Monthly Archives: October 2007

A Class Divided

Watch this experiment in discrimination. The first two links took place in 1970 with a third grade class. Wow! It was simply amazing how fast the class broke down.

A Class Divided – 1

A Class Divided – 2

A Class Divided – 3

A Class Divided – 4

A class Divided – 5

We all discriminate in some fashion every day. Sometimes the discrimination is big while other times are more subtle or small. Jane Elliot’s experiment is a great lesson for all times.

Michael

Hardship

A friend of mine lost his job not long ago, in a layoff. It’s hard for him to talk about without getting angry and sad. Eventually in some conversations he gets around to the question why they didn’t see the value he brought.

I don’t have an answer to his question, and I wish I did. I would like to peer into the future and see what his next job will be, to reassure him that the future is bright, that he will be fine. He doesn’t want to hear that from me, even if it is the truth.

Which brings me to the question: how do you respond to personal difficulties? Do you look for a silver lining, live with your disappointment and try to figure out the cause in something you did or didn’t do?

Here’s a quote from Ben Stein, which I found yesterday and love: “It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated – it is finished when it surrenders.” While I don’t want to preach platitudes to my friend, I believe in Stein’s line. We cannot surrender.

How do you do that in your life? What have you survived?

List to soothe…

Monday morning I awoke with harried negative self-talk going in cirlces in my head.  There was no sense of calmness anywhere in my body or brain.  Mornings like that rarely happen but when they do, they’re paralyzing.  It’s as if the needle of the record player got stuck on a scratch on the album (I grew up when vinyl was “in”).  The negative thoughts got to the point of boiling over. I was too distracted to figure out how to get out of it.  My saving grace that morning was a phone call.  One phone conversation and the hovering grey cloud was gone, as if it had never been there. 

I wanted to make a list of ways to get out of such a space.  I knew it could help me in the future when I was too preoccupied to come up with options.  Anyone out there might want to add their suggestions as well – what distracts one person from negative thoughts might not work for another.

Here’s the beginning of the list:

1.  Talk to a friend

2. Read

3. Meditate

4. Go for a run

5. Journal

6. Wallow with the bassets

7. Sing along with a John Denver song (after all, you know all the words).

8. Dance to “Footloose”

keep the list going.

Samhain – Halloween, Feast of the Dead

This is my favourite pagan festival (if I had to choose), and the one I feel most in tune with. I have felt this ever since I was a young girl when I would dress as a witch whenever I had the opportunity. This is the time when the veil between our ancestors and the spirits is at its most transparent, especially during dawn and dusk. It is the ending of one cycle and the beginning of the new. We are entering into winter and time for darkness and barrenness, symbolised by the next rite of passage from Grain Mother to Crone and from the end of menstruation to a new cycle of inner knowing wisdom and preparing for death.

It is an opportunity to communicate and vision journey with our ancestors using the tools of divination; tarot, dreaming, visioning and through meditation. The portals are open for us to walk through if we are ready for this journey. Embrace the encroaching cold and darkness. Enjoy the space it creates, integrating all that has happened and is happening. Take time out to rest and relax and allow the change to happen without stress or anxiety. Change always brings the opportunity to start again.

RITUAL FOR SAMHAIN
Find a quiet place either in nature or the place where you feel most at peace and safe. Light a candle and thank the spirits, the goddess, the angels and spirit guides for their protection and love. Imagine being surrounded by your ancestors and loved ones that have passed on and tell them one by one what is in your heart. End old feuds or misunderstandings that can no longer be resolved in the physical world (I will be doing this ceremony with Don Juanito!!). If this ritual is done with the right intention and respect you can find peace.

This is the night for divination so consult with the tarot, runes, ogham stick or any other tool that best works for you. Be open to the messages as they may not be what we want to hear. Ask your spirit guides, angels or ancestors for help on your spiritual path. An effective way of getting in touch with your wise woman/spirit guide/guardian angel etc is to imagine going to her dwelling and asking her if she has a message for you. All you need to do is allow your self to hear the answer.

Glennie Kindred in ‘The Earths Cycle of Celebration’ suggests a beautiful Samhain ritual. When the moon has set gather with a few friends. Hold hands in a circle. Pour a spiral of salt on the floor and in the centre leave a lighted candle and some nuts. Each person walks into the centre of the spiral and leaves something from the old year and picks up a nut that represents a new seed to grow. Walk out of the spiral inspired with a new direction for the new year.

I decided to go dancing this evening rather than visit my grandpa who is very ill. I have planned to spend the day with him tomorrow and the dance was calling me. It was a really magical experience as there were a few friends dancing that I had not seen for a while. I danced for life and for my grandpa, my ancestors and for all those who have died.

When I came home Carlo, a friend and me did a Samhain ritual where we called in our loved ones and our friends and family who have died and I was able to complete with my grandpa and the Shaman. It was a powerful ceremony and I feel so blessed to be able to use the natural cycles of life to help and support me on my path.

Love and blessings

Rebekah Shaman xxx

Contrast

Today was a study in contrast. While hundreds of thousands of delirious Red Sox fans celebrated the team’s World Series victory at a raucous street parade, my office struggled with some very difficult news. I couldn’t really enjoy the thought of the victory parade, because it seemed frivolous.

This kind of contrast, between joy and sorrow, always raises the question for me how best to retain a sense of well-being when we are challenged with bad news and hardship. While I don’t always have the answer, I have learned to reach for the source of my greatest and most reliable comfort and peace.

For me that is my faith and my family. For you it could be something else, but returning to what always makes me feel better takes me beyond the circumstances in front of me. I think this is why so much of Buddhism focuses on giving up attachments. Being attached leads to suffering. I take from that the need to believe that there are enduring sources of joy. On days when they appear uncertain, I am learning to hang in there and wait for tomorrow.

My wife always makes me feel better after a day like this. She knows that words alone may not comfort me, but her presence always does. I’m hunkered down waiting for the wave to roll over.

Be Happier Now

How simple it is to see that all the worry in the world cannot control the future. How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now. And that there will never be a time when it is not now. – Gerald Jampolsky

What is holding you back from being happy now? Lack of money? Hate your job? Don’t have the relationship you are looking for? Don’t feel fulfilled? Not being who you really are? Too many responsibilities? Too much work to do? Worry too much?

Whatever your particular problem areas turn out to be, in the long run they aren’t the reason you are unhappy. In fact they are simply excuses or justifications we have made that put the responsibility for our happiness on someone or something else. It’s a lot easier to blame external forces for our unhappiness. Taking responsibility for your own happiness can be challenging for most of us. I know it was for me.

No matter what our circumstances are…. No matter what life we were born into…. No matter what our parents have done…. No matter how much money we have…. We always have the choice to be happier at any moment in time.

Make the choice to be happier one thought at a time. You really don’t have to do any more than this. Take any thought and turn it just a little more positive. Take that new thought and turn it just a little more positive. It doesn’t matter where you start from; depression, anger, frustration, optimism, hope, joy. You can do this anywhere and anyplace. No special training is needed.

Just one thought at a time. Think about it. Make the choice now.

Have a great day!

Michael

Live Inside Hope

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. – Barbara Kingsolver

Have you figured out what you hope for? Do you think about them on a daily or regular basis? Do you adjust your hopes when you become clearer about what you want? Do you share your hopes and dreams with people who are close to you?

Using your imagination in combination with what you like and dislike is all that is needed to create a new hope. A hope or dream is a positive statement of a future event. Hope and dream statements never contain the word “but”. An example of a positive hope; “I’m going to take a long drive in the mountains after I get my brand new Toyota Rav 4.” An example of a hope with a “but” statement; “I’m going to take a long drive in the mountains after I get my brand new Toyota Rav 4, but it will take a long time to save enough money.” Leave out the “buts”.

In my opinion, living inside your hope, consists of four parts:

  1. Believing in the hope.
  2. Feeling and experiencing passion when you think or talk about it.
  3. Realizing that your brain doesn’t know the difference between your future situation (your imagination) and the present.
  4. Based on 1 and 2, taking inspired action towards that hope.

Inspired action comes from having a solid and clear hope or dream. You take action towards your goal because you feel the passion of your desire. Uninspired action is simply action without being attached to a hope or dream. With uninspired action, a lot seems to be going on but nothing is really being accomplished.

I’m going for the most you can do which is living under the roof of your hopes. What about you?

Michael

Another World Series

I will stop with the baseball after this (probably). Thank you to all of you who are indulging me. But here’s the thing. I waited until I was nearly 40 to see the Red Sox win their first Series, and tonight, just three years later, I was sitting in the stadium in Denver to see them win their second Series in 4 years, in person. Because it was such a tense game, I didn’t really enjoy being there until it was over.

Now, though, all I can think is how happy my father would have been for me that I got to see it happen. He was generous about my love for the Red Sox, switching his childhood allegiances to root for my team, with the love of a convert, I should add. My mother is a big fan now, too. She especially loves Manny Ramirez.

My friends Derek and Karen made this happen for me. I can’t even describe how happy I am. But it feels great.

Waterfire

Providence Rhode Island WaterfireWaterfire is a Rhode Island tradition dating back to 1997 when it was created by Barnaby Evans. It’s classified as a sculpture but it touches a number of senses; sight, smell, sound plus the imagination.

Waterfire typically starts in late May and runs until the end of August with fires being lit every other week. The events typically last until midnight. After sunset, fire tenders in boats light the bonfires, which sit in metal baskets floating above the water. Music is piped through the entire area helping to set the mood. Vendors with tasty morsels of food can be found along the streets. Street performers are also popular.

The Waterfire events are extremely popular and thousands of people spend the evening walking along the rivers watching the fires, listening to the incredible range of music, talking with friends and enjoying the evening air.

I enjoy the play of light on the water. The shimmering reflections are very soothing in combination with the fires themselves. I also like the smell of burning wood. It’s reminiscent of a fireplace.

Erica and spend the evening with friends walking along the water’s edge before we went to dinner. Even though it was raining at the beginning, the whole experience was special.

Michael

Cloud9000 Vision

Are you happy enough?

That’s the question we asked ourselves when we first started working together. It’s the question at the heart of Cloud9000TM, the venture we have formed to improve your life and change the world. Parents, religions, teachers, entertainers, and therapists have worked to help people be happier. In spite of all this most of us keep searching, because there’s really no such thing as too much happiness.

We have great faith in the power of the Internet to connect you with people, ideas, and activities that can make you happier. Your journey and challenges are unique to you, but others like you have found paths that would guide you. Helping you find these people is the first purpose behind Cloud9000TM. The second is encouraging you to share what you know to help others be happier.

Our mission

We are building a community devoted to sharing and publicizing the best tricks, methods, and ideas everywhere in the world to make you feel great, to be as happy, energetic, and enthusiastic as you’ve ever been.

We would like to help one billion find greater happiness, one out of every six people on earth. That would be enough to change the course of history. Of course, we won’t stop at one billion. Once we have reached one billion, we will reach out to the next billion.

So, how do we get there?

The first step is to start a conversation on the web that answers the question, “What makes you happy?” We’ve recruited a group of bloggers who will scour the news, books, classes, and the web to answer the question as many ways as they possibly can.

The second step is to involve so many readers and writers with this blog, that we build an entire community of happiness seekers. As this community grows, it will discover more and better ways to create happiness, and it will become itself an engine to direct people toward events, ideas, practices, people, items that will make those people happy. Over time, the volume of these personal discoveries will become a source of hope for others who want what we have.

These are the first two steps. We have dozens more planned, but it all starts with these two.

How can you start?

Read our blogs. Share your own ideas about happiness and how to find it. Or your grandmother’s ideas or your favorite author’s. We want to hear from you today.