Going through the windshield.

I'm a big fan of change. Well, the changes I create anyway. My decision criteria is usually new is good, newer is better. To create room, I'm frequently thinking about what I can get rid of to make room.

I can tell when I'm ready to change, since it usually starts with cleaning out my closets. This recycling process can extend into whatever isn't nailed down but rarely makes it to the kitchen, where most of the gadgets have been with me forever.

I figure over the years I've let go of at least nine or ten wardrobes and two or three households full of stuff.

Without monitoring the bins at Goodwill, turns out that some psychologists figured out how to measure theses ebbs and flows by identifying states of change. Having built themselves a model, they're more able to support their clients along the change continuum. Particularly important in the addiction rehab business.

Where are you in the process of change?  

As they say in Scotland, useful.

But what about the changes that just sweep into your life, unbidden and unwelcome? Or the ones you've planned for all your life that don't fit your expectations?

Let's say as a young girl you were the perfect mommy to all your dolls. Growing up you expected to have six kids and all the cargo to go with them. Then you turned up with a set of uncooperative ovaries, or married to an adorable but sperm impoverished donor?

Depending on your motivation to change your picture of motherhood, you could begin a global village at home through adoption. Or dive into the mind, body and soul challenging pile of acronyms to a medically assisted but potentially successful route to mommy land.

Say you saw yourself as a successful fill-in-the-blank and found that the destination was a mirage? With stressors and sacrifices that you weren't able to tolerate, much less consistently manage? And the job that payed the bills ended up costing you more to keep than to quit?

Everybody goes through it, and the names might be different, but hitting the wall is the one that makes the most sense to me. One minute you're flying along with your expectations intact, all the "I am this or that" labels solidly attached, and the next minute you're face down, sliding along the asphalt of life, having been ejected from the speeding car of your dreams through the abruptly shattered windshield of reality.

Not the change that you expected.

Your beautiful child is born with challenges you never imagined. Your perfect marriage ends less than perfectly. Your industry listing on the ground like a three day old balloon, your division laid off and the path to retirement taking a spin through some pretty dark neighborhoods.

Instead of a change model, consider using a grief model to get your bearings again. This gal, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, came up with a tidy one.

Gone through the windshield of reality?


Send farmers not soldiers.

Are some people actually just evil? Are there devils or Satan's spawn or undead zombie vampire killers lurking about the planet?

I'm a big optimist about the better side of human nature and talking about love, peace and understanding, but it occurs to me that I might be missing a big part of being a monkey.

What about all that bad stuff that monkeys do to each other? Like killing each other over a bunch of different things? How about traveling half way around the world to do it?

Our new president of change just sent another 30,000 plus troops of soldiers to kill off the drug dealers and mercenary war lords who are holding the people of Afghanistan hostage. I'm old enough to know that Obama couldn't have delivered on all the campaign promises of hope and change. So this isn't completely naive disappointment on my part, or a pollyanna version of how change happens.

But WTF?

This war looks a lot like the other war. At least this part was supposed to change.

How about applying a little creativity to the problem?  This would fall into one of those, "Hey, Barack, if you're so smart, how come you're not thinking about it?"

How about we send 30,000 troops of school teachers to teach every single woman, man and child in the country to read and write. And send 30,000 cell towers with 3G capability, 30,000 net books and unlimited access to the creative resources and energy of the global village?

So the people in Afghanistan might have the chance to create the future for themselves.

How about sending 30,000 troops of scientists and engineers to help invent and build an economy that doesn't depend on opium?

How about sending 30,000 troops of farmers and horticulturalists to plant food and trees to sustain life, with 30,000 irrigation systems and 30,000 tons of organic compost?

From CNN.com/asia, a direct quote from a farmer who's trying to survive the war. "These countries that are here, why are they with guns and bombs? If you can just help the people of Afghanistan in this way (legal crops/AID), the fighting will go away, these Taliban and other enemies of the country will also disappear," farmer Abdul Qadir said.

I deeply appreciate all that the military has sacrificed. And when there is a clear need for a military intervention, they have served our country with honor and vigilance. I thank them for all their unwavering commitment and service.

Is this a clear case for military intervention? Can we do anything different?

The men, children and women of Afghanistan are not evil, Satan, the devil, or undead zombie vampire killers. And the bullies, drug dealers and zealots who have taken them as hostages deserve to be challenged.

Just think about it. Imagine what happens next.

Let's say we're temporarily successful in chasing the drug dealers and their henchmen war lords across the border into Pakistan. Then what?

If the families starve to death because there is no one to buy their poppies, what was gained? If there is nothing else to plant, how can a farmer sustain himself? Won't he need to go right back to what he was doing before the "liberation?"

Production is down, but what will take its place?

Something to think about at the holiday table when the gossip dies down.


When love comes first.

As you may have guessed by now, I talk a great game. There's a fluidity to my bravado that  is laughable and I'm learning to love being just "so full of it" on occasion. Here's an example.

In my family we have an elder who is over 85. And whenever she doesn't answer the telephone, one of us will go over and check up on her.

Is she okay? Has she fallen and hit her head? Did she die last night and didn't have time to call and leave a message? Just to be clear, she's actually in great shape for her age and there is no reason to think that she's suddenly cut out just because she's not answering the telephone.

But we always draw straws on who has to go check.

And I'm not volunteering because I don't want to be the one who finds her either suffering or actually dead. Nope, not signing up for that. And after negotiating whose turn it is to go and fretting about it on the way over, just to make things worse, she usually meets me at the door, announcing that she was on the phone with her older sister and asks if I would like something to eat.

So far, so good. She makes a great chocolate cake.

No one else is leaping up to check on her, but I find my own reticence particularly endearing since I have been thinking about the subject of death and dying for many, many years. I'd say I love thinking about the topic, but that wouldn't make sense to anyone except a very small subset of other, slightly odd ducks.

My elderly family member actually thinks I'm a bit daft, or at least soft headed, for being interested in the subject at all. She has absolutely no interest in death or dying and expects to out live the rest of us by a long shot. We don't share a common philosophy on the topic to say the least.

So, I'll accept that not everyone is thinking about this. Actually, most of polite society puts this on a par with discussing the dog's hemorrhoids; we all know they're there, but please, for heaven's sake, do not bring it up.

Last week one of my teachers, Roshi Joan Halifax was in town. She faithfully practices what she preaches and excels in a challenging field.  I admire her focus and enjoy the irreverence she brings to her work. She's been practicing for over 40 years and doesn't profess to having figured it all out, which is refreshing when you think about it.

I first met Joan teaching in the mid 80's at a solstice retreat in Northern California. She has since been designated "Roshi", which by her translation means, "decrepit old teacher." Her tradition is Zen Buddhism and she practices and teaches being with dying. Here's her cyber home base Upaya Zen Center.

Roshi Joan was here at the invitation of  San Diego Hospice, a local organization that cares for the dying and is a recognized pioneer in the field of "palliative medicine."  Hospice care and palliative medicine specializes in helping people crossing the border between resistance and acceptance, when the soul transitions from the battle of living to the surrender of dying.

In the workshop with Roshi Joan, I had a chance to sit with sixty or so like minded souls who agree that dying is worth thinking about. Hospice nurses, therapists, acupuncturists, herbalists, physicians, poets, writers, ministers, priests, pastors, musicians and healers of every stripe and color. A big bunch of gentle, twinkly eyed grandmotherly hearted friends keeping vigil at the crossing between life and death.

Buddhists, Christians, Agnostics, Catholics, Muslims and Jews. Death really is the great equalizer.

Every tradition speaks to this transition from here to there. And one of the big selling points of organized thought in this regard is the inevitability of the event. At some point, you won't be "here" to think about it. (I put here in quote marks since based on the current squishiness of scientific developments, no one is completely sure where here is.)

If faith and empiricism eventually reconcile, can we benefit from preparing to die as a path to reaffirming our commitment to living?

Can we hope that if hospice has their way, there will be lots of grandmotherly hearts at the border waving goodbye? Or maybe hello?

If this life is all just one big circle, could heaven be a place on earth?

Echos of the 80's and a loving tribute to the teachers and healers working on the border patrol. Feel free to dance along and enjoy the miracle of living.

Do you know what that's worth?


Big list, little list

Earlier today I was comparing two lists. On one list I'd written everything I can control. On the other what I can't. Predictably, the first was very short and the second was much longer. As I thought about the first list, it occurred to me that when I'm at peace and content, this is where I'm focused.

And the second list is where I spend all my time.

Not surprisingly, this is also the place where I encounter almost everyone else. Which is fine. Recognizing my own foibles and rapidly approaching sainthood with the exception of few bad habits like occasionally swearing with frustration and the now rare public tantrums, I graciously accept all the things I can't control.

It's what other people should control that makes me nuts.

Take dogs for instance. Other people, let's say "dog-people", should control their dogs. While I like dogs, I currently don't have one to displace my maternal instincts onto, so I am not at the moment a dog-person. To a non dog-person therefore it is not cute when your child substitute jumps up on me in the park and attempts to jostle the yogurt cup from my hands. This is compounded when instead of being horrified, which they should be, this behavior is briefly acknowledged by the dog-person as an adorable manifestation of the animal's natural interest in taking food from any passerby.

So, if I'm struggling with not having control over your dog, why aren't you?

What makes sense to me isn't "right". It just makes sense to me. That said, I'm living proof for the axiom that having lower than average emotional intelligence doesn't help when it comes to influencing people. Actually just the opposite.

Explaining to others what makes sense to me is just not a winning approach. Trust me.

That whole dog-person question I just wrote? Won't fly. When you're living with a dog, sleeping together and having meaningful conversations with him, really, what's a little yogurt between friends?

So let's look at something that isn't so emotionally fraught with family connotations and failed relationships.

Take flossing for example. When I discovered that the dentist would have very little to do if I flossed every day, I became a convert. Flossing every day makes sense to me. One small daily moment with my gums and the dentist is bored to death whenever I come in for a check up. Nothing exciting going on with my gums.

Flossing is a good metaphor. Every day I use my teeth and every night I give them a little extra thanks for doing their job. I'm looking forward to having them around for the rest of my natural life. It occurred to me that I hated going to the dentist and having work done. So I thought about it and took the next logical step.

This isn't "right." It just makes sense to me. Like servicing the car, rotating the tires, changing the oil, maintaining what is working to extend it's life.

Like it makes sense to me not letting your dog jump on people. And that's the rub. I can take control of my gums and service my car, but not your pet.

Or your kids, mother, husband. Or for that matter mine.

Turns out that relationships are not like gums. While daily flossing can preserve my gums, relationships with others involve lots of moving parts. And while I can do little things every day to maintain my connections to others, they might not share the value of regular flossing.

And just like being with other people and their dogs, this requires that I focus on what I can and cannot control.

Little list. Big list. Happy, not happy.

While you think about it, hang on to your yogurt.

I think I see a dog-person headed your way.


Hairy stuff

I was planning on writing about hair. And all the wonderful people who care for hair. People who have devoted their lives to beauty and service. Removing unwanted hair, styling it attractively, highlighting it to look a bit more lively for the holidays.

Instead, this post headed off in a different direction.

There are much better writers on the subject. Historians, anthropologists, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, ancient and contemporary political pundits, teachers and leaders. Definitely the philanthropists addressing the fall out. All of them have weighed in mightily on the topic, but for all the elucidation, evaluation, chronology, toxicity and destruction, the topic remains polarizing.

Racial discrimination is the topic today, not hair.  Why couldn't I just stick to hair?

Having lived most of my adult life in the uber-liberal, tree hugging, granola munching, freedom loving, energy channeling, chakra spinning, body working, organic food cooking, diversity is our strength, do-your-own-thing West Coast, is it any surprise I am still stunned by the hatred that is generated on the topic?

Excuse my text, but W.T.F?

I don't enjoy being troubled. There's an inherent simplicity to my views on the subject because I was born into the comfort of majority blinders. There was never a seat I couldn't take, a store I couldn't enter, or a neighborhood I couldn't live in because of my race.

And when I look beneath the surface, I see my own assumptions and fears.

In no small regard, I have bitten off more than I can blog-fully chew.

Perhaps this would be a good time to think about contrasting highlights and low lights?

I'm reading about American history and multiculturalism.  Within this context, I am horrified and appalled by the institutionalization of racism.

I was distracted in high school when we went over the creation of this great nation. Which is still a great nation with some very bad behavior.

The text books available on mid 20th century western history glossed neatly over killing all of the native people or romanticized it into a ballad of the brave pioneers. And that was just the beginning.

The marauding new comers kept coming.

Imagine attacking the owners of land you covet, then invading their capital city and strong arming them out of HALF of their country. Hello Mexico.

Sitting in a circle with twenty other women, intent on "diversity training", we go around and introduce ourselves. Every woman of color starts with her name and race. The Caucasian women skip announcing our race because it doesn't even occur to us that we're white.

Thirty years later I remember that circle with a sense of wonder.

The perfect example of a "fish don't know they're in water" moment.

I occasionally get hateful emails from people who practice racism. Last week a neighbor went off in public with the epithets of racial slurs in reaction to the changes around him. From otherwise loving and gentle souls who have good educations, tidy houses and plenty of food for their kitties.

As I think about it, the subject is so embedded in the lizard brain maybe the pre-frontal cortex is always disconnected and all we see is threats of loss of life and limb and the inherent inferiority of the "other".

Fighting for survival against the color of someone else's skin.

As my friend wryly observes, "what a primitive planet."

I try to imagine if short haired cats discriminate against long haired cats? Are orange cats racially superior to striped cats? Are white cats guaranteed a better life than tabbies or gingers?

Some of my younger friends are choosing not to bring children into the world because of the suffering and discrimination they will endure at the hands of other humans.

When I think about the hatred we've historically inflicted, I am hard pressed to disagree.

Is change possible?  Are we capable of living respectfully?  Can we learn to appreciate the reality that an injury to any is injury to all?


Warning - Silence Ahead

"The only thing that happens abruptly in nature is disaster."  (Safety tip from personal journal.)

Living at the periphery of the calamitous din of modern life, I often wonder if anyone has time to listen anymore? There are lots of jokes about it, but really, when was the last time you listened to anything? Actually took in what was going on around you with out reacting, commenting, judging, moving or responding?

Ever try "just listening" to what is in this moment?

It is harder than it seems for lots of reasons. For example,listening doesn't look like much from the outside. So if someone asks about your day, it might be hard to relate.

Try playing it out. "Hi honey, how was your day?" "Wow, I was just slammed listening today." Endure the quizzical look and having not much to report, unless you begin telling a story about what you think you heard.

This is called gossiping - which isn't really listening - but gathering up your judgements while someone else is talking into a narrative that you can repeat later to someone else.

Here's another tough one. If you do manage to be silent and listen, how do you know what you heard? And if you're action oriented, you might be listening for cues to turn what you've heard into something to do.

Maybe listening leads to doing? You know what you heard because you can see what you did. This is along the Indiana Jones continuum, or life is a mystery that needs solving and you know just the detective to do something about it.

Just listening is challenging enough, but especially if you don't think about what to do with what you're hearing. Could be interesting to try listening today for a few minutes and not doing anything about it.

Ever been accused of being listening deficit? No matter what you're hearing, you're actually thinking about what to say next? This one appears in marital discord all the time and may cost you dearly in alimony and child support. Better to nod and deploy the "yes dear" defense. Not being heard is a sad story, and in the absence of compassion, nodding often suffices.

This assumes that you're in the company of others. What if you're alone?

Think listening would be easier?

Not a chance. Turns out that listening to nothing in particular is even more difficult than listening to someone's story.

Here's a quick listen from this morning. The slow humming of the monitor, the clicking of the keys, the traffic going by, my cat chewing the plants. Hey, stop chewing the plants! Get up, wrestle cat away from the mangled bamboo. What was that, a few seconds?  The minute I stop doing and listen, I react to whatever I heard and go back to doing.

Imagine that it's easier to listen if you eliminate noises around you? Silent meditation anyone?

This is like the Olympics of listening practices and not for the novice listener. If you're interested, here's the description of  listening meditation. It's a direct path to transformation according to the practitioners, but sales brochures never tell the whole story.

If you ever sit silently for ten days, you'll know what I mean. It turns out that listening to nothing is tantamount to pushing every monkey-mind button at once.

You find out that you're reacting, responding, resisting, planning, commenting, judging and moving, when you're listening to absolutely nothing.

When you remove outside stimuli, the true source of the cacophonous din is revealed.

Jumping, jiving, story telling, connecting an undulating quilt of ephemeral diaphanous dots, the monkey mind is always speaking directly to you.

And if you enjoy fiction and drama, wait until the monkey mind is the only thing you hear.

There's an easier way though. Believe me. Start very slowly. One moment at a time. Practice in little doses. Try listening to someone today. Even for just a few minutes. Without judging, commenting or doing.

If you're feeling adventurous, consider being silent for a moment or two and listen to the sound of your own breathing, your heart moving, skin warming or cooling.

And if you're in the mood for the big roller coaster, take the leap into listening meditation.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


Have a great weekend.

I'm physically limited to 30-minute segments of writing. Turns out that when I sit and write for longer than that, my neck muscles get tired. This discomfort is my body's way of saying, "hey, get up, this head is too heavy to hold over the desk, move it back!"

Thirty minutes on, five minute break, then thirty minutes on again.

This is just another insult added to the injury of the inverse pulses of diminishing time and expanding limits. Just for the record, I'm not great with limits. They seem to come up at the most inconvenient times.

Today I'm thinking about Friday, when I appear to encounter the most resistance to limits. A lifetime of clocking into first the playground, then the school house and then the water cooler - the accepted program of "modern" life - a dance inherent with inequity and unnecessary tension?

If you think about it, there is no actual difference at all between the moments that begin Monday and the ones that commence Friday. Yet I'm so thoroughly programmed to the weekly clock that the words evoke completely different feelings. We even have a special prayer for the experience. T.G.I.F. anyone?

That's why writing about limits is logically a better topic for Monday than Friday.

But Friday is when the resistance comes up. (Resistance to limits could have been my middle name but there wasn't enough space on the birth certificate, so they went with Ann instead.)

Resisting the culturally accepted delusion of work time isn't easy. The whole monkey show is organized around this dance of days. I suppose it is more efficient to have everyone agree that Wednesday is the middle of the week rather than just letting each person decided what makes the most sense.

First of all, why seven days? And why'd we agree to working five or six and only having one left to ourselves? Where's the creativity in that? Not to mention all the things that are competing for the short end of the stick and in living terms are probably more important.

Apparently we agreed the whole thing centuries ago and who's going to question the Sumerians? "The only thing we seem to know for certain about the origin of the 7-day week is that we know nothing for certain." It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, probably just to be certain that Louis the cheese maker would be around when we stopped in to buy some cheddar, we agreed to participate five or six days in the marketplace and reserve one day for gratitude and rest.

And in exchange Louis agreed to the deal to secure somewhere to tend his cows, eat left overs and keep track of his kid's growing pile of toys.

We've made some adjustments to the original terms since actually Louis worked way more hours every day than was healthy. When we invented the machinery of mass production, we needed to schedule work a bit more closely. And were led into the land of labor laws by our cousins across the pond. Thank the British.

Having glanced at the link, turns out that the 40 hour work week was a great relief! A gift!

Thank god we don't have to work all day and night.  But before you get too excited, read between the lines a little.

It turns out it's more expensive to replace trained workers who burn out at their stations, so breaking the work up into shifts was introduced. The machines can run around the clock and monkeys could survive if limits were imposed on their time in exchange for the guarantee of life long benefits.

We agreed to trading our lives for one day of rest to maximize productivity? Our reward a far off paradise called retirement? (Which I've checked out. It ain't pretty. There are a ton of old people and it's uncomfortably close to the nursing home.)

Is it any wonder as we're approaching the end of our weekly shift, the transition to "free" time approaches, and the resistance builds.

Inherent in our acceptance of this schedule is the agreement that one day is enough. Work six, rest one. (Anyone not working on Saturday? Think about it.) Get up and do it again.

And this realization, for one brief moment, comes washing in on the wave of relief at the conclusion of another hectic, maybe even brutal week.

I've agreed to exchange the entirety of my adult life for one day of rejuvenation per week?

On what planet does that make sense?

Maybe it isn't Friday that I'm resisting. Maybe it's the whole deal.

I'll have Sunday to rest up but right now I'm thinking I'll boycott Monday.

Have a great weekend and try not to think about it.


Some things are meant to be.

If the entire world is accessible from my computer by the sea, why would I ever leave? Or drive somewhere? Or get out of my daytime jammie clothes?

By eight a.m. this morning I've chatted with friends on two continents, checked out thirty or so discussion threads, gathered blog posts for later review, re-tweeted ten different posts, been quoted and grateful for the mention, offered emotional support for a gal pal and expressed concern for a family member's recovery from surgery.

The power to reach out and connect is growing exponentially. And not only with the people you already know and love. But the entire world is accessible from my home office.

This freaks me out in some regards. And in others I'm ecstatic.

Humbled and wondering, if I could connect with thousands of people, what would be the best possible thing to bring to the party?

Physical things are probably out, since just the logistics of the physical world require a big investment and certainly those pesky, basic math skills that I've never mastered.

Like all those questions of when and how many, how often, how fast and how heavy? The whole physical showing up goes to calculating space and time and I'm already on record about being math "challenged", and not by gender, thank you very much.

It has more to do with word problems, which never, ever, made the least bit of sense to me. I'd always get stuck on things like why was train leaving Chicago anyway? Was it winter? And did anyone remember to bring extra socks? And were the sweaters nubby wool, silk or cashmere?  Will we have lunch on the train or are we getting off to try a new cafe?

These kinds of things were never mentioned in the word problems, so is it any wonder that I just wasn't really interested in taking the whole physical showing up part along to the next level?

Okay, so I'm not bringing anything that involves the physical, which is okay, since network services probably won't support a cupcake protocol for a few more years.

Emotional? Too dicey if I'm connecting with thousands of people I've never met before. This is where my we're-not-jumping-around-on-the-Internet friends get freaked out about stalkers, slashers, posers, perverts and half-wits. And based on some of the nastier traits of monkeys, I can see their point.

Psychological? Well, here's a bit about that arena. It can come off sounding preachy and self-satisfied, like I've figured stuff out and am generously handing out the keys to a happy, healthy and wealthy life.

It's the quick fix. Here you are, life summed up in a tidy package with a bow and a free seminar for friends and family. The advertising usually has a number in it, like the three secrets of eternal bliss, the five ways you can finally be perfect, the eight keys to undoing a life time of sloth, bad habits and snarky attitudes.  You get the idea.

Not nearly close enough to the actually very messy process of living, for my tastes, much less the question of, if I'm so damn evolved, what am I doing attempting to connect with all these people by selling the answers to the quizzes?

Social?  Not really what I get excited about per se. I know there are people who are relentlessly scheduled to meet people all day every day and never miss a chance to go to the endless rounds of potlucks that inevitably seem to come up. Thanks, but I'm out of town that day?

I mostly just adore who I adore. And you know who you are. I'm not especially interested in connecting with the people I went to high school with just because we were in the same building. If I adored you then however, I still do. I'm still trying to find Wendy Quinn.

Feel free to friend me on Facebook. But don't bring that other kid who was not cool about ditching sixth period to smoke behind the gym.

This brings me back to connecting with the global village on my terms. Which tends to be the spiritual, philosophical, zen mindfulness continuum. Sort of "the answer is there is no answer" crowd.

And sure, there might be some cupcakes, half-wits and high school reunions along the way.

But on a day to day basis?  I'll continue to play the fool and rush right in.

Which brings me to the perfect gift to bring to those thousands of new connections, affectionately known as "tweeps".

Think about what you're bringing to the party while you hear it from the King.


The Dance of Love

This week a tiny clearing broke through the raucous thumping of creation. "Is anyone paying you to do this blogging thing?"  "No," I replied.  "Then, why are you doing it?"

Great question. Why am I doing this? Since all motivation comes down to either avoidance of pain or pursuit of pleasure, what is driving my behavior? I'm usually the last to know why I'm doing most things, so I looked at other bloggers to try and piece together some clues.


It appears there are as many reasons to do this as there are people doing it. Here's a link to a recent "Top 100" citing in the Times Online regarding the "blogscape" , if you are interested in Brian Appleyard's view on the genre. He's a professional journalist, so he's done an excellent job of researching the whole enchilada.

Recent guesstimates put the current number of blogs at over 200 million. Many of the posts about the growth of blogging appeared in 2005 and then died out. Just as many of the blogs did. Apparently blog mortality is a big issue.

I suspect the thrill over the printing press had a slightly longer honeymoon period.

For me there is the immediacy of seeing my words in a finished format. These words are not cleared by a committee, or approved by the legal department and beyond speller checker, lack formal editing.

This feels naughty, even writing it - I am completely unsupervised. Clearly at some point, that has to stop. Some part of me is waiting for the blog police to discover that I'm not qualified, licensed, certified or approved in any way to be just writing whatever I'm thinking about.

For heaven's sake, could I at least try and make money?

External acts that consistently deliver internal satisfaction - definition of a carrot on a stick, dangling in front of this donkey's nose. If I wanted a guarantee of something, blogging probably isn't the way to get it.

So the promise of fame and fortune on the outside take a backseat to a kind of internal stubborn streak. I practice three times a week because I can. Showing up, facing a blank screen, putting fingers to key board, refusing to take no for an answer. Typing along on my keyboard, there is nothing between me and the public except the acknowledgement that the posts may live forever.

Whoa. So that's kind of scary but also kind of thrilling.

Creating a foothold in cyber space with this freakishly direct medium is risky. Powerful socialization functions kicking in, my typing reflexively slows.

But hey, I endeavor to stifle myself every day in the name of good manners, so how real is the downside of acting out a bit here and there? Rather than succumb to the habit of hiding under a concrete veil of self criticism, I continue leaping into the creative fray.

Freedom, excitement, challenge, risk, set-backs, boredom, doubt, triumph, failure, exoneration, witness, advocacy, causation, liberation, art.

Looking at the process of creative expression, getting paid doesn't pop up. It is "supposed" to be worth money. If there is a socially acceptable reason to do anything it's selling.

Have a goal, a plan, an objective, for heaven's sake, at least an editorial calendar. Drive, do, produce, get money. Sigh.

Even writing that last little bit was torturous. Trust me. I know. Been there, done that. As a matter of fact, do NOT offer money as a reason to create. It stinks up the place.

If "a" then "b" isn't available, goal orientation slips away. Simply the clicking sound of the keys.

Freedom, joy, expression, monkey business. Entertainment. Fun.

There is it. Blogging is fun. Like some people would be skiing. Or sailing, exercising, reading, or playing the piano.

I'm thinking about it. Whatever it happens to be today. And if I wanted, I could tell you this blog is about triumphing over the inevitable smallness of any single life and reaching for immortality.

So, fun and death defying.

Oh, and love. Always about love.

Because in this little universe, as far as I can tell, there really is nothing else.

Blame it on the Bossa Nova.


What do you see?

Is it possible that being attention deficit is synonymous with a monkey brain on overload? My friends insist it's actually an apt description of modern life. With all the bits of flotsam and jetsam competing for my attention, is there any wonder each day seems like the aftermath of a tornado?

It remains a miracle that anything gets done, much less in a straight line. Seems that when I try to pay attention, I'm flung around by my thoughts, my ego, my senses, my environment, my duties, my values, my past, my future.... my, my, my!

You get the idea.  Then, somehow, I remember the point.

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated", William_James.

And this makes me think about how we're living in a universe where, really, what you see is what you get.

Another way to think about this is the idea of a "holodeck".   Click here for more.

Basically this is a science fiction version of a magic mirror. And in the normal progression of things, science fiction becomes science fact, then common knowledge, and then no one is amazed anymore.

Try reading anything from the 16th century on humans flying to the moon.

So, the holodeck works around the principle of projection and delivers on the idea that what we see is exactly what we expect to see. 

This means that what we pay attention to is our reality. 

I'm thinking that this is a true statement. (Check out this link and follow the instructions if you'd like a startling demonstration from our friends in the psych lab.  What do you see? )

Eventually science squares up with common knowledge, and so cliches are also probably true.

This makes me think about appreciation and "what goes around, comes around." A popular expression that could point to a deeper meaning?

Holding the two ideas together, we see what we expect to see and what goes around comes around, might mean that our lessons are, in large measure, self created.

Of course the ability to consider creative responsibility for our lives is qualified by a baseline presence of a healthy mind. If a human is incapable of self reflection, emotional regulation or empathic response, they suffer from such instability as to be permanent creators of a living hell.

Most likely they will not be interested in appreciating others.

If you are related to one of these folks, you'll know what I'm talking about!

Otherwise, assuming you possess a somewhat intact mind, imagine for a second standing in front of a mirror and giving that person a righteous lecture on common courtesy.

What do you see? As your face contorts with indignation and hurt, what happens to the person in the mirror? Do they repeat your words of condemnation? Does their face begin to harden with defensive pain? Do they begin to take a poke or two at you?

Now, notice the effect of this harsh lecture and that in fact it is bouncing right back off the mirror into your own face.

Imagine now that you are smiling and appreciating the person in the mirror. What do you see? Try thanking that person for their gifts of gentleness and calm demeanor. Tell them a joke and see if they get your sense of humor and laugh. Do they enjoying spending time with you?

Chances are this experience could be easily applied to the world at large.

What you see is what you get.

When you are angry and defensive, guaranteed you'll experience mostly hostility and attacks. And every ensuing interaction justifies being fearful and aggressive. If you believe that "you're screwed", in fact, that is what you'll be creating!

The reverse is also true. When you are open and appreciative, what you'll experience is an infinitely loving creation.

What goes around comes around.

Consider spreading some appreciation around today. Start in the little mirror and move on to the bigger one when you're feeling ready. If you have a chance, appreciate someone who isn't expecting it. Feeling bold? Try genuinely appreciating someone who's being grumpy.

Silently appreciate someone who isn't ready to hear it.
Be amazed at how the universe reflects back exactly what you expect.

What do you see?


When the circus comes to town.

Having entered the Age of Rice Krispies - no matter what I have for breakfast every morning is snap, crackle and pop - I'm coming to appreciate a sense of perspective.

Doesn't mean that things just flow along like one big caramel macchiato, but my mental habits are beginning to emerge more clearly as my physical decline accelerates. And while I'm still young at heart, the rest of this bio mechanical bag of neurons is beginning to seize up with a predictable frequency.

On a side note, a friend who's reached the high side of forty, recently went doctor shopping for a diagnose of anything that would grant her a regular supply of stimulants. Her main complaints were that paperwork is tedious and she tired every afternoon.

If she's successful, I'll save you a spot in line.

Until then a change in perspective will have to suffice.

Aging is one of those topics where I notice that my mind and ego swing into a Cirque du Soleil routine that would make P.T.Barnum blush.

My mind applies its super power of time travel and routinely slides around the physical evidence, looking through the reflection in the mirror to a time when a much younger face appeared.

My ego slips into a warm, deep pool of denial, insisting that aging is happening to others and is convinced that actually we're dodging the entire process. Using these superpowers, this dynamic duo manage a perpetual stance of shock and surprise at the advancing territory of decay.

Is it any wonder that I covet a Mini Cooper to drive the clowns around town?

A big part of the fun of watching the circus is suspending disbelief. http://bit.ly/pBFI

In this suspended state, for an hour and change, we are transfixed by the performer's death defying feats of grace. They rush to the edge again and again, escaping gravity, time and space, defeating chaos and amazing us with their feats of physical beauty and strength.

They taunt death and win. When you think about it, what's not to love about this?

The mind and the ego are briefly grounded in their twin beliefs of immortality and specialness. We project ourselves into the performance and are relieved of the painful awareness of our mortal insignificance.

As my best friend would say, sign me up!

Noticing the circus that the mind and the ego are staging. The suspension of disbelief is undone and we fall back to this moment.

If you're interested in being here while you're here, you could practice noticing.

When the mind's circus comes to town, launching a drama filled trapeze act to distract from the present moment and the inevitable advance of your demise, you could practice noticing.

Following each inhalation, notice that neither the challenge nor the escape are true.

Neither fixated on adrenaline nor muffled in sleep walking.

The line between triumph and defeat fades.

Practice noticing and the circus music fades.

Gently, the elephants in the room sway. Empty, the trapeze hangs overhead.

No tall shiny boots or cracking whip. The ringmaster breathing in and out.

Sawdust drifting in a sun lit shaft of air.