Is Something Wrong?

*
I swore that I would, if only I could
change my life completely around.
From many time of trying, I’m now used to the dying
when you tell me my mind is not sound.
*
I look in your face, vainly search for a trace
that makes me want to believe.
I’ve heard it before, and I’ve come to abhor
your labels designed to deceive.
*
Your smiles are crooked, and your postures do show it
there’s something amiss in our sharing.
Thinking you know, I’m not status quo
without ability for the Daring.
*
My abilities – yes different, my mind – most competent
seeking out dreams – just like you.
I certainly can’t, and most definitely won’t
humble myself for you.
*
Disabled you call me, Unable you see me
Yet, I don’t fit your profile.
I make no transgression, I work at discretion –
your feigned ignorance reviled.
*
Scandalous at times, most shameful, poisoned minds
your integrity completely lost.
Stolen power is yours knowing patience wears,
at attempts to create trust.
*
Challenges – indeed, I still look to succeed
not discouraged from daily falling.
Strength I am gaining, gathering, sustaining
towards living my personal calling.
*
Chasing My Dream, Life begins to redeem
and is giving me freedom to live.
I refuse to give up, I’ll keep getting up
I refuse to be held in captive.
*
I pass now to you, a chance to renew
your desired belief in another.
I willingly stand, to help you understand
we are, after all, here for each other.

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Things I Love

Image

This Valentine’s Day, in particular, I am feeling down – not at all what I expected. I was feeling lonely and off-centre. Life just didn’t occur to me this way – not in a hundred years to me anyways.

I had plans.  I was jazzed to enjoy today as probably the most important thing that was ever going to happen to me for a long time … but …

*

I belong to a couple of LinkedIn groups, I enjoy watching and reading more than participate too much (because it will overcome me, for sure).  I was emailed a discussion – and for the first time (I think), I actually got down and wrote something on the computer that wasn’t work related.

And boy-ole-boy – I needed it today!

***

Nope!

It’s not happening!

(I hope she doesn’t read this > ), but I was to visit a dear out-of-town and long-time friend of, maybe by now, close to 30 years.  It’s been a long time since I saw her – maybe 20.  We have been talking about it for some time – all by email. Every time I write, I can hear her voice as if she’s right in front of me.  Every time – I can see in the vivid minds-eye of my memories:

  • her animated and hilarious antics
  • her laughing and putting the guys to shame
  • she was the smart one
  • her 2 beautiful (now grown/ing) daughters (only pics for now)
  • the most fun person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing – because it’s all fun.
  • she has more balls than some guys (sorry – to everyone, lol)
  • it’s not about sex – besides, we’re two old buggers, now!

I was going to visit her after all this time; invest some time into each other’s lives (you know, get the scoop on all the drama and such from the past – console, yada yada) and share as much as any moment we were able to cherish or dare to remember.  We were planning on 3 or 4 days together.

Nope!

So yes, I am disappointed.

***

Yet, lo and behold – I was saved by the web (or eaten) and came across a group with this LinkedIn post:

“Quick! In honor of Valentine’s Day, name 20 things you love!”

In a most uncharacteristic moment, I decided to sit right down and start writing.  I knew this would help.  And it did.

To make a long post (story) short, this is what I posted as the “Things I Love”:

  • a light sprinkle of snow on my face on a sunny afternoon,
  • the joy of a boy and his dog frolicking and talking to each other as they tumble together in the snow,
  • when a stranger comes up to me at a coffee shop and wishes me “Happy Valentine’s Day”
  • chocolate when I shouldn’t … shhhhh!
  • a busy, busy day and get absolutely nothing done >> yet still had fun!
  • getting a compliment from my coach(es) and a wider share on a blog post
  • all the women who ever said they loved me 🙂
  • all my nieces and nephews (they eventually go home, lol)
  • my housemates – to a point, lol
  • my ability to recognize an opportunity when I see it … by start writing.

I can’t come up with any more for now.

Thank you Jeanenne at NonProfitCommunity for posting this activity. I was feeling lonely as my Valentine plans went to … {8-/

I needed that; and now I can get on with my work.
Kevin
Happy Valentine’s Day” everybody.

Past Hurt

dave

I need to know …

When the pinch inside my heart

is pressing, and a nervous rush of fear

recalls a frozen moment of confusion,

will it always void the possibility of a lesson learned?

.

Will THAT THING always be there?

I’m no longer afraid.

But does it ever end?

.

Touching Freedom: Discovering A Life With Purpose, part 3

What is Life like Without Purpose?

Bob drops himself down on the sofa and lets out a huge gut of air.  Collecting himself, he looks around: converter on his left, laptop on right, 2 cans of beer and some chips in arm’s reach, and his canine buddy – ole’ Smokey napping by his feet.

Bob grins and for a change (on a Sunday), he pauses for thought.

His mind drifts to a feeling of contentment.  He has it all, he figures – the kids are almost grown, work steady, mortgage is getting paid, and the wife puts up with his habits and complaints.  Yes, life good!

Then all of a sudden, the feeling disappears.  This time, his mind decides to go a little deeper into thought – and he remembers this process – his heart begins to race a little and in the slideshow of his life history, he runs through some past life events in his mind and thoughts (both enjoyable and disappointing).

A kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings emerge; and although Bob dislikes the moment, he continues to think even though he knows he actually has a choice in the matter.

He remembers back to the summer when he took a car apart and re-assembled it in his garage.  The feeling of satisfaction from learning and accomplishment gave him reason to feel happiness.

Bob remembers back to the economic recession a few years ago, and how a near-breakup of his family over money almost destroyed him.

And his mind skips back to the time when he showed his son (and having him understand) how the cylinders of a car engine worked, and almost crying from the experience.

He remembers his father telling him many years ago to be practical with his life and get a job with benefits and a pension.

“Here it is, Sunday,” He thinks to himself.  “I’m supposed to feel good on Sundays – I like football.”

Bob begins to wonder why he feels this way, and can feel himself being pulled deeper in thought.

As he feels a sense of desperation lurking and waiting to take over, Bob summons the strength to bring himself back to his front room and the pre-game show.  Bob blinks wide-eyed and gives out another long sigh.

Glad the moment is over, he grabs the converter and calls ole’ Smokey over for a loving scratch behind the ears.  As a can of beer pops open in his hand; Bob puts his feet up and settles in for another Sunday of sports entertainment, and in relief, puts these thoughts behind him once again.

— * —

Especially for those of us over 40, we all know the expression “mid-life crisis”.  We can all recognize it when someone else is having it – and we are scared, stupid, and wacko when we are in it ourselves.

All joking aside, this crisis we all seem to go through, is at a time when we look at our own life and ask questions like:

  • What have I accomplished in my life?

  • Is this all there is to life?

  • Am I doing all the wrong things?

  • Having I been missing the point all along – and now my life is wasted?

  • Should I be doing something different with my life?

.

How Do We Know These Questions Exist?

We just have to look at the news and entertainment gossip to see how these personal questions are answered in our lives.  Look at the divorce rates?  Seen any over-50 wannabes re-living their youth by driving around in a sports car?  How about those Second Career night schools and mature-student college applications?  This is a normal part of being human, this being aware that we are humans with ability.

This forms part of the foundation of our Life Purpose.

There are many reasons why people go through this crisis – and it is not always limited to the over-40 crowd either.  Many people wander through their whole life living in this constant crisis.  Not knowing how and not able to confront this wall.  We’ll get into that in a future post when I discuss obstacles to living your Purpose..

Seeking our Life Purpose is the subconscious/unconscious act of going through that (not-so mid-life) crisis with the understanding that it will allow us to be happy and fulfilled (whatever that is, right?) when it is all said and done before we die.

This happens to people every day in every corner of the earth.  Some people call it a religious experience, or a voice in the head, or a force calling them … whatever.  Thing is, young and old, man and woman, and then and now; we have either felt something like it in our lives or we know someone who has felt or achieved it.  It doesn’t even have to be a major health crisis either.  There are as many reasons as there are people because everyone has a beautiful and unique gift to share from the expression of their Life Purpose.

Before I finally got it, I used to curse the world for punishing me for being a good guy, and always giving my best to everything and everyone – and still I had no joy or fulfillment in my life.  Of course, during those years, I didn’t know about my disabilities or the education from life introspection and social observation.

When I said in an earlier post about “blood, sweat, and tears” being a part of seeking Life Purpose, I wasn’t kidding.  In my case, I was blessed/cursed with having many talents, curiosities, and opportunities to use my self as a lab rat in this search.

During these years of searching, I felt as if there was a reason for my being here on this planet.

It wasn’t a religious or existential conviction; rather, it was a deep sense of being able to do something worthwhile with my short time life – so why not?  Besides, I thought it was better to get along with people rather than always fighting.

.

Feelings We All Share

These feelings and type of experiences are not limited to just my life.  Our life “stories” are just as similar, just the names, people, and activities are different – but still the same.  It all comes down to the same basic questions and emotions we experience ourselves:

  • Feelings of emptiness, being lost, and unfulfillment

  • Always questioning our selves in our motivations, needs, and wants

  • There is something missing in our life – “is this all there is?”

  • We are secretly lonely (not even close loved ones may be aware)

  • Feeling like life is out of control

  • Envious of others when they have successes – especially when we intuitively recognize they are living their Life Purpose

  • Feel like we are always making the wrong decisions

  • There is lots of drama in our life

  • Begin to feel victimized (whether real or perceived)

  • Wondering if we really ARE just automatons (or robots) living out our time

These thoughts haunt many of us consciously, subconsciously, and/or unconsciously.  Regardless, it is usually present in our lives and forces us to wonder.

What is the “story” of your life?  Is your wonderings painful?  Are you enjoying the learning experience of your life?  Is it difficult?

In the next post, we will look at the great joy and benefit of Living A Life WITH Purpose.  See you next time.

Kevin

The “Blue & White” Blues

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Verse 1: The 60’s

 

In another era, quite some time ago,

The Leafs ruled the game, and it always showed.

Every night they came to skate,

We die-hard fans would celebrate.

.

The Leafs stood proud and played the puck right,

Armstrong and Keon would win the night.

The Stanley Cup was ours to hold,

We’ll keep on winning – for years, we’re told.

.

 

CHORUS:

 

We’ll always be contenders,

The Leafs are not pretenders.

     We want the Cup,

     We won’t give up,

So we shall not surrender.

 

 

Verse 2: The 70’s

.

The next few years, the team would build,

As trusting Leaf fans, not exactly thrilled.

We’ll turn the corner, we’ve nothing to fear,

Cup’s on the horizon”, that’s what we’d hear.

.

We traded, we drafted, we played our cards smart,

Sittler, McDonald and Williams brought heart.

We fought through the brawls, we raised a few heroes,

But where it most counted, we still had fat zeroes.

.

 

CHORUS:

 

We’ll always be contenders,

The Leafs are not pretenders.

     We want the Cup,

     We won’t give up,

So we shall not surrender.

 

There’s always a next season,

The Leafs are only teasin’.

     We’re behind you,

     We’re bleeding Blue,

We’re fans beyond sound reason.

.

.

BRIDGE: The 80’s

 

They fiddled, they fuddled, and generally muddled, all fans can do is drink,

Without all this hope, we’re just dopes on a rope, because the Maple Leafs stink!

 

They pittered, they pattered, as if nothing mattered, and still the Cup they’d deny,

With Ballard – no wins, yet we still hung in, and we promised we wouldn’t cry.

 

 

 

.

Verse 3: The 90’s

 

After years of waiting, the Leafs have arrived,

The Cup is soon ours, we won’t be denied.

Burnsie had wisdom, and the skills to lead,

As fans we went crazy, we’ll finally succeed.

 

The season brought promise, the Leafs were legit,

With Gilmour and Potvin, we readied to commit.

We got fired up, and prepared for great advances.

Then that damn Gretzky, he killed our chances.

 

.

REPEAT CHORUS     …..

 

 

CLOSING (slow):

 

So here we sit,

another year gone,

our beer is warm,

another yawn.

We want a winner,

is that too much to ask,

‘cause if you don’t do it soon,

We’ll kick your ass.

 

 

REPEAT CHORUS     …..

 
 
 

Fear: Time to Tell the Truth – Ending Fear

The first time (many years ago) when I attempted suicide, I knew then without a doubt, removing the Fear of Death from my life was the most freeing and transcending experience I could ever expect.  (I implore you though, do not consider an attempt just to see if it is true!)

Gladly, because I wasn’t successful in my goal (and the final three that followed, again many years ago), I am able to re-discover and experienc the greatest joys we always read and hear about when it comes to enjoying life to the max.  Sadly, while I assume not too many people get this – but, I’ve come to realize that humankind is fooling itself when it comes to fear.

We THINK we KNOW, and we tell others about what we think we know, and that is based on misinformation and double-talk passed down from a time when we didn’t know.  Actually, those who do know about fear make lots and lots of money from that knowledge.

Here are some of the ways I noticed Fear used against us everywhere and we accept it’s use against us:

  • Business – to sell to us

  • Organized Religion – to save us

  • Government – to protect us

  • Media – to inform us

  • Family – to train us

  • Social Oganizations – to delude us

  • Entertainment – to titillate us

  • Money Markets – to free us

  • Medicine – to study us

  • Politics – to confuse us (haha!)

  • Big Pharma – to medicate us

  • Education – to prepare us

** I’ll explain in further detail in future posts on Fear.

Since having this awareness about Fear, this is not to say that life has been one of leisure and comfort; rather, I’ve never worked so hard in my life to suck everything out of my experiences and to fully appreciate how life is lived – in all it’s beauty AND ugliness.

And this is not to say that I have my life all together and face every situation without concerns as I walk about as a beacon of inspiration.  On the contrary.  I am human, so I have ‘things I am working on’ all the time.  I have natural reactions, and anger, and pain, and …

So, from my vast experiences, wide and varied education, and with hundreds of interactions with people since, I feel I can confidently assert that:

_________

Fear is the Greatest Abuse
we inflict upon ourselves and others.

_________

We are in it every day, we see it every day, and it is used against us every day.

We run away from it, we fear it, and we breathe every moment hoping we are prepared against some kind of impending disaster (insurance?).

When I really opened my mind to this and saw the ugliness of the world, I became disempowered and unwilling to play the Fear Game.  I couldn’t come to terms with the morass inflicted upon us by using Fear as a weapon against the masses.  But sometime within the last few years (maybe when I turned 50, and not an “aberrationed” experience), I began to see and experience first-hand why the world needs compassion and understanding.  I now share in genuine moments of true relationship – and not always comfortable for us. But each of us know at least the relationship is real.  And our love grows.

______  .  ______

As I study and learn more about Fear, I am able to understand that I can rid myself of Fear and live a life that is more wonderful and adventurous and fun than ever before imagined or dared..

Now, even when things appear to seem hopeless and desolate, I live more in Freedom than ever before.  The Freedom comes in the understanding that Fear is the controlling force – and in that understanding, I let go of the Fear.

It isn’t always easy – after all, even science tells us that any force against nature has an equal and opposite force,  Therefore, if I’m up to good things that are taking me out of my ‘nature’ and pushing the limits of possibility, then I have to be prepared to expect nature to push back with the same force of opposition (economy, politics, family, social standing, finances, etc).

______  .  ______

To summarize from the last post on Fear and how it happens to us:

.

  1. We take in the information, then

  2. We INSTANTLY warn ourself from being startled by automatically and normally setting off phyical reactions like adrenalin (as in all animals), then

  3. Believing that feeling, we INSTANTLY search our memory for past feelings, then

  4. Believing that memory, we INSTANTLY give the feeling meaning, then

  5. Believing that meaning, we take action based on the meaning that we automatically EXPECT to remove the problem.

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**  It doesn’t have to be this way.  **

We can eliminate all the problems and avoid the distress.
Read on …

______  .  ______

*** A strong reminder: these are only my observations – they are not the Truth.  I will add though, the insights I’ve shared are common in most societal institution in every culture.

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The Big Secrets About Fear
.

  • Fear is only a feeling

  • There is a difference on whether we see or imagine the source of Fear > FEAR IS TIME-BASED

  • The feeling we get when we label it Fear is the EXACT SAME FEELING WE GET WHEN WE ARE EXCITED.  Yes, Fear feels the same as excitement.

  • Fear is the label we give the feeling

  • – we have 4 distinct opportunities to feel Fear and still not be afraid

  • – How we react when faced with a fear is only a “conditioned response

______  .  ______

The Four Opportunities to Eliminate Fear

>> Keep in mind that the focus of this discussion is on our PERCEPTIONS of threats (imagined) and not REAL threats that affect our lives or of those we love.

***

The first thing that happens when we are caught off guard (to start the process):

1 – We Warn Ourselves

  • The adrenalin rush we feel is only a natural biological effect

  • The feeling happens no matter what – we cannot control it

  • The feeling has the same purpose and is common in all life

       DOWNSIDE:

  • It is too easy to automatically think the worst about the feeling

       UPSIDE:

  • The chaotic jungle of life on this planet gives us a great internal warning system for real reasons to be fearful

1st OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST CONCLUSION

  • WE CAN consciously acknowledge the feeling of the adrenalin and logically understand it can be a misread feeling

  • Opens up the mind to further inquiry of the “real” threat that scares us > more possibilities for understanding

Here is a personal example from my life that can illustrate my assertion:

When I was playing piano as a young boy, I was always encouraged to play well.  My piano teacher taught me to learn and express my talents through my inherent love of music (which I still hold today).  My father taught me to learn through the fear of losing the music because “it costs a lot of money to put you through this!” 

I can remember feeling scared and nervous before a recital (I used to play recitals at places like the old Eaton store in downtown Toronto for old rich people).  My teacher helped me quickly overcome fear of performing in public after a couple of performances.

This is what happened:

After I shared with my teacher how I was feeling (the adrenalin, hands sweaty, pacing, breathing), she told me I was wrong about my feeling.  Here it comes, I thought, now I am REALLY going to feel bad.

What she said to me was this:

“Kevin, for whatever reason you think you are nervous, it is not true.  The real reason you feel this way is because you are EXCITED about performing.  You know your stuff.  The feelings you get before you perform are EXACTLY THE SAME as Fear – and you know you are scared.  So it’s got to be excitement.”

After about three times of being reminded, I have never, ever been nervous about performing in front of people.  I’ve performed in theatre, TV, movies, music, training, and public speaking, and I’ve always excelled in this area of life.  And when I see an opportunity to perform something, I GET EXCITED!

______  .  ______

The next thing that happens after we get the physical sensation caused by some unexpected event (whether real or perceived):

.
2 – We Search Our Memory for a Similar Event

       DOWNSIDE:

  • We are limited to our memories of events AS THEY HAPPENED AT THE TIME

  • We remember details as if we were still that age

  • The more trauma to our psyche > the more embedded in our memories

  • Our memory changes because of later events, more knowledge, health, etc.

Our memories are selective > it will search ANYTHING to match the feeling (depending on the current event when we get the feeling of the adrenalin rush).

        WORST DOWNSIDE:

  • once the feeling is felt, our memory USUALLY STARTS AT THE WORST explanation and works it’s way down

  • we are conditioned by civilization to start with BAD memories because we all live in Fear

 

2nd OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST MEMORY that comes to our mind.

  • We know the memory is untrustworthy because the memory is an automatic  random event from our brain.

Here is another example from my life:

When I approach an older man who reminds me of my late father (ie. Size, looks, sound, walk, or smell > I know that he is not my father, he just appears to me like the memory of my father.

Those memories of my father go back to the brutal childhood I endured.  There was much physical, psychological, and emotional abuse from him.  There was absenteeism, unexplained punishment, and never, ever a conversation with him in my first 17 years knowing him.

I learned over time that I didn’t have to fear male authority figures solely based on a memory.  Close to twenty years later when I saw him again, I grew to understand how memory taints our feelings.  By then, I came to understand that he wasn’t as big as I remembered; he was really just a broken man and bully; and he only did what he did out of his own fears.

This didn’t forgive his treatment of his eight children; but it did help me come to terms with my unfounded fears of older male authority figures.  I learned to change my behaviour because I knew I didn’t have to experience being with them and living from a misplaced feeling that I had to cower in secret fear and try to impress in order to achieve my/our goals.

______  .  ______

After the feeling and memory has arrived, then:

3 – We Tell Ourselves What the Feeling and Memory (together) Means to us.

It has been dissected and discussed over eons humankind’s eternal and most individual personal search (whether we acknowledge it or not).  That inquiry is about our search for meaning.  It is THE crucial element in civilization because it helps us all to connect with one another by creating a common understanding.

This happened because … or she’s like that because … or this symbol binds us because … 

DOWNSIDE:

  • Since our initial and natural reaction to an unexpected event is to protect ourselves, we tend to automatically think the meaning of the feeling represents doom.

UPSIDE:

  • By giving things/events/behaviours meaning, it gives us reasons for why things happen and can create safety for us (from such things as possible real physical danger).

 

3rd OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to JUMP TO THE FIRST MEANING we automatically attach to the memory

  • we know the meaning is untrustworthy because the mind will attach anything that sticks

Another (boring?) example of how this can work:

I am involved in a lot of projects and I always have from my earliest memories as a boy.  I love them because they satisfy my need for constant change and variety, and I completely hate being on a clock and having a J.O.B. (Just Over Broke).

As I got older, my ability to achieve some of my goals was becoming more difficult.  I was becoming frustrated because things weren’t just getting done and I couldn’t depend on people.

The first thing I did was start going back through my memory to all my FAILED projects and started making checklists in my mind.  It wasn’t long before I found enough reasons to make myself feel bad.  Soon, I became fearful of sharing my ideas with others because I began doubting my skills and abilities.  That invoked my deep-seated fear of looking stupid.

One day, I decided to make a paper checklist of my ideas and projects (for a different project I’m working on right now).  Wow!  When I started to acknowledge the achievements I accomplished, I began to see patterns (as well as to feel better in knowing I wasn’t stupid after all, lol).

When I discovered I was selecting partners to work with me, I was choosing people who easily bought into the idea or were looking to impress me with their interest.  Not a good reason to select a working partner.

Since then, I realize that I don’t have to misjudge my ideas or the people working with me because I’ve changed my habits in the process.  Now when I embark on a new project, I may not have succeeded in the goal in the past, but that just means I learned something new to help me become better as a person.

______  .  ______

Then finally, after the brain INSTANTLY takes the event, and notices the feeling, and attaches it to a memory, and gives it a meaning, then

4 – We Take Action based on the Meaning We Gave to the Feeling

The classic theory on Fear tells us either we stay and defend or we run away called “fight or flight”.  This is typical whether the feeling of the Fear is real or perceived.  It is a conditioned reaction we are taught and affects every one of us (as animals).

.

4th OPPORTUNITY TO ELIMINATE FEAR:

We can CHOOSE not to REACT TO THE FIRST MEANING we automatically attach to the memory

  • we know everything has been untrustworthy so far, so a ‘second thought’ is required

When the Fear is real, such as someone is driving at us, the action is very apparent.  The person either jumps out of the way immediately or decides to take action head on.

When the fear is perceived, such as a Fear of Failure, it may not be so obvious.

An example of perceived fear such as above, the person may choose to never take courses to get promoted in the company.  If a person has a Fear of being Late (which would go deeper than that with further inquiry), they may act out by screaming aggressively at someone who slows them down or gets in their way.  Other examples of ways people react out of fear may appear as:

  • crying every time the person fears the other is leaving, or

  • physical fighting to avoid the fear of feeling embarrassed by another person, or

  • giving false compliments to overcome the fear of not being liked, or

  • becoming well-read to avoid the fear of looking stupid, and on and on …

The person may get stressed out at people just being themselves.  Someone standing on the escalator as they ride or someone fumbling around for change may be perceived as an enemy and then anybody in your way (which ends up being everybody) catches your derision.  The actions out of fear show up in many, many ways.

______  .  ______

To Recap …

In a nutshell to bring this conversation to close for today, here are the main points I’ve brought forward:

  1. Fear is not real

  2. Fear can be changed

  3. Fear is based on past memories

  4. We can live without Fear

.

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The Need

.

It crawls up my arms and up through my neck,

from the back of my head

It starts it’s trek.

.

Something is missing – a feeling so close.

The will it weakens

soon yeses from no’s.

.

I remember that voice lurking in my head.

It plays and teases

when I most dread.

.

Confronted and haunted, a puppet on a string.

I guard with fear –

that voice, it stings.

.

Surrendering power, truth fills my soul.

I lust the loss

my heart has been sold.

.

The smoke stings my eyes, I lower my face.

Logic arrives

and hides my disgrace.

.

July 2010