Doing for others…

Proud of my uncle John and his partner Sue for what they’ve done.

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What comes to mind?

What comes to your mind when you wake up in the morning?  Is it pretty much the same thing day in and day out? Related to your routine, but with layers of good and bad things that are ever changing? Things that come with more or less weight? Things that are energizing, or that can be draining? Things that worry you or that may give you hope?

Whatever is going on in your life, consider that you have some control; control of yourself and of your behavior. So, take notice of how you feel and of what you’re thinking about when you wake up. Maybe set your alarm 5 or 10 minutes early. The point should be clear. Don’t get swept up by your thoughts when you wake. Take control of them.

Try starting the morning with a smile, and the statement, I’m lucky to be alive. Simple, right?  Next, just take a few, nice, deep breaths, while checking in with your body to see how you’re feeling. You could even then stand and take a minute or two stretching your arms and legs.

I assure you, this routine will go a long way for your well being. Hope it helps.

My time.

There is a deeper language than we are consciously aware of; another level of communication that happens in every conversation that we are all more or less aware of.

How does that statement resonate with you?

I recall the last two times that I spent with my late brother, Jack. The first was in his room in Big Sky, MT. Little did I know, he would soon lose his life to an avalanche there. He, myself, and my twin brother, Jay, sat side by side with our backs against a wall. We were making small talk about NCAA basketball. As Jack spoke at some point about something we all knew to be more or less trivial, I saw his spirit coming through, and he was saying something else. It was as clear as if he’d been saying it in plain english.

Buzz-kill: I don’t even remember exactly what he said, but it was a profound message; an epiphany relative to the nature of reality – humanity, love, and our connectedness.

The second and last time I saw Jack was at a family beach house in Pawleys Island, SC. Our entire, immediate family had come together to mourn/celebrate the life of Lori; our youngest sister.

The one thing i remember from that weekend is Jack saying, “Our life seems like a war”. He was referring to our family’s struggle with loss and pain. Lori had just taken her life. I think we all saw her as a casualty, and ultimately the result of my father’s actions on Mother’s Day in 1983. My twin brother, Jay, Lori, and I witnessed our father shoot our mother, and then take his own life.

The three of us were adopted by our mother’s brother’s family. Jack, Miles, Elizabeth, and Laura took us in as their brothers and sisters. Bonnie and Mike Gilliom became our parents.

Jack was framing the struggle we’d all endured. He was speaking to good and evil, love and hate, joy and pain.

If our life is in fact like a war, our family was two less soldiers that year. Lori died in the spring of 1999; Jack in the Fall.

So what about all this? I don’t share this post to tell a sad story. How do you feel after having read this? About your own life, relative to love and hate?

I’m working on being less judgemental with the understanding that we all have our own place, paths, and lessons to learn. I’m working on trusting myself, and on listening to and learning from the deeper language of love.

Something to try.

At the risk of scaring some of you off with the word, Art, let’s call this exercise, an exploration, or, just something different to try.

Get somewhere by yourself with a pencil, or pen, some paper, and some music. I recommend headphones. The music selection is whatever you wish. Once the song begins playing close your eyes and just let your hand go (pen to paper) with whatever you’re feeling. There’s no right or wrong. It should end up looking like messy scribble.

Once the song is over, you’re done with phase one. Open your eyes, and see what you did. Then just take a minute or two to look at it.  See what you start to see. Again, no right or wrong.

Next, take take the same pencil or pen ( or a colored marker) and begin to trace what you’re seeing within the scribble. You may not see anything other than scribble. You may see circles, or figure eights, or a person’s face.  The point is to begin tracing. You may do this with or without music.

I enjoy the freedom and flow of the first part of the exercise, and then self observation in the tracing part. Anyways, let me know if you try it and what you think.

We’re here for love.

In the spring of 1999 I received a phone call from my mom. It was the call and news I’d feared for years.  My sister Lori had taken her life.  I collapsed to my knees and cried. The phone call was short, and then i walked out of my house onto the front porch. A peace and calm came over me, and my mind was empty with the exception of one thought; I am here for others.

Two years earlier I was struggling with my own depression.  I was living in FL with plans of walking onto the local, University’s basketball team. Long story short, my time there ended with one overwhelming feeling and thought; I need love.  I need to be around people that I love, and I need their love.

Life’s lessons aren’t always easy, nor are they always so obvious, but I am greatful to be alive and to be able to share these experiences with you.

Do you ever think of yourself in terms of a transmitter and receiver? We communicate out, and we take in the world around us with our senses.  We give and we receive.  We must know that we all need love, and we all have the responsibility to share our love with others.  The more we stay in tune with this the better off we are.

I say, work on compassion. It’s true that we don’t always know where others are coming from, nor what they may be dealing with.  See the good in others, and know that everyone needs love.




The shower.

Ever tried showering with your eyes closed… the whole time?  I’d recommend it.  Your time in the shower can be healing and transformational, if you take your time.  Consider making the shower a place of meditation.  If you’re willing, read on.  Here’s the idea…

Take just a minute before-hand to prepare yourself.  Focus on your breathing and how your body feels. Try to let go of the busy world around you.  Tell yourself, I am here now to take care of myself.  Get in the shower, and close your eyes. Feel the water, and notice your breathing again. You may need to remind yourself to slow down.

Whatever your (habit) order of washing, do it slowly and thoroughly with the intention of loving everything single part of your body.

At the very least, you may be aware of the parts of you that you typically neglect more than others. I typically take less time with my feet and toes, but that’s changing. This practice reminded me how important my feet are, and that they’re deserving of the extra time and attention. Happy washing!

Re-thinking Meditation..

I’m a novice when it comes to meditation, as it’s popularly known.  Sit indian style in a quiet place, breath, empty your mind, etc…

Here’s the truth though… meditation is about awareness and mindfulness.  It does take time and space, but that’s all we ever have.  Think about it.

Writing is a form of meditation for me, and there are plenty of times when I have writters block; an empty mind.

I focus on ideas. I process thoughts. Let some go, and run with others. And, that’s it.  I then re-engage with the world around me, changed. I take time for myself, and I disengage from the world around me for a bit. And, my next encounter with whomever will be different simply because i took that time.

You bump into the people when you do precisely because of your pace and energy and because of theirs. If you take a few minutes for yourself, be-it writing, or sitting still and quiet, your energy changes and who and when you encounter someone next will too. And, if you gear your intentions towards peace and love and compassion, can you argue that your next interaction with someone will be more pleasant than normal?

My belief is that we should all spend more time with / on ourselves. I hope this helps you to rethink the meaning of meditation, and that you’ll seek more time with yourself. Go within. Be well.

Perspective; the stories we tell ourselves.

How often do you check-in with yourself and ask, what’s the story I’m telling myself?

Whatever your situation, we’re all coming from somewhere, and we’re all responsible for our behavior. So, what are you telling yourself about who you are and what’s going on around you?  Room for improvement?

We all have the capacity to consider these questions from a neutral place, but many of us lack the awareness to  properly evaluate ourselves.

My contention is that our past is always coming through in the moment, and until we’ve come to terms with our past, we can never be whole nor at peace in the moment.

Try spending a day, as much as you can, stopping yourself and asking yourself, am i at peace? Am a wrapped up speaking negatively of something or of others? Do i feel rushed? Angry? Bothered by something or someone? Try calming yourself with a Mantra. I use, “I am loving and compassionate.  I share and receive love. May I see the good in myself and in others”.

Summary:  Take charge of your space and time. Just breathe, and take notice of how you feel. We can all change ourselves for the better. It begins with awareness.

PS. Get past the idea that you don’t know how to meditate, or that you don’t have time for it. The truth is, we’re all meditating, more or less, all the time.  The question is, are you aware of it; that it’s happening? See my next post. Thanks for reading?