33. FYI, I Love You

February 11, 2018

One of a few meaningful regrets in my life is that I spent so many years not saying I love you to people I loved. Some of them have left this world, and I no longer have the opportunity to tell them face-to-face. I can only tell them in my evening meditations/ prayers.

This is a habit that so many of us have – holding back and not expressing the good things that we feel for each other. There are many different reasons – mine were that I was shy, embarrassed, and my family had not been physically affectionate when I was young. For many of us, it just seems easier, or safer perhaps, but it has a cost. Not saying I love you, not saying I’m proud of you, not saying I respect you for who you are. When the moment passes, we may never get that opportunity again, and we will never know how much it might have meant.

Now, I just tell people. Just like that, no big deal. What a radical idea! Not the romantic I-love-you, but just the friendship I-love-you, the Mom, Dad, sister, brother I-love-you. Especially I think we ought to tell people who probably know we do, or ought to know. Do they know for sure? It might actually matter to them more than we knew.

I often give hugs spontaneously to friends, coworkers, patients in my E.R. Nobody seems to mind, and sometimes, it turns out to be a gift they needed, but couldn’t ask.

I smile at strangers that pass me on the sidewalk. (A stranger’s smile saved my life once.) Smiles cost nothing at all – you can give away zillions of them. Try it. You’ll never regret a single one.

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32. Courage and Faith

January 10, 2018

There is a basic universal law that is always invisibly working in our lives, whether we know it or not, even when we are totally unaware:

“What we believe is what we receive.”

This is the winner’s edge, and the loser’s self-defeating curse.
We can only be that which we dare to be.

In every aspect of life on earth, courage is the difference-maker. That, and the commitment to hold onto a little bit of faith, sets every impossible dream into forward-motion.

“Nothing is impossible, if you have faith.”

Jesus said that, and he was telling the truth. That’s exactly what he and other messengers came for–– to give us the gifts of the power of truth. Some faith is required, and the greater the faith/belief, the stronger the outcome. But faith is not easy. It requires courage.

If your heart and soul truly desire something “impossible,” don’t play the odds. Go for it, all out. Believe anyway. Because if you believe you can, all bets are off, and the power of the universe gets behind that.

If you dare to Believe you can do it – you will.

31. How To Learn How

December 30, 2017

Essential Truths Number 1 and 2

When I was much younger than I am now, I wanted to become a firefighter.* Never mind why; it’s a long story. I was small compared to the male firefighter Wanna-Bes I was competing with. I went to the gym and pumped a whole lot of iron and didn’t get much bigger but I did get hecka-strong. (It took a while.) I applied at every fire department hiring opportunity that came up and took the tests. First is the written – easy enough if you study hard. (You should study really hard.) Next, if you pass the written, you get to take the physical agility test. I failed the physical agility tests of first three departments I tried for, at first by a mile, and then by inches, and finally by 2/10 of a second. I went back to the gym. I applied at more fire departments and took more tests. I failed another one. Maybe two. I forget now. Once I passed, It didn’t matter, I would pass some more…

I failed the physical agility tests of the first three departments I tried for, at first by a mile, and then by inches, and finally by 2/10 of a second. I went back to the gym. I put in an application at another fire department, and took another test. I failed another one. Maybe two. I forget now, because  once I passed, It didn’t matter, I would pass some more…

I had to fail, to learn how. I had never encountered those kinds of challenges, or even those kinds of objects, lifting and carrying heavy rolls of fire-hose, climbing the 100-foot aerial ladder, dragging the 160-pound dummy through the tunnel. (At first I only weighed 115 pounds myself.) Very early I learned two Essential Truths, and I’ll share them with you in a minute.

There are wonderful things you can learn from Brooks, that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. But there are some things you cannot learn that way. You can’t learn how to play home-run baseball…   out of a book. You can’t learn how to downhill ski… out of a book. And you can’t learn how to be a firefighter and perform the skills a firefighter must do extremely well, very quickly, and absolutely reliably… out of a book. Here comes one of those Essential Truths I mentioned. (You may want to take notes.)

Essential Truth #1: The only way to learn how to do it is to do it.

Take downhill skiing, for example. The first day when you go out to the bunny hill with awkward boots and slats for feet, what’s going to happen? Right! You fall on your butt. Not once, but many times. And there will be people around who will see you fall on your butt. Little kids will laugh. Some adults will smile smugly. Others will be annoyed because you’re messing up the good snow with your sit-splats, besides getting in everybody’s way. “She shouldn’t even be here! She doesn’t know how to ski at all.”

The next day, you will again fall on your butt in front of everybody. A lot. But probably you will be doing a little bit better, and there will be thrilling moments when just for short distances, you get it, and miraculously, it works. It feels like flying! Your heart, for sure, is flying. Now when you fall, you get up quicker, you want some more of that good feeling.

By the third or fourth day,  your spirits soar. You get that feeling more times, for longer moments, right before each time you crash clumsily again. But now you will be up more time than down, and though not exactly smoothly or elegantly, you are skiing!

And pretty much like that, in spite of a very steep learning curve, I had to learn how to be a firefighter by doing the things a firefighter does. There was no other way. That meant falling on my butt in front of people a lot, and getting up again.

We who aspire to be writers, like anyone learning any skill, must expect the same from our writing.  In the beginning, it’s the beginning. While the first levels of success in skiing may take a few days, writing more likely will take a few years. We’re learning how to express our gift. For every great writer, there was a beginning. Thus, Essential Truth #1 about writing: The only way you can learn how to do it is to do it. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. Oh, and the skiing is fun too.

Essential Truth #2: Failure is a necessary part of the process.

Falling down is one of the first things we do in life. For a new-born person, this is necessary, inherent, and totally valuable. Failure is how we learn what to do and what not to do. There is no other way. 

We never learn as much from success as we do from failure. Therefore, allow yourself this. Expect to not be a brilliant anything right away. Expect a cartload of disappointments and possibly humiliations along the way. These do not prove you are un-brilliant. They only mark your serious commitment to the truest and best expression of whatever is your unique personal gift. It may be different from most people. Many people live their whole lives without expressing their truth, not because they don’t have any gifts, but because they don’t have the enormous courage it takes to do it.

Don’t be one of those. Fly down the snowtrails, again and again. Fall on your butt with determination, and then with embarrassed, wounded, but unconquerable pride, Get up.  Fall down. Get up, keep going. You can do this,  if you want it bad enough. Because if it is truly your path, you will do it.
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*I did become a firefighter and served eight years with Alameda County OES Fire Department as a line firefighter and officer.
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30. The Path: Life After Life

December 18, 2017

When my dearest, nearly-lifelong best friend Lynn developed Alzheimer’s and left us all behind, it was so hard, so painful for all of us who loved her. We were many, and we loved her so much. She lingered here for years physically, but gone from us in every other way. When she passed away gently in her sleep, in a way it was a sweet relief, and even though we cried for ourselves, we didn’t cry for Lynn. She was free again. Free to explore other adventures and discover new trails, as she had always loved to do. She was always the one out ahead of us, a joyful trailblazer in life. She still is, just on a trail we can’t follow as closely now, but someday will. Vaya con Dios, Amada, hermana de mi corazón.

Along my way I have learned that God/ Spirit/ Universal Consciousness doesn’t like Why-questions. But there are some things that even though I can’t understand, still I have begun to make some sense of, and stop my struggling to figure everything out.

I believe there are some things we simply are not given to know. God knows, and watches out for us, I can see the proof of this in my own life. But God, whatever that is, also allows us to blunder if we choose to, and wander off the path, and stumble, and even sometimes fall hard as we are learning to run, but never lets us stray too far. If we lose our way, or if we hunger for a greater challenge than this life holds, God can always call us home. Then in the morning, we begin again.

29. Not For Women Only

December 14, 2017

An unexpected and historic upsurge – women speaking up and taking action, the ME TOO movement has exploded one of the critical issues of our time into full view, with firm demands for legal consequences. These women won’t shut up and “just take it” anymore. The victimization of “the weaker sex” and the ignoring of it by the Good Old Boys clubs in every profession, starting at the top, are being called to account. These women are kicking butt & taking names, and toppling giants from their thrones like dominoes in a row.

As more women claim their right to power and choice, we discover that women do have power. In the past we fell for the standard lie that women should not have power and choice, and were wrong to want any. Women should always defer to men in important matters. This and all the other lies we were taught in childhood, for boys and girls alike, will continue to hold us hostage unless and until we see the truth, claim it for ourselves, and go for it. That is what’s happening now, at a time when humanity desperately needs a new paradigm.

Wars don’t work. (Look at the history of humankind and get a clue.) We profoundly need a different way of problem-solving, instead of just endlessly problem-bashing with bombs and weapons of destruction. The abuse, rape, and exploitation of the Earth’s environment are the result of this same principle, the bully boss, who feels entitled to take more than his share of everything. This is a leadership style which has reached the end of its usefulness and crossed the line from abuse to destruction. We now know that we MUST go another way, or else commit suicide/murder of our planet, and along with it, put an end to God’s experiment with the creature of free will.

All of this distills down to a few individual and societal choices: between responsibility or careless greed, ethical leadership or abuse of power, divisiveness/isolationism or compassionate partnership/relationship worldwide. This shows up in every area of life, from temp-jobs, to the presidency. What you do, and what you say, matters more than you know.

For women, the greatest breakthrough in history is emerging right now, the discovery of a rigorously concealed truth: we have a choice. We don’t have to be what our parents taught us, we don’t have to believe what they believed. We can and must weigh for ourselves the value of ideas, decide what is true for us, today, now, then choose the best ones and discard the lies. Because in this life, what we believe is what we receive.

When we change what we believe, we will change the world. It is changing now, but there are still millions of people still swallowing the flood of lies coming from the entrenched Powerful Few, and because the lies are so frequent and so loud, the brainwashing has been effective even on otherwise normally intelligent people, subconsciously. They actually consider the most ridiculous lies, simply because, as my own sister put it, “Everybody in town does,” in her tiny Texas town. Unless we think deeper and more awake than that,  we are being unknowingly influenced and controlled, and the cost of not-thinking is becoming more than the earth or humanity can pay.

If you have been bullied or wronged without defense or recourse by the-powers-that-be in your world, woman or man, if you have been physically or psychologically or sexually abused, intimidated, shamed, or taken advantage of, belittled, or taught to believe you were not good enough, whether by a parent or stranger, that was a lie.  

We can tell the truth now. Nobody needs to be afraid or ashamed to stand to say it: Me Too. For so many years, in so many ways, but not anymore, and never again.

The mind that lives in any size, color, or kind of body can have the skills and talents of an NFL running back: maybe not the biggest, but smart, strong, quick, and agile, which is pretty much the quintessential definition of the female mind, with the bonus X-factors of extraordinary perception and intuition. Why not USE those valuable resources to get some respect and integrity back for ourselves and our country?

A huge step has been taken. Follow it. Don’t just buy-into the loudest lies. Don’t quietly allow the powerful to drain your individual strengths away, or nullify them, or forbid your voice to be heard. Trust your own mind. Trust your own heart— it knows what’s right for you. Stepping out of the shadows will be scary at first, but do it anyway. We are all here with you.