Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stress Wizard Coach Visits

My long time friend and associate, Raven Dana (Stress Wizard Coaching), just found a weekend in the midst of her busy teaching and coaching schedule to come out to Oregon for a visit. She must be a Wizard, because we had outstanding weather—blue skies, sunshine and moderate temperatures—the whole time she was here.

Besides catching up on the many years since we had actually been in the same place geographically, we took the obligatory trip to the Oregon Coast visiting all the parks and drive outs from Ecola State Park to Depoe Bay. Of course, the Max Line trip to downtown Portland where “walking the waterfront” was the objective of the day was also enjoyed.

After a home break for a late lunch, we were off again to take a stroll through the Tualatin Hills Nature Center. Naturally, after that we were hungry again so we were off to find a place to eat. (That’s another story for another time, but suffice it to say, a senior moment seemed to lose the location of the restaurant where I thought we were going to eat!)

I met Raven when she was connected with Whole Life Learning Center in Denver, CO, a wholistic education and growth center I founded in 1973. Since then she has continued to study with the best in her field and enrich her life with new skills that have led to her successful coaching practice. We lost touch through the years, but thanks to Google I relocated her several years ago. She has been a powerful support to me as I have worked my way through my own “stuff.” Her support comes from a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it is place that absolutely knocks one off his/her duff of complacency, or whatever else may be holding you back, and gives you the opportunity to see a new way of climbing out of darkness into the light.

There are few people in life with whom you can truly say anything and not only be understood, but accepted, while at the same time not allowing you to get away with excuses for not being who you are capable of being—all this and still a strong friendship. Many people might wilt under such intense reality. For me it was a refreshing and renewing experience. I think it was for her as well, particularly since it was her vacation!

It may be another lifetime before we visit each other again (not!), but there is much to savor in the meantime. I wish we could all experience such friendships.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Maintaining the Body Infrastructure

In August 2008 I wrote a post on “The Infrastructure of Well-being” after a visit to my cardiologist’s office following the placement of a stent in my one remaining coronary artery around the heart. Yesterday I went for my one-year follow up and was pleased to find that my heart is still beating and the EKG showed no further problems. Seems like the blood is flowing to all parts of the body. Excellent!

It has been an interesting year since that hospital visit last July. I found myself faced with having to take specific steps to get off my duff and do some serious walking, bike riding and moderation to my diet. It was a struggle at first. My legs ached and my feet were sore. The good news was that I no longer had the stress in my arms that made them feel like water logged sponges. For the most part I maintained the exercise program and my twice-weekly aerobics class. However, I found myself tending to use excuses for not walking because it was too hot or too wet or . . . You know, don’t you, how easy it is to give up on something that seems to interfere with other things you want to do. I do faithfully attend my aerobics class because taking a class is one way I have found that is self-encouraging. I have an excellent instructor who is very well trained, especially in senior fitness. Also, I enjoy the others in the class all of whom sign up for every term and have since the class began several years ago.

Two weeks ago I needed some maintenance on my pickup. The shop I go to is in Tigard about five miles from where I live. I took the truck down, rode my bike back home (in the rain) and then rode it back again in the afternoon when the job was done. I am fortunate to have access to a wonderful park system that I could ride through for almost the whole trip. I had just a few blocks to go after I left the park.

After the riding experience I realized more clearly I had not been faithful to the maintenance of my own body infrastructure. I know I have to maintain my car so I do, but my body? Having been so healthy all my life I guess I figured it would just take care of itself. You would think I would know better—and I do. I simply had let excuses get in the way. I have just returned from my walk in the park today and decided I needed (for my benefit) to write this follow up to my story from last August.

I do not believe one needs to be a fanatic about taking care of oneself. I do think, especially as we age, that it is necessary to be more conscious of what we do to maintain our health. I also know that our emotional well-being plays a large part in how seriously we make the effort to take care of ourselves. For the year leading up to my operation, I really didn’t care much about anything. I had enough on my mind to just work through an emotional malaise that permeated almost everything in my life. The operation was a wake up call to decide whether I wanted to continue the not caring or whether I wanted to change my focus and determine to live, not simply exist taking up space, but live with purpose and enthusiasm.

That decision was a turning point that gave me a new outlook and some specific opportunities to enjoy my life. A special book[1] came to me that seemed written just for me. I have heard people say things like that many times, but this time I was saying and meaning it. After reading it three times, I found new answers to my questions each time. Subsequently, I attended a weekend workshop in Denver, based on the book, that furthered my effort to regain my balance physically and spiritually. (Go here to read my review.) I know what I experienced was personal and would not necessarily reflect how others might respond. What was important for me, though, was that it worked. It is much easier for me to stay on task with my interest in living and writing. I believe that my present course is assisting me blend my inner/outer self and bring mental/emotional balance.

Other books and articles have also found their way to me, always at just the right time. I took time out to return to the ocean where so much renewal takes place for me. In short, I got off my duff and took charge of my life again. Our lives will be profoundly blessed as we determine to consciously care about life, about our family and friends. I have found a new appreciation for old friends and new friends. They give me reasons to get up in the morning and want to “reach out and touch someone!” It seems the experience is reciprocal, because I find them reaching out to touch me too. All of these experiences are part of maintaining our body infrastructure. The body is only as healthy as its mental/emotional equivalent and that is something that is entirely within our direction.

1 - The Matter Of Mind, by Djwhal Khul, through Kathlyn Kingdon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steve Jobs Commencement Address at Stanford (A Must Read)

With appreciation to the folks at “The View From Outside My Tiny Window” blog, who brought this item to the attention of their readers, I am also recommending this address. Not only is it an insightful look into the life of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Corporation, but it is also a compelling story marking a path for success in business and in life. If you are a graduate or know one, I urge the reading of this address. Click the URL below or cut and paste it into the address line of your browser.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Manifest Results of the Radical Right

I have been having a difficult time refraining from commentary on the continuing rash of nut case killings out there that are incessantly fanned by the insane extreme right wing media, ala Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Riley and Fox News in general.

OMG! Has free speech run amuck? If we cannot use our freedoms with a little—just a little—good sense, we are apt to find a revolution on our hands. People tend to get very tired of radicalism—right or left—and can, as a result, quickly begin to feel justified in radical reaction as well.

It is difficult to balance our unique freedoms with the common sense necessary for them to be productively applied. There is certainly a place for fervent proclamation of one’s views. And there is an equal place for the honest opposition. It was Will Rogers who said something to the effect that a difference of opinion makes a horse race.[1] Out of honest, non-inflamatory debate both sides can be persuaded to consider compromise and beneficial steps forward in most cases. When debate becomes blind rage, there is seldom hope for compromise. When that occurs the potential for destructive behavior is immanent.

This destructive behavior has surfaced increasingly culminating in the murder of Dr. Tiller, the attack on the Holocaust Museum resulting in the death of the guard, Stephen T. Johns, and the shooting of military recruiter, William Long. So myopic is the Republican Party that when the Homeland Security report on the rise in chatter about unrest in the country was released, they forced an apology from Secretary Janet Napolitano. Now, of course, we see the validity of the report.

I am an Independent and I believe constructive dialogue is necessary in order to try to reach agreement on issues that concern the citizenry. That dialogue is generally between our two major political parties with the moderate independent body generally moving toward what they consider the best arguments presented. Now, however, we do not have honest debate. At a time when our country needs cooperative effort to solve our economic and social problems one party—the Republican—has chosen to remove itself from the debate. They not only say “No” to any and everything, but they refuse to be courageous enough to offer alternatives. Into this vacuum of leadership have come the most vile representatives of free speech we have seen in decades—Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich.

Their rants, ravings and outright lying are largely responsible for the current tone of debate and the surfacing of extremists from the shadows with an axe to grind. This hooting and hollering is not necessary in order to promote an opposing view to what opponents or the current administration is offering. All such behavior does is encourage the other nut cases to feel justified in murdering, slandering, and abusing our freedoms. If we are going to tolerate this behavior without challenging in honest debate the merits of our differences, and encouraging a lowering of the raging rhetoric, we are apt to find ourselves armed to the teeth and in battle with each other. (See my post: High Noon At the OK Corral—April 20,2009.)

Folks, there’s real trouble in River City and it’s time for saner heads to prevail. This is no time to simply fall back on metaphysical mumbo-jumbo about how everything is working according to some great plan beyond our present comprehension. I happen to believe in what some may call “The Divine Plan.” However, within that plan is the opportunity and necessity to read the writing on the wall—mene, mene, tekel upharsin—(Daniel 5:25-28)[2] It is time to get busy using our good sense and spiritual power to call for calm consideration of how to get beyond religious and political radicalism—right or left!

Your principles are as important as mine. Neither your principles nor mine will be compromised by our willingness to discuss reasonably the merits of each other’s position. Sometimes I may just be incorrect in my conclusions. Sometimes you may be incorrect in yours. We must be able to recognize this possibility before we can even begin our discussion!

[1] What he actually said was: A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries.

[2] The essence of the meaning is: You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.