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SPIRIT

What are the Top 10 Words in ACIM?

By | books, SPIRIT | No Comments

“You can’t know a book from its cover, especially the amazingly generous 1300-page psycho-spiritual teachings of ACIM,” says Andrew Allansmith who has been a student of A Course In Miracles (ACIM) for a few decades.

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One of Andrew’s favorite quotes in ACIM is, “The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.” T-26.IX.6:1

“I was in serious pursuit of a spiritual awakening. I tried different spiritual paths. In 1993, I stumbled on A Course In Miracles and the other books dropped away in the first week when I started studying ACIM. Since then, ACIM has become the catalog of answers that I trust. I continue to intellectually challenge ACIM, but I no longer question it. I challenge it to bring me the answers. I know they’re all there to release my fixation on being separate, vulnerable and even human. I’m delivered from being human. That’s a limit. I’m released,” Andrew said.

“ACIM helped me let go of the thought that I’m a who. All humans are who’s. Who’s are vulnerable. Who’s have something measurable to lose or gain. What you are in ACIM has nothing to gain because it’s touching everything with your true Identity. It’s a whole different way of thinking about identity,” Andrew said.

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Andrew Allansmith leads a weekly ACIM study group in Santa Cruz, CA.

“I was preparing for an annual gathering for our study group in Santa Cruz and I got inspired. I was so busy preparing for this gathering. I was doing Holy Spirit as a topic and it occurred to me how many times the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the book. This led me to look up the most common words. About four hours ensued. It happened all at once. I did the research at a mad pace in a single setting. It was so exciting because I had never seen the book sliced this way,” Andrew said.

“I used a combination of internet research and Excel. The course is available in ASCII. I used some software tools for the legal industry, a word count function. Then I realized I needed to combine some words that had similar meaning,” Andrew said.


These top 10 words offer a quick insight that this long-time ACIM student and teacher finds accurate to the core messages.

Here are the top ten words used in ACIM:

#1        God, Father                           3,192 uses

#2        See, Look                               1,781

#3        Truth, True, Truly                 1,603

#4        One, Oneness                      1,584

#5        Gift, Given, Give                  1,549

#6        Mind                                      1,308

#7        Thought, Think                    1,297

#8        World                                    1,285

#9        Holy, Holiness                     1,281

#10      Real, Reality, Realize          1,264


“In making the Top ACIM Words list, I had to make some choices. I omitted prepositions, pronouns and such, to get to the meaty words. If I included the word ‘I,’ it would be the clear number one word.  The personal nature of the book and author is obvious with over 5,000 occurrences of ‘I.’ In the first half of the book, that ‘I’ is Jesus almost exclusively, as the author coaches the reader through an understanding of how to release the ego and all of its pains once and for all,” Andrew said.

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Here’s Andrew’s take on a message using these words:


With God (#1) you Look (#2) through the Truth (#3) of Oneness, using the Gift of Mind, to Think about the World’s Holy Reality.


Otherwise, using your ego as a guide you continue to see its UNHOLY reality.

And here’s a message using them in countdown:


The Reality (#10) of Holiness (#9) is hidden by the World (#8) until you Think with the Mind that was Given you from Oneness to Truly See God.


“We could come up with a dozen other sentences using these words. There are so many gifts in this book. After 23 years of studying ACIM every day, I continue to find new powerful mind-healing messages that bring me peace and understanding. One of the gifts is shown by my assembly of these words. I can reconcile the Love of God with the biting tragedies of the world. This is no small gift,” Andrew said.

“The Course knows you are a belief addict and a relationship addict, abusing both with your ego. Using its mind-healing direction by working the 365 daily ACIM lessons, you can see all of your world and every fellow being in it with meaningful thoughts instead of the meaninglessness at the behest of your ego,” Andrew said.

CLICK HERE to buy ACIM now.

“The real number one word is the author, ‘I.’ I had a shift in my knowledge of ACIM. God is this primary topic. After all the years I taught this book, it still teaches me how to live a better life. I’m more comfortable and happy. And to find out that God is in the book as number one. ‘I’ outnumbers ‘God by a lot, by 50%. The ‘I’ is the author, and it’s not Helen Schucman. I had to surrender to the idea that this is a very personal narration by Jesus about God, about God’s way. It’s God’s way for me to return to peace,” Andrew said.

Andrew Allansmith has been a teacher of ACIM since 2004. He is the Founder of Spiritual Ear, an organization dedicated to making PURE ACIM study tools.

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind. ACIM W-pI.30.1

 

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A dog’s resolution: play every day

By | dream, Pets | One Comment

“What’s the point of making a resolution if I’m not going to keep it anyway?” I asked my dog. It was the first day of the new year.

He rolled over and gave me his, “uh oh” look. If we’re going to have this conversation, please rub my belly. 

Dog owners face hilarious struggles.

“Well, there are some things I’ve been trying to do for many years. What’s the point of trying if I never keep my resolutions?” I asked.

“That’s your choice,” he said. I could read it in his eyes.

“Huh? Are you saying it’s my fault?” I asked.

“I didn’t say that. You did,” he moaned.

“Why is it that some of the things I’ve wanted for so long just don’t happen?” I asked.

“It means that you really don’t want them . . . yet,” he moaned with great empathy, begging me to play.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

I knew what he was thinking. When you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.

“Make it happen? But I have too many distractions keeping me away from what I really want.” I told him.

He shifted his head sideways and moaned in his deep alto moan. It’s the same look he gives me when he wants something. Do you? Really? What’s stopping you?

 

“Well, you know, it’s all the stuff that’s been going on. I have to take care of all the people I love, and you. I’ve been going here and there. And I’ve been trying to do what’s right.”

He tweaked his head further. Right for whom? 

“Well, I don’t know. Everyone.”

He gave me the look. Are these people happy with you? 

“Well, I suppose their happiness doesn’t have much to do with me.”

“You’re getting somewhere. Continue,” he spoke to me through his hopeful eyes.

“I know what you’re getting at. They’re going to be happy or miserable regardless of what I do.”

Anything else? he yawned. He’s heard this story many times.

dog-yawning

Researchers find that dogs’ yawns are cued by their owners.

“They’re busy with their own lives. I know I need to do what I know is best for me and that’s the best thing I can do for everyone.”

I cuddled up close to him and gave him a hug. His tail picked up wagging speed. He spoke to me in body language, “That’s right. Let’s do it. Let’s play. See you already know what you need to do. What have you been wanting for so long that you aren’t doing? 

“Nothing, it’s just me. I’m the one who hasn’t been keeping my resolutions. I have no one to blame but myself. I really want to make this resolution. I know I need to make this resolution and then do what it takes to make it happen.”

Yes, and what else? he wondered.

“I need to develop the right habits so that I do what I need to do every day until my resolution becomes my reality. If I don’t make a resolution, my dreams are unresolved anyway. Deciding not to make a resolution means I’m giving up myself.” I looked him in the eyes.

Your dog might save your life.

He stared back looking bored. I felt like he said to me: You speak the truth.

“I do? I guess I do. What now?”

He started circling around me, like he always does when he wants me to get into action, wants me to play. Make your resolution on the first.

“The first of what?” I asked.

He ran to the door and looked back at me wagging his backside. The first of everything. The first of every year and the first of every month. First thing every morning. Right now! Do you resolve? Or do you not? 

“I get it. I got it. I’m resolving to do what I want to do . . . what I need to do.” I opened the door. He dashed around the back yard searching for his stick. He found it and ran to me. I threw the stick and he brought it back to me. I threw it again and he brought it back to me again, this time with a little more slobber. I knew I could throw it for an hour or two and he would stay in the game.

He wants to bring me the stick. He never lets me down. I throw the stick again, but this time I resolve to run with him. He beats me to the stick, but turns back to give it to me.

I dash off in another direction, and he chases me with the stick still in his mouth. He follows me wherever I go. I freeze and turn around to look at him. He drops the stick near my feet. He leans back with full attention on me, ready to take off the moment I grab the stick.

As I stare into his eyes, I know exactly what he’s thinking. I resolve right now to bring this stick to you. Are you willing to stay in the game? 

I drop my head back to look up at the sky. The sun is out of reach, yet I enjoy its warmth. My resolution is like the blinding sun. It’s out of reach, but just the thought of it brightens my day. It warms my heart.

I need to chase my resolution every day. I must master my game. I need to get fired up about playing every day. I got a burst of energy and threw the stick one more time. As he was running back to me with the stick, I felt a sudden sense of power. I got the crazy idea that I could throw any wish out to the universe and it would come back to me. I felt great!

We went back inside. I noticed a book that a successful friend loaned me a few days ago. He said it was a game-changer for him. I sat down and looked at the cover. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE. I started flipping through the pages and randomly got caught up in chapter 5, the Plan and Do chapter. I was hooked as soon as I saw these three questions:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What does it cost?
  3. Pay it.

Get it done when life gets tough: Advice from Julie A Fast

 

 

Morris the cat rules at Orange Cat Cafe

By | Pets, restaurants | No Comments

My husband and I walked to Orange Cat Cafe from a beachside condo where we stayed the prior night.  I ordered an Americano, and oatmeal with bananas. Bob placed his order and paid.

Morris the cat us before we saw him. He decided to get up and greet us.

Morris the cat saw us before we saw him. He decided to get up and greet us.

We sat down to wait. A cat tip-toed toward us, whispering “meow” to welcome us. Bob reached his arm out inviting him to come closer. The cat circled around  a few times before he jumped up on the deep window sill to get closer. He stepped onto Bob’s knees to greet him.

I love pet-friendly shops. I reached over to pet the orange cat and he stepped over to my lap.

“What a sweet cat. What’s his name?” I asked.

“Morris. He’s 19.” Karen told me.

“Seriously, 19?”

“Yep, he’s lived here his whole life. This is his house,” she said.

“Really?”

“Yeah, this used to be a flower shop.” The previous owner passed away several years ago. In her will, she said Morris had to stay with the property. He has his own house over there,” she pointed toward the small building next door.

Orange Cat Cafe in Pismo Beach, CA

“We keep our bikes in there, but he has his own couch and entry.”

“He’s 19?” That’s pretty old for a cat. He didn’t look a day over 10. “What do you feed him?” I asked.

“It’s funny. I tried to change his food, but he wouldn’t eat it. The 9Lives people probably don’t want to hear this. This Morris likes Friskies. He likes the dried and canned stuff. ” she said. “He usually gets about a 1/2 can of the canned stuff every day and he can eat as much of the dried stuff as he wants.”

While waiting, I did a quick search on the 9Lives Morris the Cat. He has more than 300,000 likes on Facebook! I got curious to learn more about this famous cat. All the cats that have played the 9Lives Morris have been rescues, I read on Wikipedia.

I followed Orange Cat Cafe Morris outside. He kept looking back to see if I was behind him. He meowed at me, as if he were inviting me to visit his home. He rolled in the dirt and then posed for this picture. I swear he understood everything that was going on. I soaked in all the positive energy.

MorrisTheCatAtHisEstate

Morris the cat at his estate.

I wondered how many customers this friendly cat has greeted over the past few decades.

I noticed a black and white cat on the side of his house. So did Morris. He walked back toward the other cat. The black and white cat walked through the fence posts, obediently exiting Morris’s space. Morris stood guard near the gate for a few minutes and then jumped up to relax on his throne.

The dirt is browner on the other side of the fence.

Hello Kitty, is the dirt is browner on the other side of the fence?

“Morris definitely rules the streets around here,” Riley told me. “That black and white cat is Baby Face.”

Does Baby Face believe that the dirt is browner on the other side of the fence? Does he wish he could live like Morris?

“Do you have customers who come just here to see Morris?” I asked.

“Yeah, people come see him and they don’t even order anything. There’s a campground a few blocks away. Some people have been coming to Pismo Coast Village every year for ten or fifteen years. When they come in for coffee, they ask how Morris is doing.” Riley said.

Morris the cat at Orange Cat Cafe

Morris the cat in his front yard at Orange Cat Cafe

Service was in true form to its location: beach-casual. The coffee was great. The homemade cinnamon/honey oatmeal was delicious. Morris was delightful.

Orange Cat Café’s crew—(left to right) Karen Kennedy, Bronte Diaz, Noah Kennedy, Riley Kennedy, and Taylor Diaz

Orange Cat Café’s crew—(left to right) Karen Kennedy, Bronte Diaz, Noah Kennedy, Riley Kennedy, and Taylor Diaz

Few cats have private estates. Not many animals are given the chance to have a life and legacy like Morris. I look forward to running into this sweet tabby again on the other side of life. I’m excited to hear the rest of his story.

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14 Marriage jokes to liven up your anniversary

By | love, parenting, spouses | One Comment

Everyone should get married at some time. After all, happiness isn’t the only thing in life. TensionNot

One of the reasons my husband and I decided to get married on a holiday weekend was to ensure that we’d always have the opportunity to get away for our anniversaries. This year my husband and I spent out 14th anniversary in Maui. What does a blogger want to do on her anniversary? Interview her husband, of course.

Lorraine and Bob celebrating 14th anniversary in Maui

Lorraine and Bob celebrating 14th anniversary in Maui

So as we sipped our fresh fruit smoothies before heading to the beach for the day, I asked my husband to help me brainstorm 14 tips for a happy marriage. I figured we should have learned at least one valuable lesson for each year of marriage. It didn’t take us long at all to come up with the following ideas:

1. Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener. Anonymous

When you date someone for months or even years, it’s easy to get a false sense of security that you really know him or her. Most people are somewhat flexible when it comes to dating and courting. But inevitably, a new set of expectations kicks in when once you’re married. Based on culture and family history, people enter marriage with fixed notions of what they want from their life partner.

Try to have as much fun as possible as you iron out your differing assumptions and intentions. Look for opportunities to do things together that you both enjoy doing. Maintaining a strong marriage is a lifelong process.

2. Successful partners have a perfect understanding: he won’t try to run her life, and he won’t try to run his either. Anonymous

“Selfishness is one of the keys to failure,” my husband says. Keep prioritized lists of ways to please your spouse. For some, this is automatic. You probably already know your spouse’s favorite foods or hobbies, but other things may not be so obvious. If your spouse is going through a difficult time, you can ask, “What are several things I can do for you to help make this week easier for you?” The response may surprise you. It’s all about Love & Respect.

You can use this same list strategy for fun times. When you’re going on vacation together, you can ask, “What 3-5 things are most important for you on this trip?” When you approach marriage with a “me second” attitude, you’re much more likely to be rewarded with a fulfilling marriage. My husband said he liked this joke: “My wife and I agreed that I’d make all the big decisions and she’d make all the little decisions. In all these years, there just haven’t been any big decisions.”

3. When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of many men for the inattention of one. Helen Rowland

Find ways to do something together even if it means that you take breaks to do things that interest you. There’s a balance of doing things together while inserting extra activities along the way. My husband likes snorkeling, so we both have a good day when we go to a beach where he can snorkel while I read, walk, socialize or take pictures.

My husband sometimes likes watching (and napping through) golf or football on Sunday afternoons, but that doesn’t stop us from spending the afternoon together. I don’t mind golf in the background, except for all the annoying viagra and drug commercials. But when he watches football, he wears a headset while I write or do something else.

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4. Marriage is like having cable with one channel. Nathanel Stroman

People are naturally habitual. Some routines are good, but some aren’t. Take the time to label your good and bad routines and discuss the ones where you don’t agree. Find ways to weed out bad relationship habits or routines. Stay out of daily, weekly, monthly and annual ruts. Some people go the same place for holidays or vacation year after year, without taking advantage of how refreshing it can be to do something new.

Go someplace that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable. Visit family members you haven’t seen for a while or go to a foreign country. When you go out and explore new places together, you have to rely on each other. It puts a new aspect on partnering when you team up through new experiences.

5. The honeymoon is over when he phones to say he’ll be late for supper and she’s already left a note that it’s in the refrigerator. Bill Lawrence

My husband was a widower with five children. We got married on Labor Day weekend. Little did I know at that time how appropriate that date was for a woman diving into an instant family! But it surprised me when my husband insisted that we continue dating at least one evening a week, even after we got married. He believed in the importance of date nights with just the two of us.

Although I didn’t think it would be possible with children, he taught me that it was especially important when you have children. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going out for a Saturday night dinner or a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. The important thing is to take some time where just the two of you can chat and catch up without the distractions of housekeeping, grocery shopping, preparing meals or caring for children. When you take time out for regular romantic interludes, it allows you to flush out small issues before they build up to big blowouts.

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6. We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. Henny Youngman

When you’re married, you’ll inevitably experience a roller coaster of emotions at different times. You may hurt your spouse or vice versa. But it’s important to let things go. This also means that you don’t overthink who makes more money, who does more cooking, or who does more or less of anything on any given day. As a couple, you have one bank account and you’re both responsible for making sure the finances balance at the end of each month.

Together you’re responsible for taking care of all the time-consuming details it takes to manage a family. How you spend your time and money says a lot, so it’s important to have an open checkbook and calendar so you each know how you’re spending your most important assets. “Awareness is good, but don’t keep score,” my husband says. Stay focused on the bigger picture.

7. I think we explored the further reaches of “for better or for worse.” Mary Archer

Children add both pleasure and stress to marriage. In a family situation, it’s critical to be united. When children are involved, it’s vital to discuss how you want to handle child-rearing and discipline. Don’t argue in front of your children or other family members. Work out your disagreements one-on-one whenever necessary.

It’s totally ok to have open discussions where everyone can voice their concerns and opinions, but once a decision is made, it’s important that at least one parent take the lead to see it through. This is part of being a team. This isn’t necessary for every little decision, but it can be important on bigger decisions where family members have conflicting views.

8. Husband: One who stands by you in troubles you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t married him. Anonymous

Differing values are pushed onto relationships through family traditions and culture, but you don’t have to succumb to them in your home. This can be especially challenging with blended families where children are exposed to different households with conflicting house rules. And it can become intensified as kids are sorting through their own values through their teen years.

Look for ways to blend, support and even restrain differing values. It has always been important to me that the children eat real foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But I had to learn to let this go during holiday time with family members who have different standards.

Go Away! And other good advice parents should give kids

It’s actually beneficial for kids to be exposed to different values, traditions, cultures and lifestyles. It helps them learn from a young age that they have the freedom to decide how they want to manage their own lives after they move out.

9. The only thing worse than a husband who never notices what you cook or what you wear is a husband who always notices what you cook and what you wear. Sandra Litoff

SchwadronCartoonWifeStud

When everything about your marriage feels too predictable, it can become boring. Avoid getting into comfort zone ruts or bad habits that cause stagnation. Try new things together. Another great way to break up your routine is to travel. When you get away from home, you’re automatically forced into new circumstances that allow you to try new things. Be daring together. Try new foods, buy youthful outfits, go skinny dipping, do something that surprises your spouse in a fun way.

10. My husband said he needed more space . . . so I locked him outside. Rosanne Barr

Going out with the guys or having a ladies night out is ok in moderation. but it’s more important to do stuff together. Sitting on the couch together is nice, but if that’s all you do night after night, you’ll turn into couch potatoes . Ever since I’ve known my husband, he has been been finding ways for us to try new things together to create memories. “You have to plan for them. They don’t just happen automatically,” he says. Sometimes it may just be the two of you together, but it’s equally important to mix it up by doing things with friends and family.

11. Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution? M.L. Mencken

If you enjoy spending most of your non-working hours with your spouse, then you likely to have a strong marriage. If you don’t want to spend time together, it’s critical to figure out why and work through the issues. If either partner feels trapped or confined, both will suffer. It’s much easier to have a happy marriage when you’re married to your best friend.

12. Before marriage, a man will go home and lie awake all night thinking about something you said; after marriage, he’ll go to sleep before you finish saying it. Helen Rowland

Opposites attract. When couples fall in love, it’s sometimes despite the innate characteristics of their partner . . . the things that make them tick. These are the things that can make or break a marriage. Do you know your spouses’s love language? My sister, Jan, is passionate about art and her husband, Periklis, is passionate about flying. They’ve always been supportive of each other pursuing their dreams, despite their differences and fears:

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

Supporting each other in pursuit of your passions sometimes involves short-term sacrifices as you work toward living out your dreams. Always listen to the voice deep inside you. It will guide you to your true north. And encourage your spouse to do the same. It may mean you need to temporarily set aside some fears or short-term desires in order to reach larger goals, but in the end, you’ll both be much happier.

13. I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. Rita Rudner

Take the time to look over your marriage and think about your last several months or years. It’s much easier to laugh at the difficult situations after time has passed. Cherish the challenging times as opportunities that allowed you to learn more about each other. Reflect on the best experiences you’ve had with your spouse.

Find ways to create more positive memories while avoiding the not-so-good experiences in the future. Keep your mind on the good times and positive things that have happened over the years. Practice The 4:8 Principle.

14. The secret to a happy marriage is a secret. Henny Youngman

Make a conscious effort to discover your spouse’s hot points and what they need to feel loved. Some people need words of encouragement while others need a lot of touch. It can take years or even decades for couples to really understand each other. Some people are too embarrassed, shy or afraid to share their true feelings. Some people remain pent-up for years or even decades.

If you can learn to communicate fully and truthfully, you’ll have a much better chance at understanding each other’s deepest feelings and moving to new levels of trust. This can help you unlock ways to resolve your differences. Explore new ways to enjoy your sex life. If you’re happy in bed, you’re more likely to be happy everywhere else.

BruceEricKaplanCartoonof-course-i-care1

I enjoyed pulling together this list with my husband. It was a fun exercise that gave us an opportunity to reminisce and laugh. Together, we came up with more than 14 ideas, jokes and quotes in less than an hour. I hope these marriage jokes help to liven up your anniversary.

Later in the day I asked my husband if he would tell me the 14 things I do that annoy him the most and I would do the same for him. But he said he wasn’t in the mood for playing that game.

If you have something you’d like to add to the list, please leave a comment. There’s no such thing as a marriage that’s too good!

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

How an artist leverages her passion to suppress fear

By | artists, love, PEOPLE, transportation | 2 Comments

“At 2000 feet above the earth, as if dangling from a thread, all my attention is on the landscape below,” Jan says. “I haven’t forgotten my fear, but I set it aside as my husband dips the wing of the small aircraft so I’m better able to photograph the sights below.”

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My Silver Lining No.3 by Jan Clayton

Her husband, Periklis Pagratis, began flying about six years ago. He earned his private pilot’s license in 2008. More recently he became a Certified Flight Instructor and is now teaching others to fly. He owns a small airplane and flies often. When he first began flying, Jan worried all the time and would be in despair every time he went up.

“It took a while, but I knew the fear and anxiety that I was experiencing was my issue, not his,” Jan said. “I didn’t want my fears to inhibit his love and passion for flying in any way. Because I love my husband and wanted to participate in the activity he loves most, I began to fly with him last year. Overcoming fear is a process that seems to have no end. It’s still difficult for me.”

If you have a fear of flying, heights, darkness, dentists, needles, public speaking or something else, it may seem impossible to get over it. Embracing fear, on the other hand, is possible. When your passion or desire is strong enough, you can find ways to suppress fear. When you do, you have a chance to do something positive.

JanClaytonMixedMediaAqua

Merge No.1 by Jan Clayton

“I try to do this with a mix of diversion, trust and faith. I keep my brain occupied with something positive other than the concern about our safety. I trust my husband to handle that. My faith is strengthened by the magnificent beauty of the world around me, especially when viewed from above,” Jan said.

The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them. Antoine de Saint-Exupery  in his book Wind, Sand and Stars

“My fear of flying in small aircraft slapped me in the face about five years ago when my husband became a pilot. I was destined to come face-to-face with this fear and learn to deal with it,” Jan said. “I knew I’d eventually have to fly with him. He flies all the time, but it took me almost five years to build up enough courage to go up in the air with him. When I finally made the decision to go, I took my camera. It wasn’t a conscious decision to overcome the fear, it was just a way to distract myself. Once I was up there, I saw so many gorgeous things going on in the landscape. I was captivated. I tuned into it immediately. It all happened by accident.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela


“Although my fear is ever present, once we’re in the air and I see the landscape below, the voices in my head quiet down. The landscape below captures my attention and I’m compelled to get down to work with my camera,” Jan said.

Her latest body of work is derived from fear, love and passion, all of which are enduring emotions in her life: fear of flying, love for her husband and passion for making art.

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Tidal Salt Marsh No.2 by Jan Clayton

“At first, the idea of coalescing my passion with my fear seemed like an odd mix, but coming to the canvas from a new angle, literally a bird’s eye view, has magnified the breadth of the work,” Jan said. She’s inspired by artists who have passion along with commitment and perseverance.

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. Robert Rauschenberg

“It’s a strange conundrum to be aloft and detached, suspended in the air for an hour or so, then back on the ground with the surface of the earth underfoot. Seeing the earth from a different vantage point is so fascinating. The bird’s-eye-view gives me unique information about the subject. In this case, it’s the landscape. There’s so much to take in. Because we’re moving and the light is changing, I never know when or from where the next opportunity for a great photograph will appear,” Jan said.

There’s a constant state of movement you experience when flying in a small aircraft, not only because the airplane is moving, but also the surrounding natural world is changing.

“My preference is to be in the air very early dawn or late afternoon to dusk. From an artist’s perspective, the light at this time is the most beauful. The sunlight rakes across the landscape horizontally and defines the shapes of the trees, grasses, and other objects with long shadows. The colors aren’t bleached out by the sun’s harsh rays, but instead are almost glowing. The view from above is breathtaking. The waterways meander their way down to the ocean. The reflecting light on the surface of the water is in stark contrast to the land and saltmarsh. The tides are moving, waves are pounding, clouds are building, the earth is rotating and the light is fleeting.”

“The first time I flew over Tybee Island, I realized just how small the island really is and just how vulnerable it is to the whim of the ocean, the weather and the inhabitants. When viewed from above, all the problems that people have with each other, all our differences seem so small and insignificant. Sometimes we forget that we are nothing but small invisible parts of a bigger picture.”

“This bird’s-eye-view vantage point is enlightening on so many levels. Perhaps my work will inspire others to become more interested in the history or ecology of the area. It inspired me. I have a deeper appreciation of the importance of keeping our environment healthy. Georgia has a stunning coastline filled with wetlands and barrier islands. There is beauty and diversity. It’s wonderful to be able to share the scenery from above and through this perhaps a few more folks will gain an interest in the Georgia estuarine marshlands and its importance to the health of our planet,” Jan said.

“Change is constant and focusing on what divides us is futile while focusing on what unites us is beneficial. It’s worthwhile to preserve healthy relationships with others and our natural surroundings,” Jan said.

Being an artist is celebrating life. Henry Moore

If it weren’t for her husband’s passion for flying, she never would have experienced these new landscapes. Her current work is a combined effort of her finding a new way to apply her passion from a new perspective–up in the air.

Jan Clayton Periklis Pagratis fear flying artist

Jan and Periklis

She’s not really over the fear, but it changes her focus when she’s up in the air. She gets excited about what the landscape offers on that day. Despite her fear, now she wants to fly because each photograph adds to the overall body of work.

Currently, this collection contains photos of the area just below Tybee. She wants to go back up so she can shoot Tybee, St. Simons and Hilton Head. And she has her sights on other locations as well.

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St. Catherine’s Sound No.1 by Jan Clayton

Jan constantly draws inspiration from her daily interactions with the people in her life, her natural surroundings and the media. To her, art is about life. It’s about processing experiences and interconnectedness with others and the environment. It is an endlessly fascinating and continually developing process of discovery, intuition, improvisation, and finally reconciliation.

Jan Clayton’s works are featured at Kobo Gallery, located in the heart of the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. You can also see more of her collection on her website at at JanClayton.com.

fear is not real ACIM Jan Clayton Pagratis

Good advice from Robin Williams: Carpe Diem

By | love | One Comment

I’m not a psychic, but I know what you’re doing right now. Read on. This is the most important thing you need to do right now.

" . . . the world looks different from up here." Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

” . . . the world looks different from up here.” Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

My friend Kent Holloway is a forensic investigator. Here’s what he shared with his Facebook friends on the death of Robin Williams . . .

I’m always rather baffled at the outpouring of sincere devastation on Facebook whenever a celebrity passes away. It truly befuddles me. After all, we don’t know most of these people in person. Few of us have actually met them. Their deaths do not affect us on any sort of personal level. Yet, the anguish and bereavement is so real for so many people.

RobinWilliamsEsquire

Robin Williams

I typically remain silent during these times, choosing not to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. Instead, I usually just watch in fascination or shut Facebook down for the night until the expressions of sorrow and loss have passed.

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. IMDb

Tonight was different. I suppose I have had a bit of an epiphany as to why these deaths affect so many people, and leaves me, instead, bewildered. You see, with my job as a forensic death investigator, I see people dying every day (or nearly).

These people aren’t celebrities (well, most aren’t). Some die naturally, peacefully. Others die in more tragic ways. Some kiss their wives goodbye as they leave for work, and never return. Others fight valiantly for months, and even years, in sterile hospital suites.

Jokes for your friends who are sick and tired

But the point is, when I go to work, I know that sooner or later, I’m going to see death.

You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most Men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out! IMDb

For most people, death is so distant. It’s far, far away. So foreign. So invasive. Sure, many people have lost loved ones, and have struggled with it. Then, eventually moved on. But when a celebrity dies, it’s a reminder of the brevity of life. Of just how fragile it is.

If it can claim the lives of the rich, famous, and amazingly talented, then how far away is it from claiming our own? Yes, we will miss many of these celebrities who have enriched so many lives with their talent . . . but more than that, they are reminders that we’re all connected.

We’re all part of the human race . . . and that means, no matter how much we wish things to be different, we all face this thing called death at some point in our lives.

It’s something I’m reminded of day in and day out. And I have days in which I handle that reminder better than others. But it’s common to me. Not so alien. Not so scary either. [Of course, I know the Author of all Life, so that helps a lot too.]

J. Kent Holloway

J. Kent Holloway

As we celebrate the lives of these people who have gone before us, don’t cower over the fact that we all will one day join them.

Instead, let their deaths help you live our own life better. Enjoy every single moment. Love one another. Make another person’s life even better than your own. After all, none of us know what tomorrow will bring.

J. Kent Holloway is an adventure author with a passion for edge-of-your-seat thrillers. A real-life legend tripper (looking for ghosts, cryptids, and buried treasures). When not writing or legend-tripping throughout the southeastern United States, or providing pulpit supply for various churches in northeast Florida, he works as a forensic death investigator.

 

There’s something you want to do that you’ve been putting off for a long time.

You know what I’m talking about.

Today is the day to begin.

Carpe diem. Seize today. Do it now!

 

Please don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. IMDb

CLICK HERE NOW to buy Kent Holloway’s book

SIX DATING TIPS for women in search of Mr. Right

By | coaches, love | No Comments

“I’ve been alone for 16 years. Where are all the good men?” Cindy asked.

“How many of them do you want?” Patricia asked.

“Just one,” Cindy said.

“We can make this happen,” Patricia assured her. Patricia is a psychic dating coach and she knew that Cindy was going to meet someone. For the next 40 minutes Patricia guided her on how to meet the right man.

Patricia saw that Cindy’s number one criteria was a man with deep pockets. She was accomplished herself, and she wanted a man who was equally successful. She had a deep fear of being saddled with a fraud and ending up with his debt.

Lovers card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Lovers tarot card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Although Cindy was able to meet men who appeared to have money, she always wondered if they were truly affluent. She really needed to know if a man was truly financially secure or just putting on a front. Patricia encouraged Cindy to have an intelligent conversation, as if she were talking to a banker. Patricia’s intuition served Cindy’s needs.

Cindy met with Patricia again about six months later. When she arrived, Cindy was so elated that she seemed to be floating across the room. She held out her hand showing Patricia a diamond that was the size of an almond. She met her dream man in a casino in Las Vegas. When the time came, she had a conversation about his financial situation and the man was just what she was looking for. Cindy was ecstatic with Patricia’s coaching!

If you’re searching for a man, here are a few dating tips for women from the Dating Diamonds expert, Patricia Fuqua:

1. Understand yourself so you can know who you want to fall in love with.

“What makes you the kind of person a man would want to be with? You need to know what you want to attract and what you want to experience,” Patricia says.

Too many women think about what they don’t want instead of what they do want. Know what your strengths are in a relationship and what your attitudes are.  This is how you will attract the emotions and experiences you’re looking for. You can attract what you want, but you have to live it and believe it.

2. Be positive.

“Are you exuding positive affirming energy? Some women don’t realize that their negative thinking and attitudes about men are keeping them single. Negativity comes from past experiences that were emotionally or physically traumatic, but each relationship is new,” Patricia tells her clients. “There’s no value in carrying old baggage into new relationships.”

Online Dating Magazine Cartoon tips women

It’s important to be aware of how you’re approaching men and how you feel about them. You have to to be able to shift your energy to be more positive and see the possibilities in them. You must believe that a new relationship can be positive and open yourself up to finding the man of your dreams. Manifesting your Soulmate happens through the Law of Attraction.

3. Know the types of men you want to avoid.

“Do you know your deal-breakers? My clients often tell me they’re looking for chemistry, someone who’s hot or has these types of clothes or looks, but what they need to know is that looks and bodies sometimes come with addictions or cruelty. Just because a guy is good-looking doesn’t mean he’ll be a good protector or provider,” Patricia warns her clients.

It’s easy to become attracted to someone who seems exciting or hot, but he can’t fully support you when he’s consumed by chasing other things. Whether he’s bodybuilding at the gym every day or has some other extreme passion that takes priority in his life, he’ll always leave you wanting.

Tiger Woods cheated

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If you know yourself and what you want to experience, going after the hot sexy guy who’s emotionally unavailable can be counterproductive. Know the types of men you want to avoid. Deep down, most women are looking for an alpha-man to love and protect them.

4. Have a strategy to keep focused in your search.

“What is your relationship goal? Do you want a partner, a boyfriend, a husband or just a one-night stand? Be clear. Once you know what you want, you can align your strategy to achieve it. You know how to present yourself on dates, speak the part and appeal to the kind of man who wants what you’re searching for,” Patricia says.

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

This increases your chances because your actions are aligned with your goal. If a guy thinks you’re dressed like a slut, he’s not going to look at you as wife material. You have to be ready and open all the time when you go out. Align everything toward your goal.

5. Be patient and compassionate.

“When cute fades, what have you got? You may wish you could order a man like you order a customized coffee at Starbucks, but it isn’t going to happen. When your searching for someone you want to fall in love with, it’s important to be patient. It’s all a numbers game.”

Online services have lots of men and some sign up for multiple sites. Before you sign up for an online dating service, carefully consider how you portray yourself. Focus on classic qualities. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to know the personality categories you’re looking for and men that are compatible with yours.

Abstract qualities have outward signs. Learn to notice the clothes men wear, the speed of their thinking, their movements, and their approach with women. These are indicators you want to watch for to decide whether or not you should go on a second or third date.

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6. Get a coach or participate in a support group.

Do you trust your natural intuition? Think about all the chatter that goes on in your mind. It helps to get the conversations out of your head when you talk with others who have your best interest at heart. Although women can perceive that a relationship isn’t going to work in the long run, they’ll often go on dating guys, even though they know they’re dead end relationships. You need to be nice to others, but also avoid wasting time or getting your heart broken. Stay focused on your ultimate goal.

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“Everything is energy and vibrates at different frequencies. If you have been attracting men who don’t work out in relationships, you know that it’s a sign for you to increase your vibration through shifting your belief about what kind of partner suits you. When you love and appreciate your qualities and your peace, the quality of men that you attract will improve,” Patricia says. “The natural Law of Vibration says that like attracts like. What are you like?”

Patricia Fuqua Dating Diamonds

Both women and men fantasize about relationships. Make sure that you’re present, listening carefully and paying attention when you’re with a man, as well as paying attention to how you feel when you aren’t. It’s important to have a sounding board. Patricia helps women understand what they want to experience and how to attract the right men into their lives.

If you’re one of those women who has made massive mistakes in the past and want to change your dating destiny, call Patricia at 650-877-2563. If you live in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area, you can schedule a private consultation in person with Patricia or attend one of her MeetUps.

 

CLICK HERE to buy Patricia’s book now.

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

By | love | 2 Comments

Have you ever gone through the process of purchasing a house, a building or some land? If so, a friend or financial advisor may have reminded you about of the importance of “location, location, location.” As long as you’re in the right place, you can’t go wrong. If your housing needs change five or ten years later, you can sell the place and move on to another good location, location, location.

When it comes to photography, it’s all about position, position, position. It’s the position of the things in the background, the position of things in the foreground and also the position of the photographer.

Have you ever gone on vacation and handed your camera over to someone who has no idea how to take pictures? And you end up with something awkward like this?

Watch Me Pull A Lady Out Of My Hat NY Jan 2008

 

You probably don’t want all your vacation photos turn out like this, but if you’re a visual person (like me), you enjoy these little tricks you can play with a camera. I can’t lift a mountain, but with a little help from a friend, maybe I can figure out how to hold up a small island?

My husband took this shot at Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand. We knew the result we were trying to get, so it made it easier for us to work together quickly to make it happen. This was our first attempt at getting the shot, but we were still way off.

 

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As he was directing me into the right position, he was also making adjustments himself. He told me I needed to be closer to the camera, so I ran forward.

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With a few simple adjustments, we were able to get the effect we wanted. By looking through the camera he was able to tell me how to line up my arms and hands just right to create the illusion that I was holding up the little island in the background.

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Achieving a shot like this on your own with a tripod would be nearly impossible, even if you had a timer or remote. But if you partner with the right person, you can pull off an interesting shot like this within a few minutes.

Today I had a great conversation with a good friend, Julie Fast. She’s a best selling author and has been one of my writing mentors for years. I shared with her some of the challenges I’ve been facing as a writer and she knew how to coach me into the right position. Good friends or wise colleagues can help you to move into the right spot fairly quickly.

Double Meaning Photos Creative Photos (15) woman holding little man

When I told her I was thinking about forming a writing critique group again, she reminded me how much time I put into this in the past when I was the founder, president or organizer for various writing groups, such as FCCW. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow writers, it also took time from the main goal: writing. She remembers those long conversations we had years ago.

She reminded me that it would make more sense to take one of my books in progress and bring it to completion. This was her reminding me of a past position and the affect it had on me. As a writer, she understands my goal and challenges. She has the history of my past position, an understanding of my present position, and the vision and experience to guide me into the position I seek for my near future.

Get it done when life gets tough: Advice from Julie A Fast

Julie helped me to to understand my position, position, position and what I need to do to move the island . . . to accomplish my big goal.

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What island would you like to move? If you’ve been trying to reach a big goal for a long time, it’s probably time for a checkup. Anytime you’re trying to get somewhere, it’s important to make sure you have all the right stuff and none of the wrong stuff that can hold you up.

Sometimes it only takes a few minor tweaks and a little repositioning to help you get through. Chances are you already have a colleague, mentor or friend who can help you make the necessary adjustments to get into the right position, position, position. This is how to accomplish a big goal.

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3 BIG Benefits of Flexibility Exercises

By | dream, love | No Comments

man splitTommy Cooper asked his personal trainer if he could teach him how to do splits.
“How flexible are you?” his trainer asked.
“I can’t make Tuesdays,” Cooper said.

Are you ready to loosen up?

Imagine putting on a pair of loose pajama pants. You feel the softness of the fabric as you pull them up your legs and over your hips. You tie the drawstring, just enough to keep them up. They’re adjustable and comfortable.

Now put on a pair of pants that are tight. You suck in your stomach and shimmy to get them around your buttocks. As you struggle to pull up the zipper and fasten the button, you feel the strain in your waistline. You immediately begin to feel tense and cramped.

Strive to be more like your favorite pajamas. They’re simple but strong, soft but durable, symmetrical but flexible. They have plenty of wiggle room to allow for the movement of your body, thoughts and dreams.

You’re probably familiar with some of the foundations of fitness: strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. These are important not only for maintaining your physical health but also your mental and spiritual health. By practicing flexibility exercises in these areas of your life on a regular basis, you stand to gain three BIG benefits:

1. Become a more likable person.

Stretch your relationships. Who do you like to be around? Positive people who share your interests, profession, genes or personality, right? They comfort you without challenging you too much. When you’re interacting with others, you’re literally spending your time (your life) with them.  Surprise people with deep questions like, “What’s it like to be you?” Invite yourself into someone’s personal space one day and back off the next. Exercise your thoughts and consideration by giving your full attention to the people around you. Your days and your relationships are among your most valuable assets.

yoga group pose men womenConnect with strangers. Experiment with various activities which give you opportunities to interact with others. MeetUp is a great way to find others gathering for a common purpose. Be an active participant open to learn. Talk a little. Listen a lot. Imagine what life would be like if you happened to be the person you’re talking to. As you take time to partake in the stories that shaped their lives, it’s easier to understand their perspectives and beliefs. It can be an enlightening exercise for you as well as others. Give people the gift of not only of your physical presence, but also the presence of your mind. By practicing the art of connecting with others, not only do you gain strength, but so do others around you.

Become more tolerant of other people’s beliefs. It’s not worth getting upset with colleagues, neighbors, family members or anyone else because of the decisions they make. Their choices are based on the beliefs that saddle their heart. Notice your emotions as they swell up inside you. Your emotional triggers have all been customized to you based on a concoction of your significant life experiences. Meet, greet or dismiss your emotions as they come to you. Leaders, counselors and comedians make their living helping people with the physical, mental and emotional tightropes that connect them to others. Learn from these people and you’ll become better at walking your own tightropes, finding ways to tap into deeper connections with others by loosening your own saddle. Ultimately, you walk away from nearly every encounter in life free, as you always have been, to act on your own convictions. With practice it becomes quite easy to be agreeable to things that have little relevance in the long run.

2. Improve your health.

See yourself as you want to be. Everyone has needs and wants, and some people have ambition as well. A few people are compelled to achieve big goals like becoming an olympic athlete, a bestselling author or the next Nelson Mandela, while others have smaller objectives like learning to cook, losing 10 pounds or reading a spiritual book. Regardless of how big or small your objective is, it begins with a thought. Thoughts are like seeds–some multiply. One tiny apple seed has the potential to become a mature apple tree producing somewhere between 50-100 apples a year. An apple seed, given the right environment, can eventually produce apples, but it will never produce oranges. The Secret to good physical, mental and spiritual health begins in the thoughts that occupy your mind.

hatha yoga legs over head manStretch throughout the day. Lay down on the grass in the evening and look up. Take a few deep breaths. What do you see? Lift your legs straight up. Maybe you’ll see an airplane flying under your feet. Is there someplace you’d like to go? Slowly lower your legs toward your body reaching your toes toward the ground behind your head. Hold the pose for a minute or so if you can. With regular practice, you’ll be able to flex further. Maybe you can already touch your toes to the ground. Maybe not. Maybe you’ll be able to next month or next year? Maybe never. Release your stretch. Give in slowly to the gravity which is pulling your legs back down to the ground. Look up at the stars. You don’t need to go anywhere special to stretch. Wherever your body goes your mind will follow.

11 Equipment Essentials for Everyday Exercises

Expand or contract your spiritual rituals. Some Hindus, Buddhists, Seventh Day Adventists and other religious systems practice vegetarianism because of their spiritual belief systems. In some cases, they also back up their decision with evidence of physical benefits. Many Muslim women veil their bodies, exposing only their eyes and hands. They do it out of obedience to God or their culture. Some say it frees them from being judged by their looks or their body. Their beauty is reserved for their husbands only. Catholics tell their wrong-doings to priests to confess the sins on their conscious. This sacrament reconciles them with God. How are you exercising your spirit? Try practicing some new rituals or letting go of some that don’t feel right.

3. Generate valuable ideas.

Be a curious lifelong learner. To remain relevant, you need to be willing to do one of two things: adopt to the ways of younger generations or lead change. In some cases it’s good to keep doing a thing the same way if it serves you well . . . at least until it doesn’t. You need to know when it’s time to yield to change. If you like board games, learn a computer game. If you like connecting with people by phone, try texting, Skyping or doing a group video call in Google Hangouts. If you’re passionate about history, find new ways to bring it back to life. Stretch your imagination. Exercise your freedom to think about anything you want.

Make a habit of doing things for the first time. As each new generation comes of age, it comes with its own leaders who have the courage to question status quo. These change-makers bring new ideas, trends, technologies, and more. It’s normal to be afraid of trying new things, but it’s also one of the best ways to grow and discover treasures that are hiding all around you. Check out this clip. This is the first time I ever spoke to an all-male Toastmasters club. This is what it’s like at the amazing the amazing Club 1600 in the Bahamas . . .

Open your heart to other belief systems. Cultural, political, sexual and religious belief systems have been shaping you from the time you were born. Your perception narrows over time unless you take steps to exercise the connection between your conscious and subconscious. When you poo, it doesn’t even occur to you that you’re sitting rather than squatting. Are you pooping wrong? How deep is your squat stretch? You do countless activities each day without consciously thinking about the fact that you’re doing them, not because you choose to, but because you’ve been conditioned to conform to the local culture.

Warning: Old People and Frogs May Trigger Culture Shock

backbend yoga pose womanEach time you stretch your body, pay attention to the things going on around you. When you bend over backwards, it seems as if the whole world turns upside down for you. But you were the one who changed, not the world. When you practice stretching your body and reaching out beyond your psychological or spiritual comfort zones, you’re preparing yourself to be more adaptable to the inevitable changes that are coming your way whether you like it or not.

Your ability to adapt to changing circumstances may affect your lifespan. How flexible are you? Your mental, physical and spiritual flexibility measures are either increasing or decreasing little by little on a daily basis. The direction it’s moving in each area of your life is up to you.

Many centenarians have confident, robust personalities. They’ve been able to grow old, in part, because of their flexibility and open-mindedness. They have good self-esteem. They like interacting with others, but they don’t like becoming dependent on others.

Flexibility exercises begin in your mind. Then they become apparent in your body language. And eventually, if everything goes right, the benefits show up in your spirit.

Off the Mat Into the World logo

WARNING: Old people and frogs may trigger culture shock

By | GO, longevity, love, parenting | 3 Comments
Eric Chen Lorraine Wei Eddie Toastmasters

Lorraine with Naigui Chen (wearing a tie)

When I first met Naigui Chen in China, he introduced himself to me with his English name, Eric. I was immediately impressed with his fluency in English, but even more so with his hospitality and kindness.

My husband and I had recently moved to Shenzhen and decided to join the nearest English-speaking Toastmasters club. Eric happened to be the president of this club, Eloquence of the Elites (EOE). My husband and I became good friends with Chen and many others in the club.

At the end of summer 2013, my husband and I moved back to the US and, coincidently, Chen moved to Indianapolis for the MBA program at Kelley School of Business.

A few days ago, I received this note from Chen . . .

Hi Lorraine, I went to a nursing home to help move someone to a different facility because his health is deteriorating. It was the first time I saw such a thing as nursing homes. It’s so sad. On the way back home in the car, I cried my heart out. And then I thought about the Chinese belief of children taking care of their old parents is a good thing. It’s such an emotional time for me. I don’t think I will ever forget it. I thought I might share this special experience with you.

Thank you so much for sharing this story with me Chen. It means a lot to me! It’s the American way. Many people have compartmentalized lives. Can you please tell me more about your experience?

old people

Absolutely. My friend is a hospice consultant and I went to help him move a patient from a nursing home to an assisted living community for Alzheimer patients. What really shocked me was the dining room full of patients, people at the end of their lives, away from their children and taken care of by staff. In China we don’t have many of these. The children are supposed to take care of their parents no matter what happens. Although nursing homes are starting to appear in China, most people don’t send their parents to those places because of the social stigma. Seeing all these patients was just too strong an emotional impact for me. The good news is when we got back today, there were volunteers coming in to teach songs. Music made most of the time a little more tolerable for me.

When I heard Chen’s reaction to American culture, I immediately thought about the Boiling Frog Syndrome.

If frogs can be content in hot water, can seniors be content in retirement homes, apart from their families? Turns out that many seniors in retirement homes are happy as long as they feel connected to other people, regardless of whether or not they’re family. Pets and even social media sites such as Facebook also provide a satisfying sense of connection. AARP

Another factor that affects happiness in old age is a person’s perception. People who are happier in their younger years are likely to become even happier as they age. People who are irritable in their younger years are more likely to become grumpy old people. The same applies to health. People who are lively or athletic at a younger age tend to be healthier as they age. Our characteristics tend to become more exaggerated over time. Wouldn’t it be it great to know now How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free?

One of the things I like most about Chinese culture is the sense of community. In the daytime, you see the elderly pushing their grandchildren in strollers. They park the buggies and congregate in parks to talk with friends as the toddlers play. As the kids get older, you see grandparents waiting for their grandkids outside schools at the end of the school day.

Go Away! And Other Good Advice Parents Should Give Kids

In the subways you see all ages, young and old, moving about together to their next destination. These grandparents aren’t in wheelchairs. They stay active because they have purpose. Many of them also do the shopping and prepare meals for three generations. This aspect of Chinese culture, some gerentologists say, is one of the reasons why Hong Kong (with similar traditions) touts the greatest percentage of centenarians in the world. China Daily

In the evenings you see the elderly dancing in the parks or walking arm in arm with their spouses or adult children. It’s common to see an old person hanging on to their adult child for support, but very rare to see anyone in a wheelchair.

Since returning to the US, this sense of community and connectedness is one of the things I miss most about Chinese culture. Although I wasn’t anyone’s child, parent or grandparent there, the people in my neighborhood who recognized me would smile at me every day, acknowledging my presence. I really like that about them.

But it was also shocking to me that Chinese women my age would choose to live with their in-laws and/or adult children and derail their careers while their husbands had the opportunity to advance in their jobs and, in some cases rumor has it, have affairs with younger women.

The Chinese ladies I befriended would twist their arms around mine when we walked together. And both males and female friends rub shoulders while eating a meal or talking together. Even as a foreigner with very limited language skills, I felt closely connected to many of my Chinese friends physically, mentally and even spiritually. Humans are humans in every race. I didn’t expect it, but the end of our going away party when we said goodbye to some of our closest Chinese friends, several of us fought back tears.

If you move a native Chinese senior to an American nursing home, he might fall into deep depression. Or if you told an American senior that she was responsible for taking care of her grandchildren and cooking for her adult children every day, she may feel cheated out of her restful retirement years. It all depends on the person and his or her expectations. You’re Only Old Once, so you might as well make the most of it.

Chen is an especially kind and sensitive man. I’m sure the elderly man sincerely appreciated Chen’s help with his move. If Chen were to ever to lead a retirement home in the US or China, it would be a wonderful place to live. Chen would make sure of that. I saw his leadership skills in action in one of the best Toastmasters clubs I’ve ever been involved with in the past decade. He has the good nature and wisdom to influence the people around him to bring out the best in everyone.

frog cartoonCulture brainwashes us to expect people around us to act a certain “normal” way. When we travel to other cultures, we see people acting “abnormally.” Sometimes it seems a little strange. Other times it’s so disgusting or delightful, so appalling or appealing that it causes us to experience culture shock. Ironically, you can find micro-cultures of people, even within your own country, who aren’t doing things the way you think they should.

Many people live like frogs in hot pots, on the edge of boiling point, knowing that something isn’t quite right, but too stifled by cultural or family pressures to do anything about it. They don’t care enough to take action until it’s too late.

You may not be able to change your culture or family, but I urge you to create happiness in your life sooner than later. Check your temperature.

Meditation: The Answer to All Your Problems

What’s the one thing you need to do now to create more happiness in your life?

 AARP logo - The power to make it better.

 

 

 

What if You Come Down (to Earth) With Symptoms of Sustainability?

By | Biking, BUSINESS, gardening, healthcare, laundry, NONPROFITS, Pets, restrooms | No Comments

If you or someone you know has some of the following symptoms, you may be coming down (to earth) with sustainability. It can be contagious, but some people have strong resistance. Scientists believe that it may have something to do with a jean mutation. The jeans can be modified or removed, but some people don’t like to change because they’re comfortable just the way they are.

Sustainable World PeopleJust as a person who has obesity may begin to rely on a wheelchair to get around, a person who has sustainability may begin to rely on a bicycle to get around. Physical and mental conditions shape the surrounding environment.

Although some people feel uneasy about sustainability at first, they quickly begin to adapt to the condition. Some people do really crazy things like take up gardening or sell their cars. Once you catch sustainability, don’t be surprised if people with the mutated jeans call you crazy.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with sustainability, it’s helpful to join a support group with like-minded people who prefer trees over traffic and borrowing over buying. As the symptoms of sustainability increase, you may fall deeper into a wishful state of Utopia-euphoria wanting more people to contract your enthusiasm. Webweaver Earth

Here are some of the symptoms of sustainability:

Air. You go to parks and into the forest where the air is fresh and trees are plentiful. AIRNow

Banking. You closed your bank account and opened an account at a local credit union. Credit Union National Association

Whenever you go near a bank, you get withdrawal symptoms. PunOfTheDay

Bathroom. Your bathroom has a window which provides natural light and ventilation. American Restroom Association

Why are environmentalists bad at playing poker? They avoid the flush. Jokes4Us

Biking. Your bicycle is one of your main modes of transportation. People For Bikes

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

Charities. You give generously to a local nonprofit or faith-based organization and they give back to the community. Charity Navigator

Cooperation. You quit your corporate job to work for a co-op. National Cooperative Business Association

Energy. Your home is drawing power from renewable energy sources. Renewable Energy World

Food. You have access to organic fruits and vegetables within walking distance of your home. GMO Inside

Gardening. You have fun working together with your neighbors in the community garden. American Community Gardening Association

Healthcare. You have access to affordable healthcare. Michael Moore’s Health Care Proposal

Housing. Your home is affordable and you help others who need housing. Habitat for Humanity

Laundry. You hang your laundry out to dry. Project Laundry List

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups 

Leaders. You’re a good communicator and leader. Toastmasters

Library. You enjoy going to your local library on a regular basis.

Lighting. The sun is your main source of light all day. VELUX

Music. You hear nature sounds or appropriate tunes that enhance your home, workplace and other public spaces. American Music Therapy Association

Names. You’re on a first-name basis with your neighbors and workers in local businesses. NeighborWorks

Organics. You buy organic foods in the local farmer’s market and grocery stores. CCOF

Outdoors. Your home and workplace outdoor spaces are green and welcoming. Alliance for Community Trees

What did the activist get when he sat on the iceberg too long? Polaroids. Jokes4Us

People. You treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age, race or social status. Grassroots International

Pets. You often take your dog along wherever you go. Go Pet Friendly

Plantscaping. You have plenty of indoor plants. Plantscape Industry Alliance

Prevention. Your healthcare provider incentivizes doctors for prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Why We Need to Do Doctor Reviews on Our Last Doctors’ Visits

Recycling. You have a donate box, a recycle bin and a compost pile, but you don’t have a garbage can. SCARCE

Sustainable Communities IndexSalary. Your boss doesn’t make too much more than you or your colleagues. Salary

Schools. Your kids attend schools which teach them how to create a sustainable future for themselves and the community. Edible Schoolyard

Seeds. You trade seeds and plants with your neighbors. Seed Savers

Sharing. You borrow stuff and lend a hand. mesh

Steps. The staircase in your workplace is more attractive than the elevator. StairPorn

Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym

Students. Your kids are participating in solving real issues in the community. Youth Service America

Transportation. Your community is investing heavily in public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks and pathways. American Public Transportation Association

Volunteers. Your neighbors are engaged in making the community a better place to live. Volunteer Match

Water. Your drinking water is pure and safe. Local waterways are full of healthy marine life.  American Water Works Association

Weight. You’re healthy, not malnourished or obese. Weight of the Nation

Sick of Diets? Film Diet Plan Will Help You Escape the Fat Trap

Work. It’s easy for you to find work opportunities near home. Smart Growth America

If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms, stay calm. If you generate too much excitement, the zombie police with mutated jeans may try to attack. They are known to be mindlessly unreasonable, doing raids on people who sell fruits and vegetables, for example. Check out this raid on an organic food store in California.

Zombie Police - resident evil

What’s the difference between zombies and patched jeans?

Zombies are dead men. Jeans are mended. JokeIndex

If you or your loved ones are coming down (to earth) with sustainability, the best thing you can do is band together with other level-headed people and come up with a smart plan to protect yourselves in the event of a random zombie invasion.

Yes! logo

Turkeys and Americans Get Stuffed on Thanksgiving

By | Comedy, cooking, eating, holidays, love | No Comments

What’s the difference between a turkey and an American?

Turkeys get stuffed on Thanksgiving, but Americans get stuffed every day.

turkey stuffed (1)

 Turkey with bacon and craisin stuffing by Australian MasterChef Julie Goodwin

Millions of Americans get stuffed two or three times day. Most fill up with prepared foods and snacks at home and on fast foods and snacks when they’re not at home. It’s the western way. If you don’t like hamburgers, soda, cookies and other similar stuffings, you’re often ridiculed by the masses who do.

McDonald’s is the #1 most visited business overall in the US. Huffington Post. Eating fast is America’s favorite pastime. In fact, it’s a sport. Check out Major League Eating for current records on competitive eaters stuffing themselves with everything from turkeys to pumpkin pies to cow brains.

Eating is the secret hobby that will never show up on hobby lists. But Americans love to eat. In fact, the US holds the record as the most obese nation in the world. Reuters. Watch Fast Food Nation to see how this came to be.

Thanksgiving is one of the few days a year when many Americans observe food in an old fashioned kind of way, by pulling out their food processors and making home cooked meals. For decades, western women have been programmed to believe that cooking is drudgery. So Thanksgiving is one of the few days a year when women bother to cook. Men drink as they entertain the kids and watch TV. Beer commercials, football, truck commercials, parades, pharmaceutical commercials and the evening news help to get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Breaking News: Man still on death row after fifteen years. This is what happens when you ask for your last meal to be an all-you-can-eat  buffet. Sickipedia

Thanksgiving is one day of the year when you can find all-you-can-eat buffets in homes throughout the country. It takes plenty of time and money to pull off this annual feast. Moms and grandmas spend hours shopping, planning, decorating, baking, stuffing turkeys and teaching the younger women the right way to make the family’s sweet stuffings. I remember my first Thanksgiving with my new mother-in-law. She put me in charge of the sweet potatoes and later told me that I didn’t do it right because my recipe didn’t include marshmallows. I failed one of the initial rites of passage into the family tribe.

Turkey Eating Competition

105-pound woman gobbles down an entire turkey in 10 minutes out-eating her male competitors, including one man four times her size

On Thanksgiving Day Americans celebrate the stuffing of turkeys and the stuffing of people. This is followed by Black Friday, one of the biggest sales day of the year. This four-day weekend is the kickoff to the holiday shopping season and celebration time for retailers.

On Thanksgiving we’re supposed to take time out to be appreciative. But between all the shopping, traffic lights, cooking, cleaning, drinking, eating, watching commercials and playing games and there’s little time or patience left over to take time to say thank you to anyone who isn’t a sales clerk. If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time to simplify your life.

We could be thankful that we have enough food to stuff everyone in the country, but unfortunately, some people become obese while others go hungry. We could be thankful for the four-day holiday, but it probably does more harm than good to most people’s health and finances.

You may not be able to change holiday traditions for everyone in the country, but you can begin by making changes in your own traditions. Perhaps you’d like to eat something other than turkey this year?

If you’re concerned about gaining weight through this year’s holiday season, check out the Film Diet Plan. With some thoughtful planning, you can find ways to do less stuffing and more thanking. Are you ready to answer the question, “what are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?”

Everyone was finally seated around the table ready to dig in to Thanksgiving dinner when little Joey picked up his fork and began to eat.

“Wait Joey,” his mother said. “You can’t eat until we say grace.”

“We don’t need to pray here,” he said.

“Of course we do. You know we always pray before we eat at home.”

“That’s at our house,” he replied. “but this is grandma’s house and she knows how to cook.” SHE

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