Forming Groups

People have been reaching out to me and inquiring more about starting a group in their area centered upon personal awakening and the book Owning Ourselves.

When they’ve  reached out and asked, they have been met with very encouraging responses. Still, they describe how simple it is to feel a connection with someone, even within a random conversation, and yet how unnerving it can be to actually step into suggesting to someone a website to visit, a book to read and then to extend an invite to them to attend a group that’s forming to discuss the whole darn thing. It all seems a bit forward.

I smile (and have to tell them I’m smiling because we’re doing this through email). I tell them that it only seems to be a bit forward because we’re so used to holding ourselves and goodness back. I remind them that stepping into goodness will always need honesty and courage. It’s the same for all of us. And we all feel better about ourselves when we do.

When someone I’m talking with and feeling comfortable with (not necessarily someone I even know…like a check out person, or the person in line behind me at the coffee shop) volunteers to tell me about a good band that’s playing somewhere, or a good restaurant they’ve recently been to or a good repair company they’ve recently used, I don’t take offense. I might be a tad surprised, even mildly amused, but still, I genuinely thank them and try to remember the information so that I can check it out if I care to. The universe is giving us freebies all the time. If we’re paying attention.

So when we meet or know someone who seems to be seeking or attuned or open minded, inviting that person into a group discussion is like inviting them to a party.

Of course, they will decide for themselves if they’d like to or not.

Either way is fine with us.

The party is happening.

Fear Moves

It’s impossible to read or watch much about politics in America that doesn’t involve fear. I do not suspect that this is unique or limited to our political process. And it seems that with each passing week, the level and volume of the messengers of fear are escalating as they all try to outdo one another. Political strategists will describe them as ‘appealing to their base’ supporters. I see it as appealing to the ‘base’ in their supporters.

In business, the cliché is: “Sex sells”. In politics, “Fear moves”.

This much is true.

Fear, however, simply doesn’t move us to the place it promises. Fear tells us that if we follow its path, we will be protected and be at peace.

Fear does not lead to peace. Never has. Never will. It leads to conflict and war. Always has. Always will.

The truth is when we follow the path of fear we will become more distrustful and suspicious, eventually of each other. The focus of our fear may shift but the fear itself only grows. When we’re living in fear, we can never feel protected enough. We can only feel disconnected and in constant turmoil.

Cowards use fear to incite and then hide (and profit) in the chaos of the stampede that follows.

It takes courage to act in trust. It takes courage to choose the path of peace. We would do well to rebuild the trust between us that is our greatest strength.


Snowflakes and Seekers

You may have noticed the snowflakes (or the random white dots cascading across the home screen). A good friend of mine thought that they would be a festive touch to the webpage…given the somewhat serious nature of most of this material. That and the fact that it’s a holiday season of sorts for certain cultures and traditions. So, I considered and chose to let there be snowflakes for the time being.

Funny thing, though, about the internet. This site is being visited daily by persons in far away places. Persons who may be unfamiliar with snowflakes or the traditions involved in this particular season. The snowflakes won’t mean a thing. Yet, how they ended up on this webpage is something we all have in common.

I believe that we are all seekers.

We enter search words and click on links because we are seeking something. We yearn to be let out, we long to let something in, and to feel connected. It’s very much like breathing. Taking in and letting out, interacting and exchanging are necessary processes of a healthy life.

We seek. That’s simply part of what it means to be human.

What we seek shapes and creates our enjoyment or our misery, our fulfillment or our emptiness. This is the truth that underlies our efforts to awaken to ourselves. We would seek to make our choices more aligned with what fulfills us than with what drains us. It’s not complicated. It does, however, require our attention.

If you haven’t yet read the book Owning Ourselves, I would ask you to consider going through it. It is a book for seekers written by a seeker who will always need to connect with you.


The Big But

There’s an outside chance you thought I might have left off a ‘t’ from the but in the title word and you might have wondered if I was about to get a little racy here.

Well, I didn’t. Not that I have any reservations about being racy. We just don’t know each other well enough yet.

I wanted to share my experience and experiment with the word but.

Here is my experience: at one point in my journey, my thoughts and sentences contained these phrases constantly…”I know but…” or “Yeah, but…” or “I should have but” or “I’m sorry but…”.

Now the word and the thought following it are more commonly accepted as qualifiers than they are considered outright refusals; more offered as legitimate extenuating circumstances rather than full blown excuses. I came to refer to it as the ‘but clause’. It’s rather a polite, indirect and crafty way to say ‘no’. It is a clear indicator of resistance.

As I suggested, the thought (clause) that follows the word but most often seems to justify staying where we are (emotionally, intellectually, physically) rather than moving on to something different. When I took the time to notice, I discovered that the word but was my way of expressing my intransigence. It was also my favorite form of shifting responsibility away from myself. Here are some examples:

  • I know what you are saying but it’s just not that easy.
  • I know I should talk to my kids more but we’re all just so busy.
  • I’ve tried telling him/her that but they just won’t listen.
  • I’d like to go for a run with you but I don’t have the right shoes.
  • I want to have a simple wedding but my mother won’t hear of it.
  • I want to tell my boss what I really think but I have to wait for the right time.

I know you have a whole warehouse full of your own examples so I won’t go on. There was one other thing I noticed about my experience with the ‘but clause’. The qualifiers that followed the word but (the thoughts or feelings) were occasionally true but almost never helpful to me or to anyone else. Read the examples above beginning from the word but. There’s not much that’s useful towards growth or connection in any of those clauses.

That’s when I decided to conduct an experiment with myself. I simply moved the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence (the period) and placed it right in front of the but word.

  • I know what you are saying. –but it’s just not that easy.
  • I know I should talk to my kids more. –but we’re all just so busy.
  • I’ve tried telling him/her that. –but they just won’t listen.
  • I’d like to go for a run with you . –but I don’t have the right shoes.
  • I want to have a simple wedding. –but my mother won’t hear of it.
  • I want to tell my boss what I really think. -but I have to wait for the right time.

Everything after the but I simply considered as bullshit. I put my focus on the statements preceding the but and, when I did, I noticed that they seemed to be my truth and they seemed to be something I could connect with and take action on that I could grow with.

The simple exercise of placing the period punctuation mark before any but helped me to recognize what I truly knew or felt. In this way I was more able to take positive actions in these situations rather than sitting on my big but.