Sunday, October 26, 2014

new beginnings....october 26th, 2014

Ideas. I am sure that we all have come across an awareness that seemingly changes our perspective and how we move through life.  I had such an idea come to me a couple of weeks ago while preparing to do a group facilitation in nearby Boulder, Colorado.  Prior to the meeting, I was thinking about how I could best help these individuals as they searched for what they wanted to accomplish in the next year.   Now each facilitations is different from each other; so while I was thinking about this activity, I was drawn to its purpose.  But the more I thought about the purpose I became more absorbed with the planning on how the event was going to transpire; which led me to feel like I really had nothing to offer them.  On my drive to the location, I had a concept come to me; so, I presented it to them and it would eventually set the tone for the event. I asked them not to think, “What are we going to do to accomplish our mission?” but to think of the more basic question of “Why is our mission important?” 

The concept of “why” over “what” is a simple one if we take the time to consider the difference.  Oh sure, “what” is an action word that means that we are busy doing “something”.  We may have started doing something based on a desire to accomplish a goal.  But how many times do we continually do the same thing over and over again without reflecting on why we are doing it.  As I think about the meeting with the group from Boulder, I remember not sensing that I left them with the best of feelings and now I know why.  I could feel that there was a sense of frustration over their final collective decision and that was because the action plan that they had chosen was the same one that they had chosen the year before.  My mistake was that I did not reflect on the comment that I started the meeting off with. Instead of allowing them to “sit” in their frustration, I should have asked them why this act was so important to them.  I should have asked that they consider not “what” or “how” but to ask themselves “why”.  The “why” will reflect their passion.  The “why” will develop their truest identity.  

There it is.  The concept of “why”.


Individually we ask ourselves, why do we want to get a better education… or to be successful in business… or to be faithful in our relationships… or to stand up for social justice? Is it just because we know it is the right thing to do?  Well, we know that telling the truth is the right thing to do.  We know that obeying the laws is the right thing to do. We know a lot of “right thing” to do’s but yet we still don’t always do them.

Now this is where the story becomes a little more personal. I have asked myself the very same thing. Why do I write… why is it so important for me to study how to be a counselor… why do I eat healthy… why do I choose to work out the way that I do… why do I have the faith system that I have?  

So let me offer this as a suggestions, when we are about to start a new phase of life or set a new goal, lets first ask ourselves why we want to do it.  I believe that once we personally know the answer to “why” it will become a lot easier to discover “what” we want to do and “how” we should do it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

streams of thought....september 30th, 2014

It is the last day of September… how do I choose to walk in it? A day… a moment… a casual meeting… a commute from one place to another… each tick of the clock is a gift.  Before I walk into the world of academia I want to put onto paper some thoughts from the creative

Do you remember having an encounter that seems to capture you but yet releases you? It is difficult to describe actually.  When I tried explaining it to myself I thought of the replacement of the wolves in Yellowstone Park.  A beautiful creature is moved from a place of danger from its environment as well as a danger to its environment.  They are captured and then take to a safer place… captured yet release into a place that provides and protects.

What are some of the words that capture you today?  Are they words that release you or are they words that restrict you?

Here are some that have been in my thoughts this morning… happiness, sadness, hope, fear, trust, peace, stillness, contentment, and perception.

Each have separate meaning yet many of them seem to be intertwined with each other. Sometimes they seem so desperate for meaning, as if they are too limiting.  However, here is where I presently reside with each of them. 

Happiness and sadness – emotions that are attached to the present. They are based on how we feel at the moment based on our interpretation of the current environment we find ourselves in…

Hope and fear – emotions that connect with the future. They are dependent upon our perspective view of life and potential events. Our perspective view is going to determine which one of these is going to be the dominant emotion. It is the farthest away from our present situation yet it seems to be one that dictates how we live with the present emotion.

Trust - an emotion that sees the living around us and either causes us to hold on tightly to what we have held on to for so long or causes us to let go to explore the possibility.

Peace – it is the undercurrent that holds up our present emotion.  When our peace becomes thin the more turbulent the “waters of our soul” becomes and allows us to drift to the more unsettling perceptions.

Stillness and contentment – the bonds that create trust.  When we encounter someone that personifies these two traits alone there is something within us that says that we can dwell in trust. These are the two arms that hold us as we let go of our present emotion of self-doubt.

Perception – the hand that holds the key to our freedom of being or locks us in a cage of negativity. This is the emotion that determines which one of the present time and future time emotions that we will choose from.

John O’Donohue writes in his book Eternal Echoes, the following:

“One of our sacred duties is to be open and faithful to the subtle voices of the universe which come alive in our longing.”

No matter our faith or non-faith… our age, race, or gender… our economic status of having or wanting… the words that we choose to reside with this morning will determine the perception that we have throughout the rest of the day.  And what word we choose to reside with is determined by the perception that we have at this moment.

Namaste…… shalom…. Peace and Light…

Sunday, September 14, 2014

streams of thought....september 14th, 2014

So, where do we go from here?  I feel as if I am on a pier looking at the different schooners coming and going into the harbor.  Each carrying a person that is destined to go this way or that.  Some to never been seen again and others to causally meet all over again when Destiny should allow.

I have my rain gear in my knapsack. No Map other than the one that speaks to my heart. My mind is full of visions and dreams. Along with Robert Kennedy, I look into the new horizon and see what is and ask “why” and see what isn’t and ask “why not”

Why not me?  I wonder to myself.  I have met people who have encouraged me to step off the pier and onto a schooner to go explore and reinvent.

Why, do I not believe what others have seen and told me?  It is as if they have gone to foreign land within me and have come back to tell me all that they have seen and a lot of it has been good.

I look to my means and say that there is no way. 

I wonder how many of us give up the richness of who we are because we see the poverty of where we reside.  I wonder how many see a box of crayons and only take out a few because we are fearful to empty out the box. We are… afraid

“Afraid of what?” my Companion of Possibilities asks…

Are you afraid to fail?  Yet, you fail at the mere rejection of practicing who you are.

Are you afraid to be seen?  Yet you are seen and have been seen every day. 

Are you afraid of succeeding? Yet you succeed at not taking the next step every time you say “no”.   

I am not sure what I think about the saying “That life is like an oyster”. That metaphor is so confining.  Oh, I get it.  Yes, a bit of Life’s grain of sand somehow gets into this nasty looking shell; which by the way is how we have allowed our perspective and heart to appear in life some times.  Over time we allow the environment to toss us and constantly wash over us in such a way that we develop a harden exterior; yet all the while inside we strive to be pliable, strong, and resilient. Yet in the midst of all this external violence that develops a crusty old shell there drops a grain of sand. The shell holds that grain of sand and somehow miraculously it turns into a pearl.

What if….

What if that clam did not open itself up to its elements? Well, simply stated, it would no longer live because it would not be able to take in what sustains it’s life… also, it would not be open to creating a pearl, a beautiful development of being.  

We, like the clam, allow the externalities of life to beat against us.  We feel the tides of time wash over us and yet we are afraid to open ourselves up to that same movement. If we are no longer are open to nourishment, we will die inside ourselves. Yes to be open to life and possibilities makes us vulnerable. However, in our vulnerability we become open to making something beautiful and to offer that beauty as a gift to others.

So, where do we go from here? 

We know in our mind’s eye what is behind us so there is no need to turn around to see it.  The past is yet a reference book to help us to understand and possibly write what is before us. 

The voices of the past either encouraged or discouraged us.

The new voices of encouragement are from those that have seen our potential and are here to remind that we have a greater story that is yet to be written.  Also, there will be voices that may discourage us so let them be considered as reminders of lessons that need to be learned.

We also know that there will be moments of silence. Silence has its own voice. Be open to the solitude of it. The sound of time’s movement will be all that we hear just like in the silence of the ocean’s bed.  We all need the sounds of silence so that our bodies can take a moment to rest. A segment of time that allows our body, mind, and spirit to catch up with each other.

As I step on to the schooner of choice this morning, there is the rocking of the vessel… maybe a creaking of soul’s bones… the flexibility of water allows the boat to move as I step into it.  This movement reminds me that life will have its ups and downs; however, it will carry me farther than if I stood on the pier wondering…

“what if”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

steams of thought...august 31st, 2014

This year we have had a relatively pleasant summer.  It has been a nice blend of intense heat along with what was seemingly a much wetter season than we are accustomed to having in this high plains desert city.  Well, that’s been my perception.

Perception... the act of perceiving.  Ah, there is that word... "act".  Everyone knows that I love looking at words (and it drives a lot people crazy when I do). Yet, when I think of “act”, I am instantly thinking of a person in movement that displays on some level their sense of identity.

And if I am correct then I have some questions for each of us…

Have our perceptions changed over time?  Have we lived a life that challenges those previous perceptions that we may have held... no carried... and guided us from the distant past?

I dare to say that if our perceptions that we had twenty years.... perhaps maybe even twenty months... yes, even twenty days ago have not changed or fluidly adapted then we have not truly lived life.  Think about this for a moment. If we have not grown emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually then we have become nothing more than a “garden gnome” in life. We will have sat or stood in "life's yard" watching cars... people... pets... rabbits and squirrels go by without a mere reflection or awareness of what is all around us.

Do you know who you are?  Do you know what you have become or have the ability to become? Do you have a dream so vivid that you can feel the emotions within you rise up when you see the life that you desire?

What are you passionate about?

Some of us are thinking about the “end of life” issues; while others are thinking about living a life.

While being aware of the former, I prefer the latter. Also, I deeply believe that we live, feel, and think in tune with the seasons of time.

This is the season of summer, a time of action, and it doesn’t feel conducive to deep reflection. No, this is the time of year that we go to the parks or take a vacation or have family reunions.  It is the season for bombastic celebrations. When like the "Fourth of July" fireworks, we seemingly just want to announce to the world.... HEY, I AM HERE!!!!!!!

This is a season when we externally search for something new; even if we go to the same beach house or camp site, we celebrate the moments when we discover a "jewel".

The season of summer... a time when we celebrate life and a time when death seems to have been suspended. Sure, we will grief over the losses that we had this summer when the leaves start to fall and we begin to move back inside ourselves to look a bit longer into the mirror.

Seasons. Movement of time. Life is all about cycles.

So again I ask…

What is that you dream about?  Is it playing on the beaches of the world?  Is it to hold your grandchild until they fall asleep in your arms? Have you ever dreamt about living at peace in your community? Have you dreamt of waking up next to someone that you are passionately connected with so much that you think more about how their soul feels than you do about having sex with them? Have you ever dreamt of climbing a mountain peak? Have you dreamt about writing a book or a song? Have you dreamt about the deeper reward of finishing a marathon, triathlon, or maybe even running around the block?

Here is my next question… when will you do them? Does your mental apparitions reflect your values? If they bring you peaceful contentment and celebration for your “inner greater angel”, then just simply make them reality.

Dreams are for those that sleep.  Let your "inner sense of being" awake and let your mind, spirit, and body transition as one fluid movement.

We are greater than the soulful slumber that has visions.  Yes, I will say this because I know that we all are thinking it… we are limited.  I get it.

I remember when Carlos, my CNA, came into my room and told me that I was going to take my first walk and it was to a chair in the room. I remember the day that I could not even walk around the block without having to stop at every corner to rest and catch my breath. I remember the day that the doctors finally said that I could go for a jog not a walk. I remember telling myself on my first day of jogging that I would "jog a block / walk a block". I remember.... yet, I am here.

We allow our perceived limitations to become bigger than the vision that we see for ourselves. Guess what.  Those limitations are nothing more than exercises for our soul. When we overcome one then we feel empowered to take on the next. We will not accomplish "greatness" with one step but we become better with each step that we take to accomplish the greatest challenge of all.  That challenge is to live a life in the most meaningful way that reflects the truest spirit of who we can become.

Our life is present whether we are or not.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

streams of thought...july, 27th, 2014

The summertime.  A hot muggy season that seems to entice so many of us with offerings that only this time of the year can afford.

A movement from indoors to the outdoors.

We do know that It is just a season right?

We will not have any control over this movement of time but we do have control over how we spend it. 

I have a few friends that love the summer season. They love sitting out at the beach or at the park or on their patios soaking in all the vitamin D that their body eagerly consumes.  Others can found at the local park playing volleyball or taking their children to the playground.   During this season, there will be swimsuit clad males and females at the waterpark or at the pools splashing around while swimming or simply having a great time. There will also be some that will spend the day in front of an air conditioner trying to keep cool and avoiding the heat all together.

We all make choices and have preferences. We all make decisions on what will make our present day the best that it can be… or maybe we won’t.

For me one of the best parts of the summer is seeing the dark clouds rolling in over the Rocky Mountains.

Today, while driving over the crest of a hill looking down into the Boulder Valley, I saw the Flatirons being engulfed with clouds and to me that is one of the most awe inspiring views that I can imagine.  

What inspires our imagination or willingness to act is many times forgotten until… well, until we encounter it again. It seems that we move through life so focused on the event right in front of us that we miss a small whisper of a notion that resides within almost every encounter. The simple fact that we have the ability to take another breath should be a moment of inspiration. Many times we look for a grand event, sign, or thought to light an emotional kindling that will launch us into an act that will give us an internal fire that generates enough energy to move us beyond our imaginations.  However, it is not always the grandiose signs but often times it is the simplest and the most silent of all that moves us to travel on a path that we would have never gone down before. It could be…

the laughter of a child…

the sound of silence moving through the aspen leaves…

a photo or a painting…

a word spoken in a conversation…

If we are open to the possibilities and recognize our own capabilities, we can be inspired by almost anything.

Can I share a secret with you?  I am blended introvert. Some of you who know me well are just smiling at something that you already have known for quite awhile.  

Rarely, will I ever get inspired by some huge rally where some dynamic speaker will get up before thousands of people to espouse their insight in how to live… to sell… to promote yourself better than anyone else.  In fact, I will definitely react the opposite way that they will want me to act.  My sense of identity is totally contrary to the bombastic experience that this type of episode offers to me.

In other words, I find my inspiration in the smallest of things… a line in a book… a drop of a beat in a song… a quiet walk at Chataugua… or perhaps that presence of another person who seeks to do more than just live. They really don’t have to say anything.  No, it is something about their presence that tells me to act on all the gifts that I have been given.

Jung once used the phrase “the birthing of death”.  He was referring to his perception that we will hit an apex of life when we will be birthing on how we will be known after we die.  Simply stated, we begin creating our own legacy. I agree with him to a point but I disagree with his conclusion that all people will die.  Oh, I know that none of will escape the inevitable but yet how we interact with others will determine how will be remembered.  Yes, we will all eventually leave this earthly vessel called our body but we will never leave the memory of another person. It is our life reconstituted in the spiritual.  It is a non-physical yet always constant presence of how we are remembered. So, how we choose to live this life… to inspire others… to interact and act upon the behalf of others are decisions that we encounter with each breath of physical life.

We know our weaknesses all too well.  We live in the winter of our souls when we seclude ourselves from others. A spiritual and emotional hibernation… even in the heat of the summer we can isolate ourselves.  Our spirit needs the warmth of inspiration.  It requires the water of walking fluidly.  We allow the fear of drowning emotionally to take away the joy of living. So, find someone that will support you as you venture out into the “swimming pool” of life.  Let them be your “floaties”. 

Enjoy life.  Enjoy the heat of the season that we move through it.  Explore your own desire. Challenge yourself and in turn you will empower others to be challenged.   

Monday, June 2, 2014

streams of thought....june 2nd, 2014

 “Watch, Lord, with those who wake or weep tonight. Give the angels and saints charge over those who sleep. O Lord Jesus Christ, tend your sick ones, rest Your weary ones, bless Your dying ones, soothe the suffering ones, pity all the afflicted ones, shield the joyful ones, and all for Your love’s sake.  Amen” – Saint Augustine

I started a book the other day titled, Exuberance: the passion for life. It has been a joy to read. The author is Kay Redfield Jamison, who is a psychologist and well known writer.  She begins the book with a line from the Augustine prayer…

“…shield the joyful ones…”

I stopped as soon as I read that simple set of words. It is not really an easy concept to wrap my mind around actually.  I mean that I agree with the author’s presentation of the fact that we often think thoughts of protection for those that are suffering. We furrow our brows like a farmer tilling the soil when we hear of a tragedy or saddening situation.  We lament over the losses of those in and around our lives. We pour the emotional “alcohol” to numb us to the painful present.


How many times do we seek to protect the joyful moments and those within them? Oh, we share in the gratefulness of the greater moments while trying to shelter those in the lesser. We speak the goodness of Creator of joy… all the while never thinking that both… joy and grief are many times brought together in the union of the universe. We will walk along the shorelines of sadness while wondering if the waters will ever calm down. We look to the rocky soil that our feet trod upon while in contemplation over the heaviness of life.  We ruminate over the misfortune… yet discard the joyful moments almost as if we already know in the soil of our soul that the seeds of negativity still lie dormant deep within.

The “joyful ones” is not just a place or only a seasonal moment.

            He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.” – Kahlil Gibran

Could it perhaps be that we look at the weight of sorrow and look lightly at the spirit of joy? We talk about “sorrow" being for a moment yet we look at joy as an experience.  They are both experiences that we will all have through this circle of life.  We will see the beauty and joy of birth while feeling the pain of loss in death. We see the hope of joy in the movement of a love; while blinded in a transition of grief.  Neither joy nor grief truly occur without the other. Someone once said that for we know “joy” because we have experience “sadness”. Gibran encourages us to not just glance on sorrow like we do an open wound but to look into it; so, that we will understand the future of healing.

Yes, Saint Augustine was wise to ask that there be a shield around those that know joy.  For it is in joy that the darkness of sorrow is given space and healing. It is the strength of joy that lifts the weakest of those in pain.  Thich Nhat Hanh, speaks of the garden of our soil when he shares with us that when a lesser seed of negativity is germinated we need to be mindful of love so that we not become chocked by the weed of hatred.  It is in the act of metta that we give ourselves and those around us the air of freedom to not be down-casted but to be uplifted

We are meant to dance as well as mourn. We have a spirit that lives within us that longs to be laughing at the simplest of things.  We all have this inner child that dares to dance to music within and it is so wanting to just get out of the chair that we have many times confined it to.  We have an inner adolescent that wants to know that it is ok to be embraced with sadness while still having the freedom to joyfully explore its own identity.  In many ways, it could be that the lack of freedom is where we get the shackles of self-restraint; so, that the desired joy of self-acceptance is denied.  

Would we not be angry if we discovered that a missing child had been entrapped and placed into slavery?

Would we not be infuriated over the knowledge of run-away teenager being abused?

Would we not grieve over the loss that a person has to accept when they are confronted with a death or illness?

That child… that teenager… they all represent something to us. They represent the innocence of joy.  The promise of hope.  They are the dream-makers in our lives. They represent the daring ability to try something that adults rationalize as being inconvenient… reckless… radical… promising.

The confrontation of death and illness symbolizes something fundamental to all of us.  They tell us that life is dangerous… fleeting… mortal… loss of freedom… it steals our dreams.

Yes, shield the joyful ones.  Protect those that have hearts that send us light into a darken present. Provide a music within them to sing to us so that we have the opportunity to dance.

We need those that have a joy to be free to reach their hands out to those that are lying down in the gutter of despair; so that in the union of connection the strength of the joyful draws those that are weak to be stronger.

If you are joyful, dance with life.

If you are joyful, speak with words of encouragement.

If you are joyful, reach out to those that are weaken.

If you are joyful, do not consider this a fleeting a moment for self-pleasure but a time to share in the journey of those that need you the most.

breaking script…. Namaste

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

streams of thought...may 14th, 2014

In those moments I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice.” – Parker Palmer from Let Your Life Speak

Have you ever found a writer, a performer, a thinker of all times, or perhaps just another person that makes both your face and soul smile at the same time? 

It may be in the way they live their lives.  It may be in some act of kindness that they have done.  It may be in what they have written.  Or it may be just because they sang something that just reached inside you.

Parker Palmer is one of those individuals for me.  He speaks with such depth and clarity, yet with the simplest of ways.

In moments that I need to re-find my way, I go to some of the writing sources that always seem to inspire me.  Yes, I find refuge in the Jewish Proverbs.  I find meaning in the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. I revisit my calling in the writings of Parker Palmer and Henri Nouwen.

We just left a winter season of introspection.  That period of time when we can pause to discover how we can live life. 

I think that we take the seasons for granted.  In winter, we move through them mindlessly and always looking for the warmer seasons to come. In the spring, we seem to be thinking about the family “vacations” that need to be planned out.  In the summer, we are outdoors and moving about going from one event to another, all the while making plans for the fall events and holiday seasons. We just do not seem to give the seasons a place where they can guide us in looking at ourselves.   

Hopefully, during this winter season of reflection, we had the opportunity to glimpse through the icy cold exterior of the day to day into a warmed life that flows inside of us.  Just as the trees had shed their leaves… a symbol of their external beauty… its life moved inside of itself to develop a greater strength in the roots, which anchor the tree into the soil of the earth.  We, too, have gone through a season of moving inside of our own souls to take a moment from the busyness of life to develop the roots inside of ourselves to anchor us for the impending seasons. 

Now in the spring season, we move into a period of renewal and rebirth.  Just as we see the flowers and the buds on the trees start to peek their colorful heads from the dark depth of their birthing place of protection, we, too, are moving into a new season of life.

If we have caught a “glimpse of (our) true life” during the season of introspection, we have discovered what path we are designed to travel on. Hopefully, we have looked at our sense of being a little differently than before.  Many times we get caught up into a cultural movement which pushes us into competing more… into earning more… into consuming more… and yet our life, that is uniquely individual, yearns for more than just moving in the same direction as everyone else.  We are reluctant… dare we say… afraid… to step outside of our environment that we live in to be different.  We have learned to live from the outside in and then wonder why we are never satisfied.  Instead, we need to pause long enough not to say how we want to live life but to listen long enough for our life to tell us how we should live it.  We are becoming deaf to the beating of our soul because the noise of the world has been turned up too loudly.

Nature has a way of teaching us so much more on how we should walk in our own present life.  We have become the consumers of the earth more than the caretakers.  A caretaker will do just that…. “take care”.  They will know the dangers and the possibilities in the land and the creatures that reside in the habitat.  It may be possible that we no longer listen to our own inner self because we are just thinking about how we can consume life not care for it.

Parker Palmer writes, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”

We all go through a season of what is seemingly lost.  Is it possible that the loss is not really a loss but a lesson?  Is it possible that the lesson is meant to be a positive teaching of how to live and love?  Perhaps the loss is showing us what we truly value and therefore giving us a chance to live those values out in a richer sense.

We see the streams of water… the current is flowing and carrying with it what needs to be taken away… perhaps the only thing the separates us from that Living Water is the icy barrier of being something that we are truly not meant to be.

Breaking script… Namaste

Friday, May 9, 2014

streams of thought....may 9th, 2014

A season of another transition is here. 

We have gone through the season of winter, a time of introspection.

We have entered into the season of spring that elicits our sense of rebirth and renewal. 

Soon, we will be going into the heat of summer, a time when we get out and play even past the setting of the sun.

Many of us are aware of the fact that we are going through a chronological transition, as well.  Some of us are going to be spending the last summer time together with a son or a daughter, who will be heading off to college or maybe they are already preparing to go on their first adventure. Many of us are transitioning from one location to another in search of a new life… a new love… a new sense of meaning.

I remember graduation time at my small local high school in Illinois.  It was an intimate affair and of course we had the graduation parties afterwards. Many of us talked about getting into college while others talked about getting jobs. We had dreams of doing something.  I think that if I had the opportunity to ask every one of my classmate what their lives would look like decades later; no one could really imagine how it would look today.  Every one of us had successes and losses.  A number of us have had the challenges of health and the turmoil of ruptured relationships; while hopefully most of us have lived challenging but yet very fulfilling lives

A few days after my graduation, I got into my Buick Century (two door of course) and drove off to a place south of Gallup, New Mexico.  Prior to this time, I had never driven past St. Louis before and even then that was with some friends; however, here I was getting ready to drive to a place where I had never been to before and to be honest was just a dot on a map.  Now, keep in mind this was before cell phones, GPS, and the internet.  So, I literally was driving alone.

After three days, I arrived to the road that was supposed to take me to my destination. I drove past a building that said “Vanderwagen” a number of times before I pulled in; so that I could ask for directions. As I walked into the building, I was mesmerized by all of the First American artifacts and the presence of being near the Zuni and Navajo reservations.  The gentleman behind the counter was very welcoming and asked me what he could do to help me.  So, I told him that I was looking for a camp for Navajo children that I was going to work at for the summer.  I pulled out my letter that told me the name of the town was called Vanderwagen and I wondered if he could give me some directions.  He smiled and said, “Well, you found Vanderwagen.”  I looked at him rather puzzled and asked him what he meant.  I soon discovered that this location that I was standing in was a mailstop and… it was Vanderwagen.  He did give me some additional information as how to get to the camp and I left with mixed emotions. 

As I walked out to my car, I realized that I had one of two options. I could travel down a dirt road and search for the place I was expected to be at for the summer or I could get in my car and drive back to my home. 

I chose to drive down the dirt road.

We all face transitions and opportunities.  If I had not gone to New Mexico, I would have never had the experience of being immersed in my first cultural experience.  It was that experience that eventually led me to the field of social justice and counseling.  If I had not driven down that dirt road, I would have driven away from an experience that has had a lifelong impact in my life. 

Yes, the road was dusty… bumpy… and winding but it was necessary.  I had to go down that road to get to where I learned a lot about myself and others.

We all have opportunities that pull us down a road that is unknown.  It is a sense of a calling or a direct action caused by a passion.  We may resist it or even consider going in another direction altogether. We may even go down the road and get to the destination; however, because it does not appear as we thought it would we may both dismiss it and possibly even miss out on a life changing experience.

 Life is never a clean map.  It all has to do with that thing that we call “tomorrow”.  We have no idea what tomorrow looks like and in the cycle of life we may even become unaware of what is possible. We look at today and miss its engagement because we are so enamored by the possible gift of the next day. We also live in a mindset that is linear.  After accomplishing our goals, we are many times lost because we are looking for the next one. 

We live in a natural world that moves in tides.  I think that this natural state of being is one reason we find the sound of the ocean so peaceful. We lay in the sand or sit on an outgrowth of land while listening to the water come in and the move out. We see the effects of the evening tides on the sandcastles that we make and we give no thought to building another one.  

I have read recently that the better life is one where we are being pulled into it as opposed to being pushed into it.  Having the choice to say “yes” to a calling or a direction gives us a sense of freedom.  However, for us to say “yes” we also had to say “no” to another option. For me to get into my car that day and drive to the camp, I had to say “no” to going back home.

So, we are in a season of change.  We should take the time to know more about ourselves and what truly pulls us.  We will then have the opportunity to grow in a new way.

We all have this season. 

We all have an inner flame that is silently burning within our soul’s threshold.  This inner fire is either going to grow more intensely or… it is about to go out.  A fire needs only a few things but the one thing that it does need to keep going and to grow is air.  So, breathe in the moment.

We need to find a way to not let the light within to go out…

because if we do…

it will be a dark and cold world.   

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Streams of thought....april 24th, 2014

“It is the passion that is in a kiss that gives to it its sweetness; it is the affection in a kiss that sanctifies it.”   

Christian Nevell Bovee 

It is early in the morning and the aroma of my freshly brewed cup coffee is still filling the air… the sun is beginning to shine through the venetian slats… the warmth of the sun filtering through the window glass is creeping along my desk.  The sounds of the day are awaken as is my own spirit. 

It is a new day.  One that is filled with no deadlines of classes or papers.  Yesterday, I sat in my chair after a moment of mediation and wondered aloud to my cat, Tigre, “what will we do today?”  Her empty glance at me looked as if the words fell into her ears and her look told me all that I expected to hear.  She looked towards me flipping her tail as if to say that it was my issue to deal with and then she looked away. 

We find ourselves many times moving from one busy schedule to another like high flying artist that glide from one high swing to the next.  Our only safety net is the one that we have created in our own minds. We move from one event to another… always… expecting... another… event… to be there for us… to… grasp.

I was wondering a few weeks ago about this issue of “passion”. 

I was in the midst of a therapeutic shift that unbeknownst to me was already in place, much like a hidden treasure in the kitchen cupboards of your grandparent’s home.   This shift that I was going through was like finding a part of me that I had never recognized before and all I could do was smile.  In fact after I had become aware of this shift, I sat with my therapist relating to her my discovery and she gave me that same smile; as if to say, that she was glad that I finally found it too. In the midst of this shift, I came to some important life questions and one of them was about the detection of “meaning”. 

So, I started to ask myself, “What do I feel pulled to?”

 As I moved through this transition from one phase to another, I sat down one morning to do some of my writings and I came across this idea of “passion”.  I began to wonder more about what “passion” looks like and how does it make me feel to have it in a healthy fashion this time. 

See, I had fought for so long against the unhealthiness of my body that I had almost forgot what it is that I am passionate about… other than survival.

It has not been that long ago when I would wake up and the first thing on my mind would be whether or not my body was going to be consumed with an infection.  At that time, my day consisted of trying to get back to a “normal” life while giving myself daily injections of antibiotics through my “pic-line”?  My passion during that time was just to get healthy; so, that I could get back to a normal life… a different life than before… but a normal life.   

Now, I sit here at my desk typing out a few words and not wondering what life will look like but more about how will I act it out. This the life that I have chosen and I find meaning in it.  I had never really expected it to look like this when I was younger. The sounds of wind chimes in the background… the smell of hot dark coffee blending with the warmth of the sunlight on a solitude morning… me with my thoughts playing as the wind chimes in my soul. 

What is passion?  In many ways it is our alarm clock.  It is our sunlight peeking through the venetian blinds of our imagination.  It is the companion when the fears and the successes of life have faded away to only come out again on “special” events.  It pulls us into the direction that our sense of being longs to go in.  Passion is the act of being who we truly are meant to be.  The quote above says much more than we may see at a first glance. Passion is the act of the kiss.  It is the movement of the artist that glides his hands… or her voice… or their feet… that reflect a heart of intimacy in displaying who they are within themselves. And the kiss is not an act of function but of celebration.  However, it is the love or affection that we have for what we are passionate that sanctifies it… or in other words sets it apart from all others.  Sometimes we meet some individuals with the kiss of greeting… a small sign of more than just acknowledgement of handshake. With passion we kiss someone that we know much more intimately. When we know a person with intimacy…someone that we have a deep abiding, almost bubbling, affection for the kiss becomes much more than just an act.  It is a sign of what they mean to us.

Passion is much more than an act of writing a check to an organization.  Passion is much more than saying that we support a group of individuals. A deep affective passion moves us from our slumber and pulls us to an intimate act of setting apart a space of our being so that we can reflect a deeper better part of who we truly are in this movement of time. It is the willingness to be almost consumed with the thought how do I do this well and how does this give me a sense of meaning that soothes my own soul.

We all have a something or someone that we believe in and we believe in it so much that we tell others from time to time.  We all have a sports team or a politician or a band or a movement that we claim as our own.  We wear the caps and t-shirts.  We put the bumper stickers on our cars. We go to rally events so that we can be in a community of supporters. However, do they make us want to get out of bed so we can find a way to engage with them?  Passion will do that. Passion will pull us not push us.  We detect the greater sense of passion and we cannot escape it gravitational yearning for us to engage with it.

 Rebecca West, an English writer, wrote these words,

“It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion.”    

 We wake up every morning with one of two feelings. 

We either wake up with emptiness in our souls that we spend all day trying to fill


We wake up with an immense passion that we cannot wait to act out and share with all that we meet.

 It is the search for and the embracing of our soul’s passion that defines not just who we are but who people remember us to be.

 breaking script….Namaste


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

streams of thought....april 8th, 2014

“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France

As a child, we all seemed to have had dreams. 

We all played games of adventure and fantasy. 

When I was young boy, we would many times grow up wanting to be the noble character of a fireman, or a sports figure, or a doctor.  It was a time when many of us simply may have wanted to be what our father’s had been… a farmer… a salesman… a person that went off to do whatever it was that they did.  During that same era, the young girls wanted to be teachers… or nurses… or to be doctors as well…. or they, too, simply may have wanted to be whatever their mothers might have been. 

Growing up in the Midwest during that time was just simpler actually.  It was simple… somewhat satisfying… yet… there was something within us that wanted more.

I remember dreaming of becoming a park ranger.  I liked the outdoors… the chance to live near the mountains… In fact, I vaguely remember a television show that was about being a national park ranger.  It was exciting… you lived in some amazing places… and did exciting things… and you got to rescue people because it seemed like every week there was somebody that needed rescuing. Then I realized that a park ranger in the mountains had to climb a lot of things; so, I quickly crossed that dream off my list because I had this fear of heights.  

We all have dreams; even now at this very moment. 

We have things that we want to accomplish.  We have weaknesses that we want to overcome.  We may be facing an illness that we are working to not only move on from but to regain a life that we once had or thought that we wanted back.  We may be struggling with a break in a relationship that seems entangled in our hearts and souls. We may dream of retiring to that beach front cottage or to travel the globe experiencing the richness of life that we have worked so hard to develop.

To dream is the life of the inner child within us.  It is the simplicity of that child that is willing to dare the impossible because, as a child, there aren’t any impossibilities.  The child within us wants to be courageous and to do that which is considered risky.  Many times the most colorful of ideas come from the child within us.  Yet, a child needs something to empower them to act out their fantasy.  It needs security. It needs reassurance. It needs to feel that no matter what happens tomorrow will be another opportunity to act the dream all over again.  It needs an adult.

The adult.  We all know this part of us all too well.  The adult is the one that says that there needs to be order and tells the child all the time that its fantasy is silly.  The adult in us counts the cost that says it is too risky to do some of the things that the inner child wants to attempt.  It tells the inner child in the back of our minds to sit down and to buckle up. The adult…. It is the one that disciplines us sometimes because the mischievous child acts out a dream on their own. It is the one that sets the boundaries too tightly because…. Well, it doesn’t want the child to be hurt.  Our adult personae tells us to be rational in an irrational world.  All the while, the adult part of us wants to have freedom to have fun… but we have stifled the child so much that we lost sight of it.

Then there is the adolescent within us that has the energy to act upon the dreams of the inner child but still needs the guidance of the inner parent.  The inner teenager says that they know that it can do what the inner child wants to do… and do it even bigger.  It is the “older sibling” that is not willing to listen to the parent because it is still deeply connected with the younger child but won’t admit it.  It is the part of us that wants to discover who we are by trying to do all that we can.  It is the energy storehouse of all the inner passion… healthy and unhealthy.  It is the reckless one that doesn’t mean to be careless but they are still trying to find their own meaning in life.  The inner adolescent is the one that looks in the mirror every day and says “what can I accomplish today because I am invincible enough to overcome anything”.  The only problem is that sometimes that internal mirror is a distorted reflective object that can create some unhealthy imagination.

We all have dreams….

We all have the ability to release the inner child into the playground of possibilities.

We all have the inner teenager that says that I can do anything… I just don’t know what it is that I want to do.

We all have the adult that has learned over time how to protect itself and to plan out a contingency when things go awry.

Sometimes we forget about that inner child and lose sight of our dreams of desires. 

Many times the inner adolescent shows up as our insecurities of just not knowing what we want to do and questions sometimes if the dream that we dare to “dance” with will say yes.

Life is filled with risks and dares us to dream… when the inner part of who we truly are becomes present that is when we can live this life with the richness of meaning.


Breaking Script… Namaste.

Friday, March 21, 2014

streams of thought....march 21st, 2014

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

How many times has this happen to each of us?  No matter how many times we look at a situation… or a neighborhood… or a relationship… or a favorite book we will see something that we feel that we have never seen before. 

A patient was sitting on the end of the examining table in a surgeon’s office; where they wondered what is going to happen next.  A few months earlier, they had survived a major surgery that eradicated a cancerous growth.

Now as the patient was sitting in the office, they reflect about the subsequent procedures that they had to go through in the past few months.  The body was slowing and effectively losing weight… denying them of a life that they had known before… while their re-occurring infections had become a way of life.  No one really knows how to move while living a life that is always in question. Their body betraying them over and over.  Yet the surgeon said that there wasn’t a serious infection.  How can this be the patient thinks to themselves?  How can it be that the weekly packing of wounds is nothing more than a minor event?


We look at life differently at different stages of our lives.  We come into our adolescence with a reckless abandon.  We are no longer “young children” with limitations. We are now teenagers with developing dreams.  We begin the pilgrimage of discovery.

We get our first job and there is a sense of accomplishments when we receive that first paycheck.  We head out to spend it because now we have freedom to choose what we want to buy because after all it is our money.

We fall in love.  We dream of a life with another person for perhaps the first time. We wonder what life will be like and what kind of home we will have together.  We see them in our thoughts and carry them in our hearts.

We hold our first born.  We wonder if we will be the best parent.  We wonder if people will write books about our parenting skills or maybe we will do parenting seminars on how amazing we were as the mentors and guides in this brand new life.

We lose the first person that we ever felt close to.  We may have lost them through a variety of circumstances.  They may have left because of divorce… or separation… or an illness…. or perhaps even through death.  The pain is too great to carry.

We write our first blog or article. We wonder if anyone will read it. We wonder if anyone will laugh at the humor in it or be provoked to reflect on an inner aspect that had been hidden away.

We get the difficult news that we have cancer.  No one wants to hear the “C” word.  It is almost as if people will look at you with some level of pity; while all the while they are thinking that you are going to die.

Life is about discoveries.  We can sit on our comfy couch and watch Netflix or the Discovery Channel thinking that we are becoming enlighten. Or we can get out of the four walls that we call a home and immerse ourselves into life itself.  Life is more than just walking, sleeping, eating, crapping, pissing, and/or dreaming of something better.  Dreaming without action is nothing more than a fantasy.  It is when we engage and act upon those dreams that it actually becomes life… moments of reality.  

Rollo May writes, “…keep in mind that being is a participle, a verb form implying that someone is in the process…” (1983, p. 97)  Nature by its very own essence is in a state of process.  We celebrate seasons of change because the earth is constantly evolving.  It is when we stop discovering something new is when we are in danger of not living or at least not living in a dynamic way. This is a beautiful life that we have the opportunity to live.  I am reminded that a rabbi once said that we all have a phenomenal gift and it is when we do not exercise that gift will the world become a poorer place.

We will come face to face with chances to learn something new about ourselves, others, or the world in which we live in. We will encounter the uncertainty of the next moment.  It is an inevitable event.  So…

What will we do with it? 

What will we need to do so that we discover more deeply the person that we truly are meant and desire become? 

What is the one thing that we have conveniently ignored?

I pulled my car over the other day and walked around a neighborhood that I had driven through many times.  I soon noticed yards… porches… backyards… people in ways that I had never seen them before.  It was not that the landscape had changed but what changed was my own perspective.  Maybe, like the surgeon, we need to stop looking at the malady with the same perception as we had been looking at it for the past few months or years.  Maybe we need to not get upset with the person who almost ran us over as we crossed the intersection while we were jogging.  Perhaps, we need to stop and try to tell the other person’s story with the emotions and vision that they have about the subject; so, that we can have a better dialogue instead of an argument.

Life is not a static adventure.  It is an organic movement that demands our interaction for us to fully be present.

Breaking script….Namaste