Monthly Archives: February 2007

American Idol

I’ve become a big fan of the show, because I’ve always loved the spectacle of humans demonstrating their tremendous skill, the outcome of their great passion and effort. There are several contestants this year, among the women, who achieve great musicality when they sing. They don’t have to sell a song because they can inhabit it.

Tonight, Melinda Doolittle brought down the house singing “My Funny Valentine.” The phrasing was great. Her stage movements were engaging and well connected to the song. Her lower register was deep and vibrant. The judges loved it, and so did I.

I’ve also been thinking about a book I just started reading, “>Living Buddha, Living Christ, by Thich Nhat Hahn. In it, Nhat Hahn, the famous Vietnamese Buddhist, describes the many similarities between the Buddha and Jesus Christ. It’s very moving to see how he brings together two towering figures who embody different traditions and makes them examples of the same great enlightenment.

Greatness inspires me. Keep singing, Idols.

When is the time right for….

When is the time right for self care?

When did or will the answer come for you? I (through my “adult-hood”) spent my time experiencing as much as I could so I could help others. I put myself in the most difficult situations in order to understand them and be able to then say “I have been there, I understand, and this is what I advise”.

But, what I found was that I lived SO MUCH for others, that I no longer WAS. I had no hobbies, I had no desires (of my own) and I had no joy. Though I had all that society thought would make a person “successful”… I was not happy.

I really learned a lot from my children. What did I want for them? What did they deserve? What did I?

I want them to have all the opportunities in front of them, and to recognize them. I want them to be thankful. I want them to be honest.

So, I learned to be honest with them about where I am (emotionally and as a person). I apologize when I have a bad minute, but still hold them accountable for their choices. And I pick my relationships with people better, cause, they may be involved with my kids.

This is in turn means that I don’t hold on to bad relationships (for me) any longer. And I take more pride in who I am.

No one can tell you what makes you happy, other than you. If you live with generosity in your heart, you are doing GREAT!! Just make sure that generosity also means FOR and TO you!!

Have a blessed day!

Listen to the Inner Voice

Rhode Island Snow 1Do you hear your inner voice? It is the most quiet of all the voices we hear in our head. It’s the first thing you hear when you need to make a decision, but if you don’t listen it can quickly be drowned out by other thoughts and justifications.

Your inner voice speaks the truth; your truth. Many believe this is your soul talking to you. Regardless of your belief, your inner voice is the most important voice to listen to you as it is speaking from your heart. Our inner voice is the pure part of our being. It is the real “us” unbound from our negative beliefs, experiences and perspectives that tend to misguide us at times.

Sometimes we argue with our inner voice as we believe we know better. See Rebekita’s post on Following the Heart. Even when what our inner voice is saying feels “right”, we still try to go off in a different direction. Our mind and ego gets in the way of what is good for us. Our inner voice is the one guiding us to Go With the Flow. It really is the voice that can be trusted.

How you can you start to listen more to your inner voice? I have used the following suggestions for several years. You may come up with others. Please share what ways you use to listen to your inner voice.Rhode Island Snow 2

  • Ask yourself an important question (maybe a decision you have to make). What is the first thing that comes to my mind? That is your inner voice.
  • Meditate. Meditating will, over time, help to reduce the extraneous voices that mask your inner voice.
  • Play the game I discuss in Going with Flow – Part 2. Try the first three ideas especially.
  • Do something that just feels “right” to you, even though your mind may be telling you something else.

If you aren’t use to listening to the quiet voice inside, give yourself some time to practice. It’s just like anything else. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. So, be patient as that attribute will also help you in the pursuit of your inner voice.

Have a great day!

Michael

Aiport stories, part 2

Well my friend Judy had a Washington airport story that made my 38 hour trip home seem like a luxury trip. She and her husband and small child were trapped in an airport two weeks ago for 3 entire days!

Despite its being a horrible story–12 cancelled flights; 4 times in a plane on the tarmac that never took off!–she reported the same experience that I did. She barely saw anyone get angry that entire time. I had the same experience this weekend in Dulles.

More amazingly, she’s just as impatient as I, and suffered a much worse ordeal, but she surprised herself by staying very calm throughout, just as I did.

I have a deep sense these days that we in our society are on the verge of a significant cultural transformation in how well we tolerate challenges and hardship. We are growing more emotionally stable and mature as a society. I believe this deeply.

We live in interesting times. Stay tuned.

The Need to Please Others

Pleasing others can be one of the most difficult endeavors we do as humans, especially when we combine that with not pleasing ourselves. Do you struggle with this hard to break behavior? As one who used to practice this activity on a daily basis, I can empathize.

When you think it about it, it’s really impossible to “please others” because ultimately every individual is solely responsible for their own feeling of well-being. No one else can cause you to feel bad nor can anyone do enough to make you feel exactly the way you want to feel. Depending on others to feel better will generally get you in trouble as those people may not be around all the time.

Why do you want to please others? Is it because you want to get their attention? Do you want someone to like you more or not be mad at you? Are you fearful for some reason and feel that pleasing others will help prevent something bad from happening to you? Are you uncomfortable with confrontation? What other reasons can you think of?

The one that I used often was that I didn’t like someone being mad at me. I felt terrible and always thought that whoever was mad at me meant that the relationship was going to end. Of course, now I know that was completely wrong and downright silly. I also hated confrontation to the point that I would do almost anything to avoid it. Placating and pleasing people were great diversions.

If you strive to please people with no regard for yourself, I strongly suggest getting some professional help. As the reasons could be varied, complex and deep, a professional could really do some good for you. If, on the other hand, you occasionally do this, start examining the reasons why. Are there certain situations that seem to bring out this behavior more than other times? What are you feeling at those moments? In other words, start investigating the conditions, situations and feelings that you are experiencing during the times you feel the need to please others. Try talking about it with a close friend. Vocalize what is going on internally.

I wish you good fortune in your pursuit of releasing your need to please others.

Michael

Following the Heart

Following the heart can be tough. It takes courage and strength to do the right thing. We don’t want to let people down, or we feel pressurised to honour our promises , even though circumstances change and different decisions need to be made accordingly.

This weekend I had a hard decision to make. Michael had come to London on business and had decided to stay the weekend so we could spend some quality time together. We were both looking forward to sharing some adventures together, as we hadn’t seen each other for a long time.

The very weekend Michael was to hang out with us Carlo and I were offered places on a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Wales. Carlo and I had been putting out in intention to go to CAT for ages and finally here was the opportunity to go with a group of students. Talks on climate change and renewable energies were organised and we would be there for three days. It was almost too good to be true – an answer to our intention – and yet it meant letting Michael down.

I was in a big dilemma. Did I follow the flow and go to CAT or stay in London and hang out with my friend? Michael was cool about it and put no pressure on me – which kind of made it worse!!! I had to look deep in my heart to do the right thing. I really WANTED to spend time with Michael and yet I knew a door had opened up that we had been waiting for and it was a unique business opportunity.

I kept seeing myself at CAT and NOT hanging out in London and so I followed the energy and the feeling, even though I felt really bad about it. I’m pleased I trusted the flow and my deepest unconscious desires because the weekend turned out to be very interesting and useful.

It was Michael’s acceptance of the situation that made it easier to make the decision and also the knowing that our relationship is strong and deep and can survive anything!! By following my heart and doing the right thing, the river is flowing ever more smoothly and more doors are opening up because of it.

What I keep on finding is that the more we follow our hearts, regardless of the consequences our paths become easier and the happier we are.

The proper way to eat a pot pie

Flo mentions David Sedaris’s instructions on how to eat a piece of pie. Reading her post brought to mind a pleasant experience I had last weekend showing my kids how to eat a chicken pot pie (turn over intact on plate, carefully mash crust into sauce, and then dig in with gusto).

Thanks to my health-conscious mother, we didn’t get much preassembled food growing up, but chicken pot pies on the nights we were getting a babysitter were the exception. To this day, I get little twinge of excitement when I make one. I guess I’m picking up remote echoes of the thrill of being left alone, or maybe it’s still the notion that this is a forbidden food.

I’ve decided to try and pass on the pot pie when the babysitter comes tradition to my kids–even though, I must admit, they get plenty of preassembled food. This last weekend was a sort of training exercise. We made them on Oscar night while my wife was at a party. The kids loved them, and I was happy to discover that the Swanson variety, at least, pairs nicely with a cabernet.

I think I’ll make more of an effort recently to collect these little rituals for our family. Maybe that’s my wish, Flo!

Wishes

In David Sedaris’ “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”, he writes about making a wish on the last bite of a piece of pie. The point of the pie. The story states you should eat your pie from the outside in, that “your last bite should be the point, and you’re supposed to make a wish on it.”

That’s news to me. My whole life I have been eating pie backward.

What I noticed about this idea is that I started thinking of all the opportunities we have created for making wishes. Falling stars. Birthday candles. Coins in a fountain or wishing well. We love to wish.

My wishes travel the galaxy – from wishing for homemade coconut creme pie to world peace. What is your most recent wish?

Flo

A Lesson in Patience

I’m not a patient person, so it was ironic that I had 24 hours worth of airport delays over the weekend to test my patience. During this vacation, I’ve quoted from two books (Happiness by Mattieu Ricard and Buddha or Bust by Perry Garfinkel). As it turns out, both discuss at length using any daily challenge to develop your skills at transforming your reaction to circumstance.

In a nutshell, each says that we have to cultivate our reactions to unpleasant experiences if we want to feel better. Usually I hate to be cooped up, and as I read one of Ricard’s chapters, I was sitting on the ground at Dulles in a snow storm for 3 hours in a completely full 30-seater plane.

Instead of my usual squirmy, self-pitying reacation, I drifted gently into a nap and then woke up and read eagerly till we pulled back to the gate. All in all, I feel more queasy about it now than I did while experiencing it.

It’s inspiring to be encouraged by people who say that mindfulness practice–steady effort to keep your focus right–helps you get beyond your own frustrations. What a great lesson.

Waiting Combined with Patience

Leaving London yesterday to head back home was a series of extended wait times combined with multiple opportunities to exercise my patience. It started off with a long one hour drive from my London Hotel to Heathrow. The choices I had were to just relax on the ride or start to get worked up.

After a quick check-in, I then had to wait in the security line which was several blocks long. My patience again received an excellent workout. Next, after getting a much needed double tall non-fat latte, I was able to wait for about 90 minutes until my plane was ready to board. More dipping into the patience bucket. I was hoping it didn’t run out.

After boarding the plane, another 45 minutes was spent waiting for the plane to take off. And then the longest wait of all; almost 8 hours to the Washington Dulles airport. I was able to keep myself busy on the plane; music, movies, reading, writing, walking around, eating and then I repeated all of those steps two more times.

We arrived in Dulles right after a major winter storm had ripped through causing massive air traffic delays and cancellations up and down the east coast. Can you guess? Yep, I had to wait in line (not too long) to find out that my flight to Rhode Island was cancelled. I look around and see several hundred people standing in line to get flights for Monday also. I walk up to the counter and the agent says she can get me on stand-by at 8:16 a.m. on Monday morning. I breathe and quickly accept.

I called for hotel reservations and had to wait for another 30 or 40 minutes for the shuttle. Bonus: I did get to stand in the snow for little while. After checking in at the Marriott, I waited for room service. After eating a light meal, I was ready for bed. Now for the funny part, the least amount of waiting was the 5 hours I got to sleep before getting up early so that I could be at the airport for 5:30 a.m. The agent insisted I get in that early even though my flight was at 8:16 a.m. You know what I’m going to say next. My flight was delayed over an hour. I spent that time eating two breakfasts and designing the entire framework for a new website I’ve been wanting to create.

The point to this long story is that I could have had an absolutely miserable time just like I saw so many people having during that long endless trip over two days. But, I’m a firm believer that wherever you are is where you are supposed to be. So, I very rarely get upset for delays, missed connections and late appointments. I used the time to do something else; explore a new retail shop, chat with a fellow traveler, read a new book, write or work on a photography project for example.

Now, after all this, I arrived at exactly the same time in Rhode Island as my business partner Nat, his wife and daughter. They had been flying from California since Saturday and had experienced 36 hours of delays. What a pleasant surprise at the end of a very long journey to see a very good friend and his family!

Make the most of the time you have. It’s your choice to have fun with what life throws at you. Remember, your attitude is the only thing you really have control over.

Michael