Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Marines Don't Do That

Recently Michael Wheeler wrote an article entitled “Marines Don’t Do That:  Mastering the Split-Second Decision. In it he quoted Major David Dixon, who recently retired from the US Marine Corps. According to Major Dixon, Marines are taught the concept of “Marines don’t do that” during their training.

It got me to thinking about how I react in life and what I “don’t do.” I’m usually the one who speaks up and makes at least a few people uncomfortable if someone is telling an inappropriate joke or being discriminatory. I simply have no tolerance for it. I used to. I used to be afraid to speak up for fear someone might start attacking me, or making fun of me for not “being one of the boys.”

I suppose becoming comfortable with my sexual orientation as well as my belief in the teachings of the Science of Mind – both of which are still not universally accepted – has positioned me to speak out. It comes from a foundation of confidence and security, not from one of reaction, indignation or anger. Admittedly, I still feel some of those things when I witness gross injustices, but I’m not out to prove anything to anyone.

What guides your life course and your interactions with others on a daily basis? Do you allow discrimination or injustices to go on in front of you? How we deal with what we consider inappropriate behavior here in America is vastly different than in other countries, including our neighbors directly north of us. But regardless of local customs, how will you act (not react) in an unfair situation the next time it happens?

It might not be a situation of sticking up for someone else. It might be having the opportunity to disregard our own personal ethics, for example tossing our cigarette out the window, accepting more change than is due us, or ignoring someone who is differently-abled than we.

If you are truly the religious scientist you say you are, or the Christian, or the Muslim or the Buddhist, or whatever other teachings guide your life, will you stand up for righteous and fair treatment of others? Or, will you remain silent while those less able to speak up are put down, embarrassed, ill-treated or even injured? Will you practice what you preach to preserve our planet, or will you make excuses because you are too busy to go the extra mile?

Those aren’t easy questions to hear or perhaps easy ones to contemplate. I would, however, suggest to you that they are ones we should all entertain. When faced with the hard questions of life no person of integrity turns a blind eye to the situation. We just don’t do that.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Greek Yogurt

One of my favorite people to fly with at my "day job" is an Austrian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen. You'd never think he was anything but American, at least until you get into a conversation with him. As Americanized as he is, his European roots are pretty close to the surface and a lot of his opinions are, well, very European.

Perhaps that's why I enjoy his company. I live with someone who is more American than apple pie and defends even the most outrageous customs and life choices here in this country. I don't. I grew up in an American trailer park - four all together, thank you very much - but my sensibilities definitely lean toward a less independent and more interdependent lifestyle, i.e. European in nature.

That's why I was so taken back with a comment my Austrian-born friend made not long ago that put me in a the class of a "typical American." I'm far from "typical" in my opinion, but that's another topic not to be discussed at his time. I happen to mention to my friend that I had brought along some "Greek yogurt" with me on our trip. He launched into a tirade about how gullible Americans are. "Oh, it's the next big thing and it's no different than any other yogurt, but the advertisers say it's better so you Americans have to run out and buy it. Europeans would never be misled that way."

Wow...and I only bought it because it was on sale! Okay, not completely, I mean I think it IS creamer, but I digress. It got me to thinking. We Americans pride ourselves on our independence and independent thinking, but we ARE lulled (not so subtly) into buying things just because it's the next "thing" to have. Contrast that with the interdependence that Europeans experience with each other, perhaps because of the close proximity of so many different countries, yet they don't seem to be as easily swayed. How can that be?

They might not, actually. I'm sure that you could be reading this thinking just the opposite is true about Europeans and Americans, and have all kinds of evidence to prove your point. It really doesn't matter. What I got out of this discussion - and the subsequent pondering I've been doing on the subject over the past few weeks - is that we aren't going to please everybody no matter what we decide!

Just because a product or way of doing something is supposedly the thing to have or do doesn't make it right for us. Madisyn Taylor recently wrote about "going against what it popular." She goes on to say, "...part of the way that something becomes popular is that many of us don't take the time to determine what's right for us; we simply do what most of the people we know are doing. In this way, our decisions about life are made by default, which means they aren't what we call conscious decisions."

I'd like to suggest a game for you to play this week. Just for the fun of it, question everything you do for a day. I don't mean you have to stop and analyze everything so you don't get anything done. Just take a breath and ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Do you really want to do it? Why are you buying a particular product? If you discover that you are at a loss to explain your motivation then perhaps you are being manipulated by societal pressure, someone special in your life, a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence, or just a victim to marketing.

In other words, take back your life, because I can assure you of this: You are doing something in your life, buying something on a regular basis (or lusting after it), or acting in a particular way that just doesn't feel right, yet you continue to do it. Really, you say? Great - you are the person to whom I'm speaking in particular. Take the challenge and then write me to tell me why I'm wrong. Wanna play?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

P.S. Happy New Year! May 2014 bring you all the joy, love, laughter and prosperity you can accept!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Return to the Light

According to the old religion, at 12:11pm, EST, on December 21, the goddess will begin her journey from the underworld back to the light of day, eventually giving birth to spring in just a few short months. Trust me. If you’ve shoveled snow in the past week like we have you don’t care who brings spring, just as long as it comes!

Yule, or the winter solstice, brings the beginning of winter according to our modern-day calendar. But according to the original beliefs that brought us many of the observances during Christmas, the “winter season” actually began November 1. How can that be? The plants and animals know that winter is coming and prepare accordingly. They are not bound by arbitrary dates.

Part of the answer lies in the old fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant prepared for the future, but the grasshopper played and played and played, until the cold was upon them and he died due to lack of preparation.

Modern society can be a lot like the grasshopper. We aren’t willing here in the western world to deal with some pretty serious issues until it is either right in our face or hurts our wallets. Take being “green,” for example. I grew up in a part of California where water rationing, recycling and caring for the environment was second nature. That was over four decades ago. Only in the past decade has it been “cool” to be green. Now corporate executive are almost as concerned about the earth as us tree-hugging hippies were back in the 60s.

Our ancestors watched and learned from nature. Signs of winter have been with us for weeks, just as signs of spring come long before the snow melts or the calendar turns. We can benefit from watching our environment and remembering the old stories. The current story upon us is Yule. It indicates a time when light, or the hours of light, take over the darkness. It’s a great time of the year to look at the darkness in our own lives from which we need to be released.

Take a look at the shadows of your life as the winter solstice rolls around this weekend. Is there something under a rock nearby that you’ve been ignoring? Is there a relationship you need to heal or a physical situation that needs your attention? Have you been a wise steward of your finances or perhaps still feeling stuck in your job? Any myriad of things might be going on in your life, hidden in the shadows, skulking in the background.

Be willing this week to look closely at what might be in the dark corners of your life that is holding you back from being the magnificent creature you are. May your life unfold in light, love and joy as our planet begins its journey to the long days of summer.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Celebrating the Past

This past week we’ve had a most interesting example of how to let go of the past through celebration instead of mourning. News reports and videos showing the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela by the South African people have inspired people around the world. But a few people in our American culture might have found the impromptu songs, dancing and almost party-like atmosphere to be unfamiliar, if not downright disrespectful. President Obama was highly criticized by the media for taking a “selfie” with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at the memorial. Why, they were SMILING at a memorial! How simply scandalous! Seriously?

As a rule in the United States funerals and memorials are more about sadness and loss, not celebration. Yes, “celebration of life” is a term that has been increasingly popular since the later part of the twentieth century, but for the most part funerals in our country can be pretty dismal. What makes President Mandela’s memorial and the actions of the South Africans so different?

A big factor is a willingness on the part of his people to let go and move on. Many of us were taught as children to revere the past in ways that are very unhealthy. That is not to say that we should ignore the past. The celebrations all over the world over the past week are evidence of how we can celebrate the amazing accomplishments of someone who is no longer among us. But dwelling on the past, usually with the intention of rehashing past pain and anguish about which we can do nothing is damaging to our spirit and our bodies. It also doesn’t make us the type of person who gets invited out a lot for other parties.

If we are honest about it, most of us still have regrets about the past. I discovered one of my own this week when I heard the United States Air Force band performing a flash mob with the USAF choir. I had a few pangs of regret that I was not able to serve my country as a young man. The Air Force would have been my first choice. I could have been in that band, or the choir, or started a career in the aviation industry as a pilot or flight attendant much sooner than I eventually did at age 45. But there is absolutely nothing I can do to change those events over 40 years ago that didn’t happen the way I’d have liked them to happen.

What are you still grieving about from your past? If you’re 58 and still pining about not being an Olympic ice skater you might want to get a grip. You can still go ice skating, but put down that bottle of Shiraz and stop whining.

What regrets are you willing to get over once and for all? Consider taking a deep breath and letting it go. Then celebrate all your blessings today! I did and I highly recommend it.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Twenty Shopping Days Till Christmas!

Yeah, Dr. T., like we really needed to hear that! Is that what you thought? Did your mind race to the shopping you may have left to do, or decorating that stills needs to be done, or perhaps even last minute travel arrangements to spend time over the holidays with loved ones?

Or, did a totally different scenario arise? You might be one of the people who love the holiday and just can’t wait for Christmas morning. You may be thinking about the joy of spending time surrounded by lights, decorations, festive food and holiday music.

Of course, you might practice a non-Christian tradition or religion that doesn’t include the celebration of Christmas, or an atheist that isn’t about to buy into the commercialism now associated with the supposed birth of a man whose father you don’t believe in.

Sure looks a lot different than a Hallmark commercials these days, doesn’t it? There are two ways to really look at this as far as I can see. One way is to enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season regardless of your personal beliefs about the holiday and endeavor to spread those feelings throughout the coming year. The other is to simply let go of anxiety about the holiday (whether that’s caused by shopping and/or financial concerns, or if you just can’t stomach one more jolly man in a bad Santa costume).

I invite you to decide now to have the rest of the month be the happiest and most magical time you’ve ever experienced. Not because people are saying that’s the way you should feel. But rather because you have the opportunity to do just that 365 days per year. We do not have to be affected by holidays, weather, rude drivers or the actions of politicians. We have the ability to affect change in our lives every day simply by making it our intention to do so.

I think I’m going to go about making this the happiest day in my life, being kind to everyone I meet and know that I am supported by the universe in having an amazing life. What will you make today into, as well as the twenty days left till Christmas?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,