Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Designing A Life

The other day a friend suggested I should write a book, perhaps a novel, wherein I could develop the characters much as I had experienced them in my own life. After all, I had already written so much about my life experiences. My response was that I had thought of writing another book, but a novel? It seemed impossible. How could I hide the reality of the characters? Wouldn’t it simply be a self-serving document, one-sided in its display how I saw others?

The thought kept tugging at my attention, but with no discernable sense of how I could accomplish such a task. Then, suddenly I thought of an approach that might work. It wouldn’t be a novel, really. It would be more like the development of a Master Plan for designing a life! That notion did intrigue me and I think I will work with it in meditation for clarity on how to proceed. If it happens, it will probably end up on this blog to begin with. Who knows, you may be the first to witness an approach to Designing A Life!

Those of you who have followed my writing efforts through the last several years know that what I write about is what I am working on in my life. That is how I have always approached writing. You also know that it has not always been an easy road. Every character in my life has his or her own story, some of them much more interesting than mine, I’m sure. And yet, here we all are together—family, friends, business associates, and even a few strangers in the night! Certainly, to the extent I would write about others in my life, the story would be from my point of view and as such, only half of the whole story. But it would be a story about how I saw my interactions with others and the challenges faced. It would be about how I attempted to resolve issues, share in adventures, reap rewards of accomplishment and ultimately learn something about living successfully.

For me there is a big difference between writing what is currently on my mind and laying out a map for a series of stories with a cast of characters and a variety of events they shared. As organized as I consider myself to be, this feels like a different game and until I gain some sense of the rules of how it is best played, I will have to move with thoughtful deliberation. Now that the idea for creating it has been planted, I will see what nurturing it brings about. Details later!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Memories Are Made Of This!

I was going through photos on my computer this morning wondering whether I had a software program good enough to do the kind of editing that I hoped to do. Before I knew it I was totally lost in the hundreds of photos I have going back over 100 years! Yes, I have family photos that go back at least four generations. I began collecting and organizing these photos several years ago when I realized it was “my turn” to add genealogical information to my family history.

My uncle, Stanley Perin, (at the right) spent years researching the history of the Perin family from the time John Perryn sailed from England in 1635 and landed in Braintree, a small town on the Boston harbor August 10, 1635. In 1935 Stanley put together the first treatise on the family with the hope that succeeding heads of the family branches would continue to add to the body of information. Subsequently, after much research, he published a book on the John Perin Family. My father gave me a copy of this history and the book shortly after I graduated from high school. Unfortunately, neither he nor my older brother completed their parts of the history. I completed my branch of the history and am now looking at improving upon the work for posterity.
Many families today have become interested in their roots. How many family members have much interest in adding to the details is somewhat less clear. For my part, I hoped my son and daughter would be interested enough to add their own marks on the family history. Of course, that is for them to decide.

So here are a few quick looks at my clan. The Marsh family (my mother’s side). Grandpa and Grandma Perin. My mother, father and family. My family in Alaska. My son’s family. My daughter and her husband and their two boys.

Folks, Memories Are Made of This!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weltschmerz Followup

A reader of my post on Weltschmerz reminded me that Daryn Kagan will be on live taking calls about real positive events. You may be interested. The blog response is below and offers the information about the program.

What a blog post!!!! I am truly moved with your write up, Dan. Talking about Daryn Kagan, just to share with you and your blog readers that Daryn will be coming live on call with learn from my life to take questions from people on a live call. I am looking forward to this session and hope all would love to come and listen to her. Here is the link to register free


Weltschmerz (VELT-shmerts): German, from Welt (world) and Schmerz (pain). It refers to world-weariness or sadness felt at observing the difference between physical reality and the ideal state. I came across this word in a book I just finished reading, The Open Focus Brain, Les Fehmi & Jim Robbins. I suddenly realized I now had a “label” for intense emotions I have been experiencing from time to time for the last several years. Isn’t it interesting that once we can place a label on something, we seem to be able to pigeonhole it, analyze it, and in some cases actually come to a better understanding of it?

In my case I came to understand that my beliefs about the true nature of reality were often at odds with what I saw in the world around me. It was not that my world differed so greatly from my beliefs (though there is always room for improvement). It was more that as I witnessed strife in the world, both in individual lives and in the tragic events in places like most of Africa, or in the impoverished sectors of our own country, my heart ached. It was at once the realization of what could be and at the same time what was!

On the other hand, when I witnessed the effort of an individual to make a difference in his or her own corner of life, my heart swelled with warmth and appreciation. There are many who rise to the occasion to make the world a better place, to remake it in an image of love and caring. Daryn Kagan, former CNN reporter who now authors a web site ( devoted to people making a positive contribution to the world, shares stories every day about the successes people bring about often in the face of great odds. Several of the network news programs provide weekly stories of people making a difference. I feel that more of us need to pay attention to the powerful and good things occurring in our world. It is one way to begin the transformation of consciousness necessary to bring about the re-creation of our world in this positive image.

Some will always downplay efforts to be positive stating that it is unrealistic and naïve to pretend all is right with the world. Well, my friends, it is not pretense to believe in the possibility of transformation. We have a choice in how we meet life. We can lament the apparent shortcomings of society to live up to its potential, or we can see within even the shortcomings the efforts of those who have chosen to rise above the sadness and difficulty and claim the highest and best of which they can conceive.

I believe it is a strength to compassionately embrace apparent faltering in our humanity in order to work together to rise to a higher demonstration of our potential. It is one thing to feel sad about the disparity between potential and physical reality. It is another to know that you are aware of it because you can do something about it. Accept the challenge! Find what your heart wants to do. Extend yourself wherever possible to encourage the belief in transformation, healing and abundance. Never underestimate the power of your own consciousness to bring about the change you believe is possible. Your belief will lead you to those places and people for whom you can make a difference. That difference may come as simply as a word of encouragement shared, or contribution of time or money. Whatever it is, it is your belief in action and it will make the difference. Your awareness of “world pain” is your opportunity to provide the salve of healing, harmony and peace.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Memory

Last week yet another special person in my life made her transition. My former mother-in-law, Doris Baltzell, finally released her soul from the body that had served her well for over 90 years.

Doris remained a good friend long after I was no longer part of the “family,” even though we had few exchanges directly due to my being geographically separated. I was always welcomed in the family home I first visited while still in high school in the 50’s.

What I remember and what I admired about Doris was her shy, yet humorous interaction with me. She had a twinkle in her eye matched only by the twinkle in the eye of Leonard, her husband who preceded her in death by many years. I spent many hours at their kitchen table sharing stories and experiences. She is missed, of course, but she is already walking the path of light beyond our vision. And in the words of the poet, James Dillet Freeman. She

Walks along the road of life that never ends.
She will find it is not death, but dawn.
We do not doubt that You are there, as here,
And You will hold her dear.

God bless and guide you, Doris!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Journals, Diaries and Pathways

I do not know how many of you maintain diaries or journals, but for the last forty years or so I have kept many. I have journals in which I have jotted down ideas, plans, experiences, hopes and dreams. I have meditation journals where I recorded meditations and insights. I have dream journals dedicated strictly to night dreams and patterns that I have seen there through the years. I also have records of several hundred “trance” experiences I have had through the years.

For me the value in keeping these journals has been how they help me clarify and refine my consciousness. Often, in our minds, thoughts flow through so quickly and chaotically that it is difficult to pin down any meaning. It is like a word jumble. When I write down my thoughts and feelings, it slows the process down so that I can more deliberately examine content and understand the meaning.

I have on many occasions returned to past journals. What a revelation that can be! First, I notice patterns of recurring experiences which show me that I have still not resolved certain issues. It may be that certain types of people keep showing up in my life who irritate me or cause me to become defensive. It may be repetitive experiences that leave me feeling unaccepted or still lacking in some manner. On the other hand, I can clearly see progression in how I have dealt with issues in my life. It is like the beautiful flowers amidst the thorns of the cactus! Some challenges simply don’t appear in my life any more. Some of the dreaming has actually produced results in changed life styles and new people in my circle of friends.

Perhaps the most meaningful result of reading these journals up to now is that I realize I have become much freer from dogma and the many shoulds or should nots that I accumulated along the way, starting from childhood and continuing through my seminary experiences. By the time I left seminary for my first church I had pretty much set my beliefs in a stone mold. Oh, I did expand upon them and continued to learn, but I was clear about the base of my belief system. As I worked within the system that I had trained for, most of my beliefs were not challenged. It is only as I left that system that I discovered another whole world of people who thought quite differently. They had radical ideas that challenged the status quo, political correctness, and racial/ethnical standards of the day. I found myself stimulated in mind and heart to explore these new, open vistas free of my old judgments of the way things are supposed to be.

That was the beginning of the Whole Life Learning Center. That activity was operated successfully for ten years before I closed the organization and began a different adventure in the more typical business community. Periodically, I reached back to those times in my life and attempted to reactivate some aspects of what I did during those earlier years. While this was an invigorating experience, nothing seemed to catch on with me totally as it had in the 70s. The last attempt to “live in the past” ended one year ago with the cessation of the new Whole Life Learning Center.

What I have come to understand in terms of what is important in my life right now is that I thrive on exploring and writing about new insights that come to me as I meet my everyday challenges. I enjoy the friends with whom I am privileged to exchange ideas. I appreciate in a deeper way my family, both those near and far. I also realize my family is more extended than I once thought. Some who have been friends are really my family in the truest sense of the word.

How does this have anything to do with journals and diaries? Well, I have been able to arrive at some of my current conclusions by reviewing the development of my attitudes and beliefs in my various journals. Even though I have at times felt stuck, my journals reveal that I am at a different place in consciousness for dealing with some of the situations that appear similar to past conditions. So I will continue this process. I encourage you to do the same. If for no other reason, writing down your thoughts and feelings will help organize them and you will understand them more clearly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Heart Of The Matter

Did you miss me? Oh, wait, you didn’t know I was away. Well, friends, I took one of those unplanned brief vacations at Hospital Hotel. You know the place. It’s where all the folks scurry around trying to take care of your every need and see that you have personal care right down to the food you are served. Yessir, that’s where I was from Saturday night until I was released this morning.

While at the Hospital Hotel I had at least four doctors and double that in nurses and nurse’s aides popping me pills, feeding me, giving me volumes to read so I could take better care of myself after I left their hospitality. (Hospital-ity! Get it?) They even gave me a DVD that I had to watch before I left and could watch again at home. Now I call that door to door service!

So, what was this trip all about? Well, it seems--and no real surprise to me--that I had let enough stress build up and a growing lack of interest in much of life that it finally knocked me upside the head and said, “Now, you will pay attention. Or else!” It’s the “Or else” that gets you. I knew that I had a developing case of heart trouble. It has been around, undiagnosed, for a number of years. I simply chose not to pay attention to the signs, describing the heaviness in my chest and pain down my arms as being out of breath. It got to the point that going up the one flight of stairs in my apartment building left me “out of breath” and in pain. It all came to a head right after my doctor’s appointment. She realized the gravity of the situation and prescribed a nitroglycerin patch and those dynamite pills for emergencies. I also scheduled an appointment with a cardiologist for July 1. The pill worked the first time I tried them. But Saturday night three of them didn’t. 911 here I come!

The resolution of the first part of this story consisted of discovering that both main arteries in front and in back of my heart were totally clogged. That left one other that was still suitable for a stent placement. The procedure was easily accomplished and the next day I came home.

The heart of the matter, and what needs to be the rest of the story, is that I realized how I had set myself up for this condition. In fact, I really have felt that there wasn’t anything else I needed to do in this life experience and I was ready to move on. Of course, that took my focus off of living and onto how do I get things in order so as to cause the least difficulty to those who might be picking up the pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I was not, am not, talking about taking my life. At least not in some overt manner. However, you and I both know that you cannot dispense with your interest in new life experiences and continuing growth and still be living.

The saving grace for me in all of this is that I had just recently recovered my interest in writing, so I was journalizing and adding posts to my blog. This is my creative interest and even during the hospital stay my mind was working on meaning and purpose and how to turn this into a positive learning experience. I was helped immeasurably by the fact that I have several very special friends and special relatives who always make it clear--if I will listen--that I am not only loved, but needed around here. To do what, I might easily ask. To be here comes the answer.

I am so grateful to those who refuse to give up on me and who urge me to be a part of their lives in some way. My former sister-in-law and her husband, Elaine and Lynn, and their son, Bryan, won’t let me escape the family, even if I wanted to, and I never have. Even now, as they face the transition of their mother and grandmother, they made time for me! It has always been difficult for me to let anyone do anything for me. I was self-sufficient. I could take care of myself. Obviously, I cannot take care of myself as well as I thought.

The lesson is plain and right in front of me, I am not alone! So quit acting like it and enjoy being part of this earthly group of family and friends. That, my friends, is The Heart of the Matter.