26 June 2018      

Hello, and welcome to our first issue of the summer!  We hope that
this new season in our lives finds you doing well, ready to enjoy all
that it has to offer!  (And for those of you far to the south,
welcome to winter, another beautiful season (as they all are)!)

Holy Indifference
Joan Chittister

Always Make Your Confidence Greater Than Your
Comfort        Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura

Beauty
tom walsh

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The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all people human and, therefore, brothers and sisters.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Dakota tribal saying

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business; it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability; it is essential for human survival.

the Dalai Lama

  

Holy Indifference
Joan Chittister

If there is anything that strikes terror into the soul of the sincere it is fear of failure.  To be a success in something marks the measure of our worth.  It gives us honor on the street corners of our worlds.  It gives us stature among our peers.  It gives us a sense of invincibility.  But one of the central questions of life may well be how to tell success from failure.  It's not so simple a task as we are inclined to think, perhaps, at the first toss of the question.  Failure, we know, is unacceptable.  We do a great deal to avoid it.  We do even more to hide it.  But the real truth is that there is a great deal of failure in success:  Winning pitchers lose a good many baseball games.  Wealthy people risk a great deal of money to make money.  Scientists can spend their entire lives mixing the wrong compounds, writing the wrong formulas, testing the wrong hypotheses.

The problem is that there are two faces of failure, one of them life-giving, the other one deadly.  I have seen them both.

The first face of failure I saw in the life of an internationally recognized writer who, first intent on being an English professor, studied at Oxford but failed.  I gasped at the very thought of it.  But she spoke about the loss of those years and that degree with a laugh and a toss of her head:  "Luckiest thing that ever happened to me," she said.

"Otherwise I'd be in a small college somewhere teaching writing.  As it is, I'm doing just what I'm supposed to be doing."  I thought about the remark for days.  Here was a woman who knew the place of failure in our eternal quest to be ourselves.

The second face of failure I saw in a woman with great musical talent who, discouraged by the difficulty of her early studies, dropped out of music school and  never studied another thing in her life.  She died disgruntled, underdeveloped, and trapped within the boundaries of the self.

Clearly, failure may, in the long run, be the only real key to success.  The first step to becoming what we most seek may well be indifference to dashed hope and perpetual disappointment and the depression that comes with reaching for guinea gold and grasping only dust.

But if that is the case, then we must develop the capacity for failure in a society that glorifies success but gives short shrift to the forging of it.  We must learn to recognize, to value, to prize all the endless attempts it takes to do what we want to do but which for us is still undoable.

We need to cultivate a sense of holy indifference.

more on failure

   

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Always Make Your Confidence Greater Than Your Comfort
an excerpt
Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura

Increased confidence is crucial for lifetime growth.  Many successful people start off life as dreamers and risk takers, but the moment they become successful, they begin to seek greater security and comfort over everything else.  This attitude puts them to sleep motivationally, and they lose the confidence that made them so successful.  Security and comfort are desirable by-products of goal achievement, but when they become the goal itself, they quickly stop lifetime growth.  Treat any increase in comfort in your life as only a temporary stage for establishing bigger goals.  Continually strive for higher goals and achievement, and your confidence will always be greater than your comfort.

All growth requires that we stretch beyond where we've been before.  As we do this, our confidence about being able to take on new challenges increases.  Confidence gives us the ability to overcome fear and stay in motion, continually realizing our bigger future.

Short Breaks Build Confidence

Growing confidence also requires that we periodically take "comfort breaks."  These are periods of rest, which are necessary so that we can acknowledge and celebrate our achievements and rejuvenate for the next challenge--key preparation for approaching a new task with confidence.  We need to take the time to say to ourselves, "I've done this and proved I can do it.  Now what else does this make possible?"

Continued growth requires a balance between stretching ourselves beyond where we're comfortable, to increase our confidence to new levels, and taking comfort breaks at those new levels so that they can begin to feel normal.

It's a lot like exercising our muscles:  If we constantly push our limits without taking any breaks, we run the strong risk of burnout, injury, or at least hitting a point of diminishing returns, where more effort returns less and less progress.  But if we stop for too long, we lose strength and momentum and even lose the progress we've gained.  The trick is to keep comfort breaks short enough that we don't lose our momentum; otherwise, confidence can begin to slip away, and it can be hard to get going again.  We can become trapped in comfort, at which point it becomes a growth stopper.

The biggest challenge to leaving our comfort zone is always fear:  fear that we'll fail, fear that someone will discover that we're not as good as they thought we were, fear that we'll lose something important, fear that people won't understand what we're doing--the list goes on and on.  Confidence is the ability to transform these fears into focused thinking and action.

Even highly successful people experience fear, though eventually they learn not to be stopped by it.  For some, it just means that the challenge is big enough and meaningful enough to be worthwhile. . . .

So how do you know if you're in a comfort trap?  Usually, if you're really honest with yourself, you can feel when your growth is slowing down and it's time to take on something new.  Life starts to feel a bit too easy or routine, or it begins to lose the sense of meaning and excitement it once had.  You may start feeling bored or restless, or find yourself asking, "Is this all there is?"  Even with these nagging feelings, sometimes we can be very good at convincing ourselves that where we are is OK, especially if it's comfortable and the alternatives for growth are less comfortable.  There are lots of justifications and distractions we can use to reinforce our decision to stay put.  When we do this, we end up selling our our dreams in exchange for comfort. . . .

Those who are used to making their confidence greater than their comfort will tell you that after a while, you become less fearful of making mistakes.  In fact, you begin to realize that the biggest breakthroughs often come from making mistakes, because that's where you get your best improvement ideas.  No matter how things work out, you'll always grow more and reap rewards from leaving comfort behind and doing things that force you to develop new capabilities and confidence.  You just have to be comfortable with not knowing in advance what those rewards are going to be.  Where lifetime growth is concerned, always making your confidence greater than your comfort is a no-lose proposition.

more on confidence

  

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Fighting life only saps our energy, blocking us from the love,
healing, and compassion available to us from our own hearts.
Once we accept our given reality, our energy shifts.  Release happens.

Susan Santucci

   

 
Beauty

This world is full of beauty.  It's full of things and places and people and animals who share their beauty with us each day--but unfortunately, we've been conditioned over the course of our lives not to see that beauty any longer, if we ever noticed it in the first place.  And therein lies the problem with beauty:  it has tremendous potential to make our lives richer, yet it can only do when and if we notice it and appreciate it.  So the problem with beauty lies not in the beautiful object or person, but in ourselves and our lack of awareness and gratitude.

Beauty is, they say, in the eye of the beholder.  But this isn't necessarily true.  While there are some works of art or industry, for example, that one person may find beautiful and another may find horribly ugly, the fact that I don't see something as physically attractive does not mean that it is devoid of beauty.  This is especially true in people--our society teaches us that certain types of looks are more beautiful than others, so it's very easy to miss the beauty in a person whose looks don't match the societal "ideal."  And this is a huge shame because if we're unable to see the beauty in other people who are, indeed, beautiful, then our lives are much, much poorer.
   

The fact that we can't see the beauty in something doesn't suggest
that it's not there.  Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully
enough or with a broad enough perspective to see it.

Richard Carlson

   
Seeing beauty isn't necessarily all that easy, though.  I've known many people who do their best to hide their beauty, often simply because they don't think they're beautiful at all.  They hide their talents and abilities, and they show the world their hardness or their anger, and that's a facade that is very often difficult to see through.  Some young girls who have been made to feel ugly learn to dress and act in unattractive ways; some young boys who don't feel at all beautiful do their best to make themselves ugly, either through their actions or their clothing or their hygiene.

But beauty is an important part of our world, and thus an important part of our lives.  And beauty is something that we all share, both in its possession and in the enjoyment we get from it.  If I'm able to see your beauty clearly--in your eyes or your smile or your words or your actions, then my life is richer.  If you're able to see mine, your life is richer.  If I hide my beauty, though, I won't be making your life even the slightest bit more positive.

Most of us need to make an effort to be able to see beauty more easily.  It makes me feel awful to think of how often I've taken people for granted as just "ordinary" people with no real beauty, only to see later that their beauty was amazing--it was just somewhere that I hadn't even thought of looking.  My own judgmental attitude and inability to recognize something that was right in front of my eyes kept me from experiencing some amazing things.  It's taken me a long time to learn to actively seek a person's beauty, or a town's beauty, or a work of art's beauty, but nowadays I think that if I don't see the beauty immediately, that's a sign that the beauty is probably going to be more extraordinary than superficial beauty usually is.
    

People should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine
picture every day of their lives, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate
the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    
Far too often, we consider superficial beauty to be the true indicator of beauty, and that's far from the case.  Yes, the spectacular sunset is beautiful, but the less dramatic sunsets have their own subtle beauty, too.  Some trees don't seem to be nearly as beautiful as others, yet what they contribute to the planet is necessary and, therefore, beautiful.  Sometimes we need to look very closely at things to see the beauty of their intricacy, while other times we may be looking too close and we should back up a bit to see the beauty in the bigger picture.

The appreciation of beauty is a gift that we should not squander.  But it's also a gift that we should not allow to be affected by the superficial mores of our culture--we should not let other people define beauty for us.  If we do so, we're making our lives poorer, for then we will lost out on much beauty that remains unrecognized and unappreciated.  When we're able to recognize beauty, we then allow wonder and awe to be an important part of our lives, and these two attributes also contribute much to a healthy and fulfilling life.

If we actively make an effort to allow beauty to be an important part of our lives, then we can enrich our lives ourselves.  And if we make sure that we define beauty ourselves, based on our instincts and our personal tastes, we won't spend a lot of time wondering why we don't feel the same way about a particular object or person that other people feel.  As Jean says below, the appreciation of beauty opens doors to our souls, and those are doors that always should be open.
   

As I experience it, appreciation of beauty is access to the soul.  With beauty
in our lives, we walk and carry ourselves more lightly and with a different look
in our eyes.  To look into the eyes of someone beholding beauty is to look
through the windows of the soul.  Anytime we catch a glimpse of soul, beauty
is there; anytime we catch our breath and feel "How beautiful!," the soul is present.

Jean Shinoda Bolen

   
I've reached a point at which I can see beauty in almost everything, even litter on the highway (in its texture or shape or form) or other things that don't seem to have any inherent beauty.  (Of course, I pick up all the litter I can, because even if it does have some beauty, the natural state of a place is usually better.)  In being able to recognize and appreciate the beauty in the world in which I live, I've given myself a tool that can help me to feel better when I feel down, that can help to elate me when I need to feel elation, that can brighten a dull day or make even brighter a day already bright.  Seeing and appreciating beauty is a gift that I can give to myself whenever I feel the need.  And when I do this, my life is brighter and my spirit soars, knowing that I'm not neglecting it at all.

More on beauty.

   

   
   
  

   

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Adversity draws people together and produces beauty and harmony in life's relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window panes, which vanish with the warmth.

Søren Kierkegaard

  
We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world.  And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us.  We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world--to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it.  And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great error has become clear.  It is not only our own creativity--our own capacity for life--that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled.

We have been wrong.  We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us.  And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it.  We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits.  But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it.  We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.  We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence.  For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.

Wendell Berry
The Art of the Commonplace
   

  

Sometimes during the day, I consciously focus on some ordinary object and
allow myself a momentary "paying-attention."  This paying-attention gives meaning
to my life.  I don't know who it was, but someone said that careful attention
paid to anything is a window into the universe.  Pausing to think this way,
even for a brief moment, is very important.  It gives quality to my day.

Robert Fulghum

    

  

   

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