Friday, April 11, 2014

What the Rich and the Poor Have in Common

Today is Friday, April 11, 2014.

The other day a friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook, and commented that this is why he doesn't get upset about whatever the Koch brothers are up to at any given time.  Although I do believe it's important to watch guys like the Koch brothers and push back, whenever possible, my friend does have a point.  Everybody dies, at some point, whether you're rich or poor.  No matter what your situation is in this lifetime, at some point, it will come to an end.  When it does, it won't really matter how expensive your funeral is, or how many people attend.  It won't matter how much money you have in your bank account or how beautiful your house is.  It won't matter what kind of car you drive or how many servants you have.

It won't really matter what your religion is, either.  

At death, everyone goes to someplace within the Inner Worlds.  Everyone looks at the lifetime just ended and decides (often with the help of advisers) how well they tackled the issues that they decided to work on before coming into that lifetime.  Everybody starts planning how to continue from there.  Most people come back to Earth to live yet another life, while a few graduate from the "earth school" and continue along their learning curve in the Inner Worlds.  

Those who had money in their lifetime end up judging themselves by the same criteria as those who had little or no money.  How have I grown?  How did I help other people?  What did I do to balance karma from previous lives?  What did I do to acquire negative karma that will have to be balanced in a future life?  

Do I believe in punishment for sin? No, I believe in consequences for misguided actions based on negative principles such as "every man for himself" or "my people are more important than yours."   That's why some people are always suffering in life.  They are experiencing the suffering that they put others through.  Does all this mean that we shouldn't be concerned when rich and powerful people seek to control others, because everything will even out in the end?  I don't think so.  We can't take away everyone's pain, and it would be counterproductive, at the level of Soul, do do so.  But we can be of assistance to others, with their permission.

To be clear, I don't think that any of us will be asked for which political party we voted when we get to the Inner Worlds.  I don't think it's a good idea to label political parties as good and evil, either, although sometimes it does seem that they beg to be labeled.  I don't think that voting one way or another is good or evil.  I don't think having money or political power is evil, either, per se. 

The important thing is how we live our lives.  Do we contribute positively to life, or do we create obstacles for other people?  Do we strive to get along with others or do we simply try to control them?  Do we allow other people to do what they want, or do we force them to agree with us?  Do we assist other people or take advantage of them?  Do we build each other up or tear each other down?  Do we advance while stepping on others' toes, or do we allow others to advance with us?

When we see someone taking advantage of others, I believe we should at least point it out and do whatever we can to stop it or at least soften the blow.  When we realize we've been taken advantage of, we should stand up and blow the whistle, loudly.  Political and social movements won't end all the evil in the world, but they can do some good.  It just depends how you want to participate.  You can often do just as much or more good on your own, on an individual basis. :-) 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creeping Toward the Finish Line

Today is Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Next week, I'm leaving on an extended trip, and I have a lot to do. Last night,  I made a list of things to do that I knew I wouldn't be able to finish before bedtime tonight.  Still, I plugged away at things, and I did get a few of the things done on the list.  Since I don't generally have to get up at any set time in the morning, I tend to try to finish what I can before I go to bed, no matter how late.  (Blog entries are one of those things.)  And every night I feel like a tortoise, creeping toward the finish line, unable to go any faster.

This blog only gets written three times a week, now, although my other blog is still a daily thing.  I will have completed a year's worth of blogs there, soon, and I am thinking of taking a break for a while, then perhaps resuming the blogs, only twice a week each, for a while.  I'm proud of the fact that I achieved my goal of posting 365 posts in a row on this blog, and I will soon be pleased to announce the same feat on the other blog.  The weight of habit is now upon me, and I find it hard to go to sleep without having written my blog for the day.  It helps to know I'm cultivating perseverance and discipline.  

I guess I shouldn't have made such a long list of things to do, because it gets me down a bit to see how few things I have crossed off.  But I will cross off a few more tomorrow and the day after that.  Each day I will creep toward the finish line.  

Slow and steady wins the race, right?  :-/

Monday, April 7, 2014

Maturity and Immaturity in Relationships

Today is Monday, April 7, 2014.

Recently I read a list of points to look for when you want to know whether you're dating a "boy" or a "man."  The idea was to figure out whether the person you are dating is emotionally mature or not.  Apparently, this is a hot topic in Christian circles right now.  I wondered why I couldn't find any articles about dating a "girl" versus a "woman," but then I realized that most of these articles were written by and for conservative Christians, who also subscribe to the cultural value of male dominance.  To them, it's more important for the male to be mature.  Apparently, a little immaturity in females is tolerated.

I decided to take one list written by Jarrid Wilson and adapt it to both men and women, to see what, if anything, needed to be changed. (Click on the link to see his original list.) Here are my results.  Conservative Christians and other traditionalists may wish to pay attention to item number five.

By the way, for today's photos, I realized that it's impossible to adequately picture "maturity" but images of immaturity abound.  I tried to find images depicting immaturity in both the man and the woman, lest someone say that I am accusing only one sex of being immature.

1.  A mature person will admit and take responsibility for his or her mistakes.  An immature person will make excuses.

2.  A mature person will never violate the other person's space, physically, emotionally, mentally or psychically.  This means, among other things, that the mature person will respect the other person's wish not to have sex.  An immature person will allow sexual desires to take control.

3.  A mature person will never violate the other person's space, physically, emotionally, mentally or psychically.  This means, among other things, that the mature person will respect the other person's opinions, values and beliefs without trying to change them.  An immature person will demand that the other person think the same way because it is more comfortable.

4.  A mature person will offer respect and support no matter what the circumstances, whether the other person can reciprocate or not.  An immature person will offer respect and support only if he or she can get something in return.

5.  A mature person will pull his or her own weight in a relationship.  In a marriage, this includes financial matters, housekeeping duties, childcare duties, and social duties.  It also includes doing whatever it takes to keep the relationship moving and growing.  An immature person will expect the other person to provide all the financial support, do all the housework, take care of the kids, or pay attention to birthdays, anniversaries, or making social engagements.  An immature person will expect the other person to make most of the romantic gestures or sexual advances. An immature person will expect the other person to give in when there is a difference of opinion.

6.  A mature person knows that what he or she does in the present moment will affect his or her future circumstances.  An immature person does whatever he or she wants in the moment without thinking about future consequences.

7.  A mature person will respect the other person's family and friends.  A mature person will value the good opinion of the partner's family and friends and make an effort to get along with them.  An immature person is only interested in being popular, but not necessarily in gaining anyone's respect or making any effort to get along with others. 

8.  A mature person's actions are in line with his or her stated beliefs.  This is true whether or not the person's beliefs or actions are popular with others. An immature person's actions are not always in line with his or her stated beliefs.  An immature person may try to act as if he or she agrees with another person simply to get in that person's good graces.

9.  A mature person respects and entertains others' beliefs. Respecting others' beliefs means recognizing that they have a right to hold different beliefs than yourself.  Entertaining others' beliefs simply means allowing them to say what they believe without automatically trying to change them or argue them out of their ideas.  An immature person does not like to hear others' beliefs and rejects different beliefs out of hand, without consideration.

10. A mature person is willing to give others the benefit of the doubt and is open to making some changes based on new information. A mature person is willing to learn. An immature person doggedly insists that he or she is right, even when the situation changes.  An immature person thinks he or she knows everything and has nothing new to learn.  An immature person is unwilling to be challenged by new ideas.

11. A mature person does all he or she has agreed to do.  An immature person makes promises that he or she cannot keep.  Sometimes an immature person makes promises that he or she has no intention of keeping.  

12. A mature person looks beyond physical beauty or a big bank account when considering other people as a potential partner.  An immature person is looking for eye candy or someone to finance their lifestyle.

13. A mature person is interested in the wellbeing of the other person and is willing to put his or her own wants and needs on the back burner occasionally to assist the partner.  An immature person is interested only in himself or herself, and puts his or her own needs above that of others.

14. A mature person knows when and how to get his or her needs met.  An immature person thinks he or she has to give in to the other all the time so that the other person will not leave. 

15.  A mature person is willing to consider making a formal, public commitment to the relationship.  An immature person is unable to make a commitment because he or she values personal freedom over the wellbeing of the beloved. In other words, the focus is on self, not the other person.

16. A mature person knows that a relationship is only viable if both partners are growing.  If the relationship does not serve the needs of one or both partners, the mature person will let the other go gracefully, without the need to make the other person "wrong."  When separating from another person, the mature person will wish the other well and refrain from saying or doing things against the other out of spite.  An immature person hangs onto relationships even though staying together is hurting both partners.  An immature person is afraid to let the other person go because he or she fears having to stand up for himself or herself.  An immature person is willing to sacrifice the other person's right to grow on the altar of his or her own fear of being alone.

17. A mature person knows that, in spite of human imperfections, he or she is OK, whether or not he or she is in a relationship.  An immature person thinks that he or she is not OK without someone else to be in a relationship with.

18. A mature person knows relationships are a perfect opportunity to learn and grow as a human being.  A mature person expects to undergo some positive changes in himself or herself as a result of the relationship.  An immature person thinks relationships are all about fulfilling his or her own needs and solving his or her problems.

Of course, the foregoing is my own opinion.  Your mileage may vary. :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Giving Energy to My Dreams

Today is Friday, April 4, 2014.

Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.

It occurred to me lately that I've been giving way too much energy to certain fears lately.  When I do that, I always get that "stuck" feeling.  I know I'm in the middle of some big changes, and I can't quite see the outcome of the changes, yet.  Fears are just keeping me stuck in the middle.  

I've decided to make a list of my fears so at least I know what they are.  I will acknowledge them.  But then I have to find a way to sever the energetic connection between myself and each of my fears.  This will have to be done on the inner, first, before the disconnect can manifest in my outer life.

I have done spiritual exercises like this before.  I visualized my fear or my problem as an object, and found a way to deal with that object on the inner that represented how I would deal with it in my daily outer life.  There are various things you can do, depending on what kind of object you are visualizing.   You can face it or make it disappear, wash it, make it smaller, cut it, color it, or change its shape.  Anything can be done on the inner planes.  The point is that whatever you do on the inner is an energetic template for what will happen out here on the physical plane.

When I have figured out a way of energetically detaching from my fears, I will have some "free energy" to work with, and I will identify which of my dreams to give this energy to.  

Let the inner work begin!  :-)


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What Makes You Come Alive?

Today is Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  –Howard Thurman

There's something magic about people who are following their passion, whatever it is.  Their lives just seem to click.  Wonderful synchronicities happen in their lives. What is is about them that causes everything to work out that way?  

The expression "going with the flow" may suggest an answer.  We are essentially beings of energy, not only as Soul.  Our bodies are really energy, as well.  When energy is flowing freely within us, everything just works in our lives.  Our problems aren't obstacles, but merely challenges. 

These days, psychologists and health care workers alike speak of "blocked energy."  How does our energy get blocked up?  Transformational healer Joel Bruce Wallach says that most blocks start out as "stuck feelings or thoughts that are unresolved."  If you're not doing something you love with your life, then it's pretty obvious that there must be some stuck feelings in your heart or unresolved thoughts in your head.  Perhaps you feel that the thing you would love to do just won't pay the bills, or that you are just not good enough at it to make it worthwhile.  These kinds of thoughts create energy blocks, too.

There are any number of counselors you can go to who will help you figure out what you're blocking, but even they can't help you if you aren't willing to do the required inner work to bring to light the energy blocks that you may be hiding.  There could be some emotional trauma in your past that is creating the block.  Or your blockage could even have originated in a past life.  

Over the last few months, I've mentioned meditation and contemplation techniques again and again, because I believe that these practices, done on a daily basis, are essential to becoming more awake and aware of what is going on in our lives.  Meditation is an invaluable tool for introspection.  Who are you, really?  What makes you tick?  Why did you come into this life?  What was it you wanted to accomplish in life?  

Some people can read about meditation and then try it themselves and it works great.  Others need a teacher to give them a start.  Whatever works for you, do that.  Then, if you still need the help of a counselor of some type, find one whose technique resonates with you.  Do the inner work, and find out what excites your passion.  :-)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Letting Go of Something Old and Growing Something New

Today is Monday, March 31, 2014.

If you've ever had one of those times when you've clutched a pen or something else in your hand for a long time, only to look down and be surprised that you are still holding it long after your need for it had passed, you'll understand sometimes we get so used to holding things that we forget to let go.  –Anonymous

If you want fresh water in your cup, you have to pour out the old water.  If you want to make changes, you have to let go of some things in your life, in order to make room for the changes.  

Why do we fight so hard to hang onto things that no longer serve our needs?  For most of us, it's because we find security in the known and we fear the uncertainty of the unknown.  At some point, however, it becomes uncomfortable to stay where we are, and we know we need to move on.  We realize that holding onto the things of the past is like holding onto a bomb with a lit fuse.  Sooner or later, it will explode in our faces.

What kinds of things should we let go of?  

Some things have to be let go again and again, every day.  These include negative emotions such as anger, fear, worry, resentment, jealousy, guilt, or the need for revenge.  

Some things have to be let go of at intervals.  These might include a job that no longer challenges you, a friendship or intimate  relationship that is not working out, a child who is ready to leave the nest, or a dream that is just not going to happen, no matter what. 

Occasionally, we need to let go of material things and the needs that drove us to acquire those material things.  We might have to let go of money and the illusion of power.  We might have to let go of our home, our car, or our fashionable wardrobe and our illusion of security, respectability, popularity, or success.

Sometimes, we need to let go of inner things, such as our beliefs, our old values, our opinions, our self-image, or our limitations.  These are harder to let go, because they are so deeply buried in our psyche.  In order to let these go, we have to identify them first.  Sometimes it is necessary to figure out how we got them in the first place before we can let them go.  We definitely have to have something to put in their place, so we have to figure out what we want before we let go of what we don't want.

Overall, in order to make changes in our lives, we must let go of who we thought we were so that we can become different people, and we need to let go of our current vision of the future, so that we can create a different, brighter future.   Leon Brown, a religious leader in the UK, wrote, "By letting go, you allow everything to find its rightful place.  Once free, everything finds its way home." 

When we let go, we realize that we have been using up a lot of energy just holding onto things and ideas that no longer serve us.  We can use that energy to nurture our new dreams.  

On the web, I found a great worksheet created by Britt Bravo.  It is a chart you can print and fill out for yourself.  On the left are some "flowers" labeled "Ideas to Grow."  On the right are some clouds that will float away on the wind.  They are labeled "Ideas to Let Go."  Even if you don't print out the photo, you can make your own chart of flowers and clouds.  I like the visual, because it reminds me that whatever I "grow" will require care and nurturing on our part, just as I plant flowers in my garden so they will get the sunlight they need, water the flowers every day, and protect them from wild animals or too much wind.  I like the clouds, too, because they remind me that I can let my old ideas go gradually and gracefully.  They will float away on the wind of change without much effort on my part.

When I filled out my chart, I tried to make sure that for every idea to grow I had one to let go.  A couple of ideas to grow are very long-term plans, so I illustrated those as buds, rather than full flowers.  The ideas that I have been working on for a while are depicted as flowers in full bloom.  I ended up being a little surprised at what I will need to let go of in order to grow a new idea.  For example, if I want to get into a relationship with someone, I will have to give up my self-image as a totally self-sufficient woman.  (I can be self-reliant, but there's no need to be self-sufficient.  There are other people out there, and they are meant to be interacted with. That was the point of coming here, remember?)   Another example: If I want to move to a warmer climate, I will have to give up the security of living in a familiar place near family.  I have to remember that I'm not just letting go until I'm empty.  There will be trade-offs.  There will be benefits. 

Here is your Ideas to Grow - Ideas to Let Go visual.  Have fun with this.  :-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Smoke Free At Last

Today is Friday, March 28, 2014.

This afternoon I got a notice shoved under my door by the apartment management, announcing that the apartment building where I live will become a smoke-free facility beginning on June 1, 2014. I was never so glad to see an announcement from the management in my life!  

When I moved into this place, the unit had been empty for over one year, and the gal who was managing had no idea who had lived in it before, but the other residents told me he smoked like a fiend.  I could tell.  The place definitely smelled like smoke, and it was noticeable to others, as well.  

I opened windows and filled decorative vases with charcoal to get rid of the smoke smell, and eventually, the place started to smell a little sweeter.  Unfortunately, there was still one person who lives two doors down from me who smokes so much that there is an air-freshener machine out in the hall just outside his door.  It doesn't help, though.  You can still smell his cigarettes as you pass his door in the hall.

When I realized that some of the residents are on oxygen, I kind of freaked out, realizing that if the smoker were careless and a fire was started that spread to the oxygen tanks, there would be an especially dangerous situation.  Fortunately, the apartment of the person on oxygen is on a different floor, and not right underneath the smoker.  Still... 

Maybe the smoker has given notice that he intends to move, or maybe the management just decided to get tough and ban smoking.  Whatever the situation, I am so glad that they have taken the bull by the horns and made a declaration in favor of non-smoking.  The new rules ban not only traditional cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but also e-cigarettes.  Good!  They didn't ban chewing tobacco, but I guess you have to take it one step at a time.  

Next week I intend to call my renter's insurance company and ask if there will be extra discounts available for a non-smoking residence.  (There were discounts for a sprinkler system, and I am still glad I followed up on that one.)

Smoke-free workplaces are a fairly new concept here in South Dakota.  The Smoke Free Law went into effect in 2009.  Opponents forced a referendum vote onto the ballot in 2010, obviously hoping to have the law struck down.   Instead, the voters approved the smoking ban, 64 to 36 percent. 

Part of the opposition was economic, and some of those fears have been realized.  South Dakota is a no-income-tax state, so they get revenue from gambling, which is a source of frustration for residents like me.  The smoking ban affected all bars, restaurants, and other public spaces, including state-run (but not tribal-run) casinos.  It appears, as of November 2013, that revenues are down for video lottery places.  Revenue for 2008 for the video lottery industry was $224.7 million.  In 2013 it was $176.6 million.  I can't say that I'm terribly upset about this.

The Sioux Falls chief of police said that as of November 2013, only five citations had been written for people smoking indoors in public places.  City planners say that opposition to the ban no longer comes up during planning for future city projects.   According to state demographics, only 15.4% of the residents of the state are smokers.  Dare I say they are a "dying" breed?  One thing is clear: they are no longer in control of public spaces, and soon they will no longer have any control in my private living space, either.

Is it legal for landlords to ban smoking in private apartments?  According to Change Lab website, which discusses "law and policy innovation for the common good," the answer is, "Yes. Landlords, condo associations, and local governments may legally restrict smoking in multi-unit housing. These restrictions do not discriminate against smokers or violate their right to privacy. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see “There Is No Constitutional Right to Smoke."

It will take a while for the change to take effect, but I feel that it is a step in the right direction.  :-)