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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Self Respect
Rodney Dangerfield was a comedian who peppered his monologues with the phrase, "I don't get no respect." He was an everyman in his humor, but there was a sadness to his comedy which also acknowledged his failure to achieve some kind of self-respect as well.
How do we learn to respect ourselves; our lives? In what ways do we learn how to set boundaries and standards for the ways in which we allow ourselves to be treated and to treat others? Learning self- respect is an experiential matter, and self-respect often develops after one has experienced or been dealt with in a less than acceptable manner. We are taught to respect life, but often this does not include the need to  respect our own lives;our own selves.
When we learn to respect our lives we give ourselves the power to decide what is important to us; to our development and our way of being. We learn through experience to "know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em; know when to walk away, know when to run." We learn to respect our contributions and our gifts, regardless of whether others acknowledge them.
Learning self respect is self taught. Giving yourself the credit you deserve for what you have already accomplished in your life is a beginning. At every stage of life you have overcome or handled some challenge through which you have developed and enhanced your understanding and ability to deal with situations. If it helps to write those accomplishments down, do so. Your graduation from each of those challenging situations is more significant than any diploma or certificate of learning you may have received in a school. You carry the accomplishment within you. You own that and no one can take it away from you. 
There used to be a saying that "guilt is the gift that keeps on giving." Self respect is even more so. Self respect is the acknowledgement of one's worth and rightful place in this universe. That is the gift that truly keeps on giving and it can be practiced on a daily basis. Own your accomplishments, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential they may seem. Give yourself some respect.
Insight and imagination are within you. 
6:56 pm edt 

Sunday, July 24, 2005

K.D. Lang's song, "Constant Craving" speaks so clearly to our ongoing sense of emptiness and need for satisfaction, as does the older one,  "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." Yearning for something new and which completes or embraces our emptiness or agitation is part of the human condition. A new job? A new relationship? A new house or car? What stops the cycle of "constant craving?"
What causes or contributes to your sense of fulfillment; of satisfaction? What gives you not only satisfaction but also pleasure; contentment? And what will be lasting satisfaction rather than something transitory in its effect? How do you experience a sense of personal fulfillment? What fills you up? Are these questions too hard?
For some, giving to others throuh volunteer work, or helping with a cause one is invested in is fulfilling. Others find fulfillment in artistic creation, such as photography, painting, writing, or singing. Mathematicians find fulfillment in the precision and beauty of numbers and the calculations which express how things work;how they are. Fulfillment takes many forms.
Many standards and goals held out for us through our culture's values and the media are not really those which we personally may find fulfilling. Everyone does not need to enjoy spectator sport or bask in the light of hollywood fame. In fact, personal fulfillment may be compromised by these activities.
Personal fulfillment. What is it for you? What "floats your boat?" What gives you a sense of pleasure? What gives you satisfaction? What activity do you lose yourself in? That may be your personal key to fulfillment.
Insight and imagination are within you.
11:46 am edt 

Monday, July 18, 2005

Music of the Night
Mid-Summer night sounds fill the heavy humid air with the drenching tones of crickets, cicadas, and tree frogs singing into the early morning hours. Some people can't stand the sounds, but others enjoy and welcome them as the sounds of night life celebrating life itself.
A full moon invites loud and long choruses of cricket chirp and locust calls. It can be a soothing sound; a reminder that harmony comes from the essence and being of life itself at times like this. Harmony within and without come from being in tune with oneself and living the beauty and joy of life from the inside out. The Japanese traditionally have kept a cricket cage in the home for good fortune,and perhaps as a reminder of the beauty of life song and harmonic living.
The song and the music are within. Listen to the music of the night.  Insight and imagination are within you.
7:22 pm edt 

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Celebrate the Gift
Is it too cliched to say life is a gift? When did you last think about and appreciate the gift of life you are, and that you have by being present in this world? Are you so caught up with things that need to be done and by drives for success or pleasure that you have neglected the opportunity to appreciate the gift you are, and that you have in your two hands? When did you last celebrate the gift of life? Have you forgotten how mysterious and marvelous the possibilities of life are? Do you live your life as a celebration? Take some time to thoughtfully mull over those questions and ask yourself where your priorities have been. Do you dismiss or embrace the possibilities of life?
Some years ago the  theme music for the film "A Man and A Woman" carried the lyrics, "Live, Just Live for Life." Living for life is making a gift of the life you have to life itself. You live and move in the living world, and the world lives and moves in you. Life is a dialogue with life itself, and you are a key and important part of the conversation; you are the conversation; you are the journey and the path through which life moves.
A friend often asks "How are things in your world?" and her question reminds us that our world is within and outside of us, but that at the foundation of our world is our celebration of the gift of life we are. Our name and our identity is our claim on that gift, and we are invited to the dance of life every day; each moment when we are aware of it. Live, Just Live for Life. You are a gift; a gift of life to life itself.
Insight and imagination are within you.
7:59 pm edt 

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Time Off
Europeans traditionally have taken the entire month of August off to go on "holiday." Now economics are challenging that practice as bottom line business concerns pose  questions about the financial cost of losing  work and business productivity for an entire month. Europeans will have to reaffirm the value and importance of taking time off, and weigh it against the economic realities for the practice to continue.
How many of us have worked overtime for pay or for dogged dedication to our work at the expense of our leisure time? We spend our days in offices holding down jobs which may challenge and fulfill us in some ways, but taking some time off is more than taking a break from work; it is an opportunity for re-creation of our lives. In leisure we allow ourselves to re-evaluate the tracks we have been on, and explore other ways and possibilities of life. In leisure we acknowledge our own nature and need for space and time apart from commerce. Time off affords us a new lens through which to see ourselves; our lives; our priorities. It affords us the possibility of recognizing that being is perhaps as, if not more, important to our well-being than is doing. Well-being involves taking some quality time off to be.
Take some time to think about it. Take some time off. Insight and imagination are within you.
4:26 pm edt 

Friday, July 8, 2005

Soft Sell
The voice of insight is not loud and insistent, but rather a soft and inviting one. Insight comes as an awakening and awareness rather than an expectation or demand; as an invitation rather than an obligation forcing itself on one. Insight comes as a gift when one is open to receive it; it cannot be forced upon one or achieved through scientific reasoning. In fact, insight is not achieved through reasoning, but through pausing and allowing it to arise from within one's understanding.
Insight is a process uniting reason, feeling, and listening receptivity rather than a technique. Can it be taught? Perhaps the openness to it can be learned, but it is not a subject or a part of the educational curriculum, though it may be one byproduct and consequence of exceptional teaching and example.
Insight is a soft sell in a world dominated by expertise. It cannot be measured or evaluated. Insight invites awareness, reflection, and understanding. Wisdom is its consequence.
Insight and imagination are within you.
7:02 pm edt 

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Challenge Yourself
Just as you may do physical exercises, and mental games, puzzles etc., to keep yourself in shape, your sense of your self can use an ongoing opportunity and time to be more than you think you are. Actors stretch themselves emotionally to become characters far from and dissimilar from their own personal selves; they become elastic and more empathetic in the process of discovering they are more than they might have imagined. They are challenging themselves to be more.
The imagination is certainly the key to moving you to a new and more expansive sense of who you are. Your imagination envisions, invites and encourages you to follow its lead in directions you may not have acknowledged or known of before. Your imagination is a critical companion for your self development and direction. Exercising your imagination about who you are, who you want to be, how to get there and when is invaluable for a growing, developing life.
"Just pretend" a wise older woman once told her students, "and pretty soon you will feel the way you like; or be who you would like." Feelings and imagination are the guides and sources of energy to take you in the direction toward realizing your fullest potential. Challenge yourself; reconsider the value of that terrific imagination you have within you and follow your feelings where it points you. Surprise yourself.
Insight and imagination are within you.
4:55 pm edt 

Monday, July 4, 2005

Cautious Optimism
Thinking that things will turn out well is risky, and so we acknowledge that there is a chance they will not go the way we might hope in the expression of cautious optimism. We put the brakes on the positive by hedging our bet and our intention; by allowing that there are other possibilities lurking and which may cause a less positive outcome. We don't want to appear naive, and so we acknowledge that situations are more complex and complicated than just being simply optimistic.
Some years ago a friend suggested that she was "terminally naive" and never seemed to learn that cautious optimism was more "realistic" than just being positive that all would go well. She was a very kind and thoughtful, caring person who inspired others and brightened the places she worked with her outlook and belief that things would work out...that all would be ok. Her optimism helped more than one person through a day's burdens and challenges. We hope she is still terminally naive and shining her optimism for all to bask in.
Mary Martin sang a song entitled, "Cockeyed Optimist" in the musical South Pacific many years ago.  Her character acknowledged in the song that people called her immature and incurably naive for her outlook, but she knew that optimism--even cockeyed optimism-- provides more possibility than does realism, cautious optimism, or pessimism.  She didn't change her outlook. In fact, she celebrated her outlook and her optimism. Could you be more optimistic? Could you even become a cockeyed optimist? Open the possibility.
If you are naive, good for you! Insight and imagination are within you.
3:45 pm edt 

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