of power. This is a power grab that is not going to benefit 90% of this country. In fact, it's not even our country any more. Russia just got their puppet and he'll soon be living in what was our White House.

Friday, December 9, 2016

How to "fight" a con artist....

In my lifetime, I've been conned more times than I'd like to admit. Looking back I can see that the person found something that could hook me and I quickly overlooked any warning signs that should have told me that things weren't actually what I wanted to believe they were or would become. As much I would like to blame the other person, there were signs that I chose to overlook. Often, others tried to warn me but I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. Once I realized I was conned, I walked away. And, yes, each time I lost a little something of the investment I made.
Wishfully, I believe I won't be as quick to get hooked again. But, like many, I want to believe what I want to believe. I'm still a dreamer. I'll likely always take risks. I'll likely always place faith in others with whom I feel shared vision.
One lesson I learned is that fighting the con artist in search of justice is wasted energy. Remember, they conned you. They can con just as many people to help them fight against you. Seek a path to walk away with as much intact and as much protection as you can find. Let them have no power over you. Disengage and walk away. Run, don't walk, to the light that is truly yours. Let them believe they have won. Just leave them alone.
If you are right, and likely you are, time has a way of showing that. The con artist always reveals themselves for what and who they really are. Sadly, others will fall victim. Sadly, many may suffer. But know that simply walking the other way, and remaining positive, remaining true to your light, will ultimately speak volumes. Disengage from negativity!
Time has a way of righting wrongs. It's our job to walk in the path that is true and creates the most positive lasting outcome. Actions will always speak much more than words. Do the right things for the right reasons. Follow the light and don't waver from it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Music Matters!

About 30 years ago, while living in Franklin County, PA, I discovered the joy of singing my favorite old songs at Senior Centers and Nursing homes. It came as a result of people my age poking fun at me for loving the old gospel, folk and traditional American songs. By accident, or by grand design, I found a small but very appreciative audience. In return, they prompted me to learn more old songs that they knew and loved. And I am still singing those songs today.
After moving from Franklin County, there were years I didn't play so much. Sometimes for family and friends, and more often for my Aunt and her friends in the group home where she lived but when she died, I didn't play so much. There were some attempts at jams and fun moments sharing music with new friends. Then suddenly and quite magically, music came alive again in my life with the same spark I felt singing with my Senior Center friends long ago.
Even in the times of my early life when those around me discouraged it, I knew music was intended to be an important part of my life. It's not because I'm gifted musically or have a deep understanding of music, because I don't. It's simply because I feel it and love it and maybe actually because I think it's universal - and is not dependent upon having a great gift. It's something I believe we can share and be part of no matter what level of gift or understanding we have of it.
If you have a heart beat, you have rhythm. If you breath, you have a rhythm. It just is. Maybe you can't repeat the note, or the exact tone, but your soul hears it. And I know, my soul withers without it. Music transcends all divides. It lifts us to a better place. Sharing music is the most important thing any of us can do.
Looking back over these last 6 years and now expanding musical horizons, I am so very thankful. If you want to improve your life, the sure method is to include more music in any way you can and share that experience with others. It's the most important thing any of us can do in this crazy world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let the means justify the end...

One of the oddest things about we humans is that if someone asks for equality - equal access, equal time, equal say - we take it as an intrusion into our equality, access, time and say. If someone pushes us, we push back. We are really bad at trying to walk in the other person's shoes. We seek hierarchy. We measure ourselves against what other people have, how hard they do or don't work, what we believe they have accomplished more or less compared to us.
It's the "rights" fault. It's the "lefts" fault. It's her fault or his fault. She isn't contributing enough. He doesn't deserve... Blah, Blah, Blah. In the end, the only thing that is going to matter is whether or not you did the best you could with the situations that faced you. Once we blame others, hate others, for the struggles we encounter, we are lost in a trapped world. And much of the world is trapped. It's not a "left" problem or a "right" problem. It's a human problem.
We need to spend less time trying to shut one another up and more time trying to understand one another. People who feel misunderstood and marginalized will express themselves in un-healthy ways over time. If you are the one feeling misunderstood or marginalized, you need to find healthy ways to express yourself. If we want others to care about us, we have to care about them. Otherwise, life remains a tug of war. You pull one end of the rope, I pull the other. You push me, I push you back. It goes on and on and on. The pendulum swings one way, then back.
The only way it changes is for forces to pull upward together. The end does not justify the means. The means justifies the end. Pulling someone up beside you doesn't pull you down. It gives you an ally in the effort to pull up the next person. The amount of effort required to pull one another up grows much lighter than all the energy expended to pull against or push against one another.
Choose a means that justifies the end. Be clear about the desired end result. If it requires throwing people over the cliff, be ready for the next group to be working to throw you over the cliff.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some suggestions for improving our Democracy...

If our Democracy is going to work, we the people, need to be very involved. Meanwhile, we need to ensure that our representatives are actually focused on serving the people in their districts.

Here are a few ideas getting us better focused in that direction:

1) We need to tie our representatives more closely to the population they serve. State and Federal representative's salaries should equal the average wage of the population of their district. If the average income is $34,000, that is the limit for that representative. This would provide incentive for them to increase the economy in their district and ensure that government is not adding a burden to the tax system in payment of representative's wages.

2) An outrageous amount of money is being poured into our elections. Let's demand that half of all political contributions on the state and federal level go into the Social Security fund, the Medicare fund, and a general health and welfare fund. We would have plenty of funds to provide social programs without adding to the deficit. If there's enough money to fund campaigns at this level, there is enough money to fund our country.

3) We need more transparency and accountability while, again, tying our representatives more closely to the the population they serve. Before voting on any bill requiring funding, representations must survey their districts to determine the populations position. Once they vote, they are required to publish the survey result and their vote. Publication must include a local news organization and must remain posted on their website.

4) All US citizens who reach the age of 18 will be automatically registered to vote. When you vote, you receive a receipt proving that you voted. With the receipt, you receive a $100 tax credit on your federal income tax.

5) Civics classes must be part of all education curriculum from grade 6 through college. That curriculum must include how the local government, state government, and federal government operates. We need a more educated population to participate in elections and the entire system.

6) During elections, 75% of all news coverage must be restricted to specific policy positions of each candidate. News outlets are further required to fact check any statistics provided by the candidate. Any outlet positioning itself as a "news source" must adhere to these restrictions. If they are found in violation, they must pay significant fines into the general health and welfare system of the country.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Spirit calls us to serve...

The most humbling experiences I've had in my life came from learning how other people live and seeing first hand what challenges they face. If you open your heart and give your time to others, even for just an hour, it changes you. It humbles you.
Service to others is so very important. And service to others who are not like us, who have had vastly different life experiences, is key to our spiritual experience. No ritual, no prayer, no confession, can replace service to others in awakening our spirit and connecting us more fully to the eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent spirit that binds us all.
Jesus said,  'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." He led his followers to places they would have never gone - to serve. His overarching message, shown in parable after parable was deeper. What you do unto others, you do to yourself. "Judge not, lest ye be judged".
We need to be so very careful with how we approach all things. If we approach all that we do with a spirit of service, with the spirit focused on actually learning something, we will grow spiritually. The further we go from selfless service, the further we go from the the eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent spirit that binds us all.
It's not enough to do nice things for the people we like and the people like us. It's not enough to memorize passages, follow prescribed rituals, repeat "directives". If we do not serve, our connection to the universal spirit will wither away.
Our directive is to "Fear not". It's fear that keeps us divided. It's fear that keeps us from stepping outside of our comfort zone to do what we should be doing. Open your heart. Free you spirit and believe in something greater. Give your time to others, even for just an hour. It will change you. It will humble you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What is "Great"?

Try to imagine what could possibly drive you away from your home, your friends and your family and motivate you to go to a foreign place where you have no one and don't know the language. Would you do that because you are lazy? Really?
Have you ever moved? Have you ever tried you make your way around in a place you have never been and could not speak the language? Really? Think about it. What would drive you to move from your home, your family and all that is familiar?
Humans, by nature, are not quick to change from the familiar. Something has to be pushing so hard that change is the only solution that seems rational. Whatever it is that they are leaving has to look much more dangerous than where they decide to head.
Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing war zones, criminal areas that feel like war zones, and poverty that is overwhelming in hopes of finding refuge. They flee because they have not given up hope. These are the ones determined to survive. These are the workers, the makers, the creators and the visionaries who are in need of work, things to make, a place to create and a place to grow their vision of a better life.
Once America held that hope. While we have faltered in our welcoming of these travelers and many of our huddled masses, homeless or tempest tossed, throughout our history, we were seen by the world as a nation that aspired to be so great. A gift from France in 1886 to commemorate the 100th year of the Declaration of Independence, the Statue of Liberty is inscribed with that aspiration.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

If we abandon this aspiration, we will never be great. We need to always aspire to greet those who cross into our country, and all those within our country, by lifting a lamp to a golden door. That golden door is one of equality, hope, education, wellness and kindness. Anything other is not great.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Yes, There is Great Cause for Alarm!

Many are saying there's no great cause for alarm about our next president. "Get over it," they say. Some argue that a president can only do so much. And ordinarily, this would be a legitimate argument. But these are not ordinary times and the events leading to this have not been ordinary at all.
Our founders carefully crafted a democratic system with a balance of power between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government. If there was over reach in one area, the other branches had power to balance out the others. Soon, those three branches will be a united force with the full and total power of the justice system, the legislative branch, the United States government and military behind them.
Our justice system is at risk of being skewed to interpret and rule in favor of the extreme right. Our legislative branch and the president elect have clearly expressed that they will ONLY have a Supreme Court replacement that they can be certain will vote extremely conservative. Dozens of lower court positions have been similarly left open, unfilled, and it is a certainty that they will follow the same extreme right agenda in filling these positions. Anyone with a centrist or liberal view of civil rights has great cause for alarm.
The party claiming to be in favor of small government and deregulation, has been clear in wanting big government intervention in limiting civil rights for "certain" people. A barrage of new legislative actions will come that will focus on limiting voter rights protections, strike down marriage equality, threaten immigrants, question and limit religious practices, eliminate minority protections and set women's rights back 30 or 40 years. Protections for our land, our poor, our food, our freedoms will be "deregulated". Anyone who is "different" has great cause for alarm.
Meanwhile, the legislature will lock step with the president in limiting dissenting voices. This president elect believes he should have equal time on comedy shows if they make fun of him. He wants to expand libel laws to prevent the media from saying things he doesn't like. This man, who has claimed not to be beholding to anyone, is indebted to China and other foreign nations wanting us to believe that will not influence how he governs. He is so lacking in self control, he can't stop using twitter to attack people that get under his skin.
There's plenty of reason for alarm. This is not an ordinary transfer of power. This is not an ordinary time. It's alarming! We need to "say it how it is". We need to call it what it is. No, we shouldn't just shut up and get behind this. The foundation of our democracy is crumbling. It's crumbling because of a willingness to overlook what should have never been overlooked. It's crumbling if we overlook the greatest decline in honesty, decency, transparency, and balance we have ever faced. A supposed billionaire just bought the nation and he's not beholding to the people who voted for him and certainly is not beholding to those who didn't.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I will

You want to question/blame the "illegal" immigrant for something.
I won't own it.
I won't like it.
It's not mine.
You want to question/blame the "free health care" recipient for something.
I won't own it.
I won't like it.
It's not mine.
You want to build walls.
I won't own it.
I won't like it.
It's not mine.
If you are migrating toward something - if you are giving something, - if you are building something that bridges all divides -
I will connect with it.
I will like it.
I will be part of it.
Let's build something that lasts. Let's heal. Let's give something to the next generation. Let's build bridges not walls.
I will be connected with it.
I will like it.
I will be part of it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Do it because you can!

What should you do when you don't know what to do?
Do more of what you know how to do best.
If music is your strength, do more music. If writing is your strength, do more writing. If teaching is your strength, do more teaching. If cooking is your strength, do more cooking. Use your gifts to do more with a focus of doing it where you do more good.
We are only hopeless when we stop providing hope. Focus on your strengths. Someone needs you. Someone needs to see you doing what you do best. Do it. Do it well. Do it because you can.

Why I write...

We are our own creators. We create our world. We create the life we live.
Yes, there are external forces and others around us are creating something as well but we hold great power of our own. We control OUR thoughts, OUR words, and OUR actions. No one MAKES us do anything without our consent. We need to take responsibility for our own feelings, our own thoughts, our own words, our own actions.
I write to create. I write carefully to create my world. I write to keep myself focused on the direction I intend to act. I write to focus my thoughts, my words and my actions. The more I am processing my feelings, the more I write. Lately, I'm needing to write a lot.
I'm writing for clarity. I'm writing to stay on the path I know, in my spirit, is the right path for me. It gives me strength. It gives me hope. I share these things in hope that others will also be lifted but if no other living soul reads them, I will still write. The words are my prayers, my roadmap, and my vision. If they lift you as well, I am a thankful servant.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My trump card...

Recently I was asked how I stay positive. "You make it look easy", he said. It isn't easy but it's easier than it was for me some years ago. I am tempted to make snarky remarks. I am tempted to poke someone in the eye now and again. And sometimes I cannot stop myself from simply asking "why" while knowing that single worded question will cause a frenzy.
I've had my moments of fixation on wrong and wrong doing. I had to make a conscience effort to disengage and, instead, focus all my energy on the positive. It doesn't mean I don't see it. It doesn't mean I don't desire to overcome it. It means I will not let "it" control me. I will not let "it" be central to my thoughts, words, or actions. I will not compromise myself for "it".
The more I hear of harm, the more I am determined to do good. The more I hear of hatred, the more I am determined to love. The more I hear of separation, the more I am determined to connect. The more I hear of hopelessness, the more I am determined to offer hope.
That whole idea of an "eye for an eye" just means that a whole lot of blind people will be running around. Perhaps there will be a last one-eyed person if none of the blind people figure out which eye he still has.
If you are fearful of the hate, be determined to love more. If you are fearful of the harm, be determined to do more good. If you are fearful of the separation, be determine to connect more. If you are feeling hopeless, find those who have hope. Be hope for someone else.
It's not easy. It requires conscious effort. It requires discipline.  It requires empathy.
You won't always get it right. You will face criticism. You may be mocked and called weak. But determination to do good, to love more, to connect more and to provide hope will always be the right choice to make. It will calm your spirit while raising your spirit to greater things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Study well! Our time is now!!!

Have you ever imagined a historic time and where you might have been - what you might have done?
During this nation's revolutionary war, in the many long months that it seemed the British had all the odds for them, where would you have been? What would you have done? Who would you aspire to be in those times?
As you witnessed the slaughter and broken treaties of Native Americans - the march that was the Trail of Tears - what would you be doing? Where would you stand?
During the Civil War as the bodies piled up and the horrors of war raged, what would you be doing? Which side would you be fighting for - States Rights or Abolition of slavery and preservation of the Union? Where would you stand? What would you be doing?
As the stock market crashed followed by Great Depression, and the devastating results of the dust bowl grew, where would you be? What would you be doing? Where would you stand?
As thousands of Japanese American neighbors were rounded up and in prisoned during WWII, what would you do? Where would you stand?
If you were living in any of the countries invaded by the Nazis during WWII with threat of rounding up thousands of people, where would you be? What would you do? Where would you stand?
Would you, white man or woman, volunteer to drive boycotters of the buses in Montgomery in 1955? Would you risk the wrath of friends and neighbors? Would you have ever walked with Martin Luther King?
During the Stonewall Riots of 1969 - the Assassination of Harvey Milks in 1978, where would you stand? If given the chance today, would you march?
Study these events and the leaders of these times. Study well. We face these same moral choices today. Where will you stand? More importantly, what have we learned from how they stood? Let them lift us all to higher ground. Find stories of the helpers - the ones who made the greatest impact - the ones who made the difference. Study! Study well. Our day is here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Don't "Unfriend" people.

Don't "unfriend" people. Often there are posts on Facebook about purging and deleting people because of views they post. Or encouraging others to "unfriend" us if we are offending. There is no need for that.
I have "unfriended" people who posted a lot of cursing. But I've discovered a much better solution that is non-confrontational and will not lead to hurt feelings. "Unfollow" someone if their posts are disturbing you.
Why is that better? First, the person never knows. You are not offending them. Second, you leave the door open to allow yourself to read their posts when your heart is ready. None of us need fewer friends and it's important to experience other perspectives. But sometimes, it's more than we can handle. Before you cut ties, "unfollow". It gives you control without causing harm. You have now taken a path of passive resistance.
When your heart is ready, check in on that person. See what they are saying. Before you do, take time to recount why you are connected with them. Reflect on the things that are good and positive about that person. Consider why and how you are connected with them. Our connections are important. It's important for us to see the perspectives of others even if we don't agree with them.
Don't "unfriend" people. Give yourself and them time. Breath in and breath out. We're sharing the same air.
Here's how to "unfollow":
Go to your own wall.
Click on Friends.
Click on the name of the person.
Under the "Following" tab, click on "unfollowing".
Voila - their posts will no longer pop up in your news feed, but you can still put their name in your search and see what they post if you are ready. And don't be afraid to check in one them when your heart is ready. Meanwhile, work on getting your heart ready to see another's perspective. It won't hurt you, if your heart is in the right place.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Stand on the Rock!

We cannot allow seeds of hatred and anger to grow within us. When hatred and anger grow, we actually allow the thing that we hate to take hold within is. It will twist us into something more like the thing we hate than the cause we started with and believed was the opposite. Acting out of hatred and anger will always create more hatred and anger. That is what we are seeing play out.
Wherever hatred and anger grows, it will create more hatred and anger. The only thing that can negate it is an equal and opposite reaction. The sooner we intervene with an equal and opposite reaction, the less hatred and anger grows.
Many of us fear the rise of the types of nationalist, populist ideals that created WWII. Many would point to that war as an example of the case for war. I can understand the reasoning that there is a time for war. But I would argue that as a human race, we are failing to recognize the root causes. We are failing to learn to prevent the reasons for war. Our efforts should be focused on solutions long before the war seems eminent. An equal and opposite reaction to hatred and anger needs to be our focus long before the seeds of war have a chance to take hold. That time is NOW!
At this moment - right now - we need to read Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the teachings of Buddha and Jesus. We need to practice their teachings in our daily lives. We need to focus our energies as they taught us. We need to act and dedicate our lives as they did. This opposite reaction to hatred and anger will not just negate it - it will overcome it as we stand together in love and peace. This is our rock of salvation. It is the only hope for humankind. This is the action to take NOW.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Why are people afraid?

Why are people afraid?
For me, the single most reason for fear is that the people in power want people to be afraid. There's a smugness that communicates "If you're afraid, you should be." "You" must be doing something wrong. "We" decide what's right and wrong and "You" need to just shut up.
The tone of those now in power is that the answers all lie in a particular order of things based on a very narrow view of the world and everyone's place in it. That order lacks empathy. It's grounded in power and control and a central theme of "survival of the fittest".
We need only look to the root from which this grew to gain an understanding of what is now growing. This grew from a question of legitimacy of being an "actual" American. My non-white friends have very good reason to feel afraid. It's not because they have done anything wrong. It's because a large portion of our population believes it's acceptable, even patriotic, to question their legitimacy. The fear is that their freedoms, and sense of well being, will be limited.
Religious beliefs are now front and center. Those who hold different beliefs than those in power now fear that their freedoms will be limited. That spans a wide spectrum of beliefs revolving around a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, actual practice of your religion, marriage equality and more. The fear is that their freedoms and sense of well being will be limited.
Smugly, some who read this will say, "Good! It's about time." Obviously, they aren't in either of the categories above. They cannot sympathize or empathize with anyone in those categories. That saddens me - for both them and those with whom they are not connected. I know they sincerely believe that they are right and doing these things will make their world better. Many also believe the rest of us will be better off if we just get in line.
To those who hold these fears, I say be strong. Stand together in peace. Rest in the knowledge that you are not alone. Don't let fear and anger grow. Feed your spirit with inspiration and wisdom of those who have faced similar odds. Seek out and grow your network of sympathizers and empathizers. They are all around you. Speak of, act on, a path of hope. The pendulum always swings back.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Walk the other way....

Be fearless.
It is fear that divides us. It is fear that keeps us from reaching our full potential. It is fear that keeps us from trying to understand and to truly loving our neighbor. Be fearless.
Be determined to shine light and love everywhere you go.
We cannot do that if we are gripped by fear. Fear drives us to focus on the dark and dangerous. Fear drives us to work against something and not for something. We need to always keep ourselves pointed in the direction of love. If we focus our energies on a war with the dark and dangerous, we become dark and dangerous to our "enemy". We need no enemies. We need not be an enemy to anyone.
Within all of us lies a connection that binds us to all - every living soul - every object - every cell of everything we see, touch, smell, and experience. We are not apart from anything. Call that connection whatever you like - Mother Earth, Great Spirit, the Cosmos, the Universe. We are inextricably connected and what each of us does, matters to the whole in ways we cannot fathom.
Be fearless in your determination to shine the light of that wondrous connection in every way you can, wherever you can, however you can. Act out of that wonder and the love that grounds us, and we can be fearless. Don't give darkness any energy. The energy you allow yourself to feel, generates an energy in response. Don't feed it. Don't feed it within yourself and you will not be helping it grow. Go the other direction. Walk away from it, fearlessly.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Why the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" is failing....

In business, if we want to lower costs, we need to eliminate waste and drive efficiencies. We have incentive to do that to remain profitable. We cannot endlessly increase prices and expect to keep our customers. In order to stay profitable, we have to keep a healthy balance that ultimately provides value to our customers and keeps them coming back.
Some industries are guaranteed customers. A prime example is health care. If they eliminate waste, drive efficiencies AND increase costs, they won't loose a large percentage of their customer base. We have witnessed this for decades. Long before the ACA, hospitals have consistently cut staff, consolidated, and raised prices. Drug companies have consistently increased the prices of nearly all drugs and related products. Insurance companies have consistently increased rates and lowered the types of services they insured. Deductibles and co-pays consistently rise.
The ACA didn't help because it failed to address the underlying causes of these increases. It failed to address systemic waste and inefficiencies. The ACA tried to address the cost of health care with a market driven approach. Drive more consumers into the system and the costs will go down. Indeed, 13 million more people entered the health system but insurance companies are saying those are not enough. Costs have still gone up. Now, everyone, including those 13 million are questioning how they can possibly afford those additional costs. They are asking why or blaming the ACA.
One part of the logic is entirely correct. If everyone in the country is paying into the health care system at a sufficient amount, there would be sufficient funding for everyone to have the health care needed. Currently, every working person pays into the Social Security, medicare and medicaid fund. Most of us won't benefit from that until we reach age 65.
Because the costs of health care keep rising, there's alarm that these programs (medicare and medicaid) are not properly funded. We often hear congress talk about eliminating or cutting these "entitlement" programs. Once again, they are failing to address the underlying issues that are causing these increases and resulting in underfunding.
The health care industry is profit driven. Unlike other free market endeavors that are customer driven - consumers have choices about whether to purchase or not - consumers of health care have little choice. If you have a broken and shattered leg, you can't decide NOT to seek health care. If you're in a serious car accident, have a stroke or heart attack, you will be taken to the hospital. If you need insulin to survive, you can't simply decide not to get it. The health care industry is guaranteed consumers. Consumers are guaranteed what?
If we want health care costs to go down, we need to take a systemic look at all the areas where costs are going. The insurance companies and their shareholders are taking a share. Profit driven hospitals and their shareholders are taking a percentage. Pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders are taking a percentage. The legal system and constant lawsuits at all levels are taking a percentage. What does that leave for actual direct health care?
There are certain areas of society where free market is simply not going to work. Health care is a prime example. What's sick in the United States health care system is the percentage of money going into the system that is going to profiteers. That's the largest area of waste that we need to address. The only way that can happen is with a single payer system, just like medicare and medicaid. We have to remove costs from the system and the largest areas of cost are going to profits.
The reason we have not heard about a substantive replacement for the Affordable Care Act, is that there is no other way to lower health care costs. Most of the rest of the industrial world has realized this but we're so stuck on the idea of "free market" capitalism that we'll spin our wheels for a while yet.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How hard is it to say Hello?

How hard is it to say hello, exchange pleasantries and go about your business?
How hard is it?
When complete strangers take a few moments to share a kind exchange, both parties are left feeling a little better. There have been studies about this, but we don't need a study to tell us that it's just nice. If you have ever traveled much, you will recall the places where you felt well received. People smiled and helped you when you needed. You want to go back to those friendly places.
How hard is it to say hello, be pleasant and friendly?
For some, it seems very hard. The other person might not be worthy of acknowledgment. For some, an opinion has developed that justifies rudeness. Nine times out of 10 the justification has nothing to do with anything that person has done. If you are rude to someone else, 9 times out of 10, it's about YOU not them.
For some people, it's down right hard to be kind. Those people wonder why they are lonely. They wonder why no one is jumping on their band wagon.
Wonder no more. It's simply not a nice place to travel. It's not a place people re-visit. With a little practice, it really not so hard to be kind. One of my favorite pastor's once told me, "Everyone smiles in the same language."

Monday, October 31, 2016

The darkest days....

The darkest days of this nation's history, were seen in the Civil War and in the years after. There was a growing hatred and fear of the Federal Government. There were many who argued then, and still today, that the underlying issues revolved around states rights versus federal overreach. But the "states rights" at issue were about social justice and equality. Thousands of men were convinced to fight for "states rights" who had nothing to gain for the preservation of the right to own slaves. Their only hope was to maintain a status just above the slaves. Somehow, that seemed enough.
This is the eve of a potential second civil war, for similar reasons and with similar overtones. Thousands - millions - are convinced that "others" are not equal, are not worthy, and should not have what "we" deserve. The Federal Government is only useful if it bars them. Otherwise, the states should be permitted to decide for themselves. Issues of social justice and equality be damned. Common decency and working for general social good are completely overlooked. In fact, it's viewed as weak, "socialist", and un-patriotic. Add to this perspective a love of money with the view of escaping just contribution to others as "smart", and we have a treacherous mindset evolving. The United States is becoming a pirate state. You just need to be "smart" enough to take all that you can however you can and those not "smart" enough should be trampled.
If we are no longer great, this is why. Our values are misplaced. What we consider valuable, what we allow to be bought, is killing our national soul. The spirit of our nation - what stood above - is being crushed in the weight of our displaced anger and our misplace values. We need to get our priorities right. That comes down to treating others the way you wish to be treated. It's about setting standards of decency in everything we do, everything we say and how we think. If we cannot, darker days are coming. It's up to you. It's up to me. It's time to change how we're approaching everything.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trump Versus Clinton..behind the headlines

Have you ever changed your opinion about something based on some graphic or two line message?
Do you share a graphic or write a two line message expecting to change someone's opinion?
Has any "discussion" on social media left you feeling "enlightened" to the point of changing your opinion about something?
Mostly what we post on social media lacks context. It's more like the headline or the soundbite. The full story is missing. Sometimes there's a link to something more but mostly context is missing. Add to that the lack of human connection - inflection, facial expression, fluid response - and we are left with a flat, one dimensional communication. Humor especially falls flat.
Recently someone posted that anyone sharing an opinion on Facebook should be prepared to defend their opinion so they could learn something. In light of the perspective noted above, I found it somewhat humorous. So, I simply replied "Why?" The humor was lost in the medium and caused a bit of a stir. (I left them all hanging as I've learned that explanations also typically fall flat.)
We need to talk to one another more - actually talk - face to face. And we especially need to talk with each other more to understand the complexities of issues. We are gentler and kinder when the person is right in front of us. We draw from the inflection of voice, expression, body language and fluidity of response. We're more likely to lighten up and seek common ground. We are more likely to find solutions. That's what we need to do as a society. Work through it. Roll up our sleeves and do the work needed to hear one another and to understand the context and complexities behind the issues we face.
Giving this a suggestive headline will get more people to read it. My actual goal is to get us to start caring about each other and actually talking. Then we may start making change happen in a meaningful way.

Monday, October 24, 2016

How can I make a difference....

We don't know what impact we can have or have had in the world. But we certainly can and we certainly have.
There's a story of gratitude I continue to carry that I have never been able to deliver to a person who, in a few short hours, changed the course of my life. I'm told he's still around somewhere. Locally, when I say his name as I retell the story, faces light up with recognition. I know little about him except that he was a radio personality in our area in the late 70's who took time with a young woman who hoped for a job at WFRA. He had no immediate openings but was willing to teach me to read news if I'd come down to the station on my own time to learn. He said a news position was the most likely opening to come up. And so, I showed up a few Saturdays.
He gave me news wire copy to read and record while he was doing his show. We'd listen to it. He gave me tips and told me about how he started his career in the Army in Armed Forces Radio and Television. He probably doesn't remember me. It was a few hours - a few Saturdays. I never worked for WFRA.
Instead, I joined the Air Force. I had to audition for Armed Forces Radio and Television. The audition was reading newscast. I read it just the way Denny taught me and it launched my career. That was 1978. I hope someday I can thank him personally.
You don't know what a few hours, a shared story, and a little effort might do. Just do it. And if you are the recipient, tell the story. Hold that gratitude close to your heart. Let it be part of you. Send them your well wishes and pay it forward. That's how we make a difference just like they did.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our "anger and resentment" movies...

Too many years of my life, simmering beneath the surface, was a feeling of anger and resentment. And 'oh do I have good reason to be angry and resentful'. I maintained a shelf full of "reason" movies to replay any time I needed them. And then I was ready to add new ones to the collection just in case the ones I had were not enough.
Then I realized while I was playing my horror movies, a whole world full of exactly the opposite stories was passing me by. Yes, I experienced a lot of great things too, but I wasted a lot time replaying pain that could have been over. While I was replaying that pain - hanging onto it - I was missing opportunities to experience and actually do more good things. Wallowing in my anger meant disconnecting. Some great connections were lost - maybe forever.
Hanging onto anger and resentment makes us more critical of others and more forgiving of ourselves. We use our reason movies for justification. Then we use the same script over and over again. We watch for new opportunities to create the same storyline over and over again. We build this whole collection on the shelf to further justify our anger and resentment. Rerun - replay - recreate....
There are very painful things that happen in our lives. There are things we should not accept. But if it is really that bad, don't replay the movie. Let it go. If we don't replay the "reason" movie, over time the reason - the anger and resentment - grows much smaller.
As I see people who are clearly angry and resentful, the question I ask myself now is 'what pain are they holding onto and replaying?'. Usually it's not directly related to their expression of anger. There's more. That's especially true if the level of their anger seems disproportional to the infraction they appear to be so angry about. There's more and that more is so very personal to them. I understand that. I've been there. Sometimes it's a struggle not to collect new "reason" movies. But I want a more connected life. I want to create a new kind of movie to replay when I want or need. I want the kind of movie that's PG rated and makes me smile. We have that kind of power in our lives. It's our personal movie collection.
What are you collecting and replaying? How's that working for you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A personal political objective

Often I've pondered the notion of not mixing religion, politics and personal with public and business. Gnawing at the back of my mind is Gloria Steinem's statement, "the personal is political". Those four words are so very profound.
Religion, politics, business and personal are so very intertwined because behind them all are people. There is a very real and personal connection to every religious, political and business decision because there is a person behind and opposed to every religious, political and business decision. While it may seem plausible to separate them into nice, neat categories, it is not possible. There will always be quite personal effects and quite personal connections. If we fail to recognize that we fail them all - Religion, politics, business and personal.
The answer is not to keep them separate. The answer is to align them all. We cannot love the world and pray for peace on Sunday morning and vote for war on Monday. We can't personally believe in exclusion and promote our business as inclusive. We have to align our inner selves with our public selves. If we don't, we are only fooling ourselves. People know. They may not be able to put a finger on the problem, but they can smell a fraud. Sadly, we have been led to believe that we should maintain this "separation". That's a fraud.
If we have our religion, politics, business and personal lives headed in the right direction, there is no need for separation. If they all align around love, kindness, compassion and truth, there will be no need for separation. Speak truth in the spirit of love, kindness and compassion and you will prosper. It's personal. It's political. It's your business. AND it's very spiritual. Be spiritual in all you do. Oddly, you will be politically correct and spiritually correct at the same time.
That's my personal political objective.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The importance of roots....

At the end of the day - after the election - one candidate will win and one will lose. Think about the people you know on either side of the equation. Not the candidates - the people you actually know. Think about the family member you've known and with whom you share decades of memories. Think about the neighbor - the business owner - the fellow members of clubs and organizations or the ones you wish would do more and contribute more to the causes you support. These are the people you will see on the street after the election. These are the people who can help you. These are the people who could support your causes.
The person you are fervently supporting probably doesn't even know your name. When your child is sick or your dog is lost, they won't be praying for their safety. When your fundraising campaign is underway, they won't know or care. They don't care about the milestones in your life. They don't know or care that your child or grand child took their first steps or just got married. They don't know or care that you just had a difficult health care crisis. They didn't know your aunt or uncle or grand parents. They don't know or care that your basement is flooded.
Yes, elections matter but what matters more are relationships. Relationships are precious and deserve respectful tending. We need to respect and care for one another. We need to understand the value of that respect and careful tending. When we elevate our hero worship above our respect and careful tending of those relationships closest to us, we are destroying something very precious. There is a reason trees grow roots. The roots ground the tree and provide the needed nutrients to sustain and grow. Don't loose your connection to roots! Cut your roots and your tree grows weaker.

Monday, October 10, 2016

"Locker room banter"

Most of my career was spent working in male dominated spaces - the military and then 21 years in the mining industry. In earlier blogs I've written about those experiences. In the late 70's, women were far outnumbered in broadcasting. I was the second woman assigned to AFRTS in Greenland and the station manager was quick to let me know the "broad" in broadcasting did not stand for women. As he then put it, he "was stuck with me."
I never stopped encountering men who had similar sentiment. That manager, and others like him, actively sought to prove themselves right. They provide half the information required to do the job right and then revel in how successful they were in undermining the process. These are the "locker room banter" guys. These are the guys who take the men in the office on fishing trips, to sporting events, on hunting trips, golfing or have them over for poker nights. They share the "inside" information. They provide chosen ones (mostly men) with the fast track, the high profile assignments and wink or nod to overlook bad behavior. They are a "man's man".
Through the years I've worked with some great guys. Those years of experience helped me learn who I could trust at 3 am in the most deserted locations. The "locker room banter" guys were not in that category. If a person brags that they would or did do something denigrating, believe me - they would or did do something denigrating! Don't leave a child or a defenseless person with that person!!!
The guys I learned to trust would be called wimps by these "locker room banter" guys. They don't share the same predatory behavior. They don't need to put anyone down to feel better about themselves. They respect themselves and those around them - including women. I refuse to believe that "nice guys finish last". They are my heroes and always will be! Every woman should be saying the same thing in my mind. We will never be treated with respect until we set that bar. If we don't believe we are worthy of something better, we'll never have something better.
"Locker room banter" is a HUGE RED FLAG. READ IT for what it really is and what it really means.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

If we offend and dismiss others...

Every minute, every day - we have a choice. Each time we decide to share something, to do something, to ignore something, to act on something - we create an energy that carries forward. Those choices matter. Those decisions make a difference.
Those choices, those decisions, and those actions becomes seeds and they grow in the same manner of energy in which we plant them. Those seeds are our Karma. They color us. They cloud us. That color or cloud becomes a collector of the same type of energy. We reap what we sew.
If we offend others, we will likewise be offended. If we dismiss others, we will likewise be dismissed. If we are outraged and angered, we will likewise be the recipients of outrage and anger. This is the law. It is the law of God. It is the law of attraction. It is quantum physics.
It is extraordinarily simple but extraordinarily complex in discipline. For my own practice I'm trying very hard to focus on the rule "do unto others"... As I find myself critical of someone else, I think of what they could say to me. As I find myself wanting to question another person's judgement, I think about how they may question mine.
Then I focus on my garden -planting my seeds - creating the karma, the color, the cloud I most desire surrounding me. I think of the law. I plan the energy and the harvest that is most desired. I will support those most likely to share the same energy and seek similar results.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If you "light your hair on fire"....

There are many varieties of ways to tackle a problem. One that's been gaining a great deal of attention and momentum is the "light your hair on fire" or "let's destroy everything" approach. That's the approach that's popular when everything appears far too overwhelming to comprehend and deal with rationally. Just set it ablaze and destroy the whole thing.
The reasoning appears to be that total destruction is far better than working with what exists. Results may be immediate - huge impact - but then what? There's no vision beyond the destruction. There's no thought of what happens after the fire burns out. There's simply no rational reasoning behind the so called plan. After the blaze - after the exhilaration of the annihilation is over, what's left?
Critical thinking has evaporated. We've become a nation that's hungry to consume fast talk, reality TV, sensationalism that feeds a thirst for blood. We love blame and demonization. We elevate those who have gladiator qualities. We crave a knock out punch - a dramatic crash - a bone crushing collision of bodies. Our measure of success is encased in instant gratification. We want a magic pill, an energy rush, a winning lottery ticket. And if a problem seems too large - level the whole neighborhood around it.
Our problem is that we think in terms of days, months and years instead of decades and generations. "Rome was not built in a day" and it was not destroyed in a day either. Our national fiber is unraveling due to short sighted, "light your hair on fire", destructive thinking. We need to measure everything we do in terms of the outcome 10 years and twenty years from now.
Let's start asking for a 10 year plan. Let's start asking how this decision, today, will play out for the next 20 years. Let's stop thinking so small. Let's stop the destruction mindset and start building something.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Love can make all the difference....

There are wonderful people - bless them all - who will make every effort to save a dog or a cat without questioning for a moment if it's a good dog or a good cat. Without question or reservation about whether or not they may be bitten or scratched, they will intervene.
These people will stop by the roadside if they see a wandering furry one. They will selflessly spend endless day seeking a lost one. They forgive furry fear or aggression because they see a wounded soul. Experience, or perhaps simple belief in something more, have convinced them that their furry friends deserve a chance. Love can make all the difference.
They are right. Love can make in the difference.
Our furry friends who have learned to be fearful or aggressive, became so in the exactly the same way humans do. We can learn a great deal from that understanding. Love can make all the difference.
Wonderful people - bless them all - will make every effort to make a difference. If you can love a furry one regardless of risk of fear or aggression, how about one without fur?
Some are lost and wandering. Some are fearful and aggressive. It likely become that way in just the same manner. Love can make all the difference.

Friday, September 23, 2016

About Fear...

There's great joy in choosing to see every person for the gift they are - just seeing them for the wonderfully perfect and wonderfully imperfect. Quite often as I look carefully I realize that what seems to me, on the surface, to be imperfect actually has more to do with my own imperfection or weakness.
In seeking to focus on the gifts of each person, I've begun to develop greater patience and understanding. It's causing me to be more reflective about myself - to want to learn from everyone I meet - to be more at peace with those things they may do that I don't understand and may even dismiss as not so good. Now I look for something deeper - something more - and am slower to take things quite so personally.
Usually anger and fear go hand in hand. I believe that the most profound and most powerful words attributed to Jesus were the words "Fear Not". Fear is the source of anger. Fear is the source of hatred. Fear is the opposite of love. We cannot love and fear at the same time. Fear clouds our vision and will always derail us.
There is a voice within us and many loud voices cry out today that would say "But WAKE UP to reality. You MUST be afraid or you're stupid." The truth is that reality is what we create. Fear will derail you from creating anything that is not centered in fear. Love is fearless.
Watch those living in fear. Watch them. There will be a path of destruction. It is derisive. The fearful will write off the "stupid" ones, the "unworthy" ones, the "different" ones. Be very cautious about nurturing fear - no matter what direction it may be coming. It is the OPPOSITE of love and will derail you from seeing the many gifts right in front of you.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Something magical happens when you switch from being cynical, critical, angry, resentful and revengeful. Choosing mindfulness, forgiveness, love, thankfulness and kindness changes everything. It requires discipline. It takes practice. And life always throws up road blocks that can cause one to stumble. But the longer you practice, the more disciplined you become, the greater the rewards.
For me, this journey started about 6 years ago when I had what most people would agree was much to be cynical, critical, angry, resentful and revengeful about. It began with a conscience effort to focus on thankful things. That grew into thankfulness surrounding the very source of my anger, resentment and gave strength to letting go. I had to change how I thought first.
As I grew my thoughts of thankfulness, I began to speak about thankfulness. Then I began to see where I wanted to go - a better place. New road blocks came but they did not cause me to fall as hard or keep me down as long. Increasingly, positive people who have become beacons of great clarity have surrounded me.
Today if I speak negatively about something, or become critical of someone, it troubles me for days. And, yes, I do still fall into that kind of thought and speech. But now, it troubles me that I did. Even telling myself that what I said was true - that my criticism was sound - isn't enough. Because somehow deep in my soul, I know that it actually damages me. My criticism of another brings criticism of me. My negative speaking brings negativity on me. And I damage the person I am speaking to and damage the person with whom I am sharing the criticism. We reap what we sow. There is a better way to change the course. It is only - ONLY - through kindness and love. Walk without fear. Speak and act only out of love.
I will keep practicing this path because I see the rewards. I feel the magic. It is powerful and it is without question the greatest truth.
I will keep practicing. I will sometimes fail. I will be tested. But I'm loving this journey and know it's the legacy I want to leave. These are the seeds most worthy of planting. Hmmmm, I need to write a song about this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why are people so angry?

What America needs is a very clear and focused mission statement - an objective to achieve. We need our leaders to agree to it at all levels of society and we need to work to achieve it at all levels of our society. We can and should debate about how to best reach it, but there should be no question about where we want to go. Then we measure everything we do against that mission. That's how companies become great. That's how a country becomes great.
That mission should be tiered. We need to start with the basics. Once achieved, we up the mission. Don't understand why people are so angry? Look at the chart below.

We will not have a healthy society until we focus our collective efforts on the basic needs of all people within our borders. As long as anyone in our society has unmet basic needs, we will have societal problems. In fact, as long as anyone on the planet has unmet basic needs, we will all feel the impact. The foundation of a healthy society lies here! We cannot insist that these basic needs are not OUR responsibility. Jesus said "what you do to the least of these, you do to me." We need to understand that what we do to the least healthy of our society of our world, we do to OURSELVES. It's common sense. When there are people in our communities whose physiological needs are not met, our own safety and security are at risk. People without food, water, warmth and rest become desperate and angry people. We cannot build fences and walls high enough to isolate ourselves from them. It's simply not sustainable.We need to stop talking about entitlement and start focusing on enlightenment! We cannot strip away resources that address the basic needs level of our society and expect to suddenly have a society of people who feel they belong. They are not going to feel "patriotic". They are going to feel left behind, angry and desperate.While a large segment of our population is focused on esteem needs, more and more pressure is placed on dysfunction surrounding safety and physiological levels. Solving this will require a 20 year plan - a full generation of concerted effort. We first have to meet the physiological needs by whatever means is required. Then we need to focus on efforts to sustain those needs. As it stands now, we need an entire cultural switch."Aw but we'll have more moochers than we already have." Study Maslow's hierarchy above. Study the basic theory. Once a person's basic needs are fulfilled, they want to move up. Once a person is no longer hungry, thirsty or insecure, we can help them understand the path to belonging, feeling accomplished and reaching full potential. It will take a full generation of concerted effort to change the course. Therein lies the challenge.We've become a society that wants instant reward, instant gratification, and instant results. We measure success in days, and months and rarely make plans that stretch further than 5 years. A child does not grow to adulthood in 5 years. Our society will not right itself in 5 years or even 10 years. Who do you know that is high on this hierarchy and rose from the bottom to the top in 5 years?There's no way to achieve societal actualization without moving the collective individuals within our boundaries up this chart. Whoever we leave behind will ultimately impact us all. We can't bully or bury or wall our way to a greater society. We have to love our way there!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Don't grow bitter! Grow BETTER!

We spend a great deal of our life in our work environment. That environment molds and shapes us. And in some ways, no matter what our role, we help mold and shape that environment. How it's shaping us and how we are shaping it are important things to consider. If, on both sides of the equation, the molding - shaping - collaboration - is appreciated, it's the right environment for us.
Sometimes it's simply not a good fit any more. Maybe we change. Maybe our environment changes. So, do you grow bitter? Or do you grow better? Do the latter! But realize that the changes that skewed the fit didn't happen overnight. The growing better won't happen overnight either.
It's really important to decide not to grow bitter but instead grow better. Bitterness will stunt growth. Bitterness is usually based in expectation that someone else do something. Most likely that someone else believes they are doing something that is better for them and their company. And it's likely that you feel disconnected because you are not able to contribute what you feel is better. Don't grow bitter. Go grow better.
If you're right - and you probably are - you won't fail. Plant the seeds today and watch them grow. Those seeds deserve your energy and you will be rewarded. Go do something better!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Love Prevails. Always!

As we think about people we know, love and respect - people we want to be around - people who leave us feeling good about ourselves and the world - there is an energy about them. Some would call that the person's aura or their presence. There is a vibe that resonates from them to us. We feel their energy. We can all think of individuals we keep a distance from because of their energy and those who draw us closer because of theirs. Most of us wish to be closer to those who give us hope, who express love and appreciation, and lift us up in some way.
As we join together in family, as friends, as community, the collective energy has it's own vibe. It has it's own resonance; a collective cultural norm. Individuals within that collective - friends, family or group - influence the whole in some way.  Stronger personalities can shift the whole in one direction or another. The overall resonance of the group depends upon the spectrum and influence of the most positive or most negative in the group. It will change drastically when the most positive or the most negative person no longer influences the group.
Collectives of people develop a cultural norm - an energy - a resonance. It's true on the family level. It's true in the club. It's true in the church. It's true in the town. It's true in the city. It's true in the nation. Everyone wants hope. Everyone wants to know love and respect. Everyone wants to be lifted up in some way. We need to be collectively pulling in that direction.
We need to set our goals - our collective goals - higher. We need to understand that collectively we can only be as good as our lowest common denominator. That will require an entirely different tone and energy. We need to be determined to lift one another up. We need to look the negative forces in the eye and simply say "this is not where we are going". We cannot cut them off. We have to help them find a way to follow. If our focus is love, respect and hope, they will. Love always prevails. Always!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Door Number 7

Like my grandmother, the number 7 has often cropped up in my life. Five of the eight numbers in my driver's license are 7's. It could only be better if 7 of the eight were 7's. Maybe because of Grandma, I've always watched for and felt good about that number.
When I bought my house, I noted that the 3 digits added up to 7. For 21 years I've walked through door number 7 every workday. Now at 21 years (3x7), it seems the right time to stop walking through that door each day. As those days come to an end I think of so many things that happened behind door number 7.
Twenty-one years ago, I was often the first woman to have ever entered many underground coal mines. I lugged a camera that weighed 10 times what gear today weighs. Many of the mines didn't even have a women's rest room at the portal. And even in my own company, when I showed up to tape management sessions I often saw no other woman or only one other woman (the HR Director) in the room.
Through door number 7, somehow I persevered. When mine personnel kidded me that it was unlucky to take a woman underground, I was mindful to show them I was not an unlucky type. I carried as much as they did, worked as hard and was extremely mindful of safety. I'd like to believe I earned their respect and helped pave the way for the next woman.
Through door number 7, I proved myself time and time again. But I know it is something any woman my age, who has worked in areas where women have not traditionally worked, has had to do. Once an entire room full of equipment was shipped to me and I had to figure out how to get it set up and functional. Then, once it was functional, I had to demonstrate to senior management that I knew how to use it because another senior manager was not happy that it was shipped to me. She said I could not possibly know how to use it.
Through door number 7, I was tested and forged. I have often been tempered by fire in these 21 years. It's time to step out of the fire and shine my own light. I am thankful for all that I have learned though years of walking through that door. I have met many good people. I have worked with great talent. And yes, I have often felt tested. I am ready to shine instead of burn.
Let's see what 7 brings me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

In front of ME....

I can identify with and confess to feeling the need for retribution - even retaliation - for perceived wrongdoing. But in my soul, spiritually, I know that is a weakness. Without a doubt, retaliation and retribution are destructive forces that never lead to long term good. Jesus and Buddha taught about this very issue and quite likely every other religious leader did as well.
Often we mortals believe that we know and can identify evil in others. But others know we do not see the evil in ourselves. We cannot see the full context of the other person but we use our full context to excuse ourselves.
We have to learn to trust to universal power - the ultimate power - to take care of others. We have to take responsibility for and change the evil within ourselves. We need to stop assuming that we fully understand what we cannot understand and will never understand. Our foremost and ultimate responsibility lies right in front of us - ME.
Is this impacting ME where I stand? Can I help this person in front of ME? What will the long term consequences be for me - for them - for these people - in front of ME?
If we - if you - if I - can do that - WE can change the tide. It's right in front of us.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The American Way

A favorite song says "when there's big problems to be solved, let's get everyone involved. God's counting on me. God's counting on you."
If we want to make our country better, we need to unite around efforts to involve everyone in problem solving. At all levels of our society, we need to encourage and facilitate involvement by the broadest population. That example needs to begin with our leadership - in Washington and in our state legislatures.
We need our leaders to say "we won't always agree but we will agree to work together to discover the best possible solutions." Viewing things from varied perspectives can be a good thing. If we learn to listen to one another and carefully examine facts, it can help us avoid pitfalls. It can help us create better solutions.
More often than not, even locally, our leaders have taken a position that is focused on poking someone in the eye if they have a differing perspective. Instead of examining facts and sharing pertinent information, our leaders turn their backs to one another. More important than finding solutions is assuring the other guy looks bad. The rising anger and polarization are creating a virtual civil war throughout this nation.
Instead of southern and northern states, now there are red and blue states. Many of our citizens are putting on uniforms with an elephant or a donkey and filling their hearts and minds with outright hatred of the opposing uniform. Communities are divided. Families are divided. Civilized discourse is gone.
If one side is loosing ground, the effort grows into attempts to silence the other side, block any progress, even shut down the government. Lost are efforts to actually solve problems. The focus is the war.
President Lincoln said "A house divided cannot stand." This nation will crumble under the weight of this division. We need to shed the uniforms and start focusing on a United States of America again embracing our full diversity and encouraging full participation for problem solving at all levels.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

It's time to create.

It's not alway easy being a dreamer and idealist. There always seems to be something more, something bigger, a more perfect something, that is "out there" somewhere. Deep within lies an itch to find whatever it might be.
In early years, that sense of something more and more perfect, left me feeling like I was actually from some other planet and was somehow misplaced. It seemed I didn't belong where I was while others seemed to be quite comfortable with their place and their surroundings. And while I've discovered that there are many who feel displaced, I'm often reminded that I may indeed be from another planet.
But what I have learned is that, wherever my desire for a perfect place may have derived, my option is not to wonder endlessly seeking but to be constantly creating that dream and that ideal in every way I can. It's not up to anyone else.
It's not our mission to fight against what exists and makes us uncomfortable. Our mission - everyone's mission - is to create something better. The most perfect creations are those that do no harm, that lift everyone to a greater place, and change the course toward something better. Those efforts are free of fear. Those efforts are based in love and compassion.
This day, I recognize where I do not belong. I can swim there against the tide, or I can create something better. I choose to create. I see something else. In that place, my space, the dream and the ideal are mine. There I can create something more. It can be small or it can be big. No fear. It's time to create.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What's ruling you?

What's ruling you?
Fear, anger and resentment are spirit killers. They make our spirit sick and weak. And yet, the magnetism of fear and anger appear to generate energy within us. They can come with an adrenaline rush that seems to be an energizer - motivating us to do something. "Wake up", "Rise up", "Get mad"..... The Waking is focused toward a path of destruction. The rising is one of destruction. The train is on a path of derailment. The derailment is resentment.
Fear and anger are motivators for destruction. When others will not share our fear and our anger, resentment grows. Fear and anger are destroyers. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing but resentment can grow where fear and anger fester.
If you are a spiritual person from any perspective, protect your spirit from fear and anger. These things will always derail you from creating what you truly desire. Is there anyone who would say they truly wish to be fearful and angry? Then why give fear and anger any of your time? Turn away from it. Put your energy toward creating what you DO want. You are the creative force in your life. You have the potential to connect to and with the creative force that always was and always will be.
"Fear not" (someone once said).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lower Standards for white people?

During this most unusual political cycle, I've mused about a few things.
For example, what would the reaction be if Donald Trump's words were coming out of President Obama's mouth?
What if it was Barack Obama who said, "I could walk down 5th avenue and shoot somebody and they'd still love me"?
Or if he said, "I've said if Sasha(Ivanka) weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her."
What would the reaction be if President Obama said a former POW was not a hero because he was captured?
Who would be outraged if President Obama mocked a disabled journalist or made disparaging remarks about a woman's looks?
Any rational person would be outraged.
I guess some people lower their standards for white men.
And it appears that an Obama's words coming out of a white woman's mouth are viewed by some people as being superior as well.
What are your standards?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Those horrible things and horrible people...

It's unsettling to note how much time we spend talking about what shouldn't be, what we don't want, what shouldn't have happened and how horrible other people are or were. Sometimes we hold onto those hatreds for years, decades and keep them boiling over and over again.
How much time do you spend focused on what's wrong and who's wrong?
When that becomes a driving force in our life, several things happen. We're giving that wrong person or thing a great deal of our energy and we're not putting that energy into positive things we could be doing. There's a great deal of depth in the saying "Be the change you want to see".
When we are pushing against someone or something, there's generally equal or more force pushing back. It's highly unlikely that we'll make any progress and quite likely we'll waste a lot of time and energy. Often, we've simply stirred a pot of negative energy all the way around.
Once when I was in that mode, someone said simply "dis-engage". I soon realized I was dragging a huge suitcase full of hostility and anger that was achieving nothing but creation of more hostility and anger.
"Be the change you want to see." Shake the dust off your shoes and move on. Do something positive with that energy that actually helps someone. You'll soon see that the person most helped is you.
Anger and hostility weaken the spirit and sicken the soul. Heal yourself and heal the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The sands of community...

Imagine a cup of sand - any color you like. That color is you.
And then in each hand you hold a cup of white sand and a cup of black sand.

Imagine the people you meet - imagine the color of their sand. Their color. Some red, some yellow, some blue, some green... And each holds a cup of white sand and a cup of black sand.

Each time we meet, we add a little color of ourselves in a larger container. That larger container is community. As we come together - as we interact - we leave something of ourselves. A part of that first cup of sand that is uniquely us.

And sometimes when we meet, we add a little white or a little black. The white represents our connection to the divine - that "something" that is beyond us. If we are connected to it, we cannot help but spread a little of it when we are in community.

The black represents our struggles and our connection to those struggles. We all have them and we all carry them in some form. It may be a weakness, an illness, or a burden we carry. We cannot help but spread a little of it when we are in community.

Now imagine all of our colors coming together in one large fish bowl of community. Beautiful layers of colors including a little white and a little black.

Now try pulling your sand out.

You cannot. And you cannot separate anyone else's sand. That's community.
We are not separate and can never be. We cannot remove all weakness, all illness, all burden. We cannot remove the divine. We cannot remove the beautiful colors that are unique.

There is beauty - even in the struggle - that black sand. We grow from struggle. My grandmother cautioned me when she was raising peeps that they needed to peck their way out the egg themselves so they would grow strong enough to survive. That was truth. But a friend recently told me that sometimes the shell is too hard for the peep to break through alone. If no one helps, they will die. We need to know when struggle is too great to carry alone.

Now imagine your cup of colored sand - your cup of white sand - your cup of black sand. This day, what did you spill into community?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Ax with a name attached

In 1997 I was living on a farm about 6 miles from Townville. On my way to work one morning, something caught my eye in front of Hannah's Hardware store. It was an old TV console with an AX through the front tube and a sign that simply said "ELLEN". Those moments, driving past - the meaning sinking in - still feel like slow motion to me.
It was the morning after Ellen Degeneres came out on her sitcom. This was a hardware store I patronized regularly. They always seemed like nice people. They put an AX through a television and put it in front of their store with a person's name on it! What would they do to me? I stopped shopping there and began thinking about moving somewhere else. Within a few years I did, but the fear went with me. So did the nightmares.
A person could seem quite nice. Maybe seem to be a friend. There may be an AX hidden with my name on it. Terrorism comes in many forms. It's based in hatred and can be a thinly veiled rage that will burst out without warning. I'm very distrusting of anyone who exhibits any form of "we" versus "them" mentality. "Them"? There but for the grace of god, go I.
When there's talk of walls - I understand walls. Once the "right" "we" are contained within them, who's the next "them" to turn on? A sorting mentality does not stop. Hatred does not suddenly end. It simply finds a new target. A person can seem quite nice until their ax has your name on it. If we look at anyone - ANYONE - and allow ourselves to fill with rage, we need to take a good hard look at ourselves. The world is full of broken souls and some seem so badly broken that there is no repair. Rage will not fix that. Rage will not change that. We need to find a better way and not allow our soul to be broken.
I no longer harbor those fears and the nightmares are gone. Today I wonder what has happened to the person who placed that TV, ax and sign back in 1997. My hope is that they have found peace and no longer feel such rage.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A healthy tree....E pluribus Unum

E pluribus unum

"Out of many - one" was adopted by our founders as that national motto. At the time, they were thinking of the diverse needs and interests of the various states converging into the collaborative effort of a nation.
It was a grand ideal. It was founded in the ideal of the power of collaborative effort - the ideal that the foundation of this country was a strength of common ground. There were certain "unalienable rights" that they could agree upon and draw strength in collective effort. While that great ideal was eloquently expressed in the bill of rights, it's reality has been a long struggle. The man who penned the words "all men are created equal" held slaves who were defined as less than equal to a white "man". And women were not considered equal at all - still are not.
We cannot comprehend the notion of "Out of many - one." We cannot accept the responsibility of it. We are one. We are tied to - connected to - every person and every thing around us. We are not separate from the prisoner or addicted - the poor - the rich - they are part of the one, out of many. When we cannot see that one - when we cannot connect ourselves in some way - when we cannot find common ground - we injure ourselves. "Out of Many - ONE." We are branches of the same tree. If you choose to cut off all the other branches, keeping just yours and one next to you - you will kill the tree. You will kill your own life blood.
"Out of many - one." That ONE is not complete without the many. Until we understand that, we will fall short and the tree will not flourish.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

About that wall.....

Does anyone remember the Secure Fence Act of 2006? With some bi-partisan support, Congress passed a law authorizing construction of a double fence with high tech security features that would stretch the length of the US-Mexican border. Estimated at a cost of 1.4 Billion dollars, the actual cost to complete it ballooned to over $4 Billion and congress never authorized the funds to finish it. The construction cost would be more than the entire Border Patrol budget.
I wondered then, and wonder now with all the "wall" talk, if anyone thought about preventing tunnels? And what about the thousands of miles of coast line on the Atlantic and in the Gulf? What's to prevent someone from making a hot air balloon and crossing by air?
This country is really good at treating symptoms but unbelievably inept at solving problems. We're also very good at magnifying issues out of proportion largely because we don't think past soundbites.
The United States is descending into a pit of ignorance and drowning in twisted fears.
Perhaps we need to build a dome over the country. Or perhaps just dome off a part of the country and let the "wall" people live together for a while. Make sure it's bullet proof and no one can get in EVER. Let them take as many guns and as much ammo as they want. They can feel very safe together, right?
I'd feel much safer on the other side and I would not be looking in. I hate horror movies.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

About being a Veteran....

One of the best decisions I ever made, whether by accident or not, was to serve in the Air Force. But I am often left feeling humbled and embarrassed if someone thanks me for my service. As part of Armed Services Radio and Television and serving in Public Affairs at the Survival School Headquarters, I met many soldiers, airmen and marines who served in tougher times. I served on the heels of the Vietnam Era. I met former POW's. I sat in the mountains with combat veterans who were survival instructors and heard about their experiences. I was an entertainer and their story teller. That was my service.
Service - any form of service - evokes thoughts of sacrifice. I was an entertainer and story teller. Any story I have to tell about personal sacrifice is tiny compared to many I heard. As a result, these many years, I have been shy to talk about being a veteran and to take advantage of the VA benefits.
I was not eligible for the GI Bill because I was post Vietnam era by a year or so but could contribute to the Montgomery Bill to help fund future education. Thankfully, I took advantage of that and every dollar I saved was matched. I also took college classes during my time in the Air Force. While funding wasn't enough to pay for my first choice, SRU provided a solid education and opportunity to work my way through those college years. There were times my sister, Alice, helped keep me fed and I graduated debt free -,except my debt of gratitude to both Alice and my country.
From there, it took years to build a career in Communications. Working at minimum wage entry level jobs, as a freelancer, in my own fledgling business, part time gigs - finally led to full time work as an instructor and then 21 years in corporate video production.
If I had been saddled with education debt, I'm not sure what would have happened. Because of my service and taking advantage of the Montgomery Bill, I graduated debt free. But I was shy to take advantage of other Veterans Programs. I did not try to get a VA loan for my home. I did not realize I could have taken advantage of VA health care in the times I had no health care.
Today, as a veteran, I am thankful that VA health care is an option for me. There are stories about long wait times for care, but every vet I know who has taken advantage of this benefit has great things to say about the care they receive. As an aging veteran who may need to rely on this system, I am thankful to know it is there.
There is talk about privatizing the VA system - a push to "VA choice". If the ultimate result is that it will cost us all more and provide less, it's not the right answer. I'm still feeling shy and humbled by the men and women who perhaps need the services more than I do, but feeling a bit protective of my own interests. Those who served - especially in big ways - deserve our care and consideration.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Marching steadily toward ONE

Once someone told me that one major goal in life was to have less distance between our lowest lows and our greatest highs. I've pondered that for decades. Life is full of peaks and valleys. We will have lows. We will experience highs.
Did she mean that there should be greater distance in terms of time? Did she mean that the lows should not be so low and the peaks should not be so high? Was it about the separation of joy and pain? Did she mean that a steady and slow ascent would prevent a crash?
She also gave me a scale on which to measure events. It was a life pain scale - 1 to 10 - ten being death. If something hurt or upset me, where did it fall on that scale? That scale held even greater meaning. Ten - I understood. Ten - gone - I understood. Still, in the middle of stress, it's hard to use the scale to sort things.
Ten - gone - is going to happen in our lives. We cannot stop that. It's the cycle of life. It's most painful because we have no choice about it. Gone is really gone. Death.
Perhaps my friends point was not to make 10's out of fives in our life. And don't expect every part of life to be stress free or pain free. Perhaps she meant that we should savor those moments of joy and let them carry us. Let those moment of joy lift us and sustain us past any potential lows. Instead of going from 10 to 1, we can be carried by those better times and know that there's more to build.
As we build more care free times, the lows turn into only the things we cannot control. They become less frequent. They are isolated and are only counted when they are truly those 10 moments - those things we cannot prevent. We experience, anticipate and live in greater joy. Our steps are steady in a gradual accent. If we can do that, we will be surrounded by others who will cushion us and prevent our falling into the greatest depths. We will experience pain but we will not be allowed to fall endlessly. There will be less distance from the peak and we will ultimately experience something much greater than we would have imagined. Perhaps it is about the view. If we spend more time closer to ONE, ten is not the norm. ONE transcends and carries us above all else. The more we live, the closer we are to one, the less we experience a sense of permanence with 10. Death does not define, nor does it hold us. It cannot hold us because we have become more grounded and much closer to ONE.