Tag Archives: spiritual

Trust, Respect, and Expectation

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There are foundational truths in life.

My grandfather used to tell me:

Honey,” he said, “trust and respect are two things in life that should never be given for free. They must be earned.”

Over the years his lesson has been a compass. He intended that I understand what it means to be honorable, to have integrity, and his lesson has played a pivotal role in my personal development.

He was Old Breed Marine Corp, a veteran of WWII, fighting in the Pacific with the First Marine Division, Guadalcanal. He survived the war, and the Great Depression before it, working in the Civilian Conservation Corp and riding the rails across the country to pick fruit or do anything to make ends meet. He was hardened by life but honorable, and it was his way that looking someone in the eye with a handshake and a promise mattered.

When he gave his word, he meant it and he kept it. People on the receiving end of his handshakes and promises knew without question he was good on his word because they knew him. He had a deep respect for the act of earning things. His lesson to me was that actions speak directly to a person’s integrity. You never have to guess at the type of person you’re dealing with because their actions show you who they are.

At the heart of integrity lies the question:

Who Do I Want to Be?

Who we want to be is totally up to us. We choose who we want to be with every promise, commitment, and endeavor. The question of integrity, of ‘who I want to be’, is a fill-in-the-blank exercise repeated constantly throughout life.

Do I want to be taken seriously? My grandfather would say, “Better act like it.”

Do I want to be respected? “Better be respectful..”

Do I want to be trusted? “Better earn it…”

Exercising integrity is how we earn it…

It’s also how others earn our trust and respect, and it’s important we hold people to their word before lavishing them with our trust and respect. This doesn’t mean we should disrespect others before they’ve earned our respect. On the contrary, being disrespectful is never a show of integrity, it’s just ugly. Common courtesy, being considerate of others, is a sign of great integrity, especially when others around us are being inconsiderate and discourteous. Someone who is disrespectful, who lies, cheats, steals, or takes advantage of others has effectively chosen to act in ways that deny them the right to any respect or trust. Unfortunately, it’s too often the case that those who act out in such ways believe they are entitled to trust and respect. Too often, the most inconsiderate among us hold the expectation that people should trust and respect them without ever doing the work to earn it.

Expectation goes hand-in-hand with the current topic. When my grandfather gave his word to someone he understood that in doing so, he created an expectation…right out of thin air, like magic. The moment he gave his word, suddenly there was an expectation for him to fulfill it. They expected what he promised would come to pass. Some would have us believe that expectations are the root of all frustration, but what they fail to understand is that there is a big difference between leveling blind expectation and leveling expectation on a something promised.

BIG difference…

There are times we might expect others to behave a certain way, or expect them to treat us a certain way, and when they don’t, they fall short of our expectations. That is leveling blind expectation. When we hold a person to an expectation they never promised to fulfill we orchestrate our own frustration. However, expecting someone to keep their word is right and good. Expectation in this context is not freely giving away trust and respect, it’s part of the process of allowing someone the opportunity to earn our trust and respect. It’s expecting someone to uphold their end of the bargain. If they choose to sign up for the task, to commit, we rightly level expectation on that commitment and hold them to it.

Inevitably, there will be times when people don’t act with integrity and don’t fulfill their promises, and so fail to earn our trust and respect. This should not invite disrespect or hurtful behavior. Merely dust off your sandals and walk away, Dear Reader, even though it hurts. It hurts when people don’t fulfill the promises or commitments they make to us because we don’t expect it. Unfortunately, some people simply don’t get it, don’t see it, or don’t care that their behavior is hurtful. Nobody in their life told them it wasn’t ok, or they were told but didn’t listen, or they listened but decided it was of little consequence. Sadly, some people couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves or their own situation or issues.

They aren’t in the habit of asking themselves who they want to be. They consistently hurt others and themselves because they do not subscribe to the simple tenet:

Trust and Respect are EARNED

If you want to be respected, be someone others can trust.

Nobody likes feeling as though they’ve been taken for granted, minimized, or ignored. I have two personal mantras: (1) Do Better, Be Better and, (2) There is Always a Way. These are consciously linked to my grandfather’s lesson. Striving to do better means my actions will have the potential to benefit others, but they also benefit me, because I’m happier when I do good things, when I improve, when I act in ways that fulfill who I want to be. Believing there is always a way provides me confidence in my convictions. I know that when I give my word, I do so with confidence that no matter what, I will find a way to fulfill my commitment.

Putting more positive truths to work feels good because it affirms our legacy and purpose. The business of earning trust and respect doesn’t leave much room for shame, self-loathing, or anger. Also nice to know that the next time we encounter those who can’t see past their own noses we don’t need to stick around. We don’t owe them anything. In those moments, we can hold fast to our own mantra, knowing it’s enough to be enlightened and feel the freedom of our own honesty and integrity.

Thanks for the lessons Grandpa, I sure miss you.

You rock…

A Man Walked Toward Me, Stumbling…

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I message with my mother pretty much every day. Since she is on the East Coast and I am in New Mexico, messaging is a way to constantly check in, make sure all’s well. When I receive a message from her, my phone sends me a notification that usually includes the first line of text. The title of this blog post is from one of those notifications.

Most of the time things we receive don’t grab our interest. Obviously, this one made me curious and had the same effect on you, Dear Reader, or you [likely] wouldn’t have bothered to click on this post. I won’t tell you how her story ended. It isn’t important. What is important, at least to me, is our reaction and awareness.

Are we so desensitized that we need shock value to register a response?

I’m desperate to grab your attention. I am not a ‘master blogger’ by any stretch of the imagination. I do my best to write honestly about topics I find interesting or important in the hope I can connect with people I’d never get the opportunity to meet in person. I am not out to make a buck. I am not looking to build an empire of ‘likes’. I am keenly aware that I am one small fish in a very large ocean. I merely make these attempts (blogs & visual art) to send a signal into the abyss with the hope of experiencing a camaraderie with others who also appreciate and identify small, profound aspects of the human condition.

Yet, for all my effort real connection is rare…

Why? We have grown impatient and shallow. We have less free time than ever before and we are bombarded with empty media content all day, every day. Everything is at our fingertips; entertainment, world news, goods & services. We don’t have to be seekers anymore, we’re only digesters. Hunter gatherers had to seek out food & water, shelter, companionship. Now, most of the world sits fingering device screens, digesting a steady stream of…well…dare I say it?…garbage. Content void of nourishing substance. Connection requires too much energy and time. We’re too busy. Too busy being dumbed down, and enjoying it.

I hate that this sounds so pessimistic, but truth is truth and it sets us free. Generically speaking, it’s true that there is a lot of good in the world, but it’s really rare for people to truly connect with other people these days and we are suffering for it. The power of touch, eye contact, and face-to-face communication has been steadily replaced by 1-minute virals and shock value. It saddens me in ways I cannot begin to describe. Social media is not connection. Most of it isn’t even real. It’s a lie, hollow and deceptive. Most media content delivers a false sense of belonging, connection, and happiness, aspects of life critical to the human experience. The eyes see, the brain digests, and over time people end up feeling more and more detached and inferior. What it offers is simple & tasty: something fast and easy that doesn’t require more from us than we’re willing to give. In contrast, relationships take time and effort.

Fleeting moments of kindness and sacrifice are nice, but they cannot provide longterm mental and emotional sustenance. It’s like taking a supplement in lieu of eating healthy food…the body can go a little while but eventually sickens and dies. We need to engage to nourishtouch more, love more, see more, experience more, be more…not just for ourselves, but for others. Seeking active engagement with others enriches the human experience. It exposes us to a variety of situations, confrontations, and conversations that prompt greater creativity, compassion, and wisdom. Engaging with others enlightens us and teaches us more about ourselves. In turn, we have the opportunity to enrich the lives of others with increased positivity and hope. Even the little things will take on a significance that blows the mind and enhances the senses. We need each other. There is no supplement or replacement therapy for human connection.

Are you there, Dear Reader?? I devote my time to this blog in the spirit of hope that you are there, and you care. Catch someone’s eye today, Dear Reader. Meet their gaze and engage. You won’t regret it and it’ll be time well spent. Rock on…

3 Minute Shower Meditation…

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I haven’t been keeping up with my blog as well as I’d like lately, but our daughter is a senior this year and so the added load of college applications, scholarship searches, and campus open houses is upon us.  Although we’ve been through the senior year routine before, with our son, those of you with children understand every situation is different and presents its own challenges.

In light of these circumstances, I thought it might be nice to blog about a small stress reliever I practice in the hopes you, dear reader, might find some relaxation in it as well.  I find it quite centering…

A lot of people have told me they don’t have time to devote to meditation every day.  But because I believe meditation is very important, this might be worthwhile, because though most of us don’t have time for anything ‘extra’, typically we all shower.  This kills two birds with one stone…enjoy!

Note:  These are tiny movements!  Keep eyes closed for the duration of the meditation and feel the effect of the water on your body….

  1.  After you complete your shower, increase temperature of water to as warm as you can stand and still be comfortable.
  2. Move forward until completely submerged, stand with arms at your sides and close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing.  If face is forward, you should have no trouble breathing through your mouth under shower stream.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  3. Once breathing is steady, begin to move fingertips slowly up the sides of your bodyConcentrate on the feel of your touch, NOT how your body feels to your fingertips.  Give thanks for your living body.  Continue until arms are above head.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  4. With arms overhead, lean back slightly until head and face are clear of water flow and stream is only on your chest.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the heart that pumps your blood, the breath in your lungs, the bones and muscles that support you and give you strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  5. Lower arms to your sides.  Lean back until shower stream is only on your abdomen.  Give thanks for what this area does for you each day; the processes and filtrations that make use of the things you take into your body, the miracle of the reproductive system.   The core muscles that support and give strength.  Hold about 30 seconds…
  6. Turn, face away from the shower streamExtend arms out in front of you and support yourself against the shower wall (if shower is too large, use hands on hips).  Posture should resemble a standing wall pushup.  Spread feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly at the hip until you feel the stream only on your lower backLet your abdomen release.  Feel the soothing warmth of the stream on your lower back.  Hold about 30 seconds….
  7. Maintain posture in slight bent position.  Now begin to slowly move upper body backward and forward, feeling stream move up and down your entire back.  Think of a tree in a gentle breeze.  Give thanks for your back; its ability to bend and straighten, giving you strength and support.  Continue for about 30 seconds…
  8. Straighten and turn to face shower streamSubmerge entirelyMove only your head using a long, slow up and down ‘yes’ motion.  As you do, feel the water moving over your face in a line from neck to top of head.  As your head moves down, imagine the line is removing negative thoughts, while as your head moves up your mind is opening to all of the potential contained within the universe.  Give thanks for the miracle of your mind, thought, and its power to heal.  Give thanks for your face and its ability to reveal your goodness to others.  Repeat for about 30 seconds…
  9. Facing forward as you started, step back out of shower stream, stand with arms at your sides and open your eyes.  You should feel a sense of center, calm, and rejuvenation!  🙂

Time, Control and other Illusions…

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Change is a constant.  We know this to be true.  Seasons change and visible change takes place; things grow, mature, decline, die.  In light of this fact, we should question:  Can any of us predict the exact day a flower will bloom?  Do we know what will entangle the hours and minutes of our inevitable death?  Can we, in the conscience of all that is spontaneous, say we will recognize a life-changing event prior to its inception?  May we hope to unravel the complexities of connection, discourse, and influence in our own existence, and all those around us?

No…we can do none of these things…

Therefore, we are not in control.  We control ourselves, our emotions, responses, and perceptions but nothing else.  If I plant a flower, feed and water it exactly right, it still holds within it the potential to die.  Nature is uncontrolled and breathing and she does not yield to human will.  We can include human beings in the mix too, because we are of this world, this ‘nature’; unpredictable and wild, somewhat stable, but certain to change.

So why, without constants, do we still believe we exercise control over the uncontrollable?

We strive to control because we find the illusion of control comforting…our belief in the illusion makes us at least feel as though we are not given up to chance, and feelings, it seems, are quite important to our perceptions of order.  We function under a grand ideal; an ideal which preaches unequivocally that stability trumps change, order trumps chaos and preparation trumps surprise…

Yet, we yearn for all things spontaneous.  We fill our legends, music, and movies with it and we dream lofty dreams.  Silly really, since true spontaneity is literally defined by throwing oneself into the disordered, wildness of the universe with the sole purpose of experiencing the unplanned with a devil-may-care attitude.  True spontaneity is a rare thing, because the ideal prefers boundaries and borders to spontaneity.   Spontaneity must conform to the comfortable parameters set forth by our illusions.  Illusions which state we can somehow exercise a measure of control over our ‘spontaneous’ experiences, somehow making them ‘better’.

Because, of course, all we do not know makes us uncomfortable.  So what we do not know is unpredictable, and requires explanation and measurement to become comfortable, even if the measurement and explanation is illusion…

Take time for example…does time, as we understand it, actually exist?

What does time fundamentally mean to a newborn?  How does it matter to the deathbed?  And all the spaces between, which are filled, managed, scheduled, forgotten, procrastinated, or logged…what do they mean?  Is life merely a score sheet of timed tally marks in which we, as human beings, with our ‘mathematical concepts’ of time set out to measure and denote and catalog that which is, in reality, unpredictable and constant change?

It is uncomfortable to us to admit our lack of control.  We feel set adrift on a vast, dark ocean in a rowboat.  But our perceptions are the issue, not our lack of control.  If we could, in a moment, consider the marvelous nature of life; its progression, change, and interrelatedness with the rest of creation.

I’m not advocating the rejection of common sense.  I’m not advocating harmful recklessness.  Nor am I advocating that anyone should operate outside the rules of culture in which they live and make a living.  In other words, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but perhaps try in small steps to begin letting go of the illusions of control that bring a false sense of comfort within your own life.

I’m talking about the possibility and potential inherent in the moment.  I am talking about the release of the paradigm.  The confining paradigm that works against the notion that any given moment is beautiful in its own right, full of complex shifts between good and bad, the latter producing infinite benefits if one could only embrace the lesson.  I’m talking about approachability, sensibility, respect, and compassion.  So that every individual you meet and moment you experience is not merely factored, measured, and sized up, but rather embraced as the natural infusion of force in which we all play part.  Respect the journey, not for its measurability, but its immeasurable and untamed potentialities.  In this, the moments within the journey become recognized as awesome blessings  🙂

 

*image courtesy of:  http://www.cumberlandchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/control.gif *

Kindness…it’s what’s for breakfast…

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Blog 9 PicI’ve always liked the phrase ‘you get what you give’, but there’s a kink…

You don’t always get what you give when it comes to kindness.  Ouch.  I just ripped that statement off like a Band-Aid…

No worries, there’s a silver lining…it doesn’t have to impact you in a negative way.

Is it frustrating to be treated like crap when you’re being kind to someone?  Are there times when it feels as though there is a complete lack of justice in the world, especially when some seem to make it their life’s mission to make other people miserable by being mean, rude, or uncompassionate?

When our frustration stems from the inability of another person to return our kindness, than our kindness wasn’t given freely.  It came with strings attached…strings of expectation.  In fact, those individuals necessitate greater compassion, rather than frustration.  It is incredibly sad when a fellow human being doesn’t have the capability to receive kindness.

Damage manifests many ways and although we are all damaged goods to varying degrees and crossroads, we are also each on a unique journey of learning and healing.  There is no certain formula for the amount of time or circumstance required for a person to heal, to be healthy.  Unfortunately, some damage runs too deep; intersections with connections never made, when a lifetime isn’t enough time to fix all the issues.  This kind of hurt continues to haunt and spread pain.  Healing is as complex and unique as a fingerprint.

Motivations for kindness are the key.  Kindness isn’t something we give because we expect people to return it by treating us the same way.  Kindness isn’t for show or a method for getting into Heaven.  Kindness is just because.  Because a kind person is the type of person we choose to be, regardless of circumstance.  We strive to say with honesty that we treat everyone with kindness not because it makes us better than someone else, but just because it is in our power to do so; because we choose to put kindness out into the universe, just because we believe kindness matters.

A truly kind spirit is one that cares, loves, nurtures, and chooses to propagate kindness just because.  Kindness is its own hope, with the capacity to soak into souls like a summer rain into parched earth.  Let’s do ourselves and the world a favor and be a source of expectation-less kindness…

🙂

*image courtesy of: http://headlinebistro.typepad.com/.a/6a00e553f9f2f388340133f4d5a2f1970b-pi *

Nature Lessons: The Movement of Water

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ImageWater is a force….

It moves freely into spaces that cannot be occupied by solid, immovable elements.  In this way, it becomes a power to be reckoned with, moving in volume where it pleases.  It fills up tiny crevices, lifting and displacing even the heaviest objects through strength, resolve, and a steady, stubborn effort. 

And when water encounters borders of stone intent on controlling its movement, to force its wild flowing to submit, water works gradually, without surrender, to wear down the stone and earth until they yield, eroding to the will of water.  In the wake of such determined labor, we are left with the majesty of the Grand Canyon.  This natural wonder stands as a breathtaking testament to a persistence that sought the tiny spaces between mighty stone barriers so it could continue working and pushing to achieve a desired path.

Be like water…

Strong and determined, steadily working, fluid enough to find the tiny spaces others are too solid and immovable to occupy.  In this way, you will get where you want to go and where you wish to be  🙂

Meditation…Origins

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How many times I’ve found myself testing boundaries, learning what I could trust and what I could not. The desert and hills of my youth were the best teachers. I marvel now at the simple things which have manifested themselves into my being. Hours spent in creative concentration; navigating new experiences and explorations.

I learned early to trust my hands. I found that if I could get something into my hands, I could make things happen. They are naturally perceptive, discerning. Probably by no coincidence, I found boredom with manmade things, far more stimulated by those things that did not exist, until I forced them into existence. Through my hands, nature bent to my imagination at every turn, allowing me escape to create and dream without limit.

I found a confidence that most of the things of this world are malleable and it saved me. I applied the belief to every part of my life. I learned to be the sculptor, never yielding to the inclination that something might not be doable. I found that as most things bend, I can mold them and shape them until I am satisfied for a time at their construction. My appreciation for the limitless nature of change developed a confidence that when I grow tired of a shape, I can choose to pull it down and begin anew. I am unbound. I am alive with renewal at the moment I decide to change.

In this belief, I find my hands a constant friend and a willing conspirator; bending and shaping things the way I wish. It grows a certain respect for the life I create. When the time comes to tear things down in favor of change, I honor the force they’ve had on my journey, by reflecting on their lessons, cause and effect.

The cycle, so endless and profound, forces the change that inhales breath into life. It constantly reminds me; how full are our experiences, and how petty our complaints. Options and choice are the things that move me; so exciting and tactile. I’ve never shared in the fear commonly found with the changing shape of things. Life grows grey and dead in its absence.

The naturalness of change is far removed from man’s control and there is a sense of solace for me in that knowledge. It is a natural rhythm I know and trust intuitively. An instinct telling me when I‘m out of sync. I am like a tiny vessel on an open, deep blue sea that sometimes turns turbulent, but I let go the illusion of control and roll among the waves without fear. I have no use for illusion. I ride the waves and find the greatest trust in my hands.