Monthly Archives: April 2007

“Into Great Silence”

The April 16 New Yorker magazine has a short item in “The Talk of the Town” about German filmmaker Philip Groning’s 3-hour documentary about Carthusian monks, called “Into Great Silence.” The movie portrays–largely in silence–the lives of monks in the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France.

The film has become so popular at the Film Forum art movie house in Manhattan that the theater has extended it’s engagement indefinitely and now brings a Carthusian monk, named Father Michael Holleran, to the theater to host a Q&A session after some screenings. Father Holleran no longer lives in a monastery, but he spent 19 years in monasteries, in which speaking was only allowed a few hours each week.

After the movie screenings, members of the audience ask questions about what life is like in the monastery, “You guys are supposed to be celibate, right?” It’s fascinating to me, and encouraging, that so many New Yorkers want to see what it’s like to be a monk with a vow of silence. When I was in my twenties, becoming a monk appealed greatly to me, though never enough that I really considered going forward with it.

Still, the thought of retreating from the onslaught of words, messages, and intrusion on our thoughts and plans brings peace just in the thought of it. Our words, so much of the time, fall short of what we need them to construct. It would be nice, I sometimes think, if we didn’t have any responsibility but to do things, without speaking about them.

It would be nice. Maybe some day.

Dealing with Stress at Work

Last week, work was unusually stressful for me. It was unusual because I rarely get stressed at work. I almost never get to the point of feeling anxious, somewhat panicked, harried and to top it off, have trouble getting a restful sleep.

I looked back at my schedule and counted 39 meetings and I had only worked about 2 hours on Friday. Granted, during some of the meetings, work was actually accomplished. But with that many, they all run together and many small tasks don’t get completed. In addition, there were numerous small “fires” or crises that occurred on Wednesday and Thursday, furthering the feeling of not getting done all that needed to be accomplished.

By late Thursday afternoon, I was not doing well. So, I stopped and looked at everything I had to do and used the age old technique of prioritization. It might help to understand that I was leaving for vacation to Edinburgh, Scotland on Friday so I had a lot to do. After making the list, I had to release the need to complete all of the remaining items that would be left undone. My other option was to stay up all night. I didn’t choose the later.

Combining these two techniques allowed me to dramatically reduce my stress level by 9:00 p.m. which permitted me to get a good night sleep before my trip.

When you have too much to do, pick the most critical and do those. The others tend to work themselves out.

Michael

Wow… how we all relate… :)

It’s so amazing. I struggled with I didn’t have a place to just speak. To just be. … Since my Dad passed.

And at the same time, I was so blessed for how well and open we became on our conversations as he got close to passing.

Be and feel blessed for all the times that you get. Give yourself credit. If I hadn’t have been the person I was…. if my parents had not have been who they were…. if I had not have gone through what I had… (oopppps…. maybe here we should introduce…. what I chose…)……

I would not have had those moments to be thankful for.

I have had the most wonderful blessings of being there… being the one that so many have talked to at the end of their lives…. at the moments that they had to make hard choices about life…. :)

As I know those of you that have and may read what I write…. I have struggled… about why or how … or mad.

But in my initial writings. I believe in there is the power of choice. And though initially I also believed (definitively if not self)…. that you also had a choice in how you felt…. I now also know that you don’t always have a choice about how you initially feel. What action you choose as a result…. is character. How you deal with how you felt is self. “Why did you feel that way?”….. “What does that mean to me?”…

Then…… what you do from there…. that is the blessing.

We don’t all come here with a text book. As we get older, we say that same statement about our kids…. we say that about being parents. It is every decision, every response, every moment that helps us be More ourselves.

Isn’t it awesome? In the most amazing definition of the word awesome?

I have never been afraid of awesome. I have celebrated it. What I value in what I share with all of you…. is me, learning how to celebrate the awesome that is me. I had always lived my life for others. Proving their “opinions” about the value of others wrong…. showing people a better way… finding a better / more effient way… making sure that I had my life “paid” for.

What you have seen of late is my words about … hhhmmm…. how do I do what I want for them…. my kids. And… in turn…. I wanted so much for them…. I am finally… finding me.

I can guarantee… we all came here with a desire. For this experience…. we were going to change something. We also, (once we changed that) were going to DO something for ourselves. Experience something.

I think the biggest challenge is…. when do we believe we have done the first?…. did we accomplish it? The thing we meant to do initially?…. YES. YES. YES. Just choosing to be born did that. Just choosing to live does that. Just choosing to read and research does that. Just wanting to do and learn more about self does that.

There are times every moment of every day that you can feel guilty (oh…. and I do that allot as of late) for not doing enough. But… I can also say I am thankful…

I am thankful for the hard work I put in, for being who I was and am… for the fact that because of all that I got my severance…. I got the time to heal and have money to pay my bills. And…. I did and am enough, I was asked to be apart of this site. To have the chance to talk to all of you.

Have a most blessed day. And if you EVER think you aren’t enough, just know, that because you are reading these blogs… then you are. You are looking for more. For a reason… for a truth… for someone like you.

For every moment that you question… anything. Really… trust in that is life. That is truth. That is a blessing.

NOT… a reason for guilt. Do something with it. Even if that means you feel a little better about yourself tomorrow for questioning…. for looking for an answer. You did something. Celebrate the fact you did something by looking.

Have a bless’ed day. For all of us that blog here, and comment here and started this site, every one of us is entitled to life, happiness and peace.

Encouragement

I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself over the last few days, but my friend Gilda found a great way to pick me up. She reminded me that electrons need to gather precisely the right amount of energy before they can make the leap to the next level–the quantum leap, in other words.

So, she said, think of yourself as waiting where you are to gather the energy to make the leap to the next level.

It sounds simple, but it was exactly what I needed to hear to believe that there was a good reason why things seem to be the way they are right now. I’m so grateful to have friends and family who know me well enough to say just the right thing. To be understood and reassured is both a relief and a joy.

If you know of anyone who needs this kind of pick-me-up from you right now, please pick up the phone or sit down at your keyboard and let them know. They may be desperate for it.

I was.

J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton

I just bought the 2006 CD called, The Road to Escondido, which is a collaboration between J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton. It’s surprising that these two amazing musicians haven’t worked together before. Especially, since two of Eric Clapton’s early hits, Cocaine and After Midnight, were written by J.J. Cale. I’ve read that they have been good friends for a long time.

The 14 tracks on this CD are full of soul, blues, jazz and the special honky-tonk of J.J. Cale (wikipedia article). I think my favorite track is Hard to Thrill, which is one of the three songs not written by J.J. Cale. Eric Clapton (wikipedia article) and John Mayer wrote Hard to Thrill, a laid back bluesy number. Some other tracks I really like are: Danger, Missing Person, When This War is Over, Dead End Road, It’s Easy, Anyway the Wind Blows, Three Little Girls, Didn’t Cry Sister, and Last Will and Testament. Hmmmm. That’s almost the entire CD.

Their music is a great boost to my happiness level. Their collaboration is long overdue but much appreciated by me. I’ll be listening to this CD for quite some time. I suggest you take a listen for yourself.

Michael

Priorities and college admissions

Today’s New York Times has a great column by Michael Winerip about the interviews he conducts in his New York suburb for applicants to Harvard College. Winerip, a Harvard graduate, describes the remarkable accomplishments of the young people he interviews, comparing them with his own at their age, and he marvels over the fact that he got into Harvard, while these more accomplished young people almost certainly will not.

He draws several conclusions, but the most interesting are that he now recognizes there are several ways to have a meaningful, satisfying life and the related observation that joy in pursuing interesting goals is its own reward.

The accomplishments of these people are varied and staggering: one spends the summer conducting university research for NASA on weightlessness in mice, another plays three instruments, composes his own music, and is writing a cookbook. Meanwhile, the author profiles his own children, who won’t get into Harvard, as being interesting, satisfied people.

He concludes his article with a run on the beach following an interview, where he runs into one of his non-Harvard bound sons. The son is surfing, alone, on a beautiful winter day, and they both agree it’s a beautiful day.

This view of achievement being just one aspect of a satisfying life really hits home for me. I love the notion that finding the path and goals that are right for you is the true mark of a meaningful life.

Confusion

I often have Saturdays like today: I wait all week to tackle something I really want to do (clean up my study, write a poem, do a little work when there’s no time pressure), and instead I fritter away the time napping and watching TV. At my age that can seem like a giant game of chicken with one’s future.

People I know or used to know have achieved great things, while I’ve been treading water, and it’s taken me the better part of two years to come to terms with that. Even so, taking the step forward requires knowing what that step is.

Really this is about figuring out how to take uncertainty and transform it into decisive action. Hard work is one approach, and so is understanding what you really care about. It could be reading, or planting a garden, or taking a walk alone. It could be social–planning a dinner party, playing a sport, going on a trip with friends. Tonight all I really want is to go to sleep and wake up with a resolution to do something meaningful tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

What’s your secret for doing that? I’m sure lots of people would like to know.

Fanning the Flame

When our light is shining bright, we have the opportunity to make a difference by fanning the flame of another whose light may be dim. – Unknown

I’ve been thinking a lot about Kim’s post, Hang On To Your Dreams. I believe many people have given more to others than themselves, similar to what Kim describes with cultivating your own dreams. As she states, when we only give to everyone else, our “cup” runs out, our light becomes dim and we feel empty inside.

The best thing we can do for others is to have a full cup, to follow our dreams and to give deeply to ourselves. As the quote says, we only have the opportunity to fan another’s flame if our light is shining bright. Our best example to our children is to show them how to be a bright and shiny light. When we give from a place of inner fulfillment, it means so much more to the receiver and we have more to give.

Fill your cup up. Take care of yourself first. Follow those dreams. Love yourself now. The world will be a better place for it.

Michael

ABC’s – Keep trying….

Keep trying, no matter how hard it seems, it will get easier.

Well this goes along well with yesterday’s “Just Do It”. One thing that has become very, very obvious to me over the past few months, is that the misfortune (bad health, home repairs, bug problems, broken relationships) that you may be facing now, didn’t just happen overnight.

Things that are happening to you now (positive or negative) were from a slew of other things previous to now. It may just well be that you are now ready to “fix” and face those issues. You know that saying, “You will only get that which you can handle”.

So, as difficult as a situation may appear, be thankful for the fact that you are now getting it. Can you imagine what kind of bug problem you could have if you left it alone for two months? Didn’t see the evidence that you had a problem for two more months? (Yeah… creepy).

So, as bad as things may appear, get your gloves on, and no matter how hard it seems now, it will most definitely be better once you take the positive steps forward and just do something!! :) (like the tie in?)

Have a blessed day!

ABC’s – Just do it.

Just do it. Yep, sounds easy.

Really think there should be a lot more said here for those of us that may be in a bad space. Just do it when said to a teenager can take on a whole new concept depending on who is stating it. :)

And to a parent that just wants to fly off the handle at a child that is driving them crazy. Or the person that is on the outside of their conscious selves.

Though this is sound advise and most of us understand the concept that is being put forth, we should also understand that it isn’t always that easy. I say, just make sure you do something about it every day. Take a step forward every day. Just do something with a positive momentum every day.

This could be as simple as you brushed your hair today instead of just pulling it into a pony tail. That you did the dishes today instead of just rinsing them and putting them on the counter. That you did the laundry instead of going down and buying a new pair of socks.

So… how about we write the more like “Just do something about it today.” :) A clearer space, a clearer mind, a clearer path. Remember, just doing it doesn’t mean to do it all today… nor that everything you “may” be thinking about is what you should be doing. Just make sure that what ever you are doing is in a positive direction and do something about or with it every day.

It takes a lot longer to replace a bad habit with a good one than it did to put the bad habit or thought in place originally. And some of these thoughts and habits have been there a LONG TIME. Be easy with yourself and remember to do a JIG for all that you do do!!!!

Have a blessed day!