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Category: Getting To Enough

abundance and lack, moves toward a simpler life, “I am enough”

WALK THE REAL

WALK THE REAL

I’ve been beating my head on the wall I’ve made using the flood of abundance-mindset and positive-thinking books – past and present – that populate my shelves as well as articles and posts and audio tapes and video thingummies and podcasts that lurk in the spaces my computer can reach.

It all sounds so good.  It’s all warm and fuzzy and smiley-face cool.

It’s also cotton-candy unsatisfactory.  I’ve got a really bad sugar-high going and the crash is imminent, looming, and certain.

THERE IS PLENTY – INSIDE AND OUT

It’s a truth, you know.  It really does feel better to understand that, for real, there is plenty for everybody and that we live in a spectacularly abundant natural world.

Understanding that there really is enough for you and yours is a marvelous thing to carry around with you in your head and in your heart.

As a wise old guy I knew once said, “You live most of your life inside your own head, so it makes sense to make sure it’s a good space.”

I’ve always liked that one.  It’s been one of my guiding lights as I wander around in this old world.

lighthouse
“Lighthouse” by Peter Merholz via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
No matter what’s going on outside, if my inside is together and is what Hawaiians call “pono” – righteous and balanced between myself and others – then I can keep on walking and keep on getting to where I want to go and I can walk lightly instead of stomping around like some cut-rate T. rex.  (Dinosaurs are so yesterday, ya know.)

Building up our internal abundance, as Marianne Williamson points out in her book, EVERYDAY GRACE:  Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness and Making Miracles, does, indeed, work to mitigate external lack and turn it around.

She says, “As long as we remain vigilant at building our internal abundance – an abundance of forgiveness, an abundance of service, an abundance of love – then external lack is bound to be temporary.”  She’s right too.

Teacher, speaker, and author Charles Eisenstein has spent a lifetime looking at the Big Questions (Where do I come from?  Why am I here? Where am I going?) and fiercely focuses on themes like civilization as we know it, human consciousness, money, and cultural evolution.

His is one of the best explanations of the effects of so-called “scarcity thinking” I’ve ever come across.

In his book, THE MORE BEAUTIFUL WORLD OUR HEARTS KNOW IS POSSIBLE, he lays it out:

“From our immersion in scarcity arise the habits of scarcity.  From the scarcity of time arises the habit of hurrying.  From the scarcity of money comes the habit of greed.  From the scarcity of attention comes the habit of showing off.  From the scarcity of meaningful labor comes the habit of laziness.  From the scarcity of unconditional acceptance comes the habit of manipulation.”

And that’s another truth.

ABUNDANCE IS NOT ALL THERE IS

The thing is, I do sort of agree with Richelle E. Goodrich, a poet and novelist who does epic young adult fantasy books and has published a couple of collections of musings about life as well.

In one of her books, SMILE ANYWAY, she says, “You can add up your blessings or add up your troubles.  Either way you’ll find you have an abundance.”

wall-full-of-happy
“Wall Full Of Happy!” by Steve via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The whole abundance thing can easily get to be…well…sort of dogmatic.

It’s easy to maintain the mindset when you’re surrounded by supportive group-think folks.  It’s like being in the middle of a wonderful group hug.  It feels really good.

But, the whole abundance movement thing can get hairy when you’re not surrounded by like-minded people and affirmations are a really crummy shield when there are guys gunning for you and acting out of their own sense of scarcity and not-enough.

There are predators in the world.

There are manipulators.

There are bad breaks and you can get blindsided by factors and conditions you haven’t noticed or considered.

At any given time, there are resources that you want and need which are not available to you when you want or need them.

While it is a truth that you create your own world, it is also a truth that everybody else creates their own worlds as well…and together we make the world we all have to live in.

The one thing about being human is that nobody is the sole creator of this consensus world of ours nor are we the progenitors of Life-Its-Own-Self.  Humbling, I know, but there it is.

Some parts of our consensus world are not so good.  It’s a work in progress, after all, and the builders often disagree on what goes where and what happens next.

An old proverb (probably German) tells us, “God gives us everything we need, but he doesn’t throw it into the nest.”

well-hello-there
“Well, hello there” by Bill Collison via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
That one’s been around a long time.  Another truth.  It’s all out there, but you have to notice it.  Then you have to get up and go get it.

I find that I’m leery of the idea that I’m a magnet à la that Law-of-Attraction thing.  I keep seeing images of stuff flying through the air and hitting me upside the head.  Ouch!

MY OWN THOUGHTS

My own thought is that abundance-thinking is just a part of your Living Life toolbox.

What the abundance-thinking mindset helps with is figuring out a way to go for it which does not cause a lot of collateral damage that comes back to bite you or that haunts you until the end of your days.

This, I think, is a very good thing.

Maybe the positivity thing is like vitamins and minerals.  You need a minimum daily dose of the things for your body’s optimal performance and you can take supplement pills to make sure you get them all, but you do have to stay aware that even stuff that’s good for you can kill you if you overdo it.

lucy-in-the-sky-with-diamonds
“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” by Steven Depolo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

THE ANTIDOTE TO THE PARADOX

Perhaps the only antidote to this paradox is developing receptivity and looking at the appropriateness of any given action.

“Receptivity” is all about noticing.  You see and accept what’s in front of you.

“Appropriateness” is doing just enough to move something in a certain direction and nothing more.

It’s like an aikido of the mind.  The whole point in aikido is to notice the direction your partner-in-play is making and to help them go in that direction (perhaps more definitely than they want) and, thus, to move them out of your own way.

aikido
“Aikido” by Javier Montano via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Then you’re free to go do what you want to do.

ALWAYS MORE QUESTIONS

Here are some questions to consider before you go off loaded for bear or walk through an outlaw town as the guy or gal without a gun:

  • Is the action you’re planning to take an appropriate response to whatever circumstance you are facing?
  • Are you receptive to the world around you? Are there conditions or factors in a situation that could have an impact on what you are trying to do?  What can you do about them?
  • Are you noticing things that are wonky in another person’s walk? What can you do to mitigate the effects of that?
  • Are you noticing things that you are doing that just don’t work? Can you do something different that might work better?

One of my favorite quotes is from poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That last may be the biggest test to run on any action before you take it:  How will it make other people feel?  Are you good with that?

swirling-a-mystery
“Swirling a Mystery…for Kim Marie and Aunt Hinkle” by QThomas Bower via Flicker [CC BY 2.0]
Here’s a poem:


I WILL KEEP WALKING

 I guess it’s confusing for

Some people in my life.

They’re never quite sure

Whether I am a grizzly

Pretending to be a chipmunk

Or a chipmunk

Pretending I’m a bear.

 

I figure that’s cool.

I think that’s fair.

 

The ones who care about me

Apparently don’t mind:

That creature-feature’s just me,

And the ones who love me embrace it,

Knowing that just as they walk their way

I am walking mine.

 

I figure that’s great.

I think that’s fine.

 

The ones who have agendas

And shoulds and oughts and want

Their opinions to have dominion

Are likely to think twice

‘Bout coming at me sideways,

May think the cost of doing that

Might not be worth the price.

 

I figure that’s cool too.

I think that’s nice.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Making Cotton Candy” by Steven Depolo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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WORRY-BUSTING (Another Inner Peace Symptom)

WORRY-BUSTING (Another Inner Peace Symptom)

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a disinclination to encourage catastrophic thinking and worrying.  [Worst-case scenarios rarely happen.  Allowing yourself to get caught up in mind-loops about them just makes you dizzy and paralyzes you.]

THE HUMAN DIFFERENCE

I am reading a book, BODY INTELLIGENCE:  Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life by the renowned body energy expert and holistic psychologist, Dr. Joseph Cardillo, PhD.  A fascinating read.

It starts from the premise that “you are energy, your world is energy, and everything in your world is energy.”  It goes on from there.

In it, the good doctor combines Western science, technology, psychology, holistic medicine and ancient wisdoms as well as years of experiences and stories to teach you how to tap into your own inherent human energy.  He presents helpful suggestions and strategies that enable you to access this energy and help you live your best life.

One interesting concept Cardillo points out is this:  Unlike other animals, humans have the gift of visualization.  Lucky us.

We humans can imagine events that haven’t happened and we can actually see them in our mind’s eye.  We can build whole worlds in our heads that don’t exist and plop ourselves right inside them.  We can make up epic stories about what can happen to us in these worlds we make up.

The reason you can do this, Carillo explains, is because of your brain’s attention network which relies on information you’ve stored in your memory as well as all the millions of bits of external information that’s available to you and how you gather this information together.

We humans are all so good at doing this that we can trigger very real emotional and physical reactions in ourselves.  Consider this.  In the middle of a strong visualization you can have all kinds of feelings and thoughts about the imagined scenario.  You just naturally consider all kinds of possibilities – some good, others bad.

Because we are such integrated creatures and since our minds affect our bodies as much as our bodies affect our minds, visualization can be a blessing or a curse.

You can ride so high on a tide of bliss that you lose your way, like a balloonist tossed around in high winds.  (Bliss feels really, really good.  Mostly, though, you can’t steer well when your head’s all spacey like that.)

Ideally, if you are able to ride out the less-idyllic aspects of your visualization, you can use the swift kick in the behind that’s the gift that the uneasiness and queasiness we call “worry” carries to sharpen your focus on the situation you’re imagining, to enhance your comprehension of its nuances and ramifications, and to effectively execute actions to overcome assorted real-life challenges that you are likely to face on your way to your envisioned goal.

Alternatively, you might be overwhelmed and drown in the anxieties that arise as a result of your visualization of all of the possible disasters, catastrophes and other worst-case scenarios that your mind can conjure.  This last can cause serious damage to your body and your mind.

worry
“Worry” by Kristian Dela Cour via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

THE DOWNSIDE OF WORRYING

Anxiety, which is a natural consequence of worry, triggers your body’s flight-fight response.  This causes your body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol, which can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel.

Physical reactions (in alphabetical order) could include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Nervous energy
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and twitching

Studies have shown that if the excessive fuel in your blood caused by chronic anxiety and all that outpouring of stress hormones is not used for physical activities, there can be severe consequences.  Muscle tension, premature coronary artery disease, and heart attacks are possible.  Your digestive system gets wonky and your immune system gets compromised.

Not only that, but short-term memory loss is not uncommon.  If the excessive worrying and high anxiety continues, they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Catastrophic thinking, worrying, and anxiety is not a good alternative.

dont-worry-be-happy
“don’t worry, be happy” by anthony fain via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

BACK-TO-THE PRESENT METHOD

This You-Tube video, “Three Steps to Overcoming Worry” was published in 2014 by depression counselor Doug Bloch who is, himself, prone to anxiety, worry and depression.

Again, here are Bloch’s Big Three:

  • Reel in your mind to the here-and-now, where you are safe.
  • Acknowledge that your catastrophic thoughts are not real.
  • Positive self-talk or action that allows you to focus on the outside world rather than hanging out in your interior spaces help break the hold of a persistent worry.

FIGHT WORRY WITH KNOWLEDGE

Another way to deal with the tendency to catastrophize and worry is to develop mastery.

Joshua Slocum was a solo sailor who set out to sea from Massachusetts in a stubby oyster sloop just shy of 37 feet on April 24, 1895.  He said he was going to circumnavigate the planet by himself in this small sailboat.  Everybody thought he was insane.

In his book about his adventure, SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD, Joshua said, “To know the laws that govern the winds, and to know that you know that you know them, will give an easy mind on your voyage round the world; otherwise you may tremble at the appearance of every cloud.”

The young man giving a review about a book called THE WORST CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK in this You-Tube video published by 190 granary in 2009 obviously agrees that the best strategy is to figure out what you’re going to do ahead of time.

The book was written by Joshua Borgenicht and David Piven.

TO-WORRY LIST

Everybody has a number of concerns that are important but not in-your-face-urgent.  They’re the stuff you know you need to address at some point when you’ve got some breathing room.

The problem is Urgent has a tendency to overshadow Important – things like de-cluttering your life, developing a saner budget or diet, putting together a will, getting your important files and papers organized or upgrading your education — get buried under more mundane things like “What’s for dinner?” and “What are we going to do about _____________ (fill in the blank with some cliffhanger dilemma).”

Martial artist Jim Brault, author of several books about martial arts mindset including A PATH OF MASTERY:  Lessons on Wing Chun and Life from Sifu Francis Fong, suggests constructing a To-Worry List.

Brault says the reasoning behind constructing a To-Do List is that once you write the thing down on your list, you know you will be coming back to it and you will be addressing it so you don’t have to think about it until it’s time to do the thing.

The To-Worry List is a list of stuff you know you want or need to attend to.  These are things that you know you want to address.

They are important, but they don’t have to be done right away.  They’re the things that nudge and poke at you every once in a while or lie there waiting for you to notice them again and again and again.

The To-Worry List, he says, is a promise to yourself that you really are going to look at each issue again.  Write them down.  Let them sit.  Revisit the list and put in some time considering different approaches.

Make decisions as you figure out what you want to do as the next step to move each one forward.  Do one step and finish that step.  Keep on coming back, making decisions, do another step.

Do that often enough and your mind will begin to believe that it can let go of the worry the issue evokes.

A WORRY-FREE LIFE

My favorite take on this whole thing is this YouTube video, “The 5-Letter Secret to a Worry-Free Life” posted by Goalcast in 2017.

The video features His Grace Gaur Gopal Das, a former software engineer who became a monk, a student of the Vedas and a disciple of Radhanath Swami.

Here’s a poem.


CONTROL

Control…ummm…

What we talkin’ here?

Who is being done to?

By whom?

And who be doin’ the doin’…

Or the not-doin’.

 

Are we talking structural constraints?

Are we talking mile-high walls

And fences with concertina wire on top?

Are we talking moats?

Are we talking dead-ended cul-de-sacs

And mazes filled with man-traps

Built like cockroach motels?

Are we talking barred and shuttered windows?

Are we talking triple-padlocked gates?

Are we talking doors with twenty-seven assorted locks

Plus electronic surveillance connections

And flying spy-drones buzzing ’round?

 

Are we talking border guards and canine patrols –

Or maybe squads of trained jackals and baboons?

Are we talking shackles and chains?

Are we talking those restraining jackets and sticky stuff

They dress you in when you go mad because

There’s no place you can catch your breath

And no place you can stand up straight?

 

Are we talking economic privileges and sanctions…

A whole other can of nasty?

Are we talking societal mores and pronouncements

Set in ersatz-stone

That damn you ’cause you do

And damn you ’cause you don’t,

All of them promulgated by the fearful

Who hope to turn the Mystery into Disneyland –

Oh, of course,

“For our own protection….”

Trying really hard to shrink the infinite

Into comfortable little boxes

Available at Wal-Mart as a set of four for $5.99?

 

Are we talking mind-games?

Are we talking emotional push-buttons and whack’em down hammers

Wielded by little old blue-haired ladies in tennis shoes

And their stiff old Robber Baron honeys –

The Guardians of Propriety – in their bastions of status quo?

Are we talking poisoned slings and arrows

Shot by the stainless-steel cute crowd –

The ones with the amassed “buzz?”

Are we talking bitter, bile-laced flamethrowers

In the hands of the designated Victims of the World,

Who are on some perpetual whine or other

About how it is all Somebody Else’s fault

And how, now, THEY gotta pay?

 

Or maybe we’re talking ’bout

The prove-you-love-me moves,

The expectations and the if-then slides

From the ones in whose hands you have already placed

Your raw and bleeding heart.

 

Gee, wow.

I’m not a fan.

Does it show?

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Maui” by Francois via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

 

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IN GIVING WE TRUST

IN GIVING WE TRUST

I was listening to a soon-to-be ex-tenant of mine ranting on about how the past two years of her life spent on a little island in the Pacific that the P.C. (Politically Correct) crowd touted as the dream place to live had been most unsatisfactory.

Her body held rigidly erect as she stood flat-footed on the ground, she had thrown down her bandana and was giving up.  “Going home,” she said.  “I’m going home.”

And then there was a truly heartfelt cry.  “Where’s the ah-low-haw?” she blared.

I thought back on our relationship of the past six months and could not even begin to explain to her that her habit of following Mark Twain’s snarky definition of the “Diplomacy Principle” – give one and take ten – might be at the heart of her difficulties in moving gracefully through the life here in the islands.

It got me to thinking on the issue of generosity and the dance of give-and-take that smooths the way for some folks here and frustrates the expectations and hopes of so many others.

THE THING ABOUT ALOHA

There’s a lot of hoopla and hoo-hah about the concept of “aloha.”  Poetic metaphors and sappy slogans abound.

There have even been government-sponsored public relations campaigns aimed at mitigating what some smarty-pants see as a diminishing of an important “asset”….as if the whole thing is a commodity that can be bought and sold.

aloha
“Aloha” by Danielle Chang via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
These smarty-pants have tried to define “aloha” as “reciprocity.”  But that’s not really it.

The basic “reciprocity” thing is all about “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”  That is not aloha.  That’s a trade agreement.   It could also be a pathway to collusion and conspiracy.  As a way of living it tends to get as clunky as a hula danced by a robot.

 IT GOES BACK TO CARING AND TO THE LAND

Old-style Hawaiians had a very different take on the generosity thing, it seems to me.

It begins with a concept:  ‘aina.  The word literally means, “that which feeds.”  It is also the word Hawaiians use for “land.”

The land here was bounteous and mostly kind.  It fed the people well, if the people took care of it.  If they took care of each other and shared what they had and what they produced with one another, life was good.  It’s an underlying mindset that is just one of the realities of island life, I think.

I’ve thought on it a bit.  Some folks say the Jewish kosher rules about food had a lot to do with dealing with food-spoilage.  Many of the dietary rules are practical and pragmatic and encourage the safe handling of food.  They were all developed before the advent of refrigeration.

The same holds true in the tropics.  Food spoils very quickly without refrigeration.

If you killed a pig, you threw a feast and shared the meat with everybody around because there really was no way to preserve it.  Three hundred pounds of rotting meat makes a mighty stink.

A tree that produced an abundance of fruit meant that you went looking for people to share in the bounty or faced a mountain of rotting fruit.  (It got problematic if all your neighbors had the same kinds of generous trees.)

A plentiful catch of fish could be dried, of course, for the times when the fish were scarce or the sea was rough, but the ocean is always there, and mostly it is kind to those skilled in the arts of caring for and gathering in the abundance.  There were always relatives and friends and other people who had no easy access to it and who would appreciate a taste of the sea.

Taro fields produced large quantities of food if the land was well-tended – much more than one extended farmer-family could consume.

taro-and-valley
“Taro and Valley” by Jen R via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
You gave away more than you kept.  Everybody did.  Hoarding makes no sense if all the treasures are perishable and have a short shelf-life.

And if your hands are free and your heart is open, well…the people around you tend to give things to you as well.  Why not?  They have more than enough their own selves.

It works better that way.

You  malama (care for) the land that feeds you and you malama the people around you because if the land and the people continue to prosper, so do you.  This is the hidden meaning, the kaona, in the word “aloha.”

 THE SHARING HABIT

This habit of sharing is ingrained in the island culture.  It’s pretty much unconscious, it seems.  You give and what goes around comes around.  It makes a circle of goodwill that is inclusive and that keeps expanding as more folks come and join in the dance.

 Immigrants came from many other places.  Many of them were worker-people brought in to toil in the fields of plantations, large and small.  They were poor folks and they knew about hard.  They also understood about having to depend on the goodwill of neighbors and strangers for their own survival.

The land was giving and the new people, too, joined in the circle of sharing that was already established, and so it went.  They survived and many of them thrived.

The sharing – the thing we call “aloha” — is not about giving with the expectation of getting back something from the person you gifted.  You give because you know that in the giving, somewhere down the line, when you need it, somebody else will be there to give you what you are needing.

It is about trusting that together we all can make an abundance that we can keep growing.

It is a hard thing to explain to others who see the whole dance as a zero-sum game, where the resources are limited so you have to grab as much as you can as fast as you can or you will end up with nothing.  It isn’t the same as “if you get more, I get less.”

MALAMA THE ‘AINA

I got to thinking about all this again when I ran across this video, “Molokai Words of Wisdom,” that was put together by Molokai filmmaker Matt Yamashita and his Quazifilms Media using snippets from other videos he’s made.

It holds the thoughts of a number of elders and passionate younger people who live on the island of Molokai, where I grew up.  Among other things it is an attempt to explain about what it means to “malama,” to care for the land and to care for each other.  It is most beautiful.

Matt was raised on Molokai and after receiving his BFA from Chapman University, he came home to become the island’s first professional filmmaker.  With a small budget and limited resources, he’s been producing hit-the-heart documentaries and videos since 2001.

His list of clients reads like a who’s who of folks who are working on preserving the ancient  wisdoms.  Among them have been the Polynesian Voyaging Society, OiwiTV, University of Hawaii, Queen Liliu’okalani Children’s Center, Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission, Pacific Islander’s in Communication, First Nations Development Institute, Departure Films, Notional, Gaia, Sacred Lands Film Project, Mill Valley Film Group, Protect Kaho’olawe ‘Ohana, Honua Consulting, Pacific American Foundation, Hui Ho’oniho, Tau Dance Theater, Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation, Hui Ho’opakele ‘Aina, Na Pu’uwai Native Hawaiian Health Systems, Molokai Community Health Center, Ala Wai Watershed Association.

The list also includes assorted government and media groups like Maui County AHEC, Hawaii State Department of Health, Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, and KITV, KHON, KGMB, and KHNL news stations.

Check out his other videos on his You-Tube channel.  They are amazing….

Here’s a poem:


HISTORY

It’s said we are all

By our history defined.

All the people before us,

The panoply they made,

The great and winding parade,

Continues onward, onward in us.

 

Some say we are doomed

To repeat the mistakes of

All the ones who’ve gone before.

Others say we will transcend

The Was and do another thing

That never before was seen.

 

I’m not sure that either side

Has the right of it.

I say we will do what we do as we do it,

Just like those ones of old,

And in the tomorrows before us

The consequences will inexorably unfold.

 

Let us pray those consequences

Are good ones….

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture:  “Sharing” by Josh Harper via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

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RADICAL GENEROSITY

RADICAL GENEROSITY

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that generosity is not a down-payment on love.  [Generosity is spill-over when you’re feeling full.]

I am reading a book, LOVE LET GO:  Radical Generosity for the Real World, by Laura Sumner Truax and Amalya Campbell.  It is a story about an amazing church congregation in Chicago, the LaSalle Street Church, who received a totally unexpected windfall:  a check for $1,530,116.78.

windfall
“Windfalls” by Rhia via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
The check represented the church’s share of proceeds from the sale of an urban property that they had bought in the 1970s with three other churches.  The land had been used for a desperately needed low-income housing project in the neighborhood, Atrium Village, which had served the purpose for more than 25 years.

The church’s heartful investment had been returned…in spades.

This 2017 YouTube video of a “100 Huntley Street” interview with pastor Laura Sumner Truax, one of the authors of the book, is a kind of a teaser for the book.

As Truax says, the church leaders made a wild, counter-intuitive move that changed the game on a clear day in September, 2014.  The leaders used ten percent of the windfall money to tithe back to the church members.  Each church member received a $500 check with the injunction to go out and do good in God’s world.

The leadership of the church also encouraged the members to participating in the effort to study and pray on how they were going to allocate the rest of the windfall funds, the “Big Money.”  More than half of the congregation spent nine months on the project.

The book tells the story of what happened and what the people involved in this exploration learned as a result.  It was and remains an ever-evolving, extraordinary process and journey, one that makes my heart smile.

a-give
“a:give” by John and Aga Brewster via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

THE GIVING CHURCH

LaSalle Street Church was built in 1886 in the near north side of Chicago by Swedish immigrants who never once worshipped in it.  The congregation had been left bankrupt by the effort of its construction.

Its history of hard luck and scarcity continued throughout the church’s long history of involvement with a community that is diverse and sometimes volatile.  One of the primary principles the church has always held to is this:  Giving is better than receiving.

They really did walk their talk even though most of the time the church was, like their neighbors, “just getting by.”

Giving didn’t change the church’s financial circumstances but it did change “the way LaSalle wore its scarcity,” as authors Laura Sumner Truax and Amalya Campbell lyrically puts it.  They did it with style and their acts of generosity were truly appreciated.

During the 1960s, when Chicago exploded in the violence and vitriol of the race riots, local youth protected the LaSalle Street Church from burning.  The angry young ones who were pressing for change remembered.  They protected the people who helped them through their hard times.

The church has always been a major light in the community.  Senior citizens who needed company and a meal, the kids looking for sanctuary and a safe place to go after school and residents who were caught up in a legal system they could not navigate all found what they needed at the church.

This video, which was put together by Faustino Productions in 2015, was published on YouTube by tinogon1942.  It shows the aftermath of the Chicago riots on the west side of Chicago after Martin Luther King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 as the Supreme’s “Stop In the Name of Love” plays.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Chicago officials embraced the concept of urban renewal and started creating high-density, high-rise dwellings like Cabrini-Green and relocated people from the poorer parts of town to these new developments.  The joke going ’round then among the city residents was that the program would have been more aptly named “urban removal.”

In reaction to this government program, LaSalle Street Church’s senior pastor at the time, Bill Leslie, preached a commitment to turf.  La Salle stood at the edge of communities in transition.  On one side, some of the city’s neediest residents lived.  On the other side was some of the most expensive real estate in Chicago.

Leslie thought that the church could be a meeting place where everyone was welcomed.  He and his congregation of fifty-some members believed that at the bottom of it all the church was all about all of us people being in this old mess of a world all together.

The members who were better-off materially saw themselves in their poorer neighbors’ situation.  They understood the struggles and they also believed that they needed their neighbors as much as their neighbors needed them.   They looked for a way to help.

In this they were aided by local congressman Robert L. Thompson, an African-American who was also a long-time resident of the city.  Thompson worried over the impact of urban renewal on the thousands of his constituents who were facing displacement.

When Thompson was offered a bribe of ten thousand dollars to influence the award of the rights to the land occupied by the LaSalle’s row house neighbors, he refused.  Then he called Leslie.

Somehow the congregation found what they thought could be a solution to their neighbor’s problems.  There was a plot of land for sale that sat to the west of the church, juxtaposed against the homes of high society to the east.  It was big enough and near enough for a housing development to which their neighbors could relocate and still be neighbors.

Over the next two months Leslie rallied LaSalle and several other churches to invest one thousand dollars each in a campaign to secure the land rights.  (When you consider that Leslie’s own salary hovered around three thousand dollars at the time, it was a goodly sum of money back then.)

The housing project that grew there, Atrium Village, was the first housing development in the country to be financed and constructed by state, private and church funding.  It took years for all the players to finally agree to the vision of a truly diverse project:  50 percent black and 50 percent white; 50 percent market-rate and 50 percent under-market rate rents.

The first apartment tower was dominated by a nine-story open atrium.  That atrium gave the “village” its name and it lessened a significant fear factor.  The central atrium left no dark hallways in the building.  Light flooded in.

Also, there were glass elevators that allowed light and visibility and the courtyard area around the buildings provided safe places for children to play.

Atrium Village opened to a flood of three thousand applicants.  It became a solid anchor in the community and was a testing ground for finding the best practices for community-based housing.  It was also the first of three building projects the church undertook in the neighborhood, all of which focused on building community engagement among people who were different from one another.

The other two were a building for senior housing and another for a legal-aid clinic.

Here’s a short YouTube video, a for-rent ad for Atrium Village apartments, published in 2012 by apartmenthomelivingA.

THE SALE

In the early 2000s, almost 25 years after Atrium opened its doors, La Salle got word that the primary investor in the development wanted to sell its interest.  The restrictive covenants on Atrium would soon expire without possibility of renewal.  The city was in the process of demolishing Cabrini-Green, the public-housing complex of 30-story buildings that had been a long-time neighborhood fixture.

The new model for government thinking on the public-housing problem was dubbed “scattered site” housing.  Instead of monolithic structures, the vision now was lower-density, low-rise units that served a diverse population – exactly the vision that the people who made Atrium Village happen advocated.

The times they were a-changing…again.

Even though the churches who initiated the Atrium Village project represented only a 15 percent interest in the property, as a voting bloc, they could stop the sale of the property.  Two of the partner churches faced almost certain closure by their denominations because their memberships had dwindled down to mere handfuls.

The church memberships had watched the Cabrini-Green towers come down, knowing that the retail developers were also watching it happen.  Condominiums that cost upwards of half a million dollars were being planned.

The churches, all of whom were like LaSalle and framed their ministry on being bridge churches, understood that their neighborhoods were changing.  They finally reached an agreement to sell their interest while negotiating hard for more units set aside for the working poor.

They were supported in this intention by the Chicago city tax assessor, their local alderman, and various community groups.  Any redevelopment plan would be required to have 20 percent of its units available at below-market rate.

THE REST OF THE STORY….

And so it happened:  the sale, and then the check, and then the tithe from church to its people.

You’ll have to read the book to get the rest of the story.

An interesting history of the church building and the neighborhood provides a glimpse at the background for this story.  Here’s the YouTube video, “130 Years – History of the LaSalle Street Church Sanctuary Building,” which was put together and published by the church in 2016.

Here’s a poem:


A GREAT BLESSING

A great blessing

When good people

Try to help

Correct another mistake

In a long

Line of mistakes.

 

A good feeling

When the world

Rallies ’round one

Who is hurting

One who is

Not as strong

As other ones.

 

Thank you, nakua….

Thank you, world….

Blessings and thanks.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Crater Sunrise,” by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

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GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

Gratitude is a choice, but why would you choose it?

In recent years there have been systematic scientific studies of gratitude and its positive effects.  These studies show that grateful people are happier, more open and sociable, less depressed and neurotic and express higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and relationships.

Grateful people also show higher levels of growth and self-acceptance and stronger coping skills for challenges and set-backs.

The ones who carry on with master motivation speaker Zig Ziglar’s “attitude of gratitude” mindset share a greater willingness to seek out help from others.  They spend more time planning how to address issues.  They demonstrate the ability to interpret challenging events in ways that help them grow.

gratitude-road
“Gratitude Road” by Bart Maguire via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Here’s the voice of the late Zig Ziglar at his best in a YouTube video published by Thinking Humanity.  His anecdote about an unhappy, vitriolic woman who hated her job and what happened to her when she chose gratitude is eye-opening.

“You can’t change other people,” Ziglar points out.  “You can only change yourself.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

Here’s another interesting take on gratitude.  This “Experiment In Gratitude” You-Tube video was put together by SoulPancake  for their “The Science of Happiness” project.  It was created by Mike Bernstein and Matt Pittman.

The biggest takeaway from this thing is the thought that the person who was least happy that day experienced the greatest rise in felt happiness.  That’s a powerful thing.

SoulPancake is a digital media and production company that “creates content that explores life’s big questions, celebrates humanity, and champions creativity with integrity heart and humor,” it says on their Facebook company overview.

Named one of FastCompany’s Top 10 Most Innovative Video Companies of 2015, they target the “Optimistic Millenial.”  Their work has something for all of us, I am thinking.  Among their series of more than thirty assorted video formats are sprightly-named things like “Kid President,” “What She Said,” “Highly Evolved Human,” and “Metaphysical Milkshake.”

They’ve even put out a book, SOULPANCAKE:  Chew on Life’s Big Questions, by Rainn Wilson, Devon Gundry, Golriz Lucina and Shabnam Mogharabi.

GRATITUDE GROWS HAPPY

Taking stock of the many people, experiences and things that are good, right and working well in our lives is uplifting.   Apparently, elevating your awareness of what’s right with the world rather than focusing on what’s wrong, you come to realize that happiness really is already right there, all around you.

An attitude of gratitude also has an uncanny way of attracting more good to you.  What we focus on grows, and focusing on simple pleasures – on the good we are experiencing here, now, today – can work wonders.

Dave Ramsey has been called “America’s trusted voice on money” and is a bestselling author and radio host.   Among his numerous bestselling books is THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER:  A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.

In this YouTube video, “Contentment and Gratitude,” Ramsey is doing one of his annual Thanksgiving radio broadcasts.  He lays out the arguments for carrying an attitude of gratitude around with you.  As he points out in the video, helping grateful people makes other people happy and they tend to go out of their way to help some more.

WHAT YOU FOCUS ON GROWS

What you focus on grows.  You can consciously focus on what you’re thankful for rather than on what frustrates you.  If you maintain positive thoughts and grow a positive mental attitude, if you consistently engage in positive action, then eventually it becomes easier and easier to be a positive person.

Life milestones are great.  Hammering your latest goal, receiving some coveted prize, getting rewarded for the hard work you’ve put in, getting that house or car or latest electronic wonder you’ve been drooling over…all of these things are worth celebrating.

However, celebrating these life milestones is not a substitute for a foundation of gratitude that leads us to more consistent happiness.

EXERCISES FOR YOU TO TRY

  1. MAKE A LIST. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Yet another list.  Every day (either in the morning when you first get up or in the evening before going to bed), write down three things for which you are grateful.  Just three.  Every day.

I’ve done it both ways.  If you do it in the morning, your day starts out suddenly brighter and more shiny.  If you do it just before going to sleep, then sleep comes easier and when you wake up the list is right there waiting to remind you of the good things in your life.  A bonus, two-for-the-price-of-one move.

  1. PUMP OUT THE JUICE. Take the time to express something beyond a generic thank-you.  Personalize your authentic gratitude.  Share your appreciation for somebody’s unique qualities and their specific impact on your life.

Mix up your heart in it.  What comes from the heart will hit another heart.  Do that.  (It’s a good thing.)

  1. CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING 365. On his Thanksgiving radio shows, Dave Ramsey asks his callers to share one thing for which they are grateful before they can ask their questions or address their concerns.  This “tradition” might be a good thing to try your own self.

Before every evening meal, at the end of the day, whether you are alone or with someone, think on some things for which you’re grateful.  If you’re with other people, share your best good thing and get them to share theirs as well.  Ask, “What’s one good thing that happened today?  What are you grateful for?”

Make it a ritual.  It will go a long way to help diffuse the stresses of the day and to reconnect to each other as well as help prepare your bodies to enjoy the food before you.  (After all, as some guy in yet another lab coat will probably tell you, bodies that are relaxed digest food better.)

Here’s a poem:


BLESSINGS

Hanging ten on the edge of dissolution,

Staring into the maw of the Creative Dark, po panopano.

Sitting here almost brain-dead and drained,

I got to thinking how the other people in my life

Have shaped me, helped me shape my world.

 

It is a good thought,

Makes me want to throw my fist up in the air,

A warrior’s salute and celebration.

Makes me want to dance on the edge again.

Gives me heart.

 

I bless them all, those people….

 

I bless the loving people in my life

The ones who helped smooth my way,

The warm and generous ones,

The ones who were kind.

 

I bless the strong people in my life,

The ones who kept their promises,

The ones who let me lean on their strength,

The self-sufficient ones, the peaceable ones.

 

I bless the good people in my life,

Most wondrous of all the gifts

From this old Universe.

On the edge of the void,

They make me smile.

by Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “Thank You All” by Don McCullough via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0], a 2015 farewell picture and thank-you to all of his Flickr fans.

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MAKE FEAR YOUR FRIEND

MAKE FEAR YOUR FRIEND

It has been said that fear is a sign that something is important to you.

FEAR AS A SIGNPOST

Ted Gonder, director of MoneyThink, a Chicago-based non-profit that teaches financial skills and entrepreneurial thinking to urban high school students, assures us, “If we think of fear as an accomplice rather than an enemy, then we can be free to lean into it, and pursue our dreams, ideas and projects freely.”

This counterintuitive mindset does actually make sense:  If the thing you are most afraid of is also the thing you really and truly want in your life, then you are actually a very lucky person.  You have a built-in guidance system that will tell you when you’re moving in the direction of your dreams.

(You’ll know you’re on the right road when your head tells you everything is just fine, but your stomach drops to the floor and you’re shaking very badly and there’s a no-no-no-no-no chant cycling in your head.)

If you are able to twist your head around enough so that you can see this, then a number of other ideas arise.  You begin to understand that:

  1.  Fear is a tool.
  2.  Fear is fuel.
  3.  Fear is to be partnered with.

You may even get the idea that you are going to have to walk into your fears and through them in order to get to where you really want to be.  You get to understanding that you have to want your dream more than you fear it and you’ll use the fears to help you keep on moving towards your dream.

gps
GPS by Hernan Pinera via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

GETTING TO THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR

Here’s a YouTube video by Eddie Pinedo, “The Other Side Of Fear” with another take on fear.   Pinedo is a sought-after motivational speaker who focuses on athletic performance.  He also writes a blog, “Your World Within” and publishes weekly You-Tube videos with almost 11 million views, it says here.  (They are excellent.)

So, how do we do that?  How do we get to the “other side of fear?”

Twyla Tharp, in her book, THE CREATIVE HABIT, suggests that you look at the things that make you shake and shiver and that shrivels you into a quaking nubbin, and think about answers or antidotes to them that work for you.

Here’s me doing yet another Un-Seeing exercise:

“I’m not sure how to do it.” 

 [Ummm….when has that ever stopped you?  Babe, you don’t know how to do lots of things.  The things you do know how to do happened because you started doing them and then just kept going with it until you got good.

We are not talking about building a dam across Maliko Gulch or something.  If you try and it doesn’t work, you can try a different way the next time.  And the time after that. And the time after that.  If you do something badly, you will learn one way not to do it and that’s a start towards learning how you do it right.]

“People will think less of me if I screw up.” 

 [Not the people who matter to you.  Your friends will hug you.  Your kids will still call you “mom.”  Your parakeet will still sing to you.  It’s all good….]

“People will laugh at me.”

[So?  Laughter is a kind of communication too.  And if the people are laughing with you rather than at you, isn’t that a good thing?]

“It may take too much time.” 

[Could be, might can.  Putting it off doesn’t make it happen faster.  If it’s something you want to do, then make the time.  Ho’omanawanui, bebe…make time big!]

“It’s going to cost money.”

[Just living costs money.  Is it something you really want to do?  That’s the question.  Think of it as an investment in yourself.  It never goes to waste.  Even the things that didn’t work the last time turns out to be useful for the next project.]

“Gawd!  It is SO self-indulgent.” 

[An’ den?  What’s your point?]

“Somebody has done it before.”

[Uh-huh.  It’s all been done before, hon.  Nothing’s really original and every idea ever thunk will be thought again.  You can join the line.  Get over yourself.]

“I have nothing to say.” 

 [Now, that one is a lie!  You have lots to say.  Maybe nobody wants to listen, but that is not relevant when you’re just starting out the gate.]

“I’m going to upset somebody I love if I do this….”

[That could happen.  You’re still a good person and you have good intentions.  Your loves will understand or not, and you’ll do what you need to do to make it right if you make a misstep. 

But, not doing something because maybe somebody important to you will be upset  is giving that person too much responsibility for you and your life.  Why are you piling on your regrets on somebody else’s back, silly git!]

“I know that when I do it, the thing is never going to be as good as this idea in my head is.” 

 [True.  Toughen up, baby girl.  It’s better to make an imperfect dome in Florence than build cathedrals in the sky.  A dream that has stepped out of your head and is real in the world has more weight than all the ones that are still floating around in your head. 

Plus, if it doesn’t work, you can always try again to get it right.  And if you keep trying to get it right, eventually there it’ll be and then you can go share it with your friends.  A cool thing….]

“If I do it well, somebody will copy it and I won’t get what I deserve for it.” 

 [Ack!  That is so disgusting, Netta!  The whole point of making stuff is to get people to like it, use it, do whatever.  So what if other nimnuls copy?  It’s not like it’s your one and only idea, f’r pity’s sake!]

Twyla says, “There’s nothing wrong with fear; the only mistake is to let it stop you in your tracks.”

So, what are your shadows?  What fears pop up every time you start dreaming a dream?  What would you say to them?  What might they say back to you? Play with it…and keep on walking.

Here’s a poem:

 


ORACLES

 

Fear it is that

Keeps us going back

To oracles and them,

And trying to make

Sense of a future

That’s obscure and dim.

 

The mists of time,

We think, hide monsters,

Even though we know

That probably they really

Aren’t under the bed.

Daddy said, Mommy said.

 

We have to see.

We want to know

How this thing or

That will flow, grow.

Desire, doubt and fear,

The three, stomping feet.

 

And we forget again

What we always knew:

Change is the rule,

And not the exception:

Up and down and

All around, it changes.

 

We go on despite…

We go on because…

‘As how…we go.

And change’s alchemy works

Its magic once again

And we go on.

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  Signpost by Anthony via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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THE BIG PICTURE

THE BIG PICTURE

It occurs to me that it is probably not possible to convince humans to take a long-term view using argument or persuasion or logical thinking.  It seems to me that people focus on long-term because they want to or because they’re tired of hitting themselves upside the head all the time and really tired of having to climb out of potholes that turn out to be really deep and gnarly lava tubes.

LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE

You are not going to be able to talk yourself out of going for the short-term advantage if you haven’t developed a vision of The Big Picture.  And the real is that you are the only one who can do that for yourself.

Your Big Picture is not my Big Picture…or anybody else’s Big Picture.

Oh, yeah, you’ll nod your head at other-people wisdoms.  You may even try to make your walk like their walk, especially when you like the way their life looks from the outside.

But, if their vision really doesn’t resonate with you, doesn’t make you hungry, doesn’t make you fly, it never will get the kind of dedication and effort from you that can make it come real.

If the costs that admired one pays for their life is very high, you may not be willing to pay what they’ve had to pay for it.  So you quit doing your version of their vision and you tell yourself whatever it takes to get back to bed and pull the covers over your head.

WHY DO OTHER GUYS AND GALS…..

Medieval cathedral builders labored a lifetime with the fruits of their labors still a hundred years into the future.  The 70-year-old farmer plants a tree his grandkids will sit under.  Parents of young children try to lay a foundation of values and attitude that will serve an adult 20 year later.  A craftsman knows that mastery of an art form takes a lifetime of repetition and effort — whether the work sells or not.

Why do they do it?  Because they want to.  Because they have to.  Because they can’t not.

Here’s one answer.  It’s a YouTube video, “Why Do We Do It?  For the Ride – 2015” published by Official Triumph.  (I just like it for the beauty of it.)

THE REAL DEAL

Visions can take a long time to manifest.  They take concerted, continued effort, often at the expense of here-and-now pleasures and even of other long-term goals and aspirations.

A vision makes a big displacement in your life.  It shoves everything else out of the way.  (Visions are very rude.)

When your head is down and your ass is up and you’re working on building the road to your dream  you may not see a lot of the roadside scenery.  Visions make you blind sometimes.

queen-anne-counterbalance-1934
Queen Anne Counterbalance, 1934 from the Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You may have to break the ties that bind you to a life that does not have room for the pictures you are seeing.

You may have to explode the structures you’ve spent a lifetime building inside yourself to get  yourself ready for the realities of that dream.

You may have to initiate changes in your life that are uncomfortable or  downright painful.

It will take way more time, way more effort, and a whole lot of humping and hustle to build the road to your dream.  And even if you do all that, there is no iron-clad guarantee that the dream will come real.

You may not last long enough or develop the stamina you need to stay the course.  You may get sidetracked.

Circumstances over which you have no control can co-opt you.  Other people could betray you.  The world may change and open doors might slam shut or the detours on the road take you to places where you would rather not be.

detour-sign
Detour by Cody Jung via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
As you get deeper into the dreamscape of your own making you may find that the vision turns hazy or morphs into some ugly nightmare that makes you run the other way.

Visions must be large to be worthy of such commitment.  I suppose that is why it often takes a lot of time and thinking to develop a vision with meaning and mana.

And if they are large, then they’re going to take everything you’ve got to give to it and demand even more from you.

BIGGER THAN JUST YOU

In his book, LIFE ON PURPOSE:  How Living For What Matters Changes Everything, Victor J. Strecher tells a story about Abraham Maslow, the founder of humanistic psychology.

Maslow was the guy who developed the concept of the “hierarchy of human needs.”  He proposed the theory that “self-actualization” was the ultimate stage in human development and numerous studies grew out of it that showed that this high point is, indeed, reachable only after more basic physical or safety needs were met.

This You-Tube video,  “An Introduction to Abraham H. Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation” published by Macat, is a short overview of the theory.

Macat is an on-line resource library that partners with the University of Cambridge to “empower development of creative and critical thinking.”  It’s a good site to explore.  They offer a free 30-day trial period for using their services and have developed programs for scholars and for business people.

Maslow’s book, TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF BEING, became a classic.

According to Maslow’s motivation theory there are five interdependent levels of basic human needs that have to be satisfied in a strict sequence.  It says you can’t think of the next level until the needs at the lower levels have been met.

  • Physiological needs for survival and security are first. You need to stay alive and reproduce.  You need to feel safe in your life.
  • Social needs follow. Love and belonging are powerful motivators as well.  We humans do a lot for love and belonging.
  • Self-esteem needs are next. You want to feel worthy and respected.  Having status, all the signs that you are worthy and deserving of respect from other people, is a very real motivating force.
  • And then there’s self-actualization – achieving your goals and developing your own self-definition.

It makes sense.

If you’re starving, it’s unlikely that you’ll be using your creativity for more than getting the next scrap of food that will keep you going.

If you’re running from bombs and bad guys intent on killing you, there isn’t much time for developing your self-expression.

If you’re lonely in a world of hard, there probably won’t be a lot of room for joy and laughter and self-esteem.

Without self-esteem, there isn’t a heck of a lot of self-actualization possible. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to think about what you want to achieve if you’re mired and tangled up in all the unworthiness of you.

THE GLORY OF ME

Maslow’s idea caught on.  The “me-generation” was born.  Self-fulfillment was the key to human happy, the theory said, and we took to it like dolphins in the surf.  Sometimes, though, it got to be like crabs-in-a-bucket when other people had other agendas that did not include the happy of you.

And then, in 1969, in the latter part of his career, Maslow had an epiphany.  He said, “The fully developed (and very fortunate) human being working under the best conditions tend to be motivated by values which transcend his self.  They are not selfish any more in the old sense of that term.”

Strecher marvels that Maslow, at the absolute top of his field, would change his hugely popular model and say, essentially, “I was wrong.”  (Perhaps it was because Maslow apparently cared more about his own vision of understanding what motivates humans than he did about the tangible achievements of his own self-actualization.)

Maslow began to study “transcenders,” visionaries who spent their time working on ideas and visions that were larger than themselves.

He discovered that these individuals made great innovators and reached higher levels of creativity.  They exhibited, he said, “humility, a sense of smallness, awe before the tremendousness of the universe.”

Maslow died before he could explore this idea further.  After his death, a wide-ranging book, THE FARTHEST REACHES OF HUMAN NATURE, that contained Maslow’s scientific and philosophical essays on biology, synergy, creativity, and cognition as well  as his thoughts on self-actualization and the hierarchy of needs theory was published.  The book makes me wish he could have stayed with us longer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Vision” is really the what, the picture of the future you want to create.  Visions that are worthy require purpose — the why.

Purpose answers the question, “Why do we exist?”  It’s basically about looking for a way to contribute something of value to the world in some unique way.

The how of it all determines the way you walk when you’re following a vision.  All the steps you take should automatically fall into line if you can develop your vision.

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you’ve probably got  your physiological needs, your social needs and your self-esteem needs (more or less) covered and you’re working on the self-actualization part.

Maybe now is a good time to think on bigger things than your own teeny self.  It’s exciting that it’s possible, isn’t it?

Here’s a poem:


FANTASY

It’s just a fantasy

And they tell me it’s not real,

Untested by time or happenstance,

Untouched by human hands and mouths,

Unbattered still by Is,

Unheralded by Was.

And they are right.

 

And yet,

This fantasy that’s come to me

The one that glitters teasingly

Has brightened Is

And tempered Was

And still it flies.

 

I cannot say where it will lead,

This dream of mine I’m building.

I cannot say what time will bring

Or if it will come real.

I see this unreality

Burns bright and inexorably

It flames away the dross

Of what has been.

 

I think I’ll choose to keep my dream.

I think it looks real good on me.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit: North Shore, Molokai by Rosa Say via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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RESIGNING AS GM

RESIGNING AS GM

One day I stood up bravely and told a bunch of my friends that I was resigning as General Manager of the Universe.  They laughed so hard they were crying.  (Sigh!)  Nobody believed me.  I didn’t believe me.

CONTROL-FREAKING

My way through the world seems to attract a lot of control freaks of one sort or another, as well as people who seem to want  to be told what to do, so it seems that maybe there are lessons there that are mine after all.  Maybe it’s ’cause I do have “issues” about Authority-with-a-capital-A.

It seems to me that the need for control arises out of the fear that what you want is never going to happen unless you, personally, ride herd on the thing and keep it going towards your own personal vision.

It turns your whole road into a battleground, full of other people stepping on your toes, getting in the way and not doing what they’re supposed to.   And you go into battle mode because your fears keep telling you yours ain’t gonna happen.

You waste a whole lot of energy on that one, expending it on trying to get all these people to get out of your way!

The other part of that, of course, is that all the other guys are also trying to get to their desires and trying to do their vision, and you are in their way.  It makes this big, old roiling ball of crisscrossing strings that is an incredible tangle.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT’S SOLUTION

I suppose you could do Alexander’s Gordian Knot move where you whack the thing with a big old sword and bully your way on through.

The problem with that solution is you leave behind broken strings all over the ground and those strings are, every one of them, aka threads — the connections between everything in the Universe with everything else in the Universe.  They lie there writhing like a whole bunch of dying worms.  Not a pretty picture.

alexander-the-great-mosaic
Battle of Issus Mosaic (from Pompeii) [PD-old-100]
Alexander, called The Great, left a mountain of skulls wherever he went.  He died early, having attained his vision, and failing to come up with some other one to take its place.  He brought great changes to his world and people learned new ways of walking as a result, and the world kept on going, growing, developing.

CATALYTIC CONVERSIONS

Alexander was also a catalyst that shook things up good, and maybe that was the gift he carried into the World.  The aka threads that Alexander cut reconnected, grew together in other ways and kept on keeping on.  Alexander, of course, was still dead but he got written up in all kinds of history books and like that and his life story gets inflicted on every wannabe billionaire who lives today.

I’m still working on it.  So’s the rest of the world…..

Here’s a YouTube video featuring the thoughts of philosopher Alan Watts, “Let Go Of Controlling Everything.”  It was published by HDvids101.

And here’s a poem:


TITA RISING

 

He says he’s ready to quit:

He’s tired of the b.s. heaped on his head,

Tired of your issues and your wah-wah-wahs,

Tired of chaos and confusion.

 

He wants off this job that drags on and on,

An interminable rondel that goes ’round and ’round,

Apparently without end.

 

He’s tried, he says, tried and tried,

But it feels like he’s herding lemmings,

Trying to keep the little guys

From throwing themselves off some high plateau

Onto the rocks edging the shining sea below.

 

Every time he gets one cluster of lemmings headed right,

The other guys make a break for it…

Aiming for that seductive edge of nihilistic angst.

 

Oh, yeah.

It’s come to a head all right…

(Or some more earthy organ that’s

unmentionable in polite company.)

So, he comes to me…

‘Cause I’m Da Boss, right?

I am in charge – Big Mama to the forefront…

Little “g,” in control…uh-huh.

 

The job’s three-quarters done and he’s feeling done-in.

And me…I’m standing here flat-footed,

Looking at this thing that’s becoming

A cut-rate model for some stupid government contract –

Complete with asinine road blocks,

Replete with meaningless detour signs and side-trips into the absurd.

 

I am NOT dancin’ now.

I am standing here scratching my head.

I’ve gotta wonder:

Do I LOOK like a branch of Head-Trip International?

Am I the Bureau of Eat-Shit or something?

WHAT?!?

This is NOT the How!

 

Me, all I want is Done.

And it is on you, my braddah…

I backed you, and it looks like you are playin’ games!

You do not have my back

And that wind blowin’ up it is getting COLD.

 

So I’m just sayin’…and I’m saying this LOUD:

WHASSUP?

Tita is risin’…and it ain’t lookin’ good!

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture Credit:  Defying the Gordian Knot by GollyGForce – Living My Worst Nightmare via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

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KEEP WHAT YOU LOVE

KEEP WHAT YOU LOVE

It’s the new “thing” — Letting Go.  Everybody who’s anybody keeps telling you that the only way to move forward is to let go of all that baggage you’re lugging around.   “The Simple Life,” hey, ho!  Minimalism rules.

They tell you, “Gee whiz, guys and girls…you’ve got a wagon train following along behind you with all the accumulated baggage of a lifetime and you’re pulling that thing around with you.  No wonder you’re so tired all the time.”

For the most part, that is probably a truth, you know.  People who have little day-packs can scoot along hiking trails a heck of a lot easier than the guys lugging around those huge mountain backpacks that tower over their heads.

backpacker
Backpacker by dontdothisathome via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

MAKING A START

You figure that you probably do have to let go of at least some of that stuff.  As you’ve probably found already, if you’re a natural-born hoarder who tends to leave claw marks all over stuff you’re forced to release, even letting go of just one little thing might be really tough.

It’s likely that you’ll start remembering the back-story behind every itty-bitty thing or else you’ll recall the dreams you had for this thing or that.  Getting to The Simple Life could very well become an exploration and excavation into your life-story.

You may keep getting sidetracked by all those stories and perhaps you’ll never get to the part where you let go of anything.

GETTING CARRIED AWAY

So, finally, after much browbeating there you are, winnowing your way through your stuff and starting to feel good about making all that progress.  The space around you is starting to clear up and it really does feel good.

It’s a good thing to remember that some of the more enthusiastic of our wanna-be advisors ignore the truth that you do have to be careful when you start tossing stuff.   If you make it past the first little throw away and then start getting into the swing of it all, it’s relatively easy to tip into deep toss-mode.

Then it’s possible that anything or maybe even everything can go out the window.  There you are, at the height of minimalistic euphoria….

“Tossing out the bath water…heave, ho, hup!..OOPS!  There went the baby!”

Easy, there.  Take a breather.  You do not have to clear everything out all at once.

 QUESTIONING YOUR WAY TO CLEAR

Here’s a three-part exercise that might help if you really are not making any headway at all.

Choose a target area that you want to clear. It doesn’t have to be a large area. It could be a small corner of a room.  It could be a kitchen drawer.

Part One is to pick up each object in your designated area and ask yourself these three essential questions:

  • Do I need this? (Be brutally honest here.  Do you really need twelve can openers?  Do you need that tacky-   looking tattered potholder?)
  • Is this useful? (Does it work?  Have you used it at all in the past six months?)
  • Do I still have a strong connection with it? (Do I love it? Is it uplifting eye-candy? Or is it some guilt-holding like that uber-tacky hand-me-down vase from your beloved old Aunt Martha, the one that leaked all over the dining room table the one time you used it.)

Depending on your answers to these essential questions, you can stick the thing into one of three piles – the YES pile (for the stuff you’re keeping), the NO pile (for the stuff you’re tossing) and the MAYBE pile.  If you’re a real pack-rat the MAYBE pile is going to be the biggest one of all.

Part Two of this exercise is to disappear the MAYBE pile.  Ask yourself the questions again for each of the objects in the maybe pile.  Keep asking until there are only two piles – YES or NO.  The goal is to end up with only YES things in your life.

Part Three is to find places to put the YES stuff on display or in some easy-to-reach place.  Understand that YES stuff that are packed in boxes stuck on high shelves are actually MAYBE or NO things in disguise.

Then, pack up the NO stuff and — this is the important parttake the NO stuff far, far away before the sun sets on your head.

If you are a natural-born hoarder, keeping the NO stuff for the Someday Garage Sale is just an invitation to collect more stuff.  Do not do it!

Renting out storage space for the NO stuff is cheating.  It is also very expensive.

Understand that these drastic measures are just a kick-starter.  Once you get the hang of disappearing things, you won’t need to be quite so deliberate about it.

Once you’ve gotten one space cleared, it does get easier to tackle another little bit and then another until the only things left in your life are the YES stuff.

(Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but these same questions work whether you’re looking at a thing, a person, or some situation that is bothering you.)

PUTTING FIRST THINGS FIRST

Victoria Moran, in her book LIT FROM WITHIN: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty, points out, “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar. ”

This is another good reason for understanding the why of the things you keep.

This YouTube video of a TedXIndianapolis Talk by screenwriter and blogger Maura Malloy, “The Masterpiece of a Simple Life,” points to a balanced way to get back to simple without losing what you love.

Here’s a poem:


CHANGE

Change is going to happen…

That’s guaranteed.

With me or without me,

Change is going to happen.

 

And it’s a very funny thing:

I can affect change

One, two, three…

And it’s a very funny thing.

 

When I put my energy there

Towards nurturing the good

Then the good will grow,

When I put my energy there.

 

When I put my energy there

Towards nurturing the beauty,

Then beauty will surround me,

When I put my energy there.

 

If I grow lax, letting things fall apart,

Get all lazy, losing heart,

That’s where the change goes

If I grow lax, letting things fall apart.

 

If I lose my way, if I grow weak,

Forget my path and forget to speak,

That’s where the change goes

If I lose my way, if I grow weak.

 

Change can’t be forced, oh, no, no, no…

You can’t push the river,

It just keeps it flow

Change can’t be forced, oh, no, no, no.

 

Going where it will, where it must,

Change still needs space and trust.

Time is the essence, a vehicle,

Going where it will, where it must.

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture credit:  Clutter by staci myers via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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THE COST OF GOALS (An Un-seeing Exercise)

THE COST OF GOALS (An Un-seeing Exercise)

High-performance coach and personal growth trainer Brendon Burchard does not believe in S.M.A.R.T. goals.  You know the ones: Specific… Measurable…. Actionable…. Relevant…. Time-Bound.

Burchard admits that S.M.A.R.T. goals work just fine, but he thinks they’re lame.  He says they keep us playing small.  He may be right.

Instead of S.M.A.R.T. goals, the best-selling author, whose books include THE CHARGE, THE MILLIONAIRE MESSENGER, LIFE’S GOLDEN TICKET and THE MOTIVATION MANIFESTO, says he wants you to formulate and get behind D.U.M.B. goals – Dream-Driven, Uplifting, Method-Friendly and Behavior-Driven.

Here’s his YouTube video, “How NOT to Set Goals,” that delineates his own take on goal-making.  It is a beautifully expressed, well-argued rant that gets you thinking way bigger thoughts.

As an internet guru who also coaches, Burchard is certainly impressive.  In 2015 Huffington Post called Burchard “one of the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook.” He’s the star and executive producer of the #1 self-help show on YouTube and his podcast, The Charged Life, debuted at #1 on iTunes across all categories in multiple countries.

Burchard’s well-attended seminars include High Performance Academy, a “now-legendary personal development program for achievers,” it says here, and Experts Academy, a comprehensive marketing training for authors, speakers, coaches and on-line thought leaders.

LOOKING AT THE SHADOW BEHIND THE SHINY

The thing about goals that nobody (except creaky, ancient wise guys who were probably broke-ass mendicants on the side of the road) points out is that all of our goals are absolute mind-constructs.  They’re completely made-up, predetermined outcomes that we want to happen in the Great Someday.

Since nobody knows what the future is likely to bring, how can we know whether this outcome or that one (which we actually made up out of the limited knowledge we have) is the only good outcome?  The wise guys wonder about this.

They point out that there are many possible outcomes.  Some of them might be really great.  Others, not so much.  The wise guys tell us that being fixed on just one outcome could actually be quite limiting.

Many of us have experienced times when we’ve been exceedingly focused on a single desired outcome in our lives.  We fixated on achieving that one chosen goal or reaching that one predetermined milestone or grasping that one perfect opportunity in our careers and we narrowed our focus down so much that we become blind to and completely missed all of the other excellent goals, milestones, and opportunities that  also happened to be dancing around right in front of us.

sage-silhouette
Sage Silhouette by eflon via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
We are bombarded every day with messages from the media and from other social networks and groupthink tanks that are constantly trying to tell us and sell us on how we, too, can be rich and famous and hap-hap-happy, just like the latest cool celebrity-type flashing across the sky.

Experts abound to tell us how we, too, can hack our lives and ourselves into a semblance of some version of a rich, famous, physically beautiful, powerful  persona living a life that is nothing like ordinary.  (How can we even think about being happy if we are merely ordinary?  Right?)

So, we make up these goals and then we focus and fixate on achieving them, using the goals to motivate us to keep on making our moves toward that better, brighter future that we imagine is just around the corner.

If we’re really good at working them, then we very often do achieve at least some of these goals.  We like to think that is a good thing.

However, the wise guys point out that fixating on achieving a future fantasy outcome pretty much means that we are not really looking at where we are.  In fact we’re so busy looking at and working toward that one specific sparkly future outcome that it’s unlikely that we will actually be able to just enjoy the moment in which we are currently living.

THE POWER OF DISCONTENT

It’s sort of makes sense, that.  You only set out to “improve” things if you are not happy with the way things are.  What this means is that goals and discontent probably do walk hand-in-hand.

Once the goal is reached, of course, then you have this wonderful new set of problem-solving skills that sends you off to correct and make right yet another discontent.

Just because you’ve achieved your one, pre-set “I’ll-be-really-truly-happy-when” goal doesn’t mean that you can shut off the future-oriented mindset you used to get it done.

Have you ever noticed how the guys who are really good at reaching their goals always seem to come up with new and bigger and better goals to reach for?  They usually don’t stop after they’ve resolved their original discontent.    Instead, they just find more discontents they feel they need to fix.

If you fail somehow to reach your fantasy outcome, you are very likely to feel bad and may be prone to beat yourself up about it or lose all hope of ever improving your situation in the way you would prefer.  It becomes a whole other movie that is also not conducive to promoting happiness and contentment.

THE FOCUS THAT LIMITS POSSIBILITIES

Fixating on narrow, pre-set goals (especially the ones that are pushed at you by the society in which you live) the wise guys say, is very likely to blind you to new opportunities for happiness that open up in completely new-to-you directions.

With your eyes locked onto your one ultimate goal, you are unlikely to notice any other possible path to happiness and success.  Like the racehorse wearing blinders, you can only see the track in front of you and the finish line at the far end.

gallop-14
Gallop14 by TheBobman via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE

One alternative to this laser-like focus on some already mapped-out trail is to become immersed in deliberate innovation and creativity, to look at the way the world is changing and to look for the paths that wander off into the untracked wilderness.  Then you choose to follow one to see where it might lead.

This YouTube video, called “Change the Game” was published by MindWerx.  It points to a way of looking at how the world is changing and how to choose paths to follow that may lead you to interesting places.

You’ll have to pay attention and learn to play with the life that is all around you.

All kinds of questions will come up:  Where does this trail lead?  What lessons can you learn?  Is this side-road a way forward for you?  Does this thing work?  What about that one?

As the 19th-century English biologist Thomas H. Huxley once said, we must “be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever or to whatever abysses nature leads, or [we] shall learn nothing.

Here’s a poem:


THE GOAL

And this is the goal

When you play in the Real:

To find the still point

That is in you, sitting there

Obscured by World thoughts

And dreams and schemes,

And to stand there looking

Into the Void

Where yin and yang

Do their eternal dance of now.

 

To reach that high plateau

You have to slog through

Muddy bogs of despair and doubt

That leave your legs encrusted with

A thick layer of mud, which

Falls off in big chunks as

The hot sun bakes the mud boots off

While you climb up the steep slopes

Built by worldly ambition and pride.

 

And when you’ve climbed many a day and night,

And more, and more, and more,

Through buffeting winds and sudden storms,

Through chill and misty obfuscations,

Through illusion and through dreams,

You finally reach the top

And look out into that wondrous abyss

Of deepest warm mystery.

 

And wouldn’t you know it?

The next thing you have to do is jump.

By Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  The Finish Line Where Everything Just Ends by Amy Sian Green via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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