29 March  2016      

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 Live and Help Live
Rachel Naomi Remen

 Still Don't Know What You Want to Be
When You "Grow Up"?   Valerie Young

Strategies for Practicing Forgiveness
tom walsh

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Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves.

Marcelene Cox

It takes days of practice to learn the art of sauntering.  Commonly we stride through the out-of-doors too swiftly to see no more than the most obvious and prominent things.  For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace.

Edwin Way Teale

One exemplary act may affect one life, or even millions of lives.  All those who set standards for themselves, who strengthen the bonds of community, who do their work creditably and accept individual responsibility, are building the common future.

John W. Gardner

There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit.  When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.



Live and Help Live
Rachel Naomi Remen

Many years ago when I was a teaching pediatrician at a major medical school, I followed six young teenagers with juvenile diabetes.  Most of them had diabetes since they were toddlers and had responsibly followed strict diets and given themselves injections of insulin since kindergarten.  But as they became caught up in the turmoil of adolescence, desperate to be like their peer group, this disease had become a terrible burden, a mark of difference.  Youngsters who had been in diabetic control since infancy now rebelled against the authority of their disease as if it were a third parent.  They forgot to take their shots, ate whatever the gang ate, and were brought to the emergency room in coma or in shock, over and over again.  It was frightening and frustrating, dangerous for the youngsters and draining for their parents and the entire pediatric staff.

As the associate director of the clinics, this problem was brought to my door and I decided to try something simple.  I formed two discussion groups, each consisting of three youngsters and the parents of the other three.  Each group met to talk once a week.

These groups turned out to be very powerful.

Kids who could not talk to their own parents became articulate in expressing their needs and perspectives to the parents of other children.  Parents who could not listen to their own children hung on every word of other people's children.  And other people's children could hear them when they could not hear their own parents.  People, feeling themselves understood for the first time, felt safe enough to cry and found that others cared and could comfort them.  People of all ages offered each other insights and support, and behaviors began to change.  Parents and their own children began to talk and listen to each other in new ways.  We were making great progress in the quality of all the family relationships, and the number of emergency room visits was actually diminishing, when the director of the clinics discovered the groups.

His indignation was painful.  What was I thinking of to overstep the limitations of my expertise in such a blatant way?  Was I a psychiatrist?  What if one of these people had gotten hurt by something that was said, or had become emotionally disturbed?  What would I have done then?  Despite the good results, the groups were disbanded.

There is still a very narrow conception of what a health provider is.  Thinking back on some of those people and the wisdom, kindness, and understanding they offered each other, I am sad.  They were not second-class experts.  And having been ill since adolescence, neither was I.  Our life experience was as valuable as any credential.

I do not think that we will be able to attain health for all until we realize that we are all providers of each other's health, and value what we have to offer each other as much as what experts have to offer us.  In the years since, groups such as these have demonstrated beyond question that problems which are not amenable to the most expert medical approaches may be resolved in community by the very people who suffer from them and therefore understand them.  In such communities, the concept of woundedness breaks down and we are all wounded healers of each other.  We have earned the wisdom to heal and the ability to care.

In a recent talk, Bill Moyers commented that one of the most traditional values of American life--live and let live--can never establish good health for all.  Health requires us as individuals and as a people to go a step beyond this.  To live and help live.

Rachel Remen has a unique perspective on healing rooted in her background as a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist, and a long-term survivor of chronic illness.  In a deeply moving and down-to-earth collection of true stories, this prominent physician shows us life in all its power and mystery and reminds us that the things we cannot measure may be the things that ultimately sustain and enrich our lives.


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Still Don't Know What You Want
to Be When You "Grow Up"?

Valerie Young

Here Are Three Ways to Find Out

If you’re well into your career but still aren't really sure what you want to be “when you grow up,” join the mid-life career crisis club!  Here are three ways to help you discover your heart's content.

1.  Forget skill sets, think satisfaction.

In her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, career guru Barbara Sher points out that finding your passion is more than just figuring out what you're good at.  Reflecting on her own life as a single parent, Sher realized she was clearly “skilled” at raising two children and managing a home on a tight budget.  But did she love it?  “You live the good life not by doing what you can do,” Sher learned, “but by doing what you want to do.”

2. Pay attention to both past and present-day clues.

In his famous interview with Bill Moyers, renowned mythology scholar Joseph Campbell said, “The way to find out about your happiness, is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy – not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy.”

The first place to search for clues to your present day passion is in your own childhood.  I once read about a man, who, as a young boy loved to make sand castles.  Guess what he does for a living now?  He runs a company that travels around the world making elaborate sand sculptures for ocean-side special events!

What about today?  What so engrosses you that you scarcely notice the time? Is it watching NASCAR racing?  Gardening?  Tinkering with a broken toaster?  Surfing the Internet?  Exploring a museum?  Traveling?  Helping a friend work through a problem?  Tracing your family history?  Organizing a closet?  Working with children?  Get a small pad of paper or dedicate a section of your organizer to your passion.  As something new hits you, add it to the list.

Still stumped?  Try making up your own “I’d rather be__________” bumper sticker.  Would you rather be following sports, writing poetry, gardening, shopping, fixing things, fishing, watching reruns of your favorite childhood shows?

3. Enlarge your view.

One of the best way to expand your thinking – and your options – is by stepping outside the confines of your day-to-day life.  Consider signing up for a class on something entirely new to you like bookbinding, feng shui, woodworking, cooking, copywriting, small engine, or computer repair.

Try reading publications outside your typical areas of interest or expertise.  If you usually stick to news or women’s magazines, pick up a copy of National Geographic, Antiques Monthly or Down Beat.  Even if you don’t read a single article the advertisements alone will open your eyes to a multitude of fascinating ways to earn a living.

And remember, “When you love what you do,” says author and management guru Harvey McKay, “you'll never have to work a day in your life.”

*  *  *

Valerie Young is Dreamer-in-Residence at ChangingCourse.com, an on-line resource dedicated to helping you find your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, USA Weekend, The Guardian [London], Reader's Digest, and Redbook, and online at MSN, Careerbuilder, and iVillage. Valerie specializes in helping her clients come up with creative alternatives to having a j-o-b.



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Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as
they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they
are.  This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine
advance can even begin. . . . Provided we strenuously avoid
turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic
alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation
upon which increased emotional health and therefore
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As Bill Sees It



Strategies for Practicing Forgiveness

Sometimes I don't like to forgive.  Sometimes, righteous indignation feels much better in the short term--I feel justified in being angry or disappointed in someone, and there's a side of me that likes to feel that I'm somehow a bit superior to these other people, even though I know that I'm not.  But if they did something mean or insulting or thoughtless, then I can put myself above them based on their action, and that makes me feel--in a very superficial and unrealistic way--that I'm above them.

When I forgive, there's a huge temptation to make the forgiveness exactly the same thing:  an attempt to put myself "above" someone else by showing the compassion necessary to forgive.  You've seen it--the people who say they forgive with a tone of voice that says, "Isn't this wonderful of me to be such a kind person that I can forgive you for doing something wrong?"  If we're going to forgive, then it's very important that we be sure that we're not forgiving in order to make ourselves look better, for that's not true forgiveness at all, and it will not have any of the benefits that true forgiveness brings to us.

When I want to forgive someone, I want to do so for both of our sakes--so that the other person isn't always wondering how I feel and being uncomfortable around me, and so that I'm not carrying around my anger or my frustration and possibly keeping another person at a distance that isn't healthy for either of us.


To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love.
In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.

Robert Muller

For me, the most important first step towards forgiveness is to examine closely what I think about what happened.  Very often I feel that somebody did something in order to harm me on purpose.  After all, they had to know that doing that would harm me, and since they had to know that, the fact that they did what they did means that they purposely did it to harm me, no?  My own mental processes very often build the anger and resentment to such a point that forgiveness is unrealistically difficult--it's harder to forgive because of what I think about what happened, not because of what really happened.

Once I do this, sometimes I'm done, and forgiveness is easy.  Other times, though, I haven't really built anything up--what happened truly was very negative, and truly was very difficult to forgive.  If that's the case, my next step tends to be to think about the possible motivations that might have led the person to do what he or she did.  If I can understand the motivation, it's often easier to forgive.

This is especially true if I think that the main motivation was fear.  I think that we would be astonished if we could see statistics about people's major motivation behind most of what we do.  We do so much out of fear that it's almost impossible to imagine, and the other people in our lives do so, also.  For me, it's easier to forgive someone if I recognize that something was done out of fear rather than malice, because of anxiety rather than a desire to harm.  I know that I've done many things in my life that have hurt other people, and mostly I've done them out of fear--never because I wanted to hurt someone.

Pardon one another so that later on you will not
remember the injury.  The recollection of an injury
is in itself wrong.  It adds to our anger, nurtures
our sin, and hates what is good.  It is a rusty
arrow and poison for the soul.

Francis of Paola

When I feel that I need to forgive someone else, I also check up on my own feelings.  If I'm angry or resentful, those feelings (and/or others) usually tend to take over my mind and keep me pretty stressed out, even miserable.  If my feelings tell me that forgiveness is necessary, then it's time to forgive without any delay.

And forgiveness doesn't have to be done face-to-face.  We don't even need to tell the other person that we're forgiving them.  Forgiveness is simply a letting go of the way we feel about something that someone else did.  It's not holding them responsible any more, not dwelling on what happened.  It's putting it safely and finally into the past, where it belongs, instead of keeping it in our minds when that strategy really serves no important function at all.

If we know that the other person is agonizing over what he or she has done, then it is much better to forgive face-to-face so that we can release the person from the agony.  We don't do so in order to make that person grateful to us or to make them feel they owe us something--we do it to let go.  We could even use the words "I'm going to let go and put this in my past."  For that's what is going to be showing the most compassion to both the other person and ourselves.

The Toltec tradition tells us that we surrender a portion
of our life force when we dwell on any unhealed wounding
event from our past.  The unprocessed emotions surrounding
these events burden us and weigh heavily on our hearts.
They must be dealt with if we want access to all of our
vitality.  Ultimately, what we will find is that forgiveness
is the key to reclaiming all the life force locked in past hurt.

Debbie Ford

What about when the person who needs the forgiveness is myself?  What do I do then?  I can follow the same procedure, but to make it easier for myself, I tend to add something important.  I imagine someone I know who is very compassionate and I ask myself, "Would this person forgive me?"  And if the answer is yes, then it becomes much, much easier for me to forgive myself.  I also remind myself that if I don't forgive myself, then I'm not going to be as good of a teacher, as good of a husband, as good of a friend, as I would be otherwise.  If I don't forgive myself, I'm also not much of a role model to people who look up to me, and I always want to try to be the best role model I can be.  If I remember these things, then I can keep in mind that it's actually important for me to forgive myself if I want to have positive effects on the lives of other people whom I want to help.

It all comes down to a simple fact:  forgiveness is the result of a decision.  Whenever we make decisions, it's important that we know everything we can about a situation, and then make our decision in a carefully considered way.  Too much information may paralyze us, but not enough information will make our decision less than an informed one.  Something that the heart will tell you for sure, though:  forgiveness is always the right decision, for everyone involved.  Forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to trust them in the future or even necessarily forget their transgression, but it does give you the best chance of getting your own life on a very positive track.

More on expectations.


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Simply give others a bit of yourself; a thoughtful act, a helpful idea, a word of appreciation, a lift over a rough spot, a sense of understanding, a timely suggestion.  You take something out of your mind, garnished in kindness out of your heart, and put it into the other person's mind and heart.

Charles H. Burr

We use the word "love" but we have no more understanding of love than we do of anger or fear or jealousy or even joy, because we have seldom investigated what that state of mind is.  What are the feelings we so quickly label as love?  For many what is called love is not lovely at all but is a tangle of needs and desires, of momentary ecstasies and bewilderment.  Moments of unity, of intense feelings of closeness, occur in a mind so fragile that the least squint or sideways glance shatters its oneness into a dozen ghostly paranoias.

When we say love we usually mean some emotion, some deep feeling for an object or person, that momentarily allows us to open to another.  But in such emotional love, self-protection is never very far away.  Still there is "business" to the relationship:  clouds of jealousy, possessiveness, guilt, intentional and unintentional manipulation, separateness, and the shadow of all previous "loves" darkens the light of oneness.

But what I mean by love is not an emotion, it is a state of being.  True love has no object.  Many speak of their unconditional love for another.  Unconditional love is the experience of being; there is no "I" and "other," and anyone or anything it touches is experienced in love.  You cannot unconditionally love someone.  You can only be unconditional love.  It is not a dualistic emotion.  It is a sense of oneness with all that is.  The experience of love arises when we surrender our separateness into the universal.  It is a feeling of unity.  You don't love another, you are another.  There is no fear because there is no separation.

Stephen Levine
Some Simple Advice
Elbert Hubbard

Whenever you go out-of-doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put your soul into every handclasp.  Do not fear being misunderstood and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies.  Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then, without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal.

Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding away, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs.  Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual. . . . Thought is supreme.

Preserve a right mental attitude--the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer.  To think rightly is to create.  All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered.  We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.  Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high.  We are gods in the chrysalis.

Let every creature have your love.  Love, with its fruits of meekness, patience,
and humility, is all that we can wish for ourselves and our fellow creatures.  For this
is to live in God, united with him, both for time and eternity.  To desire to communicate
good to everyone, in the degree that we can and to which each person is capable of
receiving from us, is a divine temper, for thus God stands unchangeably
disposed towards the whole creation.

William Law


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