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HUGE Gift, Small Package

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A gentle thud caught my attention. This sound was curiously familiar.  As a bird lover, I know immediately when one has been temporarily blinded by the sun’s reflection, causing it to crash heavily into one of the many windows in my home. I rated this sound similar, yet lighter, reminiscent of one human finger placing a single sharp rap on a pane of glass.

I hurried to the kitchen window that wrapped itself around the right back corner of my house, offering a magnificent view of the tree-filled backyard. Scanning the bushes and grass close to the house, I saw nothing out of the ordinary. I rushed down the steps and reached the bottom just as one of my dogs, Charlie, who had been roused from a nap by the sound, arrived there. We headed in the same direction, stopping at the hydrangea bushes lining the flower bed beneath the window. There, on a single leaf, lay a hummingbird. I scooped up the tiny bird before Charlie could get the notion to do it himself, and headed back up the stairs into the safety of the house. Charlie remained for some time, sniffing for the source of the odd smell that lingered in the air.

Once inside, I opened my hand. Cradled there was one of the most spectacular beauties of Mother Nature, tiny and still. The bird’s eyes were shut. It was stunned by the impact, but it was still alive. I saw it breathing, and with one finger pressed lightly against its chest, I felt the rapid beating of its heart.

It was a male Ruby-throated, the widest ranging of all North American hummingbirds. I remember as a child growing up in South Texas, they were constant visitors throughout the spring and fall. The tiny bird was common in Central Alabama, too. I often watched three or four competing at my feeder. Almost invisible, they dove, and darted, and dive-bombed, and somehow miraculously avoided colliding with each other. Cheeping and clicking, they delivered strong protests to others who tried to compete for a spot to rest or feed. I thought them civilized representatives of a natural world with often cruel and uncaring aspects. They are two-inch-long powerhouses of fierce independence. Hummingbirds are always ready to courageously defend their territory, but in a way in which the birds never seem to get hurt. I thought how wonderful it would be if humans, too, could find ways to settle differences without hurting one another.

Sitting on the porch holding the bird, I was content. Rescuing birds, squirrels, mice, and other creatures from nature’s harsh realities is one of the things I do. It’s a common occurrence for me to make a box for a family of robins upended from their nest by a thunderstorm, or find a new home for the mice I might discover while spring cleaning. This, however, seemed a different and more enlightening connection to the natural world.

I had witnessed hummingbirds so many times but never had been this close. Their wings beat so fast they often seemed more fantasy than real. A blur of color flitting from here to there so quickly my eyes could not follow. Nevertheless, here one was, real and still in the palm of my hand. I was able to see up close how its little clawed feet curled slightly and to study the perfectly uniform feathers that covered its small body. The vibrant, iridescent colors of its wings and throat were truly amazing.

We sat together for several more minutes. With each moment, I wondered if it was going to make it. Tenderly I stroked its chest, watched, and waited.

Suddenly it woke up. Flipping up from its side, it sprang to life. It hesitated for a split-second, seeming to gather its bearings. Then it was off, propelled rapidly upward by its awakening. As it cleared the porch, it made a half-circle and returned to where I was sitting. It hovered in front of me, about two feet from my chair, and remained for what seemed a full minute. Never taking its eyes off me, it stayed back, yet was close enough that I could feel a slight breeze from the rapid beating of its wings. As it looked at me, I thought surely it was saying thanks for plucking it off the leaf and keeping it safe for the past half-hour.

I will never know exactly what the little bird was thinking as it made one final circle above my head and flew away. Later I found some tiny feathers on the porch that must have fallen from its wing or tail. They weren’t green like its body, or red like its throat, but white and black and gray. Today I still have those feathers in a very special bowl.

Holding the hummingbird was a miracle. It was an opportunity that taught me to appreciate the things I love, to cherish each moment, and to courageously get back up when life throws a punch. It was an awesome privilege to be given thirty unforgettable minutes when time stood still and I held the most exquisite creature in my hands, to feel its warmth, and to marvel at its magnificence. That little bird taught me to pay very close attention to life, because often the best gifts really do come in the smallest packages.

The Importance of Equality to Attaining Our Infinite Potential

Couple holding hand at sun rise

I was brought up in a fundamentalist Christian church in Texas. I was taught God is angry, vengeful, and male.

The women in my life trained me to bow to the wishes of men. I was instructed to lose at sports on purpose so boys could feel good about themselves. I was regularly treated disrespectfully by the males in my life.

Although illogical to what can be considered Godly and loving, both genders worked in negative and abusive harmony to deliberately fashion me into a second-class citizen. Yet, it was never spiritually comfortable for me to adopt a “less than” mentality. Feelings of unworthiness, inequality, and shame do not ever align with the values necessary to create healthy self-esteem. It took many years to undo the subtle and overt programming of who I am supposed to be as a woman.

I no longer resent men or dislike being female and I no longer allow myself to be treated as “less-than” by anyone. As I surround myself with men and women who value an equal division of labor and evenly balanced responsibilities in the home, I witness the tremendous difference it makes to the esteem of both girls and boys who have fathers and mothers who are equally emotionally present with child-rearing. Confident, peaceful and responsible children develop as a result of parents who foster equality.

Therefore, I question why we, as a global society, persist in not appreciating, honoring, and supporting one another as equals. I believe a major factor is the continued widespread religious labeling of supreme consciousness as male.

The ongoing disdain for women and belittlement of the values commonly associated with the feminine, have a long history in many of the world religions that were founded by men in times when women had no power. In his book Sex, Time and Power, author Leonard Shlain observes:

“The history of Christianity, Islam and Taoism darkly demonstrates that the religions that flowed from the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad and Lao Tzu have been most unkind to women. In every case, after the death of the founder, men with harsh patriarchal leanings seized the reins of power and revised whatever gentle counsel the originators of these traditions may have had to impart about women.”

One indication the supreme consciousness was placed into male form by male authors and translators of the Christian Bible is found in the meaning of the word Jesus used originally to address the Divine in the Lord’s Prayer.  According to the monk Michael Green, “When Jesus lived he spoke Aramaic, an archaic language that frames matters of the Spirit more softly, and perhaps more appropriately, than the truncated Latin, German or English translations of the gospel that are now so much a part of our heritage. Biblical scholars inform us now that when the Son of Mary addressed the mystery of Godhead, the actual word Jesus used is ABWOOM, a term that has always been rendered for us as Our Father, but would be more properly understood as Our Mother-Father-All-in-All.”

Jesus was not the first or last enlightened messenger careful about placing supreme consciousness into a particular form. The following verses from the Upanishads, a collection of sacred Hindu texts addressing the relationship between our human and spiritual being, were written centuries before the birth of Jesus.

. . . That which makes the tongue speak but which cannot be spoken by the tongue—that alone is God, not what people worship.

That which makes the mind think but which cannot be thought by the mind—that alone is God, not what people worship.

That which makes the eye see but which cannot be seen by the eye—that alone is God, not what people worship.

That which makes the ear hear but which cannot be heard by the ear—that alone is God, not what people worship.

Those who realize that God cannot be known, truly know; those who claim that they know, know nothing.

The ignorant think that God can be grasped by the mind; the wise know It beyond knowledge. . . .

Labels separate, elevate, ostracize, and judge. Human ego is quick to box something into its limited interpretation by placing a specific identity upon it. As soon as a label is placed on something or someone, our egocentric arrogance latches on to it. Labels limits us from being open to see any other possibility, even if the label perpetuates the abuse of power over others with discrimination, domination, suffering, and pain.

Regardless what we have been taught to believe, it makes sense to soul if a supreme awareness initiated the events resulting in the creation of everything, then a part of Divine consciousness must reside in all human beings and in all life. Therefore, by design, the original creative consciousness bestowed a spark of itself equally in both men and women.

Judaism teaches every person (Jewish and non-Jewish) was created b’tzelem Elohim, which is Hebrew for “in God’s image.” For this reason, every person is equally important and has an infinite potential to do good in the world. Something Jesus, a Jew, knew and honored.

You and I are the answer to ending genderism and sexism. We stop allowing ancient controlling systems of religious beliefs to dictate what is timely and true for a society that has advanced light-years from then to now. We get on the same page to collectively teach all children how to respect and honor one another as equals because the creator’s plan for human beings was never misogyny and patriarchy.

I agree with author Sharon Smith as she wisely stated in her article, Engels and the Origin of Women’s Oppression. “The solution is for us to make certain we raise a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual–and that will be the end of it.”

To move our universal heart-enlightenment forward we focus on the fundamental premise of all world religions, “Treat others as we want to be treated.” This Divine desire for human beings, to view ourselves as equal children of GOD, will go far in helping us create a world of peace.

Forgive, Because You Know Better

forgiveness with birds

Over the course of life I was deeply hurt or betrayed by the actions of others. For years I held onto the pain of being let down, ridiculed, bullied, slandered, persecuted, and abused. A continuous loop of negative memories played in my mind, keeping me shackled to a suitcase of blame and resentment for the unjust mistreatment.  Each day I grew angrier and more self-destructive from holding on to what I thought the people who hurt me should have done differently.

I was suffocating under the burden of carrying the indignant displeasure and persistent ill will against those who wronged, insulted, and injured me. One day, like a bucket of ice water thrown in my face, the truth opened my eyes.  No matter what had happened to me in the past, I was the one choosing to relive it in the present. It was my choice to keep the hurt and resentment alive by dragging them into each new day. Those who mistreated me had moved on or died or were oblivious to the pain they inflicted.  Even if each of them were to emotionally wake up, assume liability for their actions, and beg for my forgiveness, the past would still remain unchanged.

That “aha” allowed me to wrap my heart around the healing truth in the words of author and poet Maya Angelou, “When you know better you do better.”

I do not comprehend calculus, theoretical physics, string-theory, or quantum mechanics. But there are many people who do. So people who understand these things may think I should be able to understand them too. Maybe some people think I’m not smart because I don’t. The truth is I’m not unintelligent because I do not comprehend higher mathematics, physics, chemistry, cosmology or engineering. My awareness and intelligence lie in other areas. In fact, each of us is uniquely gifted with intellectual and emotional awareness.

This is important to remember since we often get angry with people because we think they should know something because we know something. Just because you and I may comprehend and care about the downside to negative, rude, judgmental, abusive or self-centered behavior does not mean everyone does.

The physician who casually ordered his nurse to leave the room so he could molest me in private viewed himself a powerful member of the community, entitled to behave as he pleased. He rationalized  the ethical standards and honorable responsibilities that applied to everyone else in his profession did not apply to him.

Yes, those who abuse others may comprehend, intellectually, their behavior is wrong, and in many cases illegal and immoral. But no, they do not realize with emotional consciousness, which would enable the sensitivity of their heart to overrule the rationalizations of their egocentric mind in order to control their behavior.

It takes sensitive awareness to remain connected to and responsible for the way our actions impact other people and all life. There are those who do not “know” on an emotionally responsible level how their behavior negatively impacts themselves and others. That is how we distinguish when people have emotionally awakened: when we see they are no longer blind to their impact on others. They begin seeing themselves in other people and other forms of life, and caring for them, to lead with their heart and change their negative, hurtful actions.

Your emotional freedom lies in courageously forgiving what you think would have or could have been different because someone should have “known better.” You wrap your heart around the truth, if the people who hurt you were actually connected to and responsible for the emotional consequences of their actions, they would not behave as they do.

Forgiving others is not about condoning what happened or wanting other people to admit their sins and repent. Forgiving is redirecting your focus from how other people need to change to how you can change. You choose to move beyond your ego’s desire for revenge to the heart awareness regardless of what other people do to hurt you, it is releasing them from your present life that sets you free.

Forgiving also does not mean you must forget the hurt. It does not mean you have to reconcile with those who hurt you. Forgiveness is intentionally choosing to release the control “what happened” has over you. It means, instead of approaching them with a “you should know better attitude,” you seek higher, heart directed ways to effectively communicate, interact and set boundaries with them. Forgiveness is taking your power back by being in charge of what happens to you now and how you are creating the best life in the present.  Forgiveness is assuming emotional responsibility for doing better than those who hurt you because, you do know better.

Download my FREE guide on how to forgive here – http://bit.ly/2f4WYYY

 

 

Care About Your On-Line Image

Computer and Phone2

I wrote a piece for an on-line magazine for its spirituality section. Although the article was about forgiveness and love, the editor wanted to put my photo in front of the word hate to accompany the article. After much discussion and protest on my part the photo was changed, but he did so begrudgingly.

One very huge fact bothered me about this. EVERY photo put on the internet stays on the internet forever.  The photo of me smiling with the word hate behind me would have gone out onto the world without the accompanying article and would have stood alone without explanation.  People Googling my name would pull up the photos of me and there would be my smiling face with the big word HATE behind me.

You may not remember, but I do, the negative impact a standalone photo had on a very young Jane Fonda when she innocently held up a rifle in Vietnam during the war. A photo was snapped of her smiling face holding the rifle and to this day she is still thought by some to be a traitor. But the truth is she was too young to know the reality of what was going to happen and allowed herself to be used and abused as a result. And this was way before the internet.

Love yourself by evaluating what you put out on the internet.  Not from fear, but simply from the perspective of knowing it will be around forever.  Make sure you are not allowing other people to have any control whatsoever over the image you are leaving out there. Make certain you are proud of what you are saying and doing.

Search for Truth

What The

One day my neighbor called to say a woman who lives down the street was taking oranges off the trees in front of my apartment building. I am friendly with the woman and have encouraged her to pick them, so I was not upset—until I learned that in the process of gathering the fruit she had crushed many of the flowers I’d planted below. I went downstairs to find several broken plants.

Later in the week, the woman stopped me on the street. Before I could share my disappointment in finding so many crushed flowers, she spoke up.

“My five-year-old granddaughter insisted we take all the oranges I could reach. I lost my balance and stepped on your flowers. I am so sorry. I also want you to know the oranges were not for us. Every time my granddaughter visits me, she goes through my refrigerator for leftovers and my purse for loose change. Then we walk up the street and she gives them to the homeless man who sits in front of Peet’s coffee shop. That day she wanted as many oranges as possible to give to him, too.”

It took about three weeks for most of the flowers to recover. There was one bald patch. I thought of getting a few more plants to fill it in but decided against it. The spot served to remind me of the loving behavior of the young girl and that it is best not to jump to conclusions because others’ actions are not necessarily what they might seem.

To create deep relationships, avoid problems, and make life easier, we accept it is not responsible to jump to conclusions based on hearsay or prejudicial fear. Instead of buying into negativity or opinion, we care enough about ourselves and others to search for truth.

Your Life, Your Legacy, Your Choice

fork in road

The aroma of warm gingerbread cookies swirled deliciously around my granny. She was an excellent playmate, thrilling storyteller, and creative tailor of special items to outfit the fantasies of children.

When we skinned our knees, her gentle hugs were comforting. Spilled milk seemed to go unnoticed. There was never an angry, blaming word for a broken dish.

Granny was satisfied with life. Her glass overflowed. She accepted people as they were, laughed easily, and greeted each person with a smile. She did her best to enjoy every day to the fullest. Each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were convinced we were her favorite. She loved and was deeply loved. Yet her life was not easy.

She wanted to attend school but had to stop at the fifth grade because her family needed her to work. Granny was not wealthy, lost her teeth early, and lived with heart disease. She also faced the unimaginable grief of having to bury her five year-old son.

Despite adversity, she did not dwell on or run from the disappointments of life; she courageously faced hardship by grieving, accepting, forgiving, and moving on. She made mistakes. But instead of living with regret, she made the effort to make a better choice the next time she faced a similar situation.

Granny was not afraid of death. She was focused on doing her best, each day, to live in ways she would honestly be pleased to remember. Eighty-five years of doing her finest added up. When she passed away, crowds of people came to pay their respects.

During her memorial service, her spirit was alive in the shared memories of family, friends, and acquaintances. She was praised for creating a life of joy and serenity. People were deeply moved by her humility, kindness, and friendship. Her compassion, trustworthiness, and faith were inspirational.

Each person with whom Granny spent time was touched by her open heart. Though decades have passed since her death, my memories of her have aged well.

When my other grandmother passed away, she did not leave the same memories. Her attitude was negative, her glass always half empty. Nothing was good enough. Life had been too hard.

She placed value on things. My memory of her surrounding herself with fine objects is especially vivid because I was not allowed to sit on the furniture in my grandmother’s living room. I learned not to take it personally. Thinking back, I do not remember anybody ever sitting in her living room.

My grandmother also supported judgmental television evangelists. She sent them money and was especially generous with those who desired to change gay people into God-fearing heterosexuals. At the time, I took this personally. Later, I wondered if she may have felt differently had she known about me.

My grandmother’s lifetime of self-centeredness caused her heart to close. Instead of facing life’s hardships and challenges head on, she attempted to medicate them away. She was constantly ailing and focused on her suffering. As a result, her off putting demeanor kept other people at a distance. At her funeral, people struggled to find positive things to say. It was awkward and embarrassing.

Today, I realize how fortunate I was to know both of my grandmothers. While they were two different people, each taught me by her own example.

One grandmother modeled how to create a life filled with anger, resentment, and loneliness. She did not connect the dots between investing adversely in life and receiving the undesirable in return. She spent her life looking outward for accountability and change. When it did not come, she resorted to blame and increased efforts to control others.

The other grandmother was a positive role model who showed me how life works best. Granny understood she did get back what she put out in the world. She recognized part of loving herself was doing the work necessary to intentionally change any of her behavior that did not feel good to her or to others. She accepted, the greatest legacy we can ever leave is choosing how well we live. I work hard to follow in her footsteps.

True Leaders Know How to Serve


World in hands

I invested twenty years pursuing a formal education. I received a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and my bachelor’s. After being in the work world for many years I returned to earn a master’s degree in management/leadership. It was a three year, forty-eight credit hour executive program which meant I was required to have a certain number of years’ experience in supervisory, management and executive positions to be considered for admissions.It’s been twenty-two years since I received my graduate degree. Before my master’s degree, and after, my work history included running for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I was privileged to manage, recruit and train large staffs and allocate large budgets. I wrote and implemented several long-term strategic and marketing plans. I hired and released many people during my professional tenure. As CEO and COO I was the spokesperson, the leader, the face of the organization, and liaison to other organizations. Therefore, as the person at the top, the success or failure, while not completely on my shoulders alone, did finally rest with me.

I have an idea of how effective organizations work and the leadership skills necessary to guide them to success. And, while I readily admit I do not know everything about running every organization, I have learned much about what does and does not work. So, here are a few fundamental things I’ve learned. I share these with you as we watch our current political climate unfold because it is always responsible to remember WE THE 325 + Million PEOPLE of the United States are the major (stakeholders) in our country (organization).

Any successful endeavor, whether it is a personal or professional relationship, depends on clear, concise, thorough, frequent and direct communication. There can be no ambiguity, lying, taunting, false news stories, vilifying investigative reporting, bullying, egocentric posturing, or mixed messages in a successful organization. Without transparent, regular, respectful and honest communication there will be NO trust built among workers, stakeholders and constituents. Without trust there will be no success for the leadership. Eventually those who do not communicate effectively and honestly are deemed untrustworthy and are removed from the organization.

Each productive, respected and effective leader gains a majority buy-in of a mission, vision and strategic plan for the organization. A strategic plan is developed with care and great attention to detail. While an organization must remain flexible to move with the ebb and flow of unforeseen circumstances in achieving its goals, a sound and competent leader does not vacillate wildly on the direction of the organization. Organizations do not succeed, long-term, if the goals of leadership and those in positions of power fluctuate crazily or differ from the goals of the majority of shareholders (majority of citizens in our scenario).

Without seasoned and experienced employees in key positions, the drain on organizational resources (money, time, efficiency, strategy, opportunities, relationships, etc.) will be much greater than for a leader who hires the best qualified for a job. Effective leadership hires those with relevant and applicable experience for the position for which they are hired. Leaders know to establish cohesion and effectiveness within the organization there must be appropriate experience in positions of great importance. A real danger to overall organizations success is that those hired (appointed) without the necessary and applicable experience may have conflicts of interest between a personal agenda and the goals of the organization (citizens).  Also, inexperience creates a learning curve situation, and naïveté may create challenges and controversies for the organization that experience and training could prevent.

Whether an organization is large or small, the person (people) at the top need to remain in touch with the masses who work for and are benefited by the organization. Listening to those from the lowest to highest levels is mandatory for decision-makers. Without a finger on the pulse of the people who make up an organization (majority of citizens) no leader will be effective or last any length of time. Eventually, organizational culture will disintegrate as a result of leadership disconnectedness. The organization will become stagnated and ineffective. One warning sign of stagnation is that the organization experiences internal conflict and stops producing positive and desired results.

Ethical, moral and legal impeccability begins at the top and is mirrored down the line. Unethical and illegal business dealings will eventually be the downfall of any dishonest organization as stakeholders (citizens) always demand the best behavior from those in positions of power over others.  The bottom line is, we truly admire those who remain people of honorable character, no matter how big the bribe. And no corrupt organization can withstand the eventual backlash created by disgruntled stakeholders.

Overall, effective leaders are composed, balanced, honest, and exude an air of dependable, rational mental and physical decorum. Executive excellence is dependent on authentic, humble self-confidence, self-control, forethought, integrity, respect for differing points of view and a devotion to creating compromise. Only the world’s autocrats, dictators and tyrants view those who disagree with them as enemies. True leaders welcome differing as an effective tool to the collaborative process. Effectual leadership knows cooperative dialogue and varying points of view results in the best solutions to challenges. Successful leaders know they do not know everything.

A Good Indignation Brings Out All Our Powers

Hamster in a wheel

Do you remember the movie “Network”? If not, check out protagonist Howard Beale’s impassioned speech from it on YouTube: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Mad as hell is how I want you to feel also, because in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.”

It’s time for you and me to get and stay fired up in a positive, peaceful and purposeful way, because, to be a great United States of America, we must value being governed by a principled and united leadership. Since the election of 1796, we’ve been a nation of two-party divisiveness. That was the time in our history when, as voters, we began to express allegiance to one party or the other. The elder statesmen of the American Revolution imagined the two-party system as being temporary. They failed to foresee the grip party affiliation would have on the American voting public. The result, our current nasty political atmosphere, is simply the continuation of a long tradition.

The constant battle between sides to stay in control has resulted in politicians being known as bullies, liars and casters of blame who shun personal responsibility, ego-box for sport, avoid coming to the table with feasible solutions to the issues we face and who refuse to assume accountability for their part in our stagnated system. Having fallen victim to greed and moneyed influence, deaf to the voices of the American people, they are destroying the very fabric of our democracy.  These are not the values of great, cooperative leaders, but they have become the norm in Washington because we are accepting them as the norm within our media, entertainment, dialogue and daily social interactions.  As voters, we can no longer deny our moral, ethical and spiritual accountability in the Washington politics fiasco.

In the wisdom of Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” We, the American people, must admit one thing and care about it: irresponsibility and apathy are our greatest weakness. We must realize the wheel of inaction and fighting to maintain control will continue to spin round and round while you and I are left, like hamsters on that wheel, to suffer the consequences of a perpetually ineffective government. For this reason, you and I must get righteously mad and join together to courageously face and defeat an out-of-control Goliath: the disgusting, irresponsible and self-centered legacy we are continuing to write with our lack of focus on being a country of well-informed, active and noble citizens.

When we, the American people, place the greatest importance on being a nation filled with educated, employed, involved, nonviolent, healthy, accepting, positive, honest and responsible people, we will thoughtfully identify public servants who bring with them proven track records as respectable leaders of outstanding, honorable resolve. To change an inoperative system, we must first fix what is faulty about ourselves by making character, not party affiliation, the most important qualification for public service.  But this requires making integrity the foundation of all that is cherished and practiced in our homes, educational and religious institutions, sports and civic organizations.

As citizens and human beings, our fundamental responsibility is to help create a country we are proud to leave our children, their children and their children. We cannot do this unless we get disgusted with allowing ourselves to continue down the same road of two-party divisiveness and nasty attack ads, fake news, dishonesty, cronyism, nepotism, bullying, greed, abuse of power, ineptitude, while expecting different results. Isn’t that a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome?

Until we have heart and soul in Washington in the form of personal accountability, integrity, unity, honesty, transparency, competence, and humility, we are going to continue down the divisive path, making it impossible to support a mutually positive agenda to actually move ourselves or our country forward.

President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What you and I can do for our country is to step up, by voting in ALL upcoming elections, with mindful and responsible purpose for principled candidates who, through consistent behavior, have proven themselves to be respectful, unbiased, cooperative, honest and effective, no matter their party affiliation.

To those who say this character-based, independent-voter proposal is naïve, impossible, or will not influence lasting change, one of the most freeing and powerful lessons we can learn in moving toward improvement is the benefit of challenging the status quo. Our current lack of principle-based, collaborative thinking to address what is defective about our system of government will continue to limit our ability to create a unified, living legacy of which we are morally and ethically pleased and for which we will be proudly remembered. An unwillingness to look candidly at our weaknesses only perpetuates a very dangerous and arrogant ignorance. It’s time to wake up to this.

Until we courageously move ourselves outside the box of what we tolerate as acceptable in our personal and collective behavior, we will remain blind to the fact true strength, power and clarity of purpose are only found in people of principled character. Current Washington politics and the inherent divisiveness of our two-party system are at odds with the behaviors we can truthfully label honorable.

In order to actually be an outstanding nation, we must value being a nation of outstanding people. As citizens, parents, teachers, clergy, public servants and voters, it’s time to get mad as hell so our righteous indignation moves us into valuing a shared standard of honest, transparency and principled excellence.

Albert Einstein said, “The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” By moving away from electing politicians  to choosing servant-leaders who work for “We the People,” we will increase the pool of qualified candidates, those who have the intelligence and heart to design a new system in which compromise and efficiency bring about lasting positive change. A diverse and dedicated collection of experienced people of integrity is our best hope to end business as usual in Washington. To thrive, we must find creative, cooperative and effective ways of accomplishing this, so our great nation once again leads the world in a beneficial, peaceful and sustainable direction. But, to do so, we must first become a nation of people who stay mad as hell about growing these new leaders, by being a nation of people who most value great people of honorable character.

The Smartest Part of us is Heart

hands forming a heart shape at sunset

Emotional intelligence – my definition: the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others with empathy and respect – is a gift from God given to each soul. But, like any skill we must practice, practice, practice to master leading with heart, rather than being led by a judgmental and fearful mind.

Our thoughts create our behavior. Our behavior creates our life. Therefore, mastering a mind with a mind of its own is a responsible thought by thought focus. When we remain in touch with what we are thinking and why (the emotional motivation behind our thoughts – fear, anxiety, judgment, frustration, blame, control, arrogance, domination) we can change negative, limited thinking to positive and loving so we honor God for giving us the precious gift of emotional intelligence.

In order to benefit from the emotional intelligence God asks us to use to do no harm and to create our best life, it is necessary to educate ourselves to know what is happening in the world. We cannot be insulated with our own thoughts and beliefs. We cannot rely on the group think that is generated by the thoughts and beliefs of our immediate circle of like-minded friends and family or churches. Simply because others believe as we do does not mean we are right or that our decision and actions will not harm ourselves or others.

To make good decisions we must have information that challenges our thoughts so we can discover thoughts and beliefs that do not truly align with OUR HEART! Challenging what we think and why we think it helps keep our heart open so we follow the divine’s direction of treating others as we want to be treated.

 

We Love God By Loving One Another

God is Love

I sobbed in a homeless man’s arms. I did not know him. Most likely I will not see him again, but I will never forget the moment our hearts touched in the intimate dance of raw truth: he lives on the street and I in a warm apartment. I wanted to take him with me.

It began when I commented on his dog. He smiled very proud and said, “Yea, she’s great. I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.”

As he spoke, gently petting the dog, I reached into my wallet and took out all the money I had. Without counting, looking, or caring what he would do with it I handed it to him. He hesitantly took it. As our hands touched my tears began. The young man reached out, wrapped me tight in his arms and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay out here. Thank you for caring.”

As I turned to leave he said, “I love you.” I looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you too.”

Until that moment I’d never said, “I love you,” to a complete stranger. To someone with whom I’d only met and exchanged a few brief moments. Yet, when I spontaneously responded to the man with “I love you,” I meant it from the bottom of my heart and with every cell of my being.  There was no thought. My heart was simply wide open and spilling out came the pure, honest emotion of caring deeply for him.

Each of us experiences transformational moments in life. Times when an opportunity presents itself to grow our spiritual nature by leaps and bounds. This was one of my moments, and I took it. I saw him and his dog and could have passed them by. But something deep within my soul said, See him and tell him he is seen!

Making the choice to listen to my soul opened me to a lesson I could only learn with a willingness to experience the sincerity of our exchange.  Holding him and allowing him to hold me birthed a deep and clear understanding of what it means to be vulnerable to loving without expectations or conditions.  The kind of love we all want. The depth of intimacy we all long for. The magnificent feeling of being connected to the divine in another human being.

My homeless man was an angel. A messenger of wisdom who taught me love is more than affection for those closest to us. Love does not judge or fear. Love cares and shares. To love is to feel ourselves in others. To love is to move through life in loving ways. With sensitivity and kindness. With patience, compassionate and respect.  To treat others as we want to be treated.

Each time we treat others as we want to be treated we are an ambassador of love. Being love in action is when we become one with God, if even for a brief moment. In loving we learn it is possible to feel God as real. And, our desire to experience more moments of oneness with love, grows.

“Treat others as we want to be treated,” is the fundamental guiding principle of love. And, when practiced in daily life you and I change everything on earth for the better from the relationships we have with our family, children, spouse, friends, bosses, neighbors, and the homeless, to how we respect and care for the natural world and all life on our beautiful planet.

No matter our religion, or lack thereof, what is most important to creating our best life and most fulfilling relationships is to lead with our heart and treat others as we want to be treated.  Doing so is how we love God.