Category: Courage

Practice Makes Good Better

People are complicated. They have many facets, do strange things sometimes, and in so many, their ego leads their life. Nature is easy. That’s where I started in my appreciation practice. I began appreciating plants, trees, leaves, bushes, weather, the sky, the air, the temperature, the breeze, the small close-up view, and the grander wide-angle long views. It was easy and I felt so good expressing my appreciation in my mind. I was thanking God for all of what I was seeing.

Everywhere I went, whether just outside my home or in some other part of the world, nature was right there. As I would appreciate one thing, then I found it easier to appreciate another. As that happened, the Law of Attraction began putting other things to appreciate in my path until I was almost in a constant state of appreciation as I viewed nature.

Then I moved to people. In this, I would try to find at least one thing to appreciate about everyone that I might see, or interact with. I might like their eyes, their hair, the clothes they chose, or their shoes, or their smile, or their laughter. There are so many possibilities that I found it an easy challenge to like at least one thing about other people.

As part of this, I began seeing things about myself that I could appreciate. As I said earlier, to appreciate others and not ourselves is to not really appreciate at all. Then, the Law of Attraction began helping me see other things to appreciate about me. It might be things I said or wrote. It might be the way my hair looked that day. I began complimenting myself in the mirror. Then I began doing it aloud. I do it more today because it is so important to appreciate ourselves. After all, we are who we live with 365/24/7.

Then, I began practicing being bold enough to share something that I appreciated about another to them aloud. It is always interesting to hear and see their responses. It’s also funny. I might compliment a woman on her blouse or other aspects of their choices in clothing, and they will often say thank you, and then tell me how cheap it was and maybe even which store it came from as if they are negating its value by having it be inexpensive. But, whatever their reaction, it has always been positive and you can see how they appreciated someone noticing in their eyes, face, and body language.

Now I do this a lot. If I see the same people time and again like at the bank or something, I can always find something else to compliment them on. My finding things to appreciate is now habitual. I don’t even think about it much. I am used to seeing things to appreciate wherever I am, all day long. It matters not whether I am at home and finding things, or out and about, or at events. I am constantly seeing things to appreciate and I am constantly appreciating them inside.

Even when I see something that I don’t really appreciate, I find things about it that I can appreciate. For example, I’m not much of a fan of graffiti, or at least the kind of graffiti I see around where I live, but I can and do appreciate their creativity. I don’t appreciate that they are damaging other people’s property, or that they are uncaring about any of that, but I can appreciate their humanity and perhaps even that which causes them to feel less than and to try to be more than in an attempt to find their own wholeness.

On that note about graffiti, I see it and quickly look away. I don’t want to give it any energy. I used to give it all kinds of energy by putting down those who were doing these acts and feeling bad in the process. I have learned that feeling good is my goal and it is that which helps me to become more, so I turn to a better feeling view and give that energy instead. Even in this, it is all about finding something to appreciate.

On the other hand, the word graffiti simply means writing or drawing on a wall or other object. In some definitions, they use the word illicit. So, there are all kinds of graffiti that I truly appreciate, and some of it is quite spectacular as art. Even as I sit at the railroad crossing and see all the cars with graffiti on them, I see many with very elaborate painted words and images. Obviously, they had more time to spend on that project, but looking beyond the idea of changing other people’s property without their permission, much of this artwork is truly creative and even beautiful.

Then, outdoor murals can be considered graffiti. There are all kinds of ways to find appreciation in something that we may normally hate to see or even feel angry about and more. Becoming a grateful person is finding different ways to appreciate things, and I think even especially things, that we might not normally appreciate. It is life-changing—changing for the better.

Absolute Vulnerability

“Everything is in perfect timing; you do not have to rush things along. You are an eternal being; you are right in step with the transformation. What's your hurry?

It is only your assumption that there is some mysterious “how” that needs to be known before you will act in the manner you desire. In other words, laugh; be happy… because you want to. As soon as you do, you'll match that frequency. There is no mysterious “how,” none that has to be there. And if you really want a bottom-line definition, then: “Live now; that's how.”

Any time you live right in the now, utterly in the moment, any energy that comes along, any difference you feel, you will match instantly, due to living fully in the now, accepting it all, open to it all through absolute vulnerability. This is not weakness, but openness, strength, self-empowerment. That's how. Live in the now with it. Assume that what is happening belongs in your lives. Accept it; acknowledge it; integrate it. Live through it; get into it. Explore it; examine it. Get excited.”

— Bashar
Blueprint For Change

The Paradigm Of Love: Wealth Of The Heart

Once I knew a person of great heart wealth. She was ninety-two, a little bent from time. Her hair was white, her wrinkles deep, her eyes radiated light and love. She was beautiful, and she was one of my great teachers. Although we only spent one hour together, she changed my life.

Mary Hadley lived in a small room in a complex for the elderly in Pasadena, California. Her material possessions were the pictures on the walls and the teapot from which she poured our tea.

I, a stranger making a ministerial visit, knocked on her door. After a long moment, she opened the door, and I explained my being there. Suddenly her eyes lit up, and she explained, “Every day I ask, ‘Lord, what miracles do you have for me today?’ And here you are!” She thought I was a miracle, and this was the first time I felt like a miracle.

Such Divine-Human Love radiated from this small weathered being that I felt immersed in radiant light. When I was leaving the complex, someone told me, “Everyone loves Mary Hadley.” What is this love that can embrace a stranger and recognize another as a miracle?

Can the wealth of Mary Hadley be counted?

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Letting Go Is So Powerful

“When we understand the needs
that motivate our own and others behavior,
we have no enemies.”

–Marshall Rosenberg

I talk about letting go of the rope quite often. It is that rope that is interwoven throughout all of my lessons in one way or another. It is all about letting go of the resistance that I have developed, often as a protective measure, but ultimately self-defeating. 

I’m often reminded of the tug-o-war game where one person or many pulls against an equal sum on the other end of the rope trying to win by brute force, whether moving the opponent across a line, real or imaginary or some undesirable obstacle like a patch of muddy water. Back and forth they go, gaining ground, losing ground, until there is a final victory for one side and failure on the other. It is the epitome of the win-lose theme that is displayed in almost every sport, as well as in business, and even in personal relationships and family. Someone is a winner, and the other one a loser.

But, more than this, it is about resistance. The winner in the tug-o-war game is the one or the team that has the most resistance. Resistance is desired. It is a good thing. Not so in life, as I have learned time and time again. So, my mantra has become, letting go of the rope. The rope represents resistance. It represents struggle, perseverance, brute strength (or trickery). The more we resist, the longer we’re in the game. The longer we’re in the game, the higher the chance of resisting enough to resist more than the opponents on the other end of the rope. 

The opponents are trying so hard to outdo each other. It’s fighting. It’s cajoling. It’s fun if you win and not if you lose. This is how so many of us are taught how life is. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen, take no prisoners, win at all costs. But, really, it is a zero-sum game at best. When one wins and one loses, that speaks volumes about a vision of lack, or a lack-mentality. There’s not enough for everyone, so you have to go out and work hard and make sure you get yours. It’s bad advice at best, and debilitating at its worst.

To me, the rope has become such a great metaphor to describe the struggle that so many live and that I spent most of my life living. It is also a perfect metaphor for letting go, by opening my hands and simply letting go of the rope, making my own choices regardless of what others may think

I spent a lot of years learning that letting go was my answer or the key pieces of the puzzle of my life. I have spent all the remaining years practicing letting go.

Holding on is so normal, and letting go is the opposite, or so it seems. But, it doesn’t matter to me anymore what someone else thinks is normal or abnormal. Part of letting go of the rope is taking charge of my life, making better decisions, and enjoying my journey in joy instead of struggle, choosing love instead of fear and so much more.

I Have Power

“Only human beings can reorder their lives
any day they choose by refining their philosophy.”

–Jim Rohn

I suppose I could say that it all begins with the realization that I have power, and if I don’t yet recognize that as a fundamental truth, that I can learn to recognize the power. What power? The power to change my life to more of what I want and less of what I don’t want. The power to lead my life instead of having others dictate or circumstances determine my fate. The power to have a great life, to be happy generally, and to feel purpose and to find fulfillment in my life and my relationships with others. It means that instead of hoping that my life might turn out well, having the power means that I actually control it.

Another way I might reflect on this is that it means that I am accepting responsibility for my life, or to be in charge of my life. It took a lot of years for me to get to the point where I was really accepting full responsibility for my life and how it has turned out. But, I began accepting responsibility a little at a time, while I was still seeing other people outside of me causing issues, and circumstances that weren’t to my liking. I still blamed things and people outside of myself for much that went on that I didn’t like. There were even some periods of feeling powerless, yet little by little, I made progress.

Jim Rohn was a big help in the philosophy of that, but I never seemed to live up to my own comparison with his views of a successful person. I tried. I listened to the tapes, read his books, and generally loved what he was saying, and even practiced, but I still fell short. That is so often how we feel when we are comparing ourselves to others. And, yet, as I said, progress was happening; albeit, slowly.

It would take almost another 30 years to really get to the point of fully accepting my own ability and responsibility for changing my life to my own desires, and letting go of all that resistance that is demonstrated so blatantly in blame, disappointment, unworthiness, and powerlessness.

I think it is extremely important to acknowledge and accept the inner power that we have at our disposal. It is and has always been there, but many may be so caught up in what is going on around them and the disparity they feel about them, that they just don’t realize the control of their lives they can have.

In fact, I believe that all of our learning is simply and exquisitely to remember what we already know—to re-member, re-connect. I believe that we have all the answers we ever need within us via our inner connection with God or All-That-Is. At the same time, it is great to make connections with other people and be subject to some of their influence to enhance ourselves too. These connections are not haphazard as they might seem but are co-creating with others for the benefit of all. There is something beautiful in sharing knowledge with others. It is the same vibration as love.

Making Decisions. Often.

“Some persons are very decisive
when it comes to avoiding decisions.” 

— Brendan Francis

[Classic post from 3-24-14]

Making decisions, making them easily, and making them often.

William James says it like it is when he said, “When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice.” I have to admit that this quote and the one above by Brendan Francis has me pegged more than I would like to admit. I’m such an artist at procrastination, and yet, of some of the people I know, I make a lot of decisions in comparison. But that doesn’t ever help, does it? All we have is ourselves and comparing ourselves to others is often a cop-out, as it is in this case too.

“Life is the sum of all your choices,” according to Albert Camus and I have to agree with that. How could that not be? Every decision takes us to another place. And, if it weren’t for that, we would die where we stand.

There is some peace and satisfaction in the act of making a decision. Rita Mae Brown backs that up when she points out, “A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.” However, I used to believe there were wrong choices and right choices, but I do so no longer. There is only choices and each choice will have some kind of response and whatever that is will be perfect for the time being. If we find the choice is less than satisfactory, we can make another, and another, and another.

The key is knowing what one wants, I think. Once we zoom in on this, making decisions is much easier. When we don’t know what we want, how would a decision about anything help much? And, the whole idea about decisions is to begin, get moving, go somewhere, do something, right? Getting started is the natural next step once we know what we want.

We don’t need to know what we want forever, but right now is good enough. Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass says it as well as it can be said: “Go on till you come to the end; then stop.” Then is when a new decision will help us on our journey wherever we are going.

Buddha is attributed as saying, “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth. . . not going all the way, and not starting.” He also puts it in perspective when he said, “Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”

So, I recommend making decisions often and not worrying very much about that. What comes of the decision will be telling, then we can make another choice. Indeed, we will soon enough have to make another choice to keep moving.

“With The New Day Comes New Strength And New Thoughts.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Spread Some Joy Today–by mirroring what Alexandra Stoddard said so nicely: “I wake up every morning with a great desire to live joyfully.”

The Spring Of Kindness

“No kind action ever stops with itself.
One kind action leads to another.
Good example is followed.
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions,
and the roots spring up and make new trees.
The greatest work that kindness does to others
is that it makes them kind themselves.”

– Amelia Earhart

Ain’t it the truth!

One of my favorite authors who really helped me get going in sales way back in ’72-73 is Frank Bettger. His book, How I Raised Myself from Failure To Success in Selling, is a classic and is very encouraging for someone new to sales (or a veteran in sales, for that matter). In it, he talks about getting fired from a professional baseball team because he looked like he had no energy and he seemed to be dragging the team down. So, he decided to change and to become the most enthusiastic player anywhere and he created the popular phrase, “to become enthusiastic, act enthusiastically!” This became his central theme and I have several copies of his signed books, all of which say “Enthusiastically, Frank Bettger.”

The quote above is very similar to me: To become kind, act with kindness! Ain’t it the truth. We already know it. We know when we act with kindness that we feel great and can see on the face of the other that they feel great too. The thing we don’t see is how that great feeling is passed on by that other person throughout their day or even into days ahead.

I try to remember to give sincere compliments wherever I go, to people I see, whether for the first time or the hundredth time. I am always looking for something to compliment people on. Many times, there is no discernable reaction to my comment, but I am sincere and it feels really good to me, so that is all that matters. I know, they heard it, and they appreciated it even though they may not show it immediately. And, again, the best part is that it not only has an effect on them but on others they interact with throughout the day. How cool is that?

Sometimes I do this in bulk and in what some might think are “crazy ways.” I’ll give you just one example that I remember as a bit off the chart. I was a sales manager at a small fledgling dealership in 1989. It was gloomy and struggling. I wanted to inject some life into it and did a number of things that helped. They had a fairly strong service business. Matter of fact, that was what kept the dealership afloat.

So I had this crazy idea come into my head to give a dozen roses to all the employees (13 of them) and have a blank card on it, so they could take it home and pass some of the pleasure on to their spouse or loved ones or just enjoy it themselves.

It was a bit crazy because I didn’t have much money, but I broke out a credit card and bought 16 dozen roses of all different colors, one dozen each in vases, arranged and delivered. It was $660. I couldn’t really justify the expense when my reasoning tried to stop me, but, I was jazzed and I acted immediately. I had each employee stop by the office on their way home and I had them choose one they liked and I thanked them for their service to the company. For all they knew, the company bought them. I also gave one set to the General Manager and Owner who worked at a different location. Plus one to take home with me for my wife.

You had to have been there to see the looks on all their faces. It was priceless. And, guess what happened when they went home. I am sure that it was a hit there as well. In addition, it is the kind of gesture that you so rarely see. It was worth every cent and then some.

And guess how happy that florist must have been.  One action and so many are positively affected. It is like spreading joy!

I was only at that store for three months, when a marvelous opportunity came to me unexpectedly. Is there a correlation? It was an opportunity that changed my life, and that is still with me to this day, 31 years later!

Many times, I get thoughts like this and I am happy that I act on many of them even though some are a bit over the edge like this one. But, you know, life is all too short, and to miss an opportunity like that would be to miss an opportunity to love.

I call those thoughts inspirations. Typically, right after you get one, your reasoning facility takes charge to try to justify that thought using logic and reason. The typical result would be letting the inspiration go down the drain.

If you ever have any of these strange, yet wonderful inspirations, I hope you act on them. Think of the joy that you will create for yourself and many others! I think that is a great reason! And, you never know–that act of kindness might have an interesting side effect… on all concerned!

My Own Celebration

“When you do not love yourself, you become “needy,” and you try to get the love you need through others. When you deny your own needs, you resort to manipulation, control, or pitiful begging to get others to fulfill your needs.

In the early days of our marriage, I was “needy,” wanting love from my husband that I couldn’t give myself. Every spring, I dropped clear hints of my love of daffodils, hoping he would bring me daffodils. While he did many things for me, he never brought me daffodils. One day, some years later, as I was beginning to learn about loving oneself, I thought, “I will buy some daffodils.”

The day I bought myself daffodils was not a sad one. Instead, it was a day of victory in my realization that I could honor my celebration of spring with the beauty of the spring daffodils. In confession, I must say that I have extended this, and now celebrate fall with chrysanthemums, Christmas with pine boughs, and summer with bouquets of daisies. These small gifts nurture my heart. Having lunch alone in a cozy restaurant with a favorite book nurtures my heart. Buying a new book or an inspirational tape recording for listening in my car nurtures my heart. While my beloved nurtures me in ways he things are important, I have great joy in the self-love of my own celebration.”

— Donna F. Fletcher
Reflections of the Heart

Note: This book, Reflections of the Heart was shared with me by a dear friend and reader. Her mother published this book and I have enjoyed it so much that I’ve found some poems and other golden nuggets to share from it. Thank you, Sherilyn.

Life Lesson #7: Forgiveness

“It’s not just other people we need to forgive.
We also need to forgive ourselves.
For all the things we didn’t do.
All the things we should have done.”

— Mitch Albom

[Classic post from 3-16-14]

My Life Lessons

This is a series of revelations about my life that I am sharing with others for what it may be worth. These come from a lifetime of study and experience of others and myself, and I now translate them into words. These will be numbered; however, they are not in order of importance as all are equally important. It is just a way for me to keep track of them in this series. I hope you find value in them.

Life Lesson #7

Forgiveness is sublime, and it is not for others, but ourselves.

I might add to Mitch Albom’s quote above, all the things we did, and all the things we shouldn’t have done. It’s great to forgive ourselves for things we should have done but didn’t do, yet is taken to a whole new level when we forgive ourselves for things we have actually done, yet have always regretted by feeling we shouldn’t have done them.

I think that if we are human, we err. If we are acting on impulse, eventually we will act in a way that in a time of more clarity, we would have made another choice. Maybe someone else was affected in the process, and that can add to the burden that we continually add to ourselves over time for these errors in judgment and/or action.

Probably of all the things that I have learned to help me through life, the action of forgiveness of myself is high on the list of importance to me, and I have also been very successful in changing the way I have viewed past so-called errors or mistakes.

The thing that has helped me the most has been to put into a picture in my head what forgiving is. To me, regret and self-judgment is exactly like a game of tug-o-war where I am pulling with all my might against a foe or foes on the other side of the pit. It seems that the harder I pulled, the harder it was held firm. I could never seem to move the opponent enough to matter. The reason is that the opponent was me and is of equal strength. Essentially, I was fighting myself without any success.

The change in me came when I realized that all I needed to do was let go of the rope. At first, I thought that was quitting, and in a short time, I realized that it was a success instead. As soon as I let go, the opponent didn’t fall down, but disappeared entirely, along with the rope and the pit.

Now I use this strategy purposefully in many ways in my life, and mainly to forgive myself for those things I should have done, shouldn’t have done, failed to do, and did. Once I get some time as perspective, I often see that these things weren’t mistakes at all, but an essential part of my journey.

Forgiving others is a piece of cake to me. I just let go of the rope. As long as I am not forgiving them, I am at war with myself, and that war is no fun, and I find pain at every turn and negative thoughts that run in a circle over and over again. So, I’ve learned to just let go of the rope in my mind and the act of forgiveness has been achieved. I have released the issue, and I have at the same time, released myself from the self-imposed burden.

Forgiving myself was not a piece of cake to me, but as I learned to let go of the rope and practiced it, felt it, I began forgiving myself more and more. Now it is easier. Sometimes one of those issues comes back from an old memory tape, and it is easier still because I have dealt with it before and know what to do.

I have often found that letting go is the most powerful thing I can do.

“Sometimes You Don’t Realize Your Own Strength Until You Come Face To Face With Your Greatest Weakness.” — Susan Gale

Defeating Terrorism

The only way to defeat terrorism is to not be terrified. They talk as if terrorism is a thing. It is not a thing. It is a fearful thought and a resultant negative feeling. The only way to defeat it is to not think of being terrified. In other words, let go of it. Stop thinking and talking about it. Stop pushing against it. Focus on something that causes a good feeling when you think of it. Terrorism will never be defeated by fighting against it. That will only make it more prevalent. And, getting rid of terrorism will never restore world peace. That is impossible. Pushing against anything is the opposite of peace. However, mutual respect is a really good place to begin a grand relationship. Nothing is ever all bad or all good. These are labels we choose to use. A terrorist is a human being who is living in fear, expressing fear, promoting fear, and as we are pushing against that fear, we are engaged in fear, and now we are both in fear.

Now, let us change the word terror to love. Terror equals love. Terrorism equals Loving. The terrorist equals the lover. As we see love, we become more loving, and as we love we become the lover or the one who loves. As we promote love, we fill the world with love. In love there is no fear.
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