Odin on the Move, and I'm Awestruck

When I go outside, my two yuppies, the two small dogs I have (with big cajones, they think) run to the end of the pasture barking away, trying to incite a riot with the neighbors' dogs. Today, all their bravado worked, and both neighbors' dogs came a-running. Brown, black, yellow and white big dogs came into Odin's pasture to meet the challenge of my mouthy, little dogs. But the one who made it an awesome thing to see was Odin who ran through those dogs and scattered them everywhichway.

It was one of those moments that unfolded very, very quickly. I had my camera bag in hand and rushed to whip it out. I managed to get three photos - far apart in terms of how the action unfolded. I'll be damned if I could remember how to set the camera to take a series of photos, so I had to wait each time for it to save and reset itself. While waiting, I'd watch Odin in all his glory and I caught myself, once, forgetting the camera!

Oh, the sight was breathtaking, heart stopping and exhilarating! That gigantic horse is raw power in the flesh! You feel the ground rumble with his pounding hooves!

Whistling for the dogs to come back, Odin came with them, and the above photo is his return to me. He was still head high and snorting and panting, and the dogs weren't too keen on settling down yet either. But one hand on Odin's shoulder and all four of his feet planted into the ground. His head was way up, he was blowing hard through his nose, but his feet never moved again until I took my hand off of him.

It was an extremely joyous moment for me, filled with wonder that one touch of my hand can control this 1,400 pound horse! I had to hold my hand on his shoulder, his head four feet above mine, for a lot longer than the situation required, just to triple-check that his feet were, in fact, in my control. Those feet never moved!

When I took my hand off his shoulder, Odin circled one more time, at a much slower trot, and came back to me. His own biggest defense of his feet and his ability to outrun most things serve him well, but mom here can control the dogs that drive him nuts! Soothed and calmed just as quickly as he was hot and bothered, Odin's head goes down and he's back to grazing.

The moment was over. But, my heart is still racing!

I put the series of photos on Out in the Back Yard, if you'd like to see them.

A Few of My Favorite Thoughts

For the most part, I live in the moment. I suppose some would say that I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal, but with three moments in every second, I do a lot of living!

I've been thinking of making a list of my favorite things, but with living in the moment like I do, it would be an endless list filled with the coolness of each and every rush of whatever-it-is-I-feel-at-the-moment. I know you're secretly thankful that I can't type that fast!

So, to put a different spin on the list a bit, I'll try to list only the thoughts that capture me for more than a few moments at a time. These are in no particular order, and they are all far from separate from each other.


I spent a good portion of my life fighting the fact that I was born with an overactive neural system. My mind is overactive, my physical senses are overactive, and so are my emotions. Whatever it is that I feel, physically or emotionally, I feel intensely, deeply and to the core. At first, I figured out it was a lot less complicated to feel what I feel and stay true to those feelings, inside and out. For me to do anything against what I feel throws me into an incomprehensible state of chaos filled with anger and depression. To maintain any kind of internal balance, I finally figured out that thinking and feeling are separate, yet two inseparable aspects of the same thing: me. So now I give both equal air-time and all's well in paradise.

Being in the Moment

Grabbing hold of that sense of being meant that I no longer had to be a slave to it. Taming my brain allows me to experience everything, every little thing, that floats in and out of my awareness. Carl Jung would call this tapping into higher levels of consciousness, which equates to the Ancient Wisdom's tenet of mastering the physical to attain the spiritual. It is an incredibly peaceful and joyous way of being!

Being a Part of Everything

This is perhaps one of the most astounding aspects of life that there is. Acknowledging everything makes me a part of everything! Everything is one! There is no need to suffer loneliness or fear! It is all one!


You've heard it said that an alcoholic or drug addict or overweight person can't "get well" until they accept the fact that they have a problem. That is just the tip of a magnificent iceberg! As you can tell since it's blatantly obvious, I am an introvert, another one of Carl Jung's concepts. I look inside, identify what I feel and navigate through life true to what I feel. Sometimes, I am extremely introverted and it takes more than a crowbar to pry me out of my little world. Since I am a part of everything, it hardly crosses my mind to spend more of my time out in the big world. I accept me for who I am.

The opposite, an extrovert, navigating through life in the big world, will instead seek approval and acceptance from that big world with little to no internal influence or acknowledgment of his own feelings and thoughts. Very social and outgoing, an extrovert's being is symbiotic with others. Being is belonging. When the sense of belonging is present, so is acceptance of self.

Pretty cool, huh? The trick is to be both introverted and extroverted!


I used to have an incredibly hard time with the concept of "happy." For the most part, I never felt "happy." I still don't! I have surpassed it, threw it out the window, tossed it in the circular file as inconsequential. There is something much more, completely tremendous and worth far more. That is joy. Joy is feelingthingkingbeing all at once and it is infinite!

Joy is the feeling of complete comprehension and understanding.

Joy is how a good book speaks to your heart.

Joy is the music that sends you flying with it.

Joy is the art that speaks of wonders.

Joy is being with another person, an animal, or with yourself so totally that there are no boundaries.

Joy is being in it, but not of it. One foot is on the ground while the rest soars!

Joy is beyond faith and into knowing.

Joy is being.

Joy is being in the moment with everything.

I am amazed by the bond that has developed between my animals and I. I have become "quiet" enough to "hear" Odin, my horse. He communicates so many things to me. His eyes will change ever so subtly to reflect comfort, irritation, wariness, contentment and playfulness. He will nuzzle my nose or cheek (talk about razor burn!) or put his eye right close to mine as his way of saying he is enjoying my company. My dogs stay within feet of me, sometimes making it a bit difficult to leave the center of their circle. Like a litter of pups, they lay with me all night, snuggle up to the crook of my knees or up against my back. Odin and the dogs become pissy every morning as I leave for work, and all come running when I come home.

Out in the big world, whether at work or covering a story, I enjoy every moment, even if it does take a bit of prying to get me out and about. I interact with everyone, from a met eye and smile to an intense conversation. I don't think in terms of liking or disliking anybody, and accept all as they present themselves to me.

There is even a sense of joy in missing my son. He feels confident and capable to build his life. I miss him terribly, but accept my diminished role in his life.

There is a great joy in writing, whether it be to communicate news or share my thoughts and photos with you on my blogs. My hope is to be able to capture or speak of something that gives you a moment of peace.


Be Careful What You Wish For

Around here, there are all sorts of messages on display in front of every church you pass. On my drive home from work tonight, I saw one that said:


Lets take a good look at this one:

"America...." is the only country on the planet with a dire need right now? How humiliatingly selfish and narcissistic that sounds! Is it any wonder the rest of the world doesn't think as highly of us as we do?

"...needs..." is a loaded word. It implies total helplessness and dependence on ...whatever... might be pushed down everyone's throats as a necessity. It speaks volumes about a people so wanton and spoiled as to call their desires needs instead of the wants that they are. Most of all, it is a gigantic insult to every single one of us because it loudly screams that not a single one of us is capable of anything but selfishness.

"...the live..." can only be a desperate hope that whatever can "save" us may not be. Ya think? Here's a newsflash for you: If you're reading this, you are alive and well and fully capable of taking responsibility for yourself! There is nothing outside of "us" - you, I, or anyone else - that can, could or should take on your responsibility. Sorry Charlie, it's up to you to quit the passive-aggressive attitude toward your own life.

"...savior." Isn't it most likely that whatever anyone or anything does for you, it wouldn't be good enough anyway? The world still naively thinks that our current president is a messiah and savior! If that isn't proof enough that faith can't hold a candle to knowing, nothing is. That man is about as much of a messiah and savior as Charles Manson!

Your answers, your truths, your well-being and your strength is within you. Don't go looking outside yourself for something that cannot be. All you need is within you. Take the leap and look within.

Otherwise, heed the warning: Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it.


Humble Pie, Etc.

Like I said in my last post, you have to keep your camera with you! You just never know what beautiful and magnificent things you'll see. "No sense cryin' over spilt milk," as the saying goes.

I keep my camera with me at all times. It's always sitting right next to my "NEWS" notepad with a pen stuck through the wire spiral along the top. The one time I didn't take my camera and notepad with me to work, which I leave in the truck all day, I was asked to cover a story and had to rip pages out of a notepad at work so I'd have something to write on. To be honest, I don't remember if I missed a photo op, but there's no sense in having the pad without the camera!

I had my camera with me today, as always, and spotted this gorgeous, bright red, bright yellow beaked bird. I assume it was a cardinal. It had landed on a wooden fence not far from the trunk of a sappy pine tree with a perfectly neutral background. I sat there in my truck just admiring that picture-perfect moment and kept thinking to myself, "if I turn my head around to look for and grab my camera, the bird will fly off and I'll lose track of him."

That bird sat there for a long time, long enough for me to have grabbed that camera, gotten it out of its bag, set it up and take probably 10 shots before he took off to land in the tree branches above me. He stayed there awhile too.

No way was I going to continue to let the chance to grab a shot slip by again! But, before I could get the camera out of the bag and set up, the wind kicked up. I aimed and clicked the shutter about the time all the leaves and branches hid the bird. The result is above. Sob.

Before the camera could save the photo to the memory card and return the control back to me, the bird flew off to who knows where.

So, my second piece of advice, right after "keep your camera with you at all times," is "take the danged thing out of its case already!"

Excuse me while I go choke down some humble pie... and mop up the spilt milk!

Proof that Life is Amazing

Karen, a good friend of mine, bought herself a new camera. It's a good camera with all the bells and whistles and it takes good photos. On a trip down to Little Rock, she traveled her usual route that takes her through a mountainous area and a lake. Sitting on this tree is this huge, bald eagle. She didn't have her camera with her.

Subsequent trips down the same road past the same spot and she saw the eagle again. She didn't have her camera with her.

"You need to take your camera with you everywhere," said I, "I do, it's with me 24/7. You just never know what you'll see."

Taking my advice, she took her camera with her for, oh, about a week and a half, and didn't see the eagle again. Not wanting to carry it around or leave it in the truck, she stopped taking her camera with her. Of course, she saw the eagle again. She didn't have her camera with her.

Karen calls me and says, "I am so pissed! You told me to keep my camera with me and I saw that eagle again!" She was furious.

Now, Karen had been hauling around this tiny purse stuffed to the gills and overflowing. It was a sorry little thing with all its stretched stitching. So I suggested she buy herself a bigger bag that can hold her camera and all the stuff she had stuffed into her little purse.

That did the trick. Several trips past that same place and no eagle, but Karen had her camera with her. She sent me this photo late last night. The photo is proof that life is amazing - and worth keeping your camera with you always.


Do You Hear Ringing? I Don't!

It's been many years since I've been so revved up to go to work in the mornings. I love this job! It's non-stop and no two things are ever the same. I get so involved in it all that I have to be yelled at to take lunch, and yelled at to leave at the end of the day. Ask my boss; she'll tell you!

Mondays are the busiest days of the week. There's a ton of the back work to do on top of an endless line of people to see. What doesn't get done on Mondays has no choice but to wait until the next day - except for the stuff that absolutely has to be finished on Mondays.

On top of all the stuff needing to be done, the phone rings off the hook. I can't justify answering the phone when I have someone at my desk that has been waiting for a long time just for me to run through their stuff with them that takes all of three minutes to do before I send them on their merry way. When the phone rings, I let it go to voicemail, so I end up with an overloaded inbox a few times a day and no time to return any of the calls.

Today, I scooted out the door on time. I had to get away from that danged phone! And, I had to reserve some of my sanity for the rest of the very busy week ahead. Some new initiative, something to do with a stimulus this or that, is hitting us on Thursday and all next week too. It's so big that my boss changed my working hours for the last half of this week and all of next week. All I can think is, "uh oh!"

I wasn't in my truck long enough to even turn the key in the ignition when my cell phone rings. OK, short and quick call. I had to answer a quick question, then goodbye. I made it home in silence - whew - and sat down at my desk when the phone rings again. This time, it was a long and enjoyable conversation with a long lost friend. Before I could wrap things up, the call waiting dings in my ear with another call. This one is an angry friend who needed to vent. Before I could hang up with her, another call waiting beep and another call.

All at once! Back to back! Oh...My...Word! I haven't had so many phone calls in one day in years! Wanna bet it rings at least one more time tonight?

On one hand, I love it. I love that I've been able to talk with just about everyone I know today. On the other hand, I wish I wasn't so ready to toss my iPhone out the freaking window!


Thinking About Addiction

Of all the disorders that I've learned and subsequently had a hand in treating, addiction is one that I just can't get my mind around. Yet addiction is the one thing I keep running into, and I turn tail and run for the nearest exit just as soon as I find one.

I think I have the makings of an addictive personality, as the books call it, based just on the fact that I've smoked cigarettes most of my life and have no wish to quit. With that deduction made, I've managed to stay within control or completely away from other addictive substances. Either I'm damned lucky or not an addictive personality at all since I was successful always. Except for cigarettes. The one time I did try to quit, it was the physical withdrawal that won. My only saving grace is the fact that nicotine is not a mind-altering substance.

(Wait a sec while I light a cigarette and ponder where I'm going with this. Ah, there... Nope, that's not doing it. I need caffeine. I already finished a pot of coffee, but there is Pepsi in the fridge. Got it. In a few minutes my eyes will pop open and my brain will kick in. Ahem. Where was I?)

I always run into people with serious addictions. I must be an addict magnet. I once dated a man for 9 months before I figured out that he was a serious alcoholic. He managed to hold off until lunch to start drinking, go back to work, go back to the bar after work and stay there until the bar closed for the night. Every day. I think he was able to hold off until lunch because he was still drunk from the night before. On Christmas Day, he came over without having had any alcohol, and by 3 p.m. he was pale and shaking like a leaf. He was a Vietnam vet with untreated PTSD. The VA hospital psychologist told me that with the dual diagnosis of PTSD and alcoholism, the man was a bomb waiting to explode, and when he did, he'd take out everyone around him with him.

What always catches me by surprise is how well addicts can hide their addiction and go through day to day life without missing too many beats. Well, at least until that monkey brings them down. I was never around one close friend of mine I've known since high school when she was hooked on some substance or other. She'd disappear when the claws got her. I came to describe her as one who just has to look at a drug to become addicted. Another friend told me she was an alcoholic only after she had been sober a number of years. I think both were genetically predisposed.

Maybe I couldn't see these addictions because the people were close to me. Lately, a friend of mine has taken on the care of two kids because their mother is in prison for intent to deliver methamphetamine. This woman has an air-tight story she spouts out almost word-for-word every time she opens her mouth. She's very well practiced with that story, and that's the first thing that sent red flags off in my head. She brags about her addiction and is still proclaiming innocence on the intent to deliver, even though she was caught red handed.

This woman's poor children are the victims in this story. Both seem to have psychiatric disabilities that have netted Social Security Disability - for the oldest, so far. It seems a bit convenient that the woman's children provide a solid income with SSD and child support along with a cornucopia of prescription drugs that they don't always get even though the scripts are always filled. Mama went into rehab three years ago and just got her kids back from DHS less than a year ago, yet she continued on using and dealing right from her home until she was finally arrested and put in prison.

That extreme state of rock bottom is way beyond my ability to empathize with. I have no way of comprehending it. Because I can't, I have no advice, no words of wisdom and no understanding to offer. No, I'm not perfect or squeaky-clean or lily-white myself, yet I can't relate to that level of selfishness no matter how hard I try to imagine it. Without hitting rock bottom, without coming very close to total self-destruction, addicts don't have the incentive to come clean, to honestly face life for what it really is.

That must be a very difficult path to walk. And that's as close to understanding as I can get. It's shameful for me not to be able to find a way to help. Do you have any words of wisdom?


Right Around Sunrise

Dawn is an amazing time of day. The night creatures have already tucked in, and the day creatures are slowly coming awake. This morning, it's raining a rare slow, soft rain with no threats; a rarity here in Arkansas. As it just became light enough to see, I looked out the window to find that Odin had some company. I had to zoom to the max and hope that the low light was enough for my camera to capture Odin's Kodak moment.

The bird made all sorts of motions. His head would go down then back up. He'd stretch forward and then back. I think it took him a bit to figure out which end of the horse to talk to because at first, he was doing his theatrics at Odin's back leg. When Odin turned his head to look at the bird, never breaking the rhythm of grazing, the bird hopped up toward his head to converse. Odin's ear was aimed at the bird, listening away.

The bird flew off, but not until he had flown a circle around Odin first. Well met.

Two creatures so diverse are able to get along without fear, anxiety, mistrust or pompous arrogance.

Why is it that people can't do the same?


Back to Normal Again

What an interesting two days! I enjoyed myself thoroughly!  As promised, here's a photo of the state capitol building in Little Rock. I'll tell you more about it in a bit.

The training was the best I've ever been to. It was fast-paced, filled to the gills with much needed info, and once I figured out how to sit still for hours upon hours, it was a great time. I met some interesting people doing the job from different parts of the state, and I learned even more from them.

What I enjoyed the most was reveling in the incredible sights to see. I managed to get myself lost in downtown Little Rock both days, and I didn't mind a bit. The city itself isn't that big, and it's surprisingly beautiful in a city sort of way. The bright blue sky and the gorgeous day highlighted the fact that the city is very clean.

What tickled me pink was finally taking my camera out of its bag and snapping a few shots. No, they're not good ones, they're not even interesting ones, and that is what I'm tickled about. It's a new challenge!

The photo above is the back side of the capitol building. Oh, I wish I had the time to get a shot of the front! But, this is where the meat of the capitol is, and where I spent the last two days. Behind the capitol is the capitol complex. The grass area is the center of a large oval road with several large buildings holding all the different government entities space neatly around that oval. There are many more buildings of even more government behind this main oval. I walked to the middle of the grassy area and took a bunch of (uninteresting) photos of the various buildings.

Judging by the way the photos came out, I need a decent wide-angle lens for my camera! It would've taken a half hour walk to get around to the front of the capitol building and even more time to place myself in a way that would get me good angles. The challenge comes with the fact that the city of Little Rock comes right up to the front of the building! There just wasn't enough time to play during our lunch. I learned that the capitol building is a small-scale version of the White House, and that it has been used in several different movies.

One thing's for sure... It's very, very difficult to sit inside when there's so much to see! I'll have to take a trip down to Little Rock for a day just to take photos.

Someday. Tomorrow, it's back to my normal schedule. Sigh.


Training Can Be a Good Thing

I'm scheduled for basic training for the next two days.

No, it's not basic training for the military. That would be one instance where "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" would apply!

Close, but no cigar.

I work for the government, so I go for training after I've been on the job and have a bit of experience under my belt already. The same thing happened the last time I had a government job. I was sent to a week's worth of basic training after I'd done the job for over a year that time. At least this time, I've only been doing the job for 3 months. This time, I do have a set of questions I hope to get answered. In that way, it's good, and I'm looking forward to the training.

I wish I never had that experience of going to training well after I was deep in the job. I mean, that training had to be the most ridiculous thing I ever had to sit through. Think of Lance Armstrong going to a training at this point in his career that starts out with a tricycle with training wheels and you'll get the idea.

The worst part may be waking up much earlier to do the hour-long drive down to Little Rock. Usually, the alarm is set for 5 a.m. and that's early enough! That gives me a good half hour to whack the snooze before I actually do have to get out of bed. But, I can only justify setting it back a half hour to 4:30, so I'll have to waive that snooze whacking time.

You see, the biggest difficulty of this training is the parking around the state capitol. There isn't any. The half-baked solution is to park in a nearby hotel parking lot and take a shuttle over to the capitol. 

OK, I'm losing some precious sleep time, I'm wasting hours of travel time, I'll have to suffer through bumper to bumper traffic and two days worth of being in a city on top of doing the unthinkable and riding down with someone who I have no idea how she drives!

Oh, it just all sounds so risky. I have no medical or life insurance! Couldn't I just write an email with my questions? Couldn't I just stay at my nice, safe desk?

I'll have my camera with me as always. That's the good thing. Maybe I'll come away with some decent photos of the capitol of Arkansas. Yeah, that would be cool...


The Weekend is Over

The weekend is over already. Dang. I was close, very close to feeling rested. That is a huge sign that the last week was a bit on the much side!

The shooting in Binghamton, NY a week ago Friday, played out as you'd expect; it was no surprise. The shooter was a paranoid schizophrenic, though undiagnosed as most are at the low end of the economic scale. It's not unthinkable that a man with that way of thinking coupled with a marked lack of ability to communicate did what he did. It's just another gigantic reminder of what happens when people fall through society's cracks.

I called Nadia and Mike like I spoke about before, yet I didn't quite feel relieved about it all. Ironically, two weeks before, Jeff, my old bass player, had left a voice message saying he needed to talk with me about our lead guitar player, Todd. Well, I called him back several times and left messages, but didn't hear back from Jeff. Finally, last weekend, I called and he actually answered.

Oh, it was so good to talk with Jeff! Todd, Jeff and I played together for 7 years, and we were close friends. The band broke up when we all had it in our heads to go different directions. Shit happens. Music is so emotional anyway, and a band can only live as long as the members' emotions are going the same way,. A good friend of ours died on fateful 9/11, and though the three of us hadn't been in touch, didn't even know if the others would be there, we came back together and stood together the same way we had when we played. Yes, our ties were heartfelt strong ones.

So when Jeff answered, it was very good to talk with him again, and we chatted away as always. I had to ask him what he had to tell me about Todd, and in a flippant way, I asked Jeff, "So what's going on with Todd. He ain't dead, is he?" Jeff immediately said "Yes."

Silent, not able to speak, Jeff went on. Todd had fallen to the floor in his kitchen and couldn't get up. He called his ex-wife to come over to help him, and he died in her arms. He had a massive heart attack. Todd was 50, and as an avid bike racer, in very good shape.

That was what I knew was still hanging out there. That was why I had no relief after finding out everyone was OK from the tragic shooting. It took Jeff a lot to tell me about Todd's passing. That Jeff told me when I was already anticipating grief was...eerie.

The world will be a much quieter place now without Todd's guitar.

A few weeks before Jeff left his message on my voice mail, I tried to find an old high school friend of mine. With a weird name like Janan, Google shouldn't have a hard time with finding her. But, nothing. Google failed! Now, I have a Facebook account like most do, but never could figure out the point of it. Last weekend, I thought to check Facebook, and there was a message from Janan!

Facebook held another surprise too. Burt Wilson is working on another book! I've been reading his book, Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century since it was delivered. When I get to the last page, I go right back to the beginning and read it again. Every time I read it, it's like the first time. Something different, something new, something profound hits me with every reading. I have a pile of books to read, and the stack keeps growing, but I can't put down Ancient Wisdom.... Whatever will I do when Burt's new book gets here?

The weekend is over, and I'm not ready for that yet. I spent the weekend, after writing my last post, working on Out in the Back Yard. I'd upload a new template, tweak it, get it just about set only to find one or two things that just didn't work for me. I think I went through 4 of them until I finally settled on the one that's there now. Sifting through all the code, arguing with strange things happening as a result of one tiny, little thing that was off until, finally, it came together. Let's just say that the template is so modified that it ain't nothin' like it started out bein'! But, going through all that got my mind out of the whirlwind it was in. And, that is my relief.

Yep, the weekend is over. I've got a very busy week coming up with stories to cover and trips to Little Rock for training on top, so I won't be hashing all this over and over in my mind anymore.

Tomorrow is a new day...


Thinking Out Loud

I once said that I have a 3-track mind. On one track is music. Track #2 is thinking through something or other. The third track is the one that's holding the conversation with you.

Right now, tracks 1 and 2 are dominating, with a guitar hook/intro lick that just won't cycle through to the rest of the song so I can figure out what song it is, and the thoughts are flying through my brain. They all seem to be heading in the same direction, kind of, and since there's no one around this morning to engage in engaging conversation, I have to write to slow things down a bit! Track #3 in action, here ya go!

That's an up-close-and-personal step or two in my shoes. I've always wondered whether this was 'normal' or whether anyone else had a mind like mine to deal with. Anybody? Oh, come on now; be brave and 'fess up...

I've been thinking about thinking since I found the dictionary definition of matter: the indeterminate subject of reality; especially : the element in the universe that undergoes formation and alteration : the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities. intrigued by what it means. It is so powerful, so foundational and so real, yet it exists only potentially. It cannot begin to manifest in the objective without Spirit or the thought that is Psychic Energy.

Yeah, I know. It's Saturday morning and this relentless brain of mine is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's no rest for the weary! I tried to sleep in, I really did; and gave up at 5:30 a.m.

It's taken a week of this constant thinking on Track #2 to get to the point where I thought (on Track #3) I might be able to focus it all enough to get it down in a coherent manner. The a-ha came with remembering the age-old tenet of "start from the beginning." Of course I had that a-ha moment and forgot it just as quickly.

And here is an example of just how powerful thinking is. While I thought and forgot about starting from the beginning, my friend Burt Wilson wrote about it! He called it "Why I Don't Need Church" and it was published in a Sacramento paper.

No, I'm not a mind reader, and I doubt Burt would say he is either. Not in the way that "mind reading" is thought of in today's dramatized, bastardized, fraudulent way of thinking. Neither one of us has a crystal ball. (Of course, if Burt reads this, he can confirm that for himself!) There's no hocus-pocus involved here.

But, it is real and it is magic.

It is as real as potential matter, and as magic as anything else we don't yet understand.

I'll paraphrase how Burt described it: A carpenter plans out each spec, each join and measures the whole thing out in his head - he has a picture of the finished product in his mind - before his hands even touch a piece of wood to build a table. Potential matter becomes manifest, becomes reality, once the carpenter's hands build the table.

Thought, thinking, is Psychic Energy, and it is the power that is within everyone. Because our 'system' is closed, finite, no energy is ever wasted. Flying through the cosmos, the thought of "start at the beginning" landed in my mind and Burt's. He wrote about it, he brought it to reality while I had not yet sat down to write.

It's a good idea, start at the beginning, and one that is unique to each person. Everyone has the potential to have that a-ha moment when it all opens up to them.

Why not? We all think, don't we?


Walk a Mile in a Different Pair of Shoes

Scooched up to the edge of the seat, nose pressed against the back seat window or breathing down my father's neck while he drove, I spent my wee years observing the world going by. I especially loved to try to see into the living room windows of the houses we passed at night when they had lights and TVs on. I figured that was as good a way as any to find out how other people lived.

Later on, though not very often (it felt sort of creepy to do), I'd sit at the mall and watch people walk by. The frazzled mother chasing after a wild child, the older generation walking as fast as they can for their aerobic workout, the young men in suits strutting their stuff, the couple in love and the couple not so in love... I didn't hear words or tone of voice, but it wasn't difficult to imagine what all those people walking by felt at the time.

Sometimes, curiosity wins the day. It's not always enough to just watch, you have to try on that pair of shoes. Sure, it may be all in fun at first, but the reality of those very different pair of shoes hits home. Beth found that out the other night when she tried on the Chief's fire suit.

"How in the world can you move around enough to save someone wearing all this heavy stuff?" she asked. She kept smiling, but you could see the increased respect in her eyes for all that the firemen do.

I speak to hundreds of people each week for a very specific purpose, and usually only for 10 minutes or so. It's not exactly a pleasant purpose, but a necessity in their lives. The shoes, the clothes, the hands and the eyes all tell a story I'll never hear.

It's my goal to reach each person I talk to. I acknowledge them, find a way to show respect for them, and I do whatever I can within the confines of my job. The difference I can make is what psychologist Carl Rogers calls unconditional respect and regard. I see no reason to be any other way.

You see, when a person feels accepted for who and what they are, there is an immediate rapport, and very little need for dishonesty. There is a safety in that rapport; enough so that protective walls and masks come tumbling down. It's a given that I aim to understand as best I can, and that increases the feeling of value and worth.

I bring this up now because I feel that more and more people are feeling the very heavy and difficult weight of our troubled times. The loss of hope drives people inside and away from others when they need the company the most. They never give anyone a chance to understand, respect or accept them. Yes, these are trying times.

My challenge to you is to sit down and listen, really listen, to someone you've never listened to before. It could be a secretary, the paperboy, the cashier or the meter reader. Talk with someone you usually have no reason to talk to in your daily routine. Start with a hello and a smile, then proceed with a compliment to get the ball rolling. Meet their eyes with both of yours at first, then just relax. Attend by keeping your arms down at your sides and your legs uncrossed. Face them half way, not full on or fully away. Then, let it flow.

Do this once or twice, and you'll notice that your world has suddenly grown. Not only have you made someone else's day, you feel purty darned good yourself. Keep doing it, and you'll notice more and more people around you doing it too!

Ah, the world becomes a better place. And it all happens one person at a time. All those pairs of shoes aren't so different after all.


Aftermath, or Today is Another Day

Is there a benefit in describing the emotional response to a perceived trauma? Forever observing the myriad of reactions of others, it took a bit to put into words my own. Once articulated, I was able to gain the distance I needed to rebalance and then observe and contemplate.

What can we learn from this? If I had to name something that would've helped, it would be the same as if I were experiencing grief: I needed an ear or a shoulder, but no words. I decided it had to run its course, I had to get to a point where I could regain a sense of balance, and that couldn't happen until it was all played out in my head.

For someone watching, trying to 'be there' for a person in an emotional train wreck, the experience is much different. Nothing said helps, no alternatives offered are considered, and the helplessness and frustration mounts until there is no choice but to back away and exit. Obviously, that's not much of a shoulder. It's difficult not to "do something," anything, when in a helping situation, but that's exactly what you need to forget about. Just be there and listen.

My solace came from processing it all, reading as much as I could tolerate, looking at all the photos searching for a recognized face, then I just pushed it all away. I headed outside to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, armed with a curry and my camera, and let my dogs and horse plunge me back into the moment. Ah, there's the joy again; the pure and unadulterated, unblemished joy. It cleared my head. And heart.

The people in Binghamton, NY are now struggling with the "why" of the senselessness. They are wondering, fearfully, just what parts of their lives have changed, forever affected by an angry man who could no longer stand up to the pressures of life. One hopeless man changed the lives of thousands of people he never met.

It's the same for every community that has experienced tragedy. Perhaps we find it easier to console those hit with a natural disaster. No one seems to question "why" tornadoes, hurricanes or floods destroy lives. But when one man hurts another or many others, the "why" adds to the grief and the overall severity of the tragedy. Someone, anyone, should have seen it coming and stopped the man from killing. Realistically, the odds are not much better trying to stop a person from killing than the odds of stopping a tornado. People aren't as predictable as the weather.

This is something we all need to be aware of in these very tense and stressful times, both in ourselves and in the people around us. That one last straw that breaks the camel's back is a heavy one.

Be well, and find your moment.


A Day of Hell

It's something you never expect to see. I surely never expected it. Never.

Today's headlines contain words such as "massacre," "14 dead," "hostages," barricades" and "Binghamton, NY" all together, hitting the AP, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC... It's worldwide now.

That massacre happened in my home town today!

I first found out during lunch as I sat in my truck enjoying the break from the craziness of the day. iPhone in hand, I hit the AP to see what was going on in the world. Right at the top was "American Civic Association in Binghamton, NY Shooting," and I freaked. I am a thousand miles away in Arkansas!

It wasn't a matter of "too close to home," it was home! Or, at least it used to be. Frantic, not thinking, I called a close friend's home phone, not even realizing that she was probably at work. I needed her to be home and safe! She is often called on in the community to interpret, and the article said an interpreter was called. Thankfully, her daughter answered the phone and told me right away that my friend was safe, though she was suffering a major asthma attack while being held in lock-down at the high school that is just on the other side of the church you see in this photo.

No one knew for sure what was going on. Stories were conflicting. No one knew how many were dead. One report said 4, another said 12, yet another said 14.

My head spinning, I called another friend. His house is within blocks of this incident, and my imagination took off, wondering if flying bullets hit his house and injured him! I hadn't talked to him in years, but there were my fingers automatically dialing his number. When his co-worker answered, I frantically told her to put him on the phone. As it turned out, his daughter was one of the many students in that locked down high school. But, he knew no more than I did.

My mind is still racing, even though the incident resolved hours ago. The suspected shooter, though they are still not sure if he was the shooter, was found dead, having shot himself. The shooter was reported to be in his 20s... or he was in his 40's. He was recently discharged from IBM, but IBM doesn't know anything. No one knows.

Racing, racing; my mind is still flying through a long list of names in my head of past ESL students, immigrants, refugees, people I worked with that worked with ESL students, immigrants and refugees; anyone I might know that could have been there. No names have been released. The bodies of the victims still lay where they fell on the floor of the Civic Association.

Nadia and Mike are OK. I don't know anything more than that. I am so relieved that these two very important people to me are safe, alive and well.

But, the day isn't over, and the hell continues...

The hell continues for those who suffer while waiting to hear of news of sons, daughters, wives, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and friends. While I may be frightened, it does not compare to their terror that must seem like it is everlasting and never-ending.

My heart is with you all.


Living Ethics: Confront the Ridiculous

Psychic Energy: lying outside the sphere of physical science or knowledge : immaterial, moral, or spiritual in origin or force.

Spirit: an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms.

Matter: the indeterminate subject of reality; especially : the element in the universe that undergoes formation and alteration : the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities.

Time is such a funny thing. It's ceaseless, it's endless and it's unforgiving. Of all that is life, humans are the most tied to time; perpetually tied to time through linear thinking. There is all the time in the world, yet time is limited.

In fact, time is running out.

Now is the time to confront the ridiculous.

Evolution is missing a link. So they say. In essence, that missing link is glaring evidence that the theory is not scientifically sound. Evolution postulates that intelligence is a random occurrence. At the same time, this 'random occurrence' appears out of nothing, and that is impossible. No thing comes from nothing. By its own rigid rules, science limits itself only to things that can be measured. Science has no idea how or why a physical brain can think, and therefore ignores the most significant aspect of life: consciousness.

If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

"God made us in his image, then we turned around and made God in ours" (Burt Wilson).

The last 2,000 years has been spent obscuring the infinite, transcendental divine principle, preventing every one of us from proceeding with spiritual development. We are asked to swallow such ludicrous postulates such as God created earth in seven days, God condemned anyone born to woman because Eve ate the apple (who made the apple?) from the tree of knowledge (and who made the tree?), and God punishes anyone who goes against His will. Perhaps the biggest chunk of ridiculousness - and requiring the largest leap of faith - is the theory that God sent His "only begotten son" (of the same substance? Not possible.) to earth to die a most horrendous, tortuous death known to man at the time! Any parent will lay down their own life for their children, without thought or reservation, yet that is not the way of the God we are all led by the nose to believe in. We should believe in a God that is morally inferior to us?

Since it is easier to envision than an abstract, infinite, transcendental principle, we adorn God with human attributes such as thought, action, decision-making, etc. "God is good," yes, by all means. Then why is God angry, judgmental, vengeful, deterministic? Why does God allow the existence of evil and an equally powerful Satan? If they are equally powerful, wouldn't they cancel each other out?

What kind of thinking existed before the last 2,000 years? Surely there is a wisdom, a logical way of thinking that is beyond this tangled, ludicrous way of interpreting our existence? Yes, there is, and it is ancient. And, it is still alive and well, timeless and as applicable today as it was 10,000 years ago.

Consider this:

No one has seen God. No one ever will. God is not of the same substance, so therefore, humans cannot "see" God. God is not an old man with flowing white hair and beard. God is not male. God is not female. God cannot see, hear, act or think. God is not Jesus. Jesus is not God.

God is infinite. Therefore, God is everything. Every thing. God is everything in our perceived existence. Everything is spirit-matter, a dual substance. One cannot exist without the other. It is animated and alive because of The Word and the Word is God, i.e., psychic energy.

We limit ourselves by our adamant refusal to consider anything beyond our very finite, very inhibiting physical senses. We are buried in our own physical being. We buried ourselves in our own physical being. How? We listened to those who said that "the church" was the only safe haven from evil, which by the way, the church created in order to instill fear in its followers. We bought into the premise that, in order to know God, we have to have someone else (priest, rabbi, minister) intercede for us. How is that possible? God is within us!

We, all of us, are drastically behind in our spiritual development. Yet, clues to freedom from misconception and misrepresentation exist within our own definitions, courtesy of Miriam-Webster, of key words: psychic energy, spirit and matter.

Isn't it time to shake loose from the shackles of blind faith that bind us?

Time is running out.

To learn more: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century