Apathy’s Smile

Apathy.  I can wallow in it.  Like a pig to mud, or a duck to water, Apathy calls to me and says, “Oh there you are!”  We’ll spend days together in bed, like long-lost lovers. That’s usually how Apathy visits me – we make tired love for a time, and then Apathy leaves and I return to Productivity.  Sometimes Self-esteem even flirts with me.

It’s not so much that I’m crazy about Apathy.  It’s that Apathy offers a refuge when the rest of the world is out to get me.  Apathy provides a shield through which I can say: I don’t care what you take from me, World, you can’t take my Apathy!

But sometimes, Joy calls me.  And let me tell you, Joy knows how to beckon!  All those sweet promises and that infectious warmth…  Apathy doesn’t much like Joy.  He knows the routine. Joy takes me away. We have a raucous affair. Then Fear, marauding as Joy, steals the show.  I’ll be with Joy, blink my eyes and seconds later, find Fear in Joy’s place.  But I’m never sure, because Fear looks A LOT like Joy. One thing I’ve discovered is that Fear is a master of disguise. Fear convinces me not to look for the real Joy; he lays on guilt, threats, and ultimatums to keep me from leaving. I usually stay with Fear a while. Then ultimately, and after much heartache, I realize I’ve been duped and should have followed Joy long ago.

But Apathy’s used to it. In spite of my philandering, he welcomes me – though not without a little taunting.  See, he appreciates Irony. They like to hang out.  And I think the next best thing to finding Joy is coming home to see my Apathy smile.

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Forgiveness: Four Elements

Forgiveness is a term readily tossed about, but not readily understood.  We wrong each other, sometimes purposely, sometimes not.  And we need to forgive and be forgiven.  But what does that really mean?  If you’re the one I’m forgiving, does it mean that you owe me?  Does it mean that I guilt trip you?  Does it mean that I’m free to abuse you?  Does it mean that I’m better than you?  No.  Forgiveness is an acknowledgement of self-love and self-care.  The person who betrayed you yesterday is not responsible for your feelings today.

We gauge what to expect from the people we know and so build trust based on those expectations.  We do this by direct communication, social and cultural mores, etc.  When expectations aren’t met and trust is broken, we usually feel disappointed, betrayed or deceived.  I think of it like being slapped in the face – unexpected and painful.  In order to protect ourselves from this kind of “attack” again, we tend to use anger or possibly disappointment as a shield and reminder.  Problem is, it can be a heavy shield to bear and we may continue to bear it long after its outlived its usefulness.  Anger can eat at other areas of our life, and disappointment can make us hopeless.  There’s a balance to be struck – enough of a focus on the hurt to protect ourselves going forward, but not so large a focus that the rest of our life dims in anticipation of a future “attack.”  Fear is a potent medicine that can and does keep us safe, but like many medicines, too much is definitely a bad thing.  It may surprise you, but the key to forgiving, or letting go of the shield, is a transfer of power.  Reclaim your power.  Take it back from the one you need to forgive and then you don’t need the shield.  You aren’t vulnerable to one who’s powerless over you.

So what exactly is Forgiveness?

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Path to Awareness – Part 1

Those who lie to you want you to work for them. Do you want to work for them or for you? We’re all good judges of character. But so many of us are caught up in the chaos of our own lives and allow our insecurities to convince us that some decisions are better left to others.  But any decision that impacts your life or your community is always best left to yourself.

The path to awareness takes courage.  Systems of deception have been perfected over years, decades and centuries.  You won’t be the first who thought to leave them behind and be your own authority.  And if you turn back, you won’t be the last either.  There’s danger, fear, risk – you will make mistakes, you may even be ostracized to some degree.  You will gain the admiration of some and the jealousy of others, for striking out off the path of obedience and ignorance and toward the path of awareness and authenticity.  And there’s a new community waiting for you there.

You’ll no longer need to please anyone else to be worth something or to have done a good job.  In fact, trying to please anyone else instead of yourself is the ONLY way you can fail.

Hate, anger, fear, guilt, self-doubt, deception: these emotions will trick you. They’ll try to convince you that to succeed on your own terms is really to fail and that to fail yourself is to succeed.  Fostering regular awareness of your emotions and motivations will help you recognize these evils until it becomes as natural as breathing.  Who’s calling the shots? Is it your ambitions and confidence, or your fear and insecurities?  This, by the way, is not about throwing caution to the wind.  It’s about employing caution from a position of strength (and not, from a position of weakness, grasping at perceived bones that someone else has thrown you).

Once you plant the seed of awareness and tend to it daily, it will grow and spread like a weed.  But this weed is special and will fertilize your garden and empower you to grow anything you want.  With awareness, you’ll know exactly what you want and not be confused by what you’re “supposed” to want. You’ll start to see that words like “supposed to” and “should” are words of oppression. When you trade a piece of your heart for what someone else says is right is when you lose power and the ability to be happy and fulfilled.


In God’s Image

If we are made in God’s image, don’t we want to glorify that Image?

God’s beauty is infinite.  The expression of God’s beauty is infinite and planted in us. To stifle the expression of our unique talents and skills is to stifle the beauty and expression of God.  And to stifle God’s beauty and expression is sin.

Perhaps you, nor I, are God. But you and I together, honestly expressing the beauty within us, are one step closer to God than either of us alone. So too, are three or four, or more of us, expressing and living our highest potential, that much closer to God.  We CAN create heaven on earth.

It’s easy to find, follow and express your gifts.  Go to and develop that which makes you happy.  The kind of happy that stays with you, nurtures you, and satisfies.  The kind of happy by which you sleep well at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.  It could be writing, sewing, speaking, fostering animals, coaching, etc.  There is no price tag big enough to accommodate the number that your destiny is worth.

The devil may come about in forms of greed, fear, social mores, expectations, procrastination, or guilt.  The devil really comes down to one thing, which is Fear.  Don’t be frightened by the devil.  Look at it, understand the source of your fear and protect yourself with Love.  Then fear will lose its power over you.

You may not follow your heart because people you love and respect tell you not to.  They want to help.  But only you are in touch with the beauty God has instilled within you.  Only you know exactly how to express it.  Finding and fulfilling our destiny is, for many of us, the hardest thing we’ll ever do. It may require saying No to everyone and everything that tells us how to be and saying Yes to ourselves.  Like children, we’ll try and fail. But there is rarely any success without “failure” first. And like children, we need love, patience and gentleness to succeed.

The first step is Awareness.  And sometimes it’s the only step.  Awareness of what in your life now makes you happy, and what doesn’t.  Often times we’ll get what we think we want, only to find out that we really didn’t want it, and perhaps we gave up something truly valuable in order to have it.  Frequently this happens when we “fall”  for another person’s, or social, ideas of what is good for us.  Go within and find what’s true for you.  You’ll know it when you find it – if there’s any doubt, you haven’t found it yet.

The drive to fulfill our destiny and express our Truth is so compelling that people have died for it – not because they’re better than you or I, but because they know that to do without Truth is to feel dead inside anyway.

No one’s Truth is identical, because God’s aspects are infinite.  But all Truths come from and are nurtured by Love. Suppressing Truth for false ideals (like rich, strong, tough, successful, beautiful, etc.) leads to much pain and suffering in the world.  If we listen to our own Truth and follow it, we listen to God.  We will be naturally kind and loving.  Evil is not a part of who we are.  It is a function of compromising who we are.

God is Love, not dogma. 


Never Forget… How do we remember?

The thing I love about people is that we really want to help.  The look on the man’s face who told me about the accident…  He was VERY concerned.  He’d just run to the nearest store to dial 911.  And was taking a crowbar back to the scene to try to help un-trap someone in their car.  Sure, everyone there was probably fascinated with the shock and the horror.  But not only that, I could feel the tension and the fear.  It didn’t matter who the person was trapped in their car – what their race, religion or political preference.  None of that mattered.  Compassion was overflowing.  Oh my god, I want to help!  What can I do?  Forget about whatever appointment I had in town, I’m not going to pitch a fit about being stuck in this little traffic.  Because it was real; it was intimate.  It wasn’t a 4 or 5 lane highway, where you’ve no idea if the person in front of you is visiting or lives across the street.  It was a 2 lane country highway, where we all knew each other, even if not by name.  At some basic level, there was, and probably still is, a recognition that we’re all the same.  We’re all humans that want to live, that want to survive.  And when someone’s in trouble – really in trouble – all that other silly stuff, like who you voted for and how you pray, goes out the window. Continue reading

A Nation Of Victims

I just found this article on the Huffington Post by Russell Bishop. Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking about victimhood.  And there’s so many places to go with this – intolerance, hate, the new “Right”…

When Did We Become A Nation Of Victims?

I’ve been exploring the whole victim concept as well.  Forgiveness, for example, has less to do with the person you want to forgive and more to do with losing the victim mindset.  I say this cautiously, but in some ways, the people who undergo trauma may be more motivated to self empower than those whose setbacks aren’t as hard.  Those of us with lesser traumas generally do ok, and can eek along by complaining and distracting ourselves than actually dealing with our issues. But it’s harder to avoid, big, in your face trauma.  As you point out, to effectively deal with it, you need to act.  That means losing the victim identity, and empowering yourself to live a creative and fulfilling life.

But self-imposed victimization has become a way of life for us.  Just take a look at what advertising and politics appeal to, how many lawsuits there are, if we’re more inclined to take a pill or eat well to lose weight, the mortgage crisis.  We’re told over and over again that it’s not our fault.  And most of us are willing believers.  How much easier is it to complain and distract ourselves than roll up our sleeves and fix things?  And how many advertisers, etc. want to keep it that way?  Whether you’re a marketing guru, or political strategist, isn’t it easier to control a sedentary, helpless nation than an active, self-regulating one?
I wonder, can we “sell” self-empowerment, like victimhood is sold?  Then as a society, maybe we wouldn’t have to undergo major trauma to finally figure out (or remember) what we’re capable of.


Victims of Advertising

We could solve half our problems if we only spent time looking at them.

But, instead, we spend time and energy on distractions and blame.  Distractions like Facebook, twitter, texting, tv, magazines, alcohol, and drugs.  And blame, as in “it’s not my fault, must be somebody else’s” – like our parents, our ex, our siblings, or even our children.  I often hear the word “entitlement” associated with today’s youth.  Why? Because we’ve become a culture of entitlement and un-accountability.  “I deserve everything I want and am accountable for nothing I do.  If I do something wrong, it’s because somebody else screwed up, and I had no choice.” A victim.  And since, by its nature, a victim is helpless, all a victim can do is throw blame around and drown itself in distraction.  A victim is not empowered to deal with its problems. You don’t have to look very far to see how this happens.  Kids get cure-all drugs for the slightest thing wrong with them.  Oh, you had a bad day?  Here’s an antidepressant, honey.  And if you question it (like I did), “behavioral approaches don’t have the science to back them up, so we just go with drugs.”  By behavioral approach, I mean fostering a positive attitude, seeing if there’s a sleep deficit, looking at diet, etc.  Or perhaps a parent thinks their kid is an A student.  But the teacher feels otherwise.  Well, certainly that teacher did a piss poor job of teaching the child, or recognizing his or her gifts.  Most likely some pressure on said teacher and principle will change things for the little darling.  Of course, parents do sometimes have a point.  But how often do they not?  Teachers aren’t the authority figures they used to be, and their students know it.   Sadly, with all this pampering, kids aren’t even given a chance.  If something happens they don’t like, they’re learning to a)threaten a lawsuit, and/or b) take a pill.  Blame somebody else, and try to forget about it.  Personal responsibility as a skill is becoming lost.

You know why all this is happening?  The good old greenback.  The almighty dollar.  Big pharma has loads of $ behind studies that tout the positive benefits of every single drug available… because they sell every single drug available.  If we’re victims, we’re the perfect audience to market to. We can’t do anything ourselves.  We’ll look outward to find what we need – and pay for it.  We’ll seek things to distract us from dealing with our problems and we’ll seek whatever’s easiest.  Lose 10 lbs in 10 days without moving a muscle or changing your diet!  Have a “healthy”  homestyle meal ready in minutes!  Advertising has moved our culture away from what’s right and to what’s right now.  Its’ all about speed and ease.   If you have to put any effort in, or the results take a while to see, it’s dead in the water from a marketing perspective.  And given that most distractions we participate in are laden with commercials, we’re bombarded with that same message over and over again.  Speed and ease, speed and ease.  It’s not your fault.  It’s not your fault.  Oh, and also doctors and scientists are the authority. So as long as we think they give something the thumb’s up, it’s golden.  By the way, did you know that scientists can be bought, or they can skew their results?  Or that data can be taken out of context?  Or studies that illustrate the harmful effects of certain drugs, foods, etc. can be effectively obliterated by powerful lobbying groups?  Like smoking, for example.  Do you think some scientists knew before the rest of the world that inhaling smoke and nicotine is bad for you?  Or, even milk. Oh, wait, you probably still think milk does a body good.  Well, it does a cow’s body good.  “Cow”… obesity… connection?  I’ll save it for a later article.

The deal is this, you’ve got problems?  Someone can make money off you.  The less willing you are to look inward, the more money they can make.  It might be nice for you to believe that how you feel now is not your fault.  But, it’s even nicer for the people selling you stuff.