In Your Face

FaceTime, Facebook, we are up close and personal. You would think we all loved each other like cult wives, but we don’t. We’re afraid of getting lost.

 

Lost

Our world is too busy, and we have lost touch with each other, so we place our close conversations and intimacy on Reddit and SnapChat. Our birthdays are celebrated on screen as well every relationship status and break up right down to the dramatic ending.

We long for exposure. It isn’t enough anymore to enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of apple pie. We talk about it. Share. Instagram a pic of it in nostalgic shades. Touch me, see me, like me. Am I real? Do I matter?

Mind Numb

Our chase of meaning only comes to one conclusion. The need for another try. The system is rigged against us. The game is a casino slot machine. Pull the lever and hear the bells. Watch the lights flashing again. How many times have we done this? Have I been sitting here long? My butt is numb. Oh well, I’ll do one more quarter then go home.

Please and thank you can be used by everyone. They are the salt and pepper of society. – JW

Spells and Magic

If this were a magic spell being cast in a children’s fairytale book we would be screaming at the characters. Run. Get out of the building. Turn off your phone. It’s a plot by a wicked queen. But we know these are not fairytales. There are no plots, right? Well, there is the one guy who says otherwise. I’ll link to his Ted talk HERE.

Acknowledge

How do we take care of ourselves since we are aware of our need to be noticed? Acknowledge it. Post the wedding pictures. Enjoy the Likes. But try to find a life outside of your profile. Give to others. Remember to show respect to those around you.

…and my mouth said, “It was his way of saying he loved me. He used to say, ‘I see you Yi-yi.’ ” – Jada from Feversong: A Fever Novel, by Karen Marie Moning

A complaint I heard recently is when a man opens a door for a woman many times she walks through without saying a word. Not even a Thank You.

Here in my part of the country, men are taught to open doors for women, to take out the trash, to say, ma’am. These are courteous actions yes, but so much more. Please and thank you can be used by everyone. These acknowledgments are the salt and pepper of society. Without these ingredients our lives become irritating. Life chafes from constant obligations. It’s not an enjoyable way to live a life. Kindness is needed to keep our society healthy. I want to support others, to see them, show them love, every day.

Namaste

What Are We Saying When We Are Saying When We Are Saying Namaste?

 

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Love is What I Know

Darkness. We don’t sit there often. As soon as I get home, I turn on the light, feed the cat, and get the activity going. The dark seems empty. But it doesn’t have to frighten us.

Go back to what you know for sure. Those were the words that I heard when I was in my dark space. It’s taken me some time to understand their meaning.

tumblr_ldlfpavmov1qekgtho1_500Re-boot

In the Bible, there’s the story of Jonah, the man who didn’t want to preach to the people in a city called Nineveh. He hid on a boat until he was thrown out into the storm and he was swallowed alive by a great fish. Darkness. Crazily, he ends up back where he was supposed to be in the beginning.

I laugh because if you call the customer support line for help with your computer, the first thing they ask is, did you try turning it off and on again? Restart. That’s their answer for everything.

But start overs are impossible in real life. Aren’t they? A start over, a cleaning, a bottom level, that was the message I got when I heard the words, “Go back to what you know for sure.”  What did I know for sure? Love.

Where is the love?

I was uncertain of religion. I couldn’t tell you at that moment if I believed in God or the devil, heaven or hell. I didn’t know if the Bible was real or if the teachings I’d grown up with were true, but I did know there was a love that was buried deep inside of me that I’d felt all of my life and it wasn’t of any religion.

What does that mean? What does it look like? I had to stop trusting in everything else. I only had love. So I let myself sit in the darkness, in the emptiness with nothing to light me but the one candle of love. It sounds silly, but when you’re a traditionalist, and you let the old teachings slip away, the emptiness around you isn’t lonely or scary. The love you feel grows. There’s a freedom in that love. Joy unspeakable.

Can you find your truth?

Check out older post — My Skepticism on Religion  and Question It All

I’m Not Dead Yet

When I first walked away from Christianity, the one thing that scared me was dying. And the no-life-afterwards stance of Atheism. I felt like a child whose Halloween candy had been stolen. I’ve held on to the opinion that Atheists could be wrong. Denial in the first degree!

People like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, have stripped away my belief in a separate soul, so what would be left to carry on after my body dies? Energy particles? It’s taken some time and lots of truth seeking. Richard Dawkins attitude has really helped with my perspective. Yeah, I may not have eternity in white robes, but I can live a full life and celebrate every day right now.

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?” 

Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Denying truth doesn’t make it disappear. What happens after I die can’t be prearranged. The events are out of my control. Maybe I’ll be happily surprised with more candy or maybe I won’t. Either way it’s done. Richard Dawkins is right. We are the lucky ones.

Wandering and Lost Souls

When I started my wandering it wasn’t just with doubts. I’ve always questioned Christianity being the only way. I’ve always been skeptical of their notion that the God that loved the world enough to send his only begotten son would send him for just the little group in my part of the world. The God who created the heavens and the earth, who breathed life into all creation, could only save the ones who believed the way my church believed. It seemed narrow-minded to me. And not just to me. The more exposure you get to others who are not like you, the more you see a lot of narrow thinking. At least, that’s how it started.

The pendulum swings

I believed in God, I believed in love, and I believed in Jesus because that was the color of religion that raised me. Had I been born in India, I’d most likely be a Hindu. I’d probably be in the same place of questioning my faith also. Most that speak to me about my loss of Christianity tell me it’s because I grew up in such a restricted upbringing, but I disagree. I believe it’s because I grew up in the dubbed, days of awakening, for lack of a better term. Born in the 1960’s and growing up with the massive explosion of information and exploration, suddenly the world around us widened with possibilities. We were on the moon. We didn’t have to wear dresses as women. We could earn our own money. I even felt forced at times into becoming more liberal. Not from anyone in particular, but from society’s expectations.

As pendulums do

Today I feel a bit different. I’m nowhere. As expected, I feel a bit befuddled. I nostalgically see the village I came from and its homey appeal, but I keep yanking the cords that try to draw me back in. I find the easy comfort has a strong pull. But I can’t honestly walk back into that. Yeah, it’s familiar. It’s also a little like making your bed and sitting down at your parents’ table again. I’ve been there and done that, and now I am so much more. I also didn’t lose my Christianity as some suggest. I walked away.

The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.
Carl Jung 

 

Do You Want Feedback?

good dayI’ve taken a second look at complaints. Once I thought I was in error or somehow rejected if someone disagreed or complained. But there are many situations in life that need disagreement, complaining or feedback.

Exercise requires it. You do a new workout or do the same workout with more intensity, you expect your body to give you feedback. Sore calf muscles are wonderful. You know you’re strengthening your arms if they hurt. Here is an interesting article on barefoot running, http://xeroshoes.com/barefoot-running/surfaces/

Recently we had a project at work. Not unusual in itself, but this one required a significant amount of work that needed multiple people to sort and find information. Usually, I do these myself because I’m not sure how to divide the spreadsheet and explain how to locate the information we needed. There was no simple A. B. C. directives. So I assigned the project as best I could and asked for feedback if they were having any issues. Are we finding what we needed? Is there a better or faster way? I expected, wanted, and requested feedback. If no one gave me feedback then how would I know if we were doing it correctly?

Most of the time we as people or as workers hide from feedback. It scares us. Like being called into the principal’s office. A friend of mine always reminds me that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. It’s a freeing thought, and I don’t mean it abusively. It’s too easy to get stuck and not make any decisions for fear of making a mistake. No one likes the yelling or the correction. It’s an automatic thing to hide from yelling.

Feeling like a victim or thinking everyone’s out to get you is backward thinking. Think of a pinball machine. Designers use a series of launchers, bumpers, and flippers to play a game. Life is a series of walls, springboards, and hurdles sometimes. When I run into a wall, maybe I need to reevaluate. It doesn’t matter if Tom, Dick, and Harry did it that way, it’s not working for me.

A true victim is someone who was acted upon by an unusual circumstance, not due to their own negligence or negative feedback. I often hear people at work complain that no one is listening to them or that management doesn’t notice their abilities. Speak up. They will listen and act upon anything that will actually help them. If they don’t notice your abilities, maybe what you are doing isn’t helpful in selling their product. If I’m needing water to drink, having a truck load of peanut butter is not very helpful, even as much as I think peanut butter is delicious. And you may have a lot of it.

Use the walls or negative feedback as guidance. Your outlook on life will change. You’ll notice that you’ll be able to make decisions easier. You’ll learn a “Let’s try this and see if it works” attitude. Take a chance. Go forward. If it doesn’t work for you, move on and try something different.

Another great writing by Seth Godin, Your call is very important to us. 

My Skepticism on Religion

True Religion adMy take on Religion, God, and Spirituality has changed over the years. Although I grew up like many in my part of the world, in the traditional Christianity, I no longer claim that title as my Religion.

When I was a kid, if I wanted something from on a top shelf I had to ask someone to get it or scoot a chair to reach it. Our cereal was on top of the refrigerator. Guess what I wanted. I was so excited when I finally could reach the top of the refrigerator without using a step-stool or asking for help. It was a milestone for me. This is how I see religion. Not that we can physically touch any god on our own, but that we can approach the spirit without tradition or allegories.

Face to face. In our infancy and childhood we learn stories to help us understand. The birds and the bees teach us about reproduction. Apples and oranges teach us math. Religion teaches us about God. Whether God is worshiped, feared, deified or loved, we learned from the teachings of our religion. Growing up in a very closed-minded religion taught me that my thoughts were not to be trusted. That whatever I thought was true probably wasn’t. Maybe not everyone’s religion does that, but for me that was what happened.

Religion was the highest power. The highest authority. Even more so than personal experience. It doesn’t matter if God or an angel came down to talk to you, it was not trusted above the unchanging dogma of our religion. Even if you found it in the Bible, underlined it in red, circled it, highlighted with glowing color, if it didn’t match what you were taught as truth, it was a trick of the enemy. Don’t let anyone fool you. I grew up in this stuff and I’ve argued it and studied it. If it wasn’t taught in the dogma, it is a lie.

When religion tells me to ignore those things I see around me such as science discoveries, cultural issues, or astronomy, it is basically telling me to ignore factual evidence. Ignore the truth and just believe. To the point that those people with the greatest faith ignored the most obvious laws such as gravity or chemistry. Yes I do know there are things I don’t understand. And I will admit there are times when someone seemingly did amazing metaphysical, supernatural things. Water turned to wine. Water turned to gasoline.

It is amazing to me that when we look at other cultures and religions that we can see through the veil. It is also amazing that whichever religion you deem as true, is probably the religion you were born and raised in. It was passed from your parents and their parents. Tell me truly, do you believe that your grandparents way of living was the only way? Was Grandma’s superstitious beliefs how you want to live your life? Is it spilled salt over your left shoulder or your right? There are some strange superstitions around the world. The conviction of belief does not make them true. It just makes them believed.

In Russia, its considered bad luck when a cat, especially a black one, crosses in front of you when you’re walking. Some people will avoid them by chasing out or outrun the cat.
If the cat already crosses you, then you have to break the spell by spitting three times over your left shoulder to avoid the bad luck.

In England, it is believed that meeting a spotted or black and white dog on the way to a business appointment is a lucky sign.

In Sweden, it is considered bad luck to place your keys on the table. In the old days, it it believed that prostitutes will often signal their availability by leaving their room keys on the bar.

http://worldsuperstitions.blogspot.com/search/label/Bad%20Luck

I love this short piece I found while reading various blogs, http://wyzzz.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/choices-religion/.

Also, It’s not about the Colors and There is no Savior

Question It All

Question everything. Question everyone. Question it all. Anything that comes across your senses can be faked. A person may be exactly who they say, but may not. The $1000.00 coat looks nicer, classier, better tailored than the $100.00, but it could be a knock-off. Your neighbor may be a successful business person or a drug dealer. It’s not easy to tell sometimes.

If you want to see truth like you say you want to, you must bypass the easy stuff. The cover story. All the mind Jedi tricks that people play are distractions. Don’t be distracted. Retrain your thinking. How? Notice the story they tell you. Look at it then look again. Listen to the skeptics. Take courses in critical thinking. Be smart and use the scientific method. The story is the hypothesis. They say they work at a bank. What type of car do they drive? How do they dress? House? Children? is their lifestyle in the salary range of a loan officer or the president? What type of friends do they have? Check out the salary of bankers in your state. In other words, do the ingredients in this person’s life add up to who they say they are?

There are three main questions to ask if you want to exercise skepticism.

  1. Who is making claim?
  2. What’s the context?
  3. What is the quality of the evidence?

I wanted to share some resources for those who want to dabble in skepticism.

http://www.skeptic.com/
http://www.criticalthinking.net/
Book – The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
Book – The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Where the Wild Blooms Begin

English: Tree in winter. Part of a sequence of...

Childhood gave me a gift more valuable than I ever realized. Growing up in my childhood religion, people joined the church, “got saved” and many around saw their outward changes and cheered.

They saw old habits drop and lives healed. We talked about the life-giving flow of the Spirit. It was exciting.

Soon people forgot about the flow of the spirit. Many became fixated on the changes. The bad words not said or the clothing the converts wore.

Sunday morning came, and we preached about the clothing and the drinking, forgetting about the life force that caused the changes.

Lies, Illusion, Truth

I am thankful for the gift, sight. I crave truth. I’m meaning the ability to see past illusions. In a book I read, Sorgitzak: Old Forest Craft, Veronica Cummer called it Sooth, after the old Forest tradition. Seeing through illusions in practical life has been important.

When a person says something with their words, but their actions are speaking the opposite, know the truth. It’s easy to change your clothes to impress another.

It’s easy to pretend to be kind and gentle. We’ve all seen people that lie with actions and words, but something leaves you uneasy. Underneath, the lie, the discord, is screaming.

Behind the Picture Screen

A picture formed in my mind as I was reading this book. For me, it clarified what I’ve seen but didn’t always understand. Hopefully, I can describe so others can understand.

I remember the Viewfinders I played with as a child. I’d insert the round plastic disk, pull the handle and a new image was there. I could play for hours.

Take the Viewfinder image and underlay another big whole picture. I call this picture underneath “Truth” and it doesn’t turn. Pretend the picture underneath is a picture of life and love. Maybe even a tree of life. It’s unchanging.

Each pull of the Viewfinder’s handle brings a new picture on top of the tree. A cross appears. A statue of Mary. A man is sitting cross-legged in quietness. The tree remains underneath. It continues the seasons of its life.

Springtime blooming, summer brings full green vitality, autumn colors, and winter with its bare bones. Turn the handle, change the religious face, and you can choose where to look.

What do you see? Do you see the statue of Mary with the colors of Autumn and worry that your religion is dying? Or do you see the tree with its season turning and know true religion with its love and life never ends.

Life expresses itself

When a person came to our church and become saved, they flipped a switch to allow life to flow into them. They felt the vitality flow into them and wanted to adapt to the contemporary expression of religion.

I watched a documentary called Fat, Sick and, Nearly Dead. Two men changed their physical lives, and you saw their charisma return, and their will to live restored. These were two sick men.

800px-klimt_tree_of_life_1909It was the most inspirational film I’ve seen in a while, and there was no praying involved. No chanting, no symbolism, no bowing. I was in awe because there in front of me was lifeforce in action. Sooth. Truth. The tree of life is under the pictures flashing in front of our societies’ Viewfinder.

The truth is there, and once you see it, you will hardly notice anything else.

It’s almost spring here in Oklahoma. The squirrels are active and the birds are noisy. The Dogwood trees have put out their blossoms. And of course, the people are sneezing. The chatter of spring has arrived. I love this time of the year. Beginnings are fun. The thunderstorms and the smell of Petrichor.