Fear of Failing

I have a saying that people who never fail, never do anything. That’s because failing is inevitable. When I heard a student give a brilliant speech on the topic, I asked him to turn it into an article for you. Here you go. Here is Elijah Petty: We all have places we’re going, and dreams of who and what we want to grow to be, but most of us will fail before we get there – at least at first. The fear of this failure can cripple us by keeping us inside our comfort zone, when usually our dreams lie outside of it. Unfortunately, failure is unavoidable. Nobody gets everything right on the first try, but the way we treat our failures is crucial if we want to succeed in the end. We’re afraid of failure. It’s discouraging, and the higher the stakes are, the worse the letdown is. I speak from experience when I say nothing’s more demoralizing than spending months of hard work to make the most of an upcoming opportunity, and then showing up and doing my best only to find out that my best isn’t good enough. The fear of that demoralizing failure can sometimes stop us from trying – and also stop us from succeeding, because trying is the first step toward any goal. On the other hand, failure is one of the best opportunities to learn. When working on one of his inventions, Thomas Edison said, “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” If you get something right, that’s great, but where do you go from there? It isn’t always obvious how...

Selective Empathy

Every time I think I have a healthy view of others, something reminds me of the darkness of my own heart and my need to adjust my thinking. Just when I think I’ve reached maturity, I get a glimpse of how much my character still needs developing. While I usually write on timeless issues, I must present this topic in light of recent events—terrorist attacks. All humanity is facing the reality of an energized movement committed to world domination. To them, it’s a holy war not only sanctioned, but commanded by God. How members of ISIS can excuse their actions is likely a topic for another day; it does show the propensity of humankind to justify belief systems—no matter how diabolical—and to control. The same predisposition exists in us all. But the topic at hand is how we parse out empathy and compassion willy-nilly. After the Paris bombings, Facebook, the press and the Western world in general were awash in chatter, prayers, moments of silence and monuments lit up in the colors of the French flag. There was a huge outpouring of love and support. But where was any sense of Western compassion when 14-year-old Ali Awad and more than 40 others lost their lives in double suicide attacks in Beirut the day before? It hardly made the American news. A Lebanese doctor wrote in a blog article titled, A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives, “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag…There was no global outrage…Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”* Another group dismissed was the Russian tourists. Where was the international outcry when it was...

Shit Happens

Why do people question their faith when shit happens? Why do we get angry with our sources of comfort at the very time we need them–when we suffer?! Why does bad stuff even happen? I have some friends who are struggling with serious health issues right now. We all know folks in similar circumstances, or suffer the same afflictions ourselves. There are certainly times we think we have exhausted our “rope,” with little left to hang on to and life has seemingly left us hanging (out to dry). The very people and sources we look to for answers and comfort often let us down. The preachers and the clichés and the well-meaning friends do not always help. In fact, they often create or magnify the very struggles we encounter. To be honest, they are no help at best and disgustingly annoying at worst. There is a lot of bullshit out there. And when shit happens, the last thing you need are some bullshit explanations or pat answers. I think a lot of the stuff we, and others, struggle with are just really stupid ideas. Here are a few I have identified that perhaps you can identify with. First of all, shit happens. We live in a really messed up world where even good intentions often result in lousy situations. We have a great need for answers. And when we can’t find answers or struggle to make sense of senseless situations, we make up stuff. The human mind is outstandingly creative, and when given time and thought, can come up with all sorts of answers, whether they’re true or not. We buy into myths. That’s right, we believe all kinds of stuff in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. The problem is, these contrived...

Quantum Entanglement

We are all connected in ways we are oblivious to. So I am immensely interested in the cross-section between science, social science (the study of humans) and spirituality. I love subjects of inquiry such as that surrounding quantum entanglement, which attempts to explain the ways that we are, indeed, connected. So I have to share this most recent article by Franciscan, Richard Rohr: Just as different ways of interpreting scripture and various types of truth (e.g., literal vs. mythic) are valuable for different purposes, so scientific theories have different applications while seeming to be paradoxical and irreconcilable. For example, we have the Newtonian theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum theory. Physicists know that each of them is true, yet they don’t fit together and each is limited and partial. Newtonian mechanics can’t model or predict the behavior of massive or quickly moving objects. Relativity does this well, but doesn’t apply to very, very small things. Quantum mechanics succeeds on the micro level. But we don’t yet have an adequate theory for understanding very small, very energetic, very massive phenomenon, such as black holes. Scientists are still in search of a unified theory of the universe. Perhaps the term “quantum entanglement” names something that we have long intuited, but science has only recently observed. Here is the principle in layperson’s terms: in the world of quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle–even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances. Could this be what is happening when we “pray” for somebody? Scientists don’t know how far this phenomenon applies beyond very rare particles, but quantum entanglement...

Nonverbal Communication...

A  guest article by Jennifer Larson “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker We all have an invitation to honor people in our lives. Our ability to respond to those we cross paths with is endless. It is through our silent and subtle gestures that we offer the most to each other. A simple smile, wink, or nod can promote positive energy and positive change. Nonverbal Communication is defined as behaviors and characteristics that convey meaning without the use of words. It includes how we say things (pitch, volume, etc.) as well as facial expressions, artifacts (like rings, clothes, tattoos, architecture, etc.), gestures, smell, touch, use of silence, personal space and the like. Nonverbal is an important aspect of human connection. It is essential to our relationships and interactions, no matter how brief, with others. One of the most powerful books I’ve read on nonverbal communication is by Geoff Blackwell. Humanity: A Celebration of Friendship, Love, and Laughter, with countless images from all over the globe. It is a book that doesn’t need captions, as the emotion is felt with the turning of each page. This extraordinary book displays gestures of tenderness, intimacy, love, curiosity, surprise, and struggle. The images in this book expose simple and casual gestures, however, the meaning is powerful. The book is an intimate reminder to all of us that communication is more than the words we speak. We have an essential need for nonverbal communication on a daily basis. This includes both the abbreviated interactions as well as the lengthy meetings with people that share our day. It increases opportunity for a productive workplace and reduces conflict in our relationships. When we engage with people nonverbally, we communicate their significance in our lives...

What Size Is God?

The real question is, what size is YOUR God? We don’t know much. We try to find truth and figure things out, but we’re all just searching, often guessing. But this I know, if your God fits in a small box, your image of God is likely due for a makeover. When I was a child, we learned there are nine planets, with Pluto being the smallest. Today scientists argue on whether Pluto is even a planet at all, and in 2014, announced the discovery of 715 new planets outside of earth’s solar system. They think there are likely billions of stars, and our sun is one of the smaller ones. NASA estimates the Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across. As space probes travel further and further from earth, we are finding not only more and more galaxies, but clusters of galaxies! Perhaps one of the coolest discoveries is that not only is there more to find, but the universe itself continues to expand. Notice the image with this article. It’s actually named, “Celestial Maternity Ward N81!” It’s all rather mind-blowing! How cool is that? The universe we thought was quantifiable and static, or even dying, continues to grow. Growth and expansion are a mark of the universe. Should they not also mark of our lives and understanding of God and reality? If the universe is as big or bigger than we thought, how big God must be! If the creation is this magnificent and expanding, how much greater the creator! Yet a great irony is the extent to which we have made God so small. We make God fit into small buildings and tiny communion cups. We’ve created a myriad of boxes and forced God inside. We think how boring religion is, so...

Your Plastic Brain

With the airing of a new television series on the brain, I decided to repost my previous article on the plasticity of the brain. The Brain With Dr. David Engleman is a fascinating series airing on PBS in the U.S. that helps explain who we are and why we do what we do. This neuroscientist shows how brain research continues to give us answers, and also to show that our brains are constantly changing depending on how we live and how much we expose ourselves to new ideas and experiences. He shows how you really can affect your aging process. The series airs on Wednesday evenings in my locale; check your local listing to see if and when you can catch the series. Meanwhile, check out the trailer. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think that assumes it’s been while since the dog has learned anything. Researchers have known for awhile that the brain is very plastic. It is always changing. It is always responding to stimuli. The latest research was just released in the May 10th issue of the journal, Science. Researchers put 40 genetically identical mice in an elaborate maze with many toys and lots of places to explore. They put other mice in a less complex environment with less to do. After three months, scientists found that the mice who were exposed to more stimulation generated more brain neurons. In addition, some of the mice explored more than others. These most adventurous mice generated even more neurons than those who lost interest. The more the mice explored, the more brain cells were produced in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for short and long-term memory and navigation. This shows once again, how important it is to be adventurous,...

038: The Art of Breathing pt 2 Oct19

038: The Art of Breathing pt 2...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/38-The_Art_of_Breathing_pt_2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 32:59 — 30.2MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis is part 2 of an interview with Dr. Frank Seaman about techniques you can implement to improve your energy and health. He talks about using tape on your mouth while exercising and sleeping, being aware of how you swallow and where you place your tongue–simple steps you can take to keep yourself oxygenated, reduce oral problems and even deal with sleep disorders. “Our beliefs are a kind of rigidity, not to challenge our own way of thinking. I think in modern Western society, there seems to be a powerful cultural conditioning that is based on science. But in some instances, the basic premises and parameters set up by Western science can limit your ability to deal with certain realities. When you encounter phenomena that you cannot account for, then there’s a tension created; it’s almost a feeling of agony.” – The Dalai Lama “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert...

Life’s Teachers...

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller How willing are you to learn from others? Here is a lovely guest article by Jennifer Larson. Our interview rooms were side by side down the last aisle in the Kansas City Department of Children & Family Service Center. I was a new caseworker and Kimberly was a ten year seasoned worker. Our duties included interviewing clients face to face for state and federal assistance programs. Kim had a remarkable way of reaching out to clients in their time of need. I leaned on her knowledge and expertise when I needed another set of eyes during moments of uncertainty. At the time, I had no idea her mentoring would reach far beyond the workplace. I think we gain valuable insight and courage from the people with whom we cross paths. They help us face adversity and change when we need it the most and when we least expect it. The term “teacher” should not be reserved for academia; teachers are, in every sense of the word, our family, friends, partners, coaches, coworkers, and, sometimes, even strangers. Who are the teachers in your life? How magnificent would it be if you could gather all of the mentors from your life into one room – all of the outstanding souls who have inspired your passions, your talents, and your dreams? Think about all the unforgettable people who help guide you towards the things you’re the most passionate about. Competitive coaches, determined teachers, relentless parents, and unfiltered partners. Though often unforeseen, many of these people have a hand in helping you navigate your way through life. They influence and assist both your personal and your professional growth. Our friendships and our romantic...

Ugly Duckling

We have all felt like ugly ducklings, misfits, fish out of water, ugly stepchildren; use the analogy that works for you. We’ve all known rejection, the struggle to fit in, the desire for unconditional love. These are the themes in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Ugly Duckling. Take a moment to watch the classic 1939 Disney animated version, or read the original story. All our stories are similar yet different. Despite being born into a loving home, I grew up thinking of myself as an ugly duckling. A handful of life events were devastating. My first grade teacher actually told me I was stupid. Kids made fun of my looks in middle school. I even had a boyfriend who begged me to let him see me without makeup, then laughed hysterically when I did. These are not the kind of events that make us into healthy, happy, well adjusted individuals with appropriate levels of self-esteem. You have your own stories, your own memories, your own pain. In the story of the ugly duckling, we find a creature that was born happy and healthy. The pain he endured was the result of rejection, not fitting in, and being misplaced. He was not a duck at all, but rather a graceful and beautiful swan that was hatched in the wrong place. We all have to work through our crap. We have to do the hard work of the soul to regain our true selves and find out place. We have to come to a place where the past no longer defines us. I will never forget the day that I realized I was not stupid or ugly. It was a lightbulb moment when my world changed. It was also a milestone in a season of tremensous personal...

Effective Presentations Oct07

Effective Presentations...

Perhaps you have sat through ill-crafted presentations with PowerPoints that just about killed you! Well don’t do the same to others! If you are one who has to give speeches, sermons, teachings or presentations to clients, followers, co-workers or others, learn how to produce effective visual presentations (otherwise known as PowerPoint).  Here is a 33-minute video I produced to help my student successfully craft visuals to accompany their in-class presentations. The principles are universal and can easily be applied to business, ministry or other...

037: The Art of Breathing pt 1 Oct05

037: The Art of Breathing pt 1...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/37-The_Art_of_Breathing_with_Dr._Frank_Seaman.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 39:50 — 36.5MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSGuest Dr. Frank Seaman shares his pioneering work into the importance of breathing on dental and overall health. He deals with problems like sleep disorders, snoring, dry mouth, and overall breakdown of the mouth. Whether you’re a runner, suffer from sleep disorders or are just concerned with better health, this is a must-hear 2-part podcast for you. You can read about Dr. Seaman’s interview as he was about to do the Pikes Pek Ascent with tape on his mouth. Read about his dental practice in Colorado Springs here. Dr. Seaman recommends 3M Nexcare tape for sensitive skin.  ...

God & Your Brain...

I found this short but most interesting video about what you think of God and how it shows up in your brain when you pray. If you don’t know about Science Mike, you might want to find out! He’s a Christian turned atheist turned follower of Jesus, who uses his story to help people know God in an age of incredible scientific insight. I find him wonderfully out of the box and refreshing. Find his blog here: http://mikemchargue.com. You may also want to check out his never-boring podcast, “Ask Science Mike.” I subscribed through Apple’s podcasts...

Map Your Progress

Looking for a life hack to help you reach a goal? Check this out. I love sharing resources as well as ideas with you. This time I have a GREAT one! Map Your Progress is a new initiative to help you accomplish your goals by coloring your progress. You may remember the old thermometer posters that were sometimes used to show the amount of money raised for a project. This is like that, but much more personal and much more creative. It all started when Californian Amy Jones got a clear message from her accountant that it was time to clean up her financial mess. She had carried debt on credit cards for much too long, and it was time to pay them off. (Funny how easy it is to put charges on a credit card and so hard to get it off!) As a tool to help her stay focused and encouraged, Amy decided to turn her knack for doodling (in boring meetings and conference calls) into something practical to help her abolish her debt. Using an unused canvas that was laying around, she drew swirls to represent specific increments ($100). Then each time she paid that much towards debt, she would color in the appropriate number of swirls. Brilliant! After a few months, the drawing actually built up Amy’s confidence. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, she actually believed she could eliminate her debt. And she did it, more than $26,000 worth! Wow. I used a similar technique in the past to mark off chapters of the bible I read in a year. But this is way more fun than little boxes. This is creative! And it’s something you can keep in front of you all the time. What is your goal? To save for...

Light Bulbs

“Imagine yourself sitting in a dimly lit room, reading a book with wires connected to your brain, and every time you understood a new concept or made connections between the book and your personal life, light bulbs literally lit up.” So wrote one of my students after reading a particular textbook chapter in my interpersonal communication class. I thought, what a great analogy that perfectly illustrates my topic! How long has it been since you’ve had a light bulb go on in your head? How long has it been since you had a new thought, asked a question, or ventured into a novel experience? I think we are always growing. That can mean many things: Growing up Growing mature Growing fat Growing old Growing younger Growing stale Growing cobwebs You get my drift. So even if you’re not growing as a person, you are growing somewhere, even if it’s towards decay, rigidity and death. I think a central law of the universe is that growing is good. That is if it’g going towards better. Every time you have an “ah-ha” moment, something in your mind and soul lights up. You discover something you didn’t know before, see something from a new angle, or generally get transformed. Imagine sitting in a dimly lit room, when suddenly, your personhood lights up. Everything in you says YES! Different analogies have been used to describe this experience throughout the ages. Jesus used the language of “born again” to describe a transition from what was to what can be. Though the term has been bastardized in recent years, the concept behind it is very real; it’s about opening one’s mind and heart to new things. Its about getting unstuck and embracing growth. It’s like being born again! Some people...

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions Sep20

036: Get Control Of Your Emotions...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/36-Terry.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 39:50 — 36.5MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSSecurity expert Terry Blevins shares techniques for controlling your emotions in volatile situations and stressed relationships. Recommended Resources: Humble: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein Article on Emotional Intelligence Article on the Johari Window Two articles on Listening part 1 and Listening part 2...

Self-concept

Who do you think you are? Who are you (really)? How do you think others see you? Your self-concept is likely a combination of all of these. It is, in essence, your identity. If you ask a Westerner (someone from North America, Europe or other whites in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) who they are, they will likely to tell you what they do for a living and what they like to do in their spare time. That is great, but fairly shallow. This of course if very different than non-Westerners (the rest of the world’s population) whose identity is much more tied to their group (ethnicity, tribe, region, etc.) yet sometimes lacking the specifics of an individual. Your self-concept is something that changes over your lifetime, or it should be if you are growing as a person. So your self-concept is obviously fluid. Who you think you are is a subjective view of yourself, including strengths, weaknesses, personality, abilities, talents, character and so on. And it may actually (unfortunately, too) be tied to who you used to be. It is also a subjective view of who you think others think you are. So if you think about it, your self-concept has nothing to do with who you really are. It’s the perception of who you are. We could break it down like this: Who you are Who you think you are Who others think you are Who you think others think you are Good grief! According to academics, your self-concept is influenced by personality, culture, biology, gender roles, and of course what we’ve already mentioned, self-reflected appraisal, and social comparison. It completely makes sense. I tell my students all the time that they have to figure out who they are and what...

What Would You Do? Sep14

What Would You Do?

Would you kiss butt to get a promotion? Enjoy a guest post by Terry W. Blevins: When in high school, my son told me that his personal ethics prevented him from getting a job because he would be required to blindly follow someone else’s ethical rules and not his own in exchange for money. I laughed at the time. But if I analyze that statement, it causes me to think. Would you compromise your personal standards in exchange for success? I’m not only talking about doing something dishonest, illegal or immoral, but also about those personal preferences that each one of us have regarding what we will do or won’t do in order to increase our chances of career success. Have you ever heard anyone say “I don’t care if they fire me, I’m not going to kiss anyone’s butt?” Of course the definition of “kissing butt” (aka: “kissing up to”, “kissing ass” also known as “being obsequious”) will mean many different things to each of you. In my experience, “kissing butt” means lying or exaggerating about something to impress your boss in order to gain their favor. (I think this is the generally accepted definition.) From thefreedictionary.com: kiss someone’s ass– Sl. to fawn over someone; to flatter and curry favor with someone ob·se·qui·ous (ŏb-sē′kwē-əs, əb-) adj. Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning I think most of us would agree that “kissing butt” is something that is demeaning, and not something we are likely to do. But consider this scenario: Your boss asks what you thought of his presentation, and although you thought it was really bad, you know that you can’t be honest with him or her because they will be upset with you. If you sugarcoat your response in order to...

Honey

The old saying is that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I think that is not only true for flies, but for us too. Father Richard Rohr’s devotion on Sunday, September 6, 2015 was somewhat on this topic. See the excerpt below: “Rather than making dogmatic statements about how to get to heaven, Jesus modeled and taught how to live on earth in a loving way, and he said that this was indeed heaven! But Christians have all too often pushed heaven into the future. We’ve made Jesus’ death and resurrection into a reward/punishment system for the next world, which creates tremendously self-absorbed and self-preoccupied people. It doesn’t transform anyone into compassionate, loving individuals. Instead it leads to a kind of morbid self-analysis in which people feel guilty, inferior, and inadequate or superior and self-righteous. “This dualistic approach has corrupted the true meaning of the Gospel. I would go so far as to say that by sending Christians on a path of well disguised but delayed self-interest, we prostituted the entire spiritual journey from the very start. You cannot easily get to love when you begin with threats and appeals to fear. The driving energy is completely wrong. Rather, you come to love by attraction. Change must begin with positive energy or the final result is never positive.” To this I say YES! That is why I’m so glad to find a path to God that is marked by love and acceptance instead of fear and manipulation. But oh how may people have experienced the latter instead of the former. The irony is that LOVE drives the universe. God is not far away; the loving Divine is closer than our breath. God is sweeter than honey; and He/She is always...

035: Finishing Well Sep06

035: Finishing Well

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/35-Finishing_Well_-_9_5_15.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 46:43 — 42.8MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSA powerful story of love, end of life issues, dealing with aging parents, doing the right thing, taking risks, perspectives, letting go and finishing well. Jack and Stacia Woloshun talk about walking through the final year with Sally Woloshun, Jack’s mom (and guest on Get Control podcast #24: Timeless Wisdom). It may not be for everyone, but is especially for those who may be walking by someone with a diminishing...

Believing and Doing

Are we meant to BELIEVE or to DO? Have you thought about it? Which is more important, what you believe or what you do? Can you have one without the other? This question goes back a long way and has roots in both philosophy and theology. It helpful to introduce two terms that link the spiritual nature of being and doing. Orthodoxy is doctrinal correctness; it’s about theory, belief and conviction. It’s about believing the right stuff. Orthopraxy, on the other hand, is about doing or right practice. So is it important that we seek truth and try to believe good stuff? Or is it important that we work out our beliefs and values in acts of service? We might ask, what is a glove without a hand? (One might respond, not very useful at all.) I was brought up in the Lutheran church, a denomination that was founded on the radical (at the time) convictions of 16th century reformer, Martin Luther. Despite Luther’s belief that even doing simple tasks like housework are as important as the work of monks and nuns, he was overwhelmed with revelation of and the urgent need for an understanding grace. (We might define grace as the undeserved acceptance, love and assistance of the Divine.) In a historical period where salvation was all about “earning” one’s redemption, Luther’s voice was counter-cultural. He latched onto the Apostle Paul’s writing that “We are saved by grace” (Ephesians 2:8). We might pause to ask ourselves if it is enough to just believe the right stuff. Perhaps like me, you have encountered people who seemed to believe the right stuff, yet their behavior was deplorable. In the name of religion, they seemed to be doing “the work of the Lord,” yet didn’t have...

Try This!

A moving car is much easier to steer than a parked one. So says the cliché about moving forward in life. But personally, I think it’s a good one. While some of us thrive on change, others of us would rather get a root canal. That said, it seems all of use can be resistant, closed or even defensive to opportunities for change. Our egos can get in the way. I firmly believe we all need outside influences to get us moving. On our own we get stuck. We resist. We balk. Oh how often we miss out because we remain in our comfortable lives. We hang out with the same people, eat the same foods, watch the same TV shows. I think the following from Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, is worth sharing. “The Dalai Lama said it well: “Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” I would add: ‘Every change of heart is soon a change of mind.’ This is the urgently needed work of mature spirituality…Many folks over the years, even very good-willed people, have read and listened to my presentations of the Gospel yet have actually done very little–in terms of lifestyle changes, economic or political rearrangements, or naming their own ego or shadow selves. After all, “Isn’t church about believing ideas to be true or false? Isn’t religion about attending services?” Most people just listen to my ideas and judge them to be true or false. They either “like” or “don’t like” them. But thinking about ideas or making judgments about what is moral or immoral seldom leads to a radically new consciousness. Transformative education is not asking you to believe or disbelieve in any doctrines or dogmas. Rather it is challenging you to “Try...

We’re All Connected...

This week I went back to school…not as a student, but as a teacher at a community college where I’ve taught for almost five years.. I teach communication courses, so it’s vital that I connect with students the first week, help them feel excited about the subject, and let them know they are going to learn AND have fun. This time I had a new tool in my arsenal.; it’s an energy stick sold by a goofy Denver-based scientist named Steve Spangler that I heard speak last week. The device is a simple contraption that lights up and plays a noise when the circuit is completed. How do you demonstrate it? You touch another person, then make contact again to complete the electrical circuit. It’s a perfect demonstration of the reality that we’re all connected. That’s right, WE’RE ALL CONNECTED in ways we are oblivious to. In fact, all living things are connected. I demonstrated this to my classes by having everyone form a circle and join hands. Then when they least expected it, I slipped the energy stick to a person standing next to me (instead of grabbing their hand) and the stick lit up and made a noise. But the moment anyone in the group let go of the person next to them, the stick would cease to entertain. Just one person had to disconnect for the circuit to be cut. We are all connected. This reminds me of one of my favorite documentaries. I AM was produced by Tom Shadyac, a director of films that made Jim Carey a household name (Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, etc.). After a nasty bicycle accident, Shadyac set out to explore deep truths about the universe, what make us happy, what it all means,...

What my dog teaches me about God...

I have two dogs. One is a neurotic, co-dependent Schnauzer named Moxie. But despite her quirks, I love her. The other is a Cairn Terrier named Penne. (Hence I have a Moxicillin and a Penicillin.) Though I know the Divine exists in all things, I am particularly struck by how my Penne models God. She loves me unconditionally. I don’t have to earn her trust of love; she just accepts me. She is affectionate. She likes to snuggle and licks me with great affection. (I know she likes the salt on my skin in the summer, but I also think it’s her way of saying, “I love you.”) But the strongest attribute of my little black pooch is that she is keenly aware of me. I get busy and forget all about her; but she keeps tabs on me. When I walk from one room to another (including the bathroom), she follows me; I look down to see the little Penne at my feet. I think it’s amazing that one being can be so acutely aware and in touch with another. Even as I wrote this last sentence, she walked up and gave me eye contact. I guess it’s her way of “checking in.” I do think the Divine is acutely aware and attentative, always in touch and never far away. Like the affection of an amazing little creature, how much more the thought that the creator of the universe not only knows my name, but follows me around wherever I go. Wow. That’s pretty...

034: Life Stages & States Aug22

034: Life Stages & States...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/34-Stages___States_-_Jeannette_.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:06 — 27.6MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSJeannette Slater & Dr. Deb discuss personal growth in light of what some have identified as life stages & states. The conversation was somewhat sparked by a brief article published by Father Richard Rohr on May 3, 2015. He builds on the work of philosopher, Ken Wilbur who described the differences between life stages & states. Here is a section of the article, though we encourage you to click on the link above and read it in its entirety: “Your stage of human development has to do with your location in time, your culture, and your education. It has to do with your level of intellectual maturity, how much you’ve been able to integrate thought patterns in a consistent and informed way. Most of us in our lifetimes have grown through a few stages, eventually seeing the limits of each previous stage (both in our own lives and within history), and moving to the next: in general, the ideal tangent is pre-rational, through rational, and on to trans-rational. The trans-rational stage builds on the other two and thus has endless horizons. This is the full trajectory and direction of human growth, with many intermediate stops and starts in between. “Your state of consciousness is more about your level of inner awakening than mere correct information. How much do you live connected to self and others and the Whole? How much have you overcome your sense of separateness and superiority? How much do body, soul, and spirit work together as one? Have you moved beyond simply reacting? Can you act and think in pure inner freedom? In traditional religious language, how much do you live in union with God? “Your...

What do you see?

What do you see when you see people? A problem with living in a world filled with judgments and classifications is that we don’t always look at others in positive ways. We have a tendency to not only compare, but stereotype and make strong conclusions about others. We don’t always deal well with different and messy. Most of us are socialized to have strong opinions about others. So it is often challenging to look upon others in the best light. We fail to see the Divine in them. We fail to celebrate the uniqueness. I recently read this quote by the mystic, Thomas Merton from his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. . . . This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being [hu]man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now [that] I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this!”* This reminds me of a similar experience I had; I could have written Merton’s piece myself one day while visiting Kuala...

Excellence

Last week I went to an awesome concert. It was at one of the top venues in the world, the Red Rocks natural amphitheater in Colorado. The setting was almost perfect. The sun set as we watched distant showers over the Denver skyline. Our skin enjoyed a perfect temperature. And then we got to hear musicians who are the best of the best perform from their hearts. The bands? Eclectic Pink Martini from Portland, jazz pianist and vocalist, Diana Krall and her band, and the Colorado Symphony. Wow. The audience was treated to mind-blowing performances by exceptionally talented musicians. The genres played were diverse: jazz, bossa nova, opera, pop. I was on row 48 clapping to the beat, mouthing some of the lyrics and kept saying wow, wow, wow. Excellence has a way of blowing your mind and leaving your speechless. There is something special about being around people who are doing what they were made to do and have perfected their craft. Would anyone question whether John Lennon and Paul McCartney were meant to write songs, or Steve Jobs was to innovate technologies, or Michelangelo was to paint and sculpt? My 16-year old niece is visiting. She’s a competitive swimmer, so I asked her why she swims. She said being in the pool is not only a stress reliever, but also a place where she can be alone with just her and the water. She competes because it helps her work towards her goal of getting a college scholarship and maybe even going professional. She competes against others, but I think she mostly competes against herself. She is convinced she was made to swim. She’s got three things that are necessary: talent, motivation, and discipline. She’s probably still working on her 10,000 hours,...

Pain Lessons

You can’t always get what you want. So said the great musical poet, Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones classic song. How do you respond when you don’t get what you want? How do you respond to obstacles, or what best-selling author, Seth Godin, called “the dip?”* When you hit a roadblock (which could be an illness or any tough situation), you have choices. Do you ignore the problem, go around it, push through it, surrender to it? These past few weeks, I’ve had a health issue that has seriously cramped my style. And by style, I mean it has made it impossible for me to get much done. I am a doer and tend to judge the success of my day by how much I accomplish. At the beginning of the summer, I made a long list of tasks I wanted to accomplish during the warm weather and while I was less occupied with teaching. But time got away, and I’m not sure where the summer went. As a result, as the summer started to wind down, there were extra expectations I put on myself for one last push before school starts. And then I got a foot infection. Not only did it swell up, hurt and make me limp around. It also made me incredibly tired, and feeling like I had the flu. It’s been a real drag—for what seems like a long time. I realized I had a choice in my response. I could do the usual and stress about what I hadn’t accomplished. I could get angry at the illness. There were various emotional states and thoughts I could engage in. However, through this, I found myself mostly able to let expectations go and do what I could from my chair. After...

Nagasaki

It dropped from the sky just three days after the other one. The first was an atom bomb, the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT that exploded above Hiroshima, Japan. The second was a plutonium bomb that fell on less than 200 miles away on Nagasaki. Never in the history of humankind had a single weapon—two it seems—created such mass and catastrophic devastation. About half the population of these two cities died instantly as their bodies evaporated into nothing or their flesh was ripped or burned off. In the weeks and months that followed, others died from their burns, radiation sickness, malnutrition and other injuries. And for years, other victims, and their offspring, suffered a variety of cancers and birth defects. By any account, it was horrible. We will not discuss the justifications here; people all over the world can justify what they do to fellow humans in the name of whatever they are preserving or fighting for. As we remember these events 70 years later, perhaps we can take away some lessons. I heard on a news report this week that the Japanese people are not bitter. Hmmmmm, not bitter? How could this be? Then I heard the name of the memorial at Hiroshima is not called a war memorial, it’s called a peace memorial. Wow. I don’t recall ever seeing a peace memorial in America, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, if you Google “peace memorial,” the first several hits you see are for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Compare this to the attack on the twin towers in New York on 9/11/2001. Americans were incensed that they would a) be attacked on their home soil, and b) innocent civilians would be the target of the attack. Home soil...

033: Boundless Aug08

033: Boundless

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/33_Boundless-Bryan_Bishop.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 36:36 — 33.5MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSBryan Bishop has been writing stories for many years but is new to the book scene. After conducting interviews and doing research around the world for almost 20 years, he has just released his first book, Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us About Following Jesus. In it, he shares stories of faith that have emerged from unexpected sources—hidden movements of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others who are experiencing and following Jesus outside of traditional Christian channels. These are people that have likely never even met a Christian or learned how to look for God in culturally Western fashion. In researching the fascinating expressions of other cultures and religions, Bryan found an ability to not only learn from others, but identified some fascinating keys to spirituality that can inform the rest of us. From the book’s back cover: “If you want to grow in areas where you feel stagnant or disillusioned, if you are concerned bout friends who have left the church behind, or if you chafe against the European-American cultural box into which we force Christianity, you will find in this book a liberating view of what it looks like to follow Christ.” Boundless is about rediscovering cultural diversity in Christianity that has been stifled for centuries. It’s also about Westerners who are increasingly fleeing the institutional church in record numbers. From pages 29-30 in the book: “I wonder if there’s a parallel with the appetite in the West for ethnic cuisine. Could it be that Christianity, as it grew up in Europe and America, developed its own kinds of flavor? I has become like good old European meat, potatoes, and gravy. Or to Americanize it, like...

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