Identity Theft: An Inside Job!

identity theft by Taylor White

by Taylor White

Someone has taken over your life. Panic sets in. You lose your breath. You have fallen victim to criminal activity. Your bank account is bone dry. Credit cards are maxed out. You’re ashamed. Like you did something wrong. How will you explain it? How will you survive? Where do you turn? Your identity is gone.

According to the US Postal Inspection Service, and the FBI, identity theft is a major problem. Affecting millions of people every year. To the tune of billions of dollars. You will probably live through it but you will never be the same. Besides the monetary loses you can’t get back, trust is going to be an issue. You may be hindered to function normally. Your way of life may be altered forever.

After a slight decline, identity theft is on the rise, again. Major retailers like Target and Home Depot have suffered huge data breaches. Medical information thievery is now a mounting concern. All of this illegal brokering has spawned the multi-billion dollar Identity Protection Industry. And we are still vulnerable. But there is another kind of identity theft. It’s been around for a whole lot longer.

This one, is more than the loss of a bank account, or credit score. It’s the loss of affirmation, a sense of worthiness, and clarity. These things are rightfully ours. We’re born with them assigned to us. The loss might have been instant or it could have come later. But if they were stripped away, we have suffered. Our emotional displacement offers the scars to authenticate our losses.

brokenheart by deviant art

by Ashe Emerson at deviantart

The heart aches. Many types of addictions can follow. The wounded spirit limps through human endeavors. The mind may be tormented. Every achievement leaves you wanting more. You can’t be satisfied. You keep chasing what you believe is missing. Things never feel right. When you think you’ve found what you’re looking for it falls apart. One relationship after the other. One job after another. You move. And move again. Ever aware, none of this makes sense.

It should be simple. Life should be abundant. Rewarding. Exciting. When you don’t know who you are, where you belong, and what your purpose is you can wander and wonder. You can do the next thing because it’s what you’re suppose to do. What everybody’s doing. But if you do the right thing, for the wrong reason, virtue can be absent. You can hobble away in disaster. Ready to give up. You tell yourself, that’s it. I’m not going to try anymore.

You can become callused. Withdrawn. Isolated. But that little notion inside won’t go away. You know there is more to life. You sense your destiny. You know you have a gift or talent and it longs for wings. It’s what keeps us all going. External forces can get inside us. Immobilize us. Fill our eyes with sadness. Our words with disgust. And cause our tempers to flare. We breathe. And breathe again. Because we know, we are in there, somewhere.

We are innocent. Precious. When we take our first breaths. We will die without water, food, and shelter. But we will live, without being alive, if we are not loved.  The feeling of being wanted causes us to grow and flourish. If we feel like an interruption or inconvenience we will stagnate. We attend our birthdays each year but, that part of us we need in order to celebrate our lives, has been removed.

Thoughtless words of criticism creates inner turmoil. When pushed aside we feel we don’t matter. The absentee parent that willfully abandons, distorts perception. The neglectful parent that’s present, teaches self-doubt. We enter the playgrounds and school classrooms and encounter more perplexities. Adult relationships lack intimacy. We write stories about the events of our lives. These emotionally charged hyperbole’s are often more crippling than the actual infractions. We tell these stories, so many times, they form walls we don’t want. We unknowingly build excuses. Justifications. Do harm to ourselves. And those who try to love us.

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by magalibobois

Since we are slightly off-centered we lean to one side. Bumping into characters just like us. Unable to admit it, we struggle with the habits we’ve formed. We attract people based on what’s in us. What we have isn’t lining up with what we want. We can’t understand why we oppose ourselves. We might function well in the fury of activity. But when the commotion subsides we don’t want to be alone with ourselves. Someone took who you are away from you.

We can be so desperate for love and acceptance that we sale-out to get the best version we can. No matter how deficient.  But clinging to whatever gets you through the night might mess-up your days. When we settle for less we meddle with our ability to connect with the best.

I have to be willing to re-write the story. It’s hard work. Giving up blame and taking responsibility can be scary. But if I want to recover my identity I will have to take the steps necessary to get there. To financially recover you have to contact the bank, credit card companies, and mortgage lender. You will send letters, make countless phone calls, and talk to credit reporting agencies. You will explain over and over again, this isn’t me. I didn’t do these things.

Maybe it was one or more of the many forms of abuse that ripped you off. Or perhaps it was molestation that left you devalued. Abandonment? Rejection? Ridicule? Does the poison you drank matter? That depends. If you want to stay, lost in translation, it’s all that matters. But if you want, your life, it matters little. Wrong thinking, dysfunction, and self destructive behavior isn’t you. You didn’t do these things. This is all about the person who isn’t there. These patterns are made possible because of your absence. The real you has been stolen.

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by Ashlee Martin

It might take many letters and countless conversations with yourself, before you convince you, of your self-worth. The FICO scoring system, first used in 1989, was established to determine risk when extending credit. It’s designed to be sterile, cold, with emotion removed from the equation. It doesn’t feel you. To get your true identity it’s all about feeling. The only scoring system that works is the one on the inside.

The real you knows your true value. You forfeit instant gratification for the prize of you. You shed the people and systems that leave you pampered in your condition. You recognize the way you have lived down to the messages sent to you from empty places. Wholeness is never lonely. You’re comforted by discovering who you really are. You stand tall in light and love. Everything you ever wanted shows up, because the universe knows, you get it.

Other people affirm you because you affirm yourself. You cancel the affects of failure by understanding your worthiness. You see the difference between what is, and what is suppose to be, and you act. You surround yourself with people, who have bit into the prison bars, and gnawed their way free. You’re willing to let the darkness fade into the night. You’re not afraid of the present Light.

You’re open to the possibility of you. You see the love and grace that has been there all along. You employ resources. You invest in yourself. You don’t run from the clutches of despair you, run to the arms of bliss. You’re not about to neglect yourself any longer. No need to compare yourself to the path of others. Competition only exists if someone is willing to lose. Your mission is completion. At any stage. And any age.

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by Anita Pelecanos

You have recovered your identity. And you like it! You announce yourself. Introduce the real you. You want everyone to meet you. You throw yourself a party to celebrate your arrival. You express what you’ve found in a painting, a song, a dance, or your writing. Not everyone claps. All are not willing to let you go free. There will always be those who want you to pay. You accept the momentary sadness. Embrace the real you. And, walk deeper into your truth. You see clearly. It feels good.

Welcome home! Nice to meet you.

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Marty! 18

new baby en.wikipedia.org

Image via en.wikipedia.org

The baby is cleaned up and presented to mother. Leelee received her precious offspring with the deepest possible affection. Alex had free-flowing tears as he reached out and touched his son on the head. He didn’t have the words to express his emotional transformation. He only knew it was definitive and permanent. From his core, he understood he could never go back. He would never be the same.

They couldn’t stop looking at their son. Taking in every detail of his tiny body. These are two proud parents. Deliberate parents. They are at this place in their lives on purpose. The past year has been an incredible journey. An awakening. An emergence of fate, destiny, and things meant to be. From conflicting positions, to this moment of unity, it feels better than they could ever have imagined. Not in their wildest dreams did either of them expect the exhilaration they are experiencing. Alex had baggage. Leelee had bark. Today they are a family. A beautiful family.

It's a boy

Image via publicdomainpictures.net

Well Alex, what do I call this son of ours? Leelee begged. I want to name him Showman. Showman? she replies. I’ve never heard that name before. Neither have I he admitted. How did you come up with that name? she inquires. Our baby has shown us the way, Leelee. I know it’s God. But He chose to use this baby to show us the way to abundant life. To open the eyes of our hearts. To heal our emotions. To instruct us in the power of forgiveness. To make us aware of the ever present love that sustains us. I could go on and on, Leelee. I do believe you could, she added. For me, Leelee, this baby is a Showman. I love it, she said. Showman! it is.

I better go get the family, Alex said. Just as he turned toward the door he saw them all standing there with hungry eyes. Can we come in? they all whispered. Of course, he said. I was just coming to get you. They seemed to rush past him as if he was in the way. Crowding around the bed. The” Ooh’s and Aah’s” begin. What a celebration. There is no shortage of happy today. Grandparents are infatuated. Parents are elated. Showman is “Living the Dream.” He couldn’t of had a better introduction to the world. He had to be feeling the love that was all around him.

baby on father's arm publicdomainpictures.net

Image via publicdomainpictures.net

The days ahead will be filled with joy, challenge, and thankfulness. This family is not aware, not yet anyway, of the tremendous changes they will experience. Their lives will be richer, fuller, and more fulfilling than any of them could have ever thought possible.

Showman is finally here. And he didn’t come alone!

 

Adventures in Marty will be taking a break! Thank you for following this story. Your support means a great deal to me. I will be posting other things. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Adventures in Marty! 17

waiting room

Image via en.wikipedia.org

A message was sent to the delivery room for Alex and Leelee. The family is gathered in the waiting room. The birth is not yet eminent. Leelee asked Alex to go and give them an update. He reluctantly conceded. As he walked through the door they all stood up. In unison they pleaded, is she alright? Tell us how she’s doing, rose her mother’s voice above the others. She’s doing great. She is really doing great. I don’t want to be away from her. I just wanted you to know how safe we feel with all of you being here. I will come and give you news on how things are going. With a panoramic sweep he made eye contact with each person there and offered a smart smile.

Prancing is the only way to describe the run/dance Alex used to get back to his wife. Bursting through the door he rushed to her side. Nothing changed in his short absence. Leelee looked tired as she dealt with the pain that had now lasted for hours. Her countenance relaxed as she reengaged his hand. A nurse wiped her face with a cool, moist cloth. Alex requested one be put on her forehead.

Alex reaffirmed his deep affection for Leelee. She stated, I feel blessed to have you, Alex. Why don’t we talk about names for the baby? If it’s a girl he said, I want you to name her. If it’s a boy, I would like to name him. Is that okay with you? he inquired. She said, I can live with that. Just as she asked what name he chose if the baby is a boy, she shrieked. Oh! God! She bellowed. Alex stepped back rapidly having been alarmed by her scream. He later admitted that she scared him. But only for a minute.

Two nurses came as if the decibel level revealed some delivery room secret code. Announcing, baby is soon to be introduced, to his parents. Alex apparently failed Lamaze class. One of the nurses began to coach miss soon-to-be mom. The other nurse went for the doctor. Leelee was ranting again. Alex is uncertain if he should be there. She seemed so mad at him. A few of her comments tempted him with verifying her identity. He couldn’t believe she was saying these things to him. He was even more afraid she meant them.

midwife en.wikipedia.org

Image via en.wikipedia.org

He let go of her hand to have a peek at what the doctor was seeing. What he saw made him step back again. He broke out in a sweat. Felt lightheaded. The doctor took notice and asked if he was okay. I’m good he said. I just need a minute. You can’t faint in here, the doctor begged. Go get a breath of fresh air if you need to. It will be a few minutes yet. Alex turned to go out of the room when Leelee said, in a militant voice, don’t you even think of leaving, Alex.

That seemed to be the reprieve he needed. He went straight to her side. Careful to avoid the general area where the doctor was focusing his attention. More screams, shrills, and Leelee blaming Alex for her current state of affairs. She was now committed to the export business. He was an emotional basket case. Thrilled about the birth of their child. But, perplexed as to why these things, these hurtful, derogatory things were being said to him by his loving wife.

newborn with father en.wikipedia.org

Image via en.wikipedia.org

Push, they all said. Push. We are almost there, the doctor informed. I see the baby’s head. Stay with us, Leelee, the doctor ordered. That’s it, he said. One big push now. Her screams had to set some sort of record. Alex couldn’t believe how loud she was. He let go of her hand and joined the doctor at the point of entry. Swoosh. Just like that, the baby was out of his mother. Alex was looking at his son. It’s a boy, he shouted. We have a boy, Leelee.  She wanted to know if he was alright. Does he have everything he’s suppose too. Yes, Honey! He is a fine looking son.

The Invisible’s were tangible to everyone that believes.

Marty will return next Friday!

 

Adventures in Marty! 14

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of Umang Dutt

What a beautiful morning! Warm. Sun shinning bright. A slight breeze strolling past his body. Alex inhales the aroma of his fresh brewed coffee. It’s early. Leelee isn’t up yet. Soft sounds of birds chirping adorn his peaceful state. The silence is refreshing. It seemed like the neighbors were politely refusing to interrupt his solitude. He closed his eyes. Took in a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Accepting the sacred moment he’s in.

He’s getting use to new thought patterns. He’d never been relaxed. Not fully. Customarily twisting and turning in memories of ugly things. Realizing now, how much he’d lost by his filter. The perception he’d employed to make his decisions. This week brought him another “light-bulb moment.” He judged other people based on how he felt about himself. Believing he was damaged. Irreparably bent. He’d been a functional user. Addicted to seeing what’s wrong. On the outside  he was enviable. Inside he’d been tormented. Expecting to lose it all any minute. Fearing he’d be discovered as a fraud. His new found liberty gave him space to re-evaluate.

Without religious ritual he’d repented. Not knowing the language or procedure, it took place, without the usual trappings. Not in a house of worship but in a chamber of privacy. An intimate encounter. A divinely orchestrated pause led to new ideas. First time thoughts fueled desirable feelings. He’s making choices that sustain his ecstasy. He doesn’t have a rule book. It’s an invisible outline, of tangible significance, that’s guiding him. Many questions remain. Answers are abundant. He’s perceiving the presence surrounding him. He knew he’d sensed it before. Now he’s identified it.

lightbulb moment pixabay

Image via pixabay.com

Alex is tracing his steps. Walking through days gone by. Defining key moments in his life. Redefining life events. Rewriting his own narrative. Anger starts to rise. Sadness is along side. Wisdom steps in. Yesterday is gone. It’s clear to him. The best way to ruin healing is to be upset about it. His lack of wholeness was the result of hanging on to stuff he couldn’t control. Why be mad about how he thought and felt in the past. He wants more of what he’s experiencing now. Letting go is a private matter. Decluttering your life is a personal responsibility. He’s meeting himself. The man who had been hidden behind layers of wrong, wrong, and more wrong!

He’d previously avoided his feminine side, as they say. Keeping his gentleness in check with rough and tumble disguises. Using anger to camouflage his shame. Facing the world with artificial force. His emptiness is gone. Replaced by a well of living water. Nourishing his new beginning. He acknowledges, there was always a whisper. A thought- voice offering him another way see, feel, and think. As he pondered his path he wondered what kept him from understanding all those years. He asked, why didn’t I get it? The thought came to him; I was living a prefabricated life. Building meaning and purpose with disorder, dysfunction, and deceit. Smiling at himself, Alex is reveling in the sweetness of correction.

Leelee said, morning, as she slid back the screen door. Her words shook his eyes open.  Good morning, he replied, jumping up from his chair. Glancing at his watch he’s surprised at the time. It had been over an hour since he sat down outside and closed his eyes. He’d been lost in spirituality. He wouldn’t call it that. Not yet. He would soon, though. His coffee was cold. He hugged her. Kissed her forehead. Helped her to a seat. He asked, can I fix you a coffee? Yes, thank you, she said. He picked up his cup and turned to go inside. Leelee reached out and grabbed his arm. Could I have tea instead? she requested. Peppermint please. Coming right up, he exclaimed.

As Alex disappeared she closed her eyes. Feeling the same warmth of the sun and gentle breeze Alex had been enjoying. Being a woman, she is immediately aware of the other warmth hovering under the patio cover. Tears of joy filled her eyes knowing Alex was connecting to his heavenly Father. She quickly wiped away the evidence, not wanting to violate the moment. Alex said, here you go sweet wife of mine, handing her the tea. Thank you, honey, she said. Careful not to spill his coffee he settles in the chair next to her.

pregnant woman free image pixabay

Image via pixabay.com

Leelee is big. Their special day is approaching fast. She shifts in her chair to get comfortable. Like some kid who knows a fun secret, she looks at Alex with love, amazement, and thankfulness. He catches her smile. Tells her, you are so beautiful. Alex, c’mon. I’m a buffalo, she states in a matter-of-fact tone. Now that you mention it, you are a bit inflated. That’s not what you’re suppose to say, Alex. He chuckles. You are the most beautiful buffalo I’ve ever seen. Nice recovery, Mister. They both giggle a while. For the next hour they shared precious things.

When given the chance, heaven and earth comes together, proves it’s reality. Abundant life happens when we don’t fight it. A wide open heart attracts unlimited possibilities! 

Marty will return next Friday!

 

 

 

Grounds for Divorce!

I will get to marriage in a moment!

For years I thought, we are all the sum total of our experiences. I was wrong! We are the sum total of our interpretations of our experiences. What I believe dictates my actions. What I believe isn’t based on what has transpired in my life. It’s based on what I think about what happened in my life. I make choices according to what I decided to believe about every life experience.

wrongway infomatique flickr

Image via Flickr Commons, by Infomatique

I was born into dysfunction. Things were not ideal. From abandonment, molestation, rejection, absence of affirmation, and loss of identity I was conditioned to survive – not thrive. While these things might not collectively reflect everyone’s resume’ they show up in many peoples timelines. More importantly, I’m in no way unique. There’s a multitude of similar stories. If I think my situation is exceptional I’m not likely to forfeit my status. Change was against me!

It’s easy for me to appreciate anyone who emerged from childhood with less scars. Minimal trauma. And better equipped to navigate the journey of living. I have more in common with the broken. People struggling to find answers to their pain. I identify with those who hope for brighter days. Less complicated nights. And a future filled with promises of beautiful things.

My search for solve-ation (made up word) led me to many things that just didn’t work. The greatest tragedy I’ve witnessed in my own life isn’t the terrible things that were made a part of me; it’s the way I related to what went on. I erroneously incorporated undesirable events into my personal assessment. I agreed to be devalued without realizing it. This set up an alternate reality. I was living a lie. Because powerful things, negative things, became part of me so early on I was groomed to attract the very things I didn’t want.

keepcalm edit wikimedia commons

Image via wikimedia commons

I’m using marriage in a metaphoric sense; the relationship I have with various aspects of my life. I have been committed to the unfaithful. I’ve been affectionate to things that could never love me back. Trying to get fruit from trees of destruction. I held on to ideas that could only work against me. I developed habits that became invisible walls of my intimate prison.

I stayed with principles that left me wanting. The feeling of unworthiness will never lead to abundance. Believing I am not enough cannot provide the rewards of knowing who I am. Seeing myself as damaged is not going to heal me. I tried hard to workout things in my head that can only be resolved in my heart. Lessons learned establishes growth that can’t be taken away. Thoughts are creative. In all directions. Good thoughts with corresponding feelings brings about a desirable life. No matter what existed previously, there is power in the right-now.

The scariest part of transformation is knowing where you are. Accepting that what has always been doesn’t have to be what always is. Blame is the first thing that has to go. The stuff that creates an appetite for self-destruction isn’t permanent. Unless you want it to be. Taste-buds are teachable. Courage is the instructor. Why is the question to ask and answer. Not why did it happen. Why do I allow it to continue?

You can be victimized without the mentality of a victim. Victims graduate to perpetrator. Understanding the power to change is the radical in each of us. To become your own revolution is the way forward. I wallowed, for years, until I discovered I had everything I needed to facilitate conversion. It’s almost too cliche’ to use but it’s too true to ignore; what you think about you bring about. I can dwell on what I don’t want or I can dwell on what I do.

I had grounds for divorce. I didn’t need a lawyer. It didn’t cost me anything to end my marriage to abusive ideas, concepts, or my past. To stay in relationships that couldn’t support my dreams, recognize my value, or refuse to abuse could have cost me everything. I’m not here to be the tail. The doormat. The wishful thinker. I’m here to flourish in love, empathy, and connection.

Faith and pain have been two constants in my life. Mastering my path included ending the human constructs of theology and doctrines that left me short of The Father. My faith has emerged as empirical truth, lessening my pain. God is too superior to be detailed by minds still searching to understand Him. Love and Grace are too intentional to be unmerited. Accepting that it’s not possible to be too messy for the Father led me to authentic Sonship. Resulting in the clarity of my message and mission. I connect people to the father.

prayer by husky394xp youtube

Image via youtube, courtesy of husky 394xp

I prayed diligently for years, seeking liberation. I searched for the feelings of worthiness, affirmation, and inclusion. The answer I sought remained too undefined to materialize. I didn’t understand. I asked God and then expected men to grant my requests. I simply stood in the wrong line. Others can share in my life; no one can live my life. This is my life and I want it.

The painter William H. Johnson coined the phrase; “if it is to be, it is up to me.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, ” In every moment something sacred is at stake.” We have grounds to bury the dead, none life-giving parts of our lives, and surrender to the life that’s trying to breathe. If my life hibernates it becomes a significant loss to me and the rest of the world.

Here are some practical things I did to propel myself onward and upward:

1. Awareness – got in touch with the source of my thoughts and feelings

2. Identified –  the origin of my beliefs

3. Inventoried –  my habits and relationships

4. Observed –  what is repeatedly showing up in my life

5. Willingness – to own my failures and achievements

6. Honesty – I decided what I wanted more than anything

7. Courage – to identify and divorce everything that held me back

I made adjustments to those things that only needed tweaking. I walked away from systems, personalities, and applications that worked against me. I miss some people I had to let go of. Some I loved. Some were just habits. I felt bare for awhile as I gave up my excuses. I now have a comparison, the way it had always been and the way it is now. My life today is much better.

jump for joy pixabay commons

Image via pixabay creative commons

I settled some things forever. I’m still working to align with more authenticity. It’s a work in progress. It’s also a work of progress. I’ve made strides of enormous growth. I find the universe is now working on my behalf. People and things are appearing out of nowhere (actually from a very specific place) to support my cause. To know good things are the direct result of my efforts is more affirming than anything I’ve ever experienced.

You are worthy of the best possible life. Good things are waiting for you to marry them. Divorce captivity and live!

You have grounds!

P.S. My wife and I will celebrate 34 years of marriage in a few days. She is the most wonderful woman on the planet. It’s taken a lot of tweaking over the years but thankfully we never found it necessary to divorce. I just couldn’t help but share how blessed I am to live with such a beautiful and splendid wife.

 

 

 

Adventures in Marty! 10

waitingroom simon plelow flickr

by Simon Plelow on flickr.com

Huddled together in the waiting room, everyone had the same words in their eyes. They took Leelee into a room, told the family to wait outside. Fear has a horrible taste. Seems to get into the bloodstream. It infects every system the body uses to function. In moments like these even the indomitable human spirit can acquiesce to perceived terror.

Both mothers are utilizing their nurturing skills. Alex is being showered with affection. In rapid fire succession, words of encouragement, are aimed and released at Alex. John sits in silence. Makes eye contact with his son in-law on occasion. Doesn’t say anything. That’s his little girl in there. His concern is written all over his face. John is a devoted father. Adored by his family. He loves his daughter.

Grace worked in the medical field before she retired. She explained that nearly a third of pregnant women experience some bleeding during the first twelves weeks. It often doesn’t mean anything serious. The odds are in our favor. All bleeding is scary. But we have every right to hope for the best. Let’s stay positive. I think everything is going to be fine. She offered a warm smile to the others. It brought a sense of calm.

Alex had been pacing back and forth. He sat next to his mother. She understood his unspoken request. She gladly put her arm around him. Brought his head into her chest. Comforted her son. The circumstances creating this opportunity for affection are uninvited. She is thankful that her man-child is in her arms. She longed. Almost begged. For Leelee not to miscarry. Her  desire to be close to her son, her only child, is penetrating.

Hospitals have a feel. A smell. A reputation beyond their medical services. They are gathering places for people in need. Anxiety permeates the air supply. Pain congregates in designated waiting areas. In just a couple of hours it’s possible to witness every emotion known to man. People accept the best and worst news from people in white coats. Or scrubs. Sometimes strangers tell you the last thing you want to hear about your loved one.

sadness en.wikipedia.org

c/o en.wikipedia.org

Alex spoke. His words pierced the silence that had formed an invisible structure around the four of them. Leelee and I have been talking about God. A lot. I’m exploring. Asking questions. You all know I believe in God. But I have had a problem with the way some things happened in my life. I blamed God for my pain. If He is so loving, why would He allow bad things to happen? Especially to innocent children. They couldn’t take their eyes off Alex. Mesmerized at his openness. They didn’t dare speak. They were hungry for Alex to keep talking.

I buried some difficult things. Stuffed them deep down inside me. I never wanted to talk about them. His mother didn’t know how much Alex is going to reveal. She had done some stuffing of her own. She loved her son as much as any mother could. Her reservations about what Alex would talk about were met with an invitation to get it all out. She wanted a healthy relationship with her son. They were good with each other. She knew it could be much better.

Alex continued. I’ve had some sort of breakthrough. The news of Leelee being with child caused something to release inside of me. The past few weeks have been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’m changing in ways I didn’t think were possible. I’ve reached out to God. I want to understand. I want to know Him. I would like to have my questions answered. We can’t lose this baby. Why would God let us lose this baby?

John’s voice was clear and authoritative. Both women started to speak at the same time. Wanting to steer Alex in the right direction. They willingly gave John the floor. Listen to me son, he said. No matter what happens here tonight you are not alone. You have family. People that care about you. God is always with you. He’s with all of us. God isn’t a pill you take to prevent anything bad from happening. He’s the ever-present help in times of trouble. Life is a journey with hills and valleys. Many ups and downs take place over the course of a lifetime. Part of maturing, understanding, and growing involves knowing God is with you no matter what.

femaledr walt stoneburner flickr

by Walt Stoneburner at flickr.com

I hear what you’re saying, John. I still have lots of questions. John replies, that’s good. Don’t pressure yourself to answer all of them tonight, Alex. We are here in this moment together. Our love and faith is interwoven. We are strong together. Whatever we have to face we will face together. As Alex started to respond to John the door opened. The doctor came directly to them. Her facial expressions announced good news before she spoke a word.

Leelee is fine. The baby is fine. Nothing to worry about. The doctor explained why bleeding sometimes occurs and reassured them, all is well. We want to keep her for a few hours more just to observe her. We want to let her finish receiving the fluids from her IV bag. I expect she can go home by early afternoon. Any questions? she asked. Can we see her? Yes. Please don’t wake her. Let her sleep as long as she can.

They squeeze around the door to her room. Leelee looks beautiful. Peaceful. Restful.

Every eye in the unseen world takes note of the All-Powerful at work.

Marty will return next Friday!

 

 

 

5 Ways to Become a Better Thinker

Today I’m re-posting an article I read on LinkedIn.

I’m always on the lookout for sound, practical advice, to incorporate into my daily practices. I found this interesting. Maybe you will too, Rick Amitin.

 

Colleges and universities don’t offer courses in thinking, although it is arguably the most valuable skill anyone can master. When people try to improve mentally, they might aim at increasing their IQ or gain a larger vocabulary. It’s disputed whether anyone’s intelligence can be meaningfully increased, but there is so much else that can be improved if you stand back and approach thinking per se as a skill.

 

Here are five tips that will improve almost anyone’s ability not simply to think but to think effectively in any situation.

 

  1. Use your brain efficiently.

Although thinking is mental, it is intimately connected to the brain, which has its own specific physiology. As a physical organ, the first thing the brain needs is adequate sleep every night. Medical science still considers why we need sleep a mystery, but there’s no doubt that we do. Insomnia needs to be overcome, if at all possible, without sleep aids, because even over-the-counter remedies leave most people feeling groggy and dull the next day.

 

It’s also extremely beneficial to vary the brain’s activity by giving it some down time during the day, which can amount to sitting alone quietly with eyes shut for 10 minutes every six hours or so. Standing up and moving around once an hour refreshes the body as a whole. Using caffeine or sugar to stimulate a fatigued brain is nowhere near as effective as adopting the practice of meditation, which is the best brain “reset” ever discovered, along with a host of other benefits.

 

  1. Check in on your state of mind.

The psychology of thinking is just as important as the physiology of thinking. It begins with knowing what your general mood is. We tend to approach thinking a purely rational and logical at its best, but this conception is not entirely adequate. A bad mood can distort anyone’s judgment and decision-making abilities. Various psychological studies have found that the same is true when we’re in a good mood–people tend to pay too much for things if their mood is either good or bad. Don’t deny to yourself that you happen to be in a certain mood. Only if you recognize your mental state can you deal with it and take it into account.

 

  1. Don’t separate reason from emotion.

Psychology research has found that it is impossible to separate out rationality as a pure trait untouched by emotion. All thinking is colored by emotions, which is especially true with decision-making. People who believe that they are cold-blooded rationalists whose decisions contain no personal element are fooling themselves, which makes their decisions not only suspect but blinkered. Since emotions are always part of the equation, be aware of them; don’t push them away. By the same token, if you see that you are anxious, depressed, hostile, envious, or otherwise affected by negative emotions, don’t make important decisions–or even mundane ones–until you have calmed down.

 

  1. Recognize bad thinking when it occurs.

Although the human mind will never be as mechanically precise as a computer’s calculations–and shouldn’t aspire to be–there are definite flaws that can be improved upon. Bad thinking comes in several major categories, and it’s good to know what they are so that you can avoid them in yourself and others.

  • Conflicted thinking occurs when you aren’t clear about what the topic is and how to clearly define the major terms.
  • Wishy-washy thinking comes from the refusal to commit to a position.
  • Arbitrary thinking is a stab in the dark after a reasonable way to reach a conclusion has failed.
  • Hidebound thinking resorts to old, familiar prejudices, biases, and viewpoints that refuse to change in the present circumstances.
  • Blinkered thinking comes from the habit of not looking at things that make you uncomfortable; you blind yourself either on purpose or unconsciously.

Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest about whether these flaws have crept into your thinking process.  They too easily become ingrained and repetitive if you aren’t watching out. Any or all of them can be labeled irrational thinking, but that’s too vague a term. See the next point below for why so-called irrational thinking or illogical thinking is quite often beneficial.

 

  1. Develop a strong intuition.

Most people discount intuition and its power to improve their thinking. For decades intuition was called “feminine” as a means of disparaging or discounting it, yet almost all creativity is based on intuition. So are “aha” moments that deliver insights and unexpected solutions. Without intuition the mind plods and becomes routine. It can be argued that the deepest source of the mind is totally intuitive, as validated by centuries of meditative and contemplative practices. The validation consists of discovering things in ourselves that became the basis for art, philosophy, spirituality, morality, and the whole concept of truth itself. Labeling these vast accomplishments of the human mind irrational makes no sense, even if it has become a trend today, when computers are held up as an ideal of pure logic. Your thinking will become infinitely richer a/s you welcome intuition and learn to develop it.

 

All of these points are valuable if you want to improve your thinking, but the last point, about developing intuition, is important enough that we’ll discuss it in detail in the next post.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD  and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.  www.deepakchopra.com

Adventures in Marty! 9

The last few weeks included Alex asking questions he’d never asked before. Never allowed himself to ask. With an attitude toward God he avoided looking into faith. He blamed God for his plight. Without understanding he surmised that God could prevent bad things from happening. A just God should keep innocent people from harm’s way. He was beginning to perceive the ways of the world. And the role God plays in everyday life.

pregant

c/o pixabay

Since the medical test confirmed, Leelee is pregnant, they’ve been living in a higher orbit. It’s too early for her to be showing. Alex insisted he could see her belly getting bigger. Everyday he had to inspect her stomach. Neither of them anticipated the joy they are sharing. She couldn’t be happier about how excited Alex is. Things are great. Just great!

Alex didn’t want to engage in deep conversations about his personal pain. He did drop comments and reveal more insights. Leelee strung together every statement like a necklace. One pearl at a time. She carefully took note of each word. Hanging them around her heart. They’d been together since Junior High School. Only being apart during some college terms. She is learning about the man she loves. The man she thought she knew. She knows now, more than ever, she made the right choice.

Alex isn’t comfortable. He can’t talk freely about his early years. He’s methodically sharing everything he’d kept buried for so long. He senses the deeper connection with Leelee his openness is causing. Her responses have made him feel safe. His fears of rejection and abandonment fad as he experiences her commitment to him. This is the love he hoped to find. He thought he’d found it in Leelee. Now he knows. Every time he exposes his secrets she embraces him as a man. Husband. And soon to be father.

From the way he treats her you’d think she was due any day. He makes over her like she’s breakable. She goes along. Humored for the most part. Irritated at times. Not willing to change a thing. He messages her feet every evening. Rubs her belly every morning and night. Talks to the baby growing inside of her. He’s sure it’s a boy. She wisely cautions him,,,  it could be a girl. He ignores her. Insisting its a son. She suspects he longs for the father/son relationship he never had. He says he will be just as happy with a girl. She knows his heart is set on a boy.

Alex interrogates Leelee about her faith. Wanting to know everything she believes. He doesn’t always agree with her positions. He still isn’t ready to jump on the church thing. They agreed to read the bible together. She routinely prays every morning. Usually after Alex leaves for work. He knew that. He questioned her about prayer. He doesn’t say anything about it but he began to pray on his drive to work every day.

He had avoided politics and religion in the work place. He now found subtle ways to inquire about the beliefs of some of his coworkers. He would bring the different positions home to discuss with Leelee. He respects her views but still has doubts. He didn’t know precisely what he was searching for. He decided; there is something to this God thing.

Life has changed in drastic ways. He’s no longer afraid of failing as a dad. He’s determined to prepare for fatherhood. He made a sacred contract with himself. He will resolve his issues. He will find a way to heal. He will be a whole person. He will not let his child down. Alex is growing up!

shopping pixabay

c/o pixabay

Leelee spoke to her mom often. Now they speak every day. Her mom is thrilled to be a grandmother. Leelee has lots of questions for her mom. They would sometimes spend hours on the phone. No one doubted Leelee would be a fantastic mother. At six weeks, Leelee has purchased just about everything she could ever need for the baby. How could life be any better? The pregnancy is going well. Alex is excited. They are growing in their faith. The peace of mind and joy she feels is over-the-top.

Alex continues to work hard. Putting in long hours. It’s obvious he has a new priority. He doesn’t bring work home with him anymore. He comes through the door every night bent on tending to Leelee. Taking care of needs she doesn’t have. She considered telling him it’s not necessary. She didn’t want to deflate him. Besides, the attention is kind of nice. She wouldn’t want to interrupt how spectacular things are.

Leelee woke in the middle of the night. She glanced at the clock. It’s 3:05. She wants to go to the restroom but feels too weak to get up. She wakes Alex. Startled he asks, what’s wrong? I don’t feel right, Alex. Can you get me some water? He springs out of bed. Turns on the lamp. Rushes to get a glass of water. She takes a sip. I need to go to the restroom, she states. He throws the covers back. There is blood on the sheets. He murmurs, Leelee, you’re bleeding. She looks. In shock she cries out, Oh, God! What do I do? Alex pleads.

Call my mom, she says. In his hast he calls his mom instead. She knew about the pregnancy but she doesn’t know about everything going on in their lives. Alex loves his mother. Very much. He just doesn’t involve her in his everyday life. She’s aware of the distance between them. None of that matters now. He told her Leelee was bleeding. He’s in a panic. He blurts out, I’m going to take her to the emergency room. No, his mom exclaimed. Call an ambulance. Let the paramedics treat her before you move here.

8576195628_0df9f2a68e_z

c/o flickr.com

Okay. Okay, he shouts. Hanging up without saying good bye. Alex dials 911. An ambulance is on the way. He gets a cold wash cloth to put on Leelee’s face. She is pale. Frightened. Call my mom, Alex. He dials the phone. Her dad answers. John, it’s Alex. Leelee is bleeding. I’ve called for an ambulance. He could hear Grace in the background asking, whats wrong? John tells Grace, Leelee is bleeding. He’s called for an ambulance. She gets on the phone. What hospital are you taking her too? she asks. We will meet you there, she says. Let me talk to Leelee.

She tells Leelee not to worry. This sometimes happens. Let’s not think the worst. Leelee is crying. She manages a faint okay, mom. I’m so scarred, moans Leelee I know, Honey. We will meet you at the hospital. Alex sees the lights from the ambulance. Rushing down the stairs he opens the door in consternation. Guiding the EMT’S upstairs, they spring into action. They take her vital signs. Start and IV. They offer words of encouragement. Try to calm her. They load her on the gurney and head to the hospital. Alex follows in his car.

Pantokrater hovers! Marty is present. Unseen hands are at work.

Marty will return next Friday!

 

Adventures in Marty! 8

cuddling by pixabay

c/o pixabay

Alex and Leelee held on to one another until all doubts were gone. She assured him that she was grateful for him sharing such deep pain with her. I’m so afraid that you will think less of me, Alex lamented. No way, Alex. I love you. This only helps me see just how strong you are. This isn’t just you, Alex. This is us. We will handle this together.

Standing up they made their way to the couch. What are you most afraid of, Alex? I think I have always worried about being like my dad. That I wouldn’t be able to love in the right way. That I could walk away from my responsibilities. That I could abandon my wife and kids. I feel damaged by all that’s happened to me. Like something is fundamentally wrong with me. I work so hard trying to prove I’m good enough. Yet nothing I’ve ever accomplished has given me any lasting sense of worthiness.

Our wedding day was the best day of my life, Leelee. When you agreed to marry me I felt like I hit the lottery. I love you so much. And I believe you love me. But I’ve harbored fear that you would leave me someday. I thought, if you ever found out about my secrets, you would say good bye. Be gone forever. Bringing a child into my private world seemed unsafe. I didn’t dare risk it.

I know birth control isn’t full proof but how do you think we ended up pregnant? Well, I think we better wait until we get confirmation, Alex. No way! This has been too extreme. I would be in total chaos if you weren’t pregnant. While I wanted time to work out my questions and insecurities I would be in absolute disappointment if you aren’t with child. This is the most powerful moment of my life. I have never had anything touch me on all levels the way this has. I know in my heart that we have a child on the way. I’m still wondering how it happened.

Leelee said, I believe God decides when a child is to be born. What do you mean? he asks. There is so much information about conception. And what comes after conception. There isn’t much info about life before the womb. Since I was a little girl, I’ve pondered life before conception. I think life comes from God. He’s the giver of life. I believe life is a part of God. I believe life cannot happen without God saying, I want this to happen.

What a minute, Alex says, in a confused protest. What about parents? Don’t you think they are the ones deciding to have children? Yes, of course, she expounds. I think parents who decide to have children are cooperating with divine intention. Think about the people who want to have children and can’t. Life just isn’t possible unless God is granting it. Now you are filling me with even more questions, Alex expresses. Why would God deny children to people who want them? I’m not playing God, Leelee states. I don’t profess to know all the answers to every mystery of life. I just believe life isn’t possible unless God is directly sanctioning it.

manupstairs lambsofthelord

by lambsofthelord

Hang on, Leelee. I know you have a faith I don’t have. Based on what you’re saying I’m perplexed. I have trouble believing God is that involved in our lives. Why would he bring me into the world for me to be abandoned and molested? Leelee searches for the words to convey her thoughts. I think God ordains life. He puts life into the trust of human beings. It was never His intention for you to be abandoned or molested. Everything that happens, good or bad, is the result of whether or not we honor each others lives. The further people get from believing in the sanctity of every life the more abuses and human atrocities we see. The people that hurt you didn’t honor you. Or themselves. These decisions are often derived from selfishness. Sometimes it comes from their own pain. You know the saying; hurt people hurt other people. What you deserved, Alex, was to be loved and protected.

Alex is on the edge of his seat. The deep emotional experience, of the last few hours, has his heart open. He’s kept a reverent posture toward God publicly. But, his private thoughts have been more belligerent. He’s harbored anger and resentment toward the man upstairs. I’ve been upset with God since I was a little boy. Why didn’t He protect me?

Free will is an imperfect system, continues, Leelee. What do you mean by free will? he asks. We get to decide how we live our lives. What we do to ourselves. The things we do to each other. God tries to teach us the value of life. The purpose of life. How to maximize life. But He has given the power of choice to each of us. People choose good and evil. That’s the way I see it, Alex.

forgiveness by RenderSas @deviantart

by RenderSas c/o deviantart

So, if I’m hearing you correctly, I should be holding people responsible for hurting me and not blaming God. I think that’s the truth, Alex. If God intervened in every situation we wouldn’t be human beings. He would take our power of choice away from us. We wouldn’t be created in His image. So what do I do with the pain I carry. You forgive, Alex. You forgive and free yourself from the bondage of other people’s failures. You forgive yourself for your own failures. You forgive and get ready to be the best daddy in the world.

How did you get to be so wise, Leelee? I don’t think I’m wise, Alex. I have many questions myself. I’m thankful for the answers I do have. I keep asking for more understanding. I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good mother. Daughter. Sister. I want to be a friend to the world. I think we all have the ability to make the world a better place. I really want to do my part. For the first time in his life, Alex thought he should explore God. 

What a glorious day for the All Mighty and Ever-Present!

Marty will return next Friday!

 

Are you Thinking to Highly of Yourself?

I’ve only met a few bonafied narcissists. People out of touch with reality. Possessing a fictitious grandiose view of themselves. This level of selfishness borders on mental disorder. Thankfully, only 6 to 8 percent of the population will deal with this condition, according to the professionals. It may be too extreme to lock them away, but requiring dog tags for identification purposes, might serve the greater good.

Medical Validation

darktriad youtube

c/o YouTube.com

Wikipedia references the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of narcissism as a personality disorder. It’s been listed in the DSM since 1968. Drawing on the historical concept of megalomania. Narcissism is considered a social or cultural problem. It’s the third leg of the dark triad of personality traits. The other two being psychopathy (antisocial behavior) and Machiavellianism. (a disregard for morality- a focus on self-interests) I have to be self-aware, sensitive, and alert; I can succumb to narcissistic tendencies on any given Tuesday.

Many of us are on the other end of the spectrum. Most of us were taught to love others the way we love ourselves. The assumption being, we love ourselves. Most of the people I’ve interacted with, over a fifty year span, find loving themselves challenging. To clarify, love here is representative of benevolence. Social charity and affection for your fellow man. It’s having an interest in the well-being of the broader community. Including yourself!

Observing how I respond to other people is a great indicator to how I see myself. I can be on the front line of giving to others. And, I can be isolated in a room grieving for the life I think I’m suppose to have. Directly or indirectly my neighbor gets the treatment I’m giving to myself. So does my spouse, children, and those closest to me.

Spiritual Influence

I call my source of enlightenment, God. Some call it, higher power, supreme being, and a host of other things. I have found this to be true; how I see myself is how I see God. If I feel short-changed, or cheated in life, it’s His fault. He cheated me. God can’t be who He says He is and allow terrible things to happen. I’ve asked for help I didn’t receive. I’ve prayed prayers that didn’t get answered. What kind of God is that? I’ve been honest and dishonest in my interactions with God. I’ve said to Him what I’d been taught to say. Used the words I was trained to use. Even after I knew better. Change is never an accident.

I’ve experienced internal conflict in my conversations with the divine. Saying things like, I’m not worthy. I’m a horrible person. Degrading myself in an attempt to make myself more attractive to and angry deity. In hopes of obtaining an exemption from the certainty of the, cruel and unusual punishment, I had coming. This approach caused me to see God as defective as I saw myself. In order to figure out who I am I had to know who He is.

baggage stanley howe geograph.org.uk

by Stanley Howe on geograph.org.uk

There’s not many people who get on a airplane without some sort of luggage. Life is the same way. We all travel with some kind of baggage. Airlines are suspicious of passengers with no bags. And so am I. We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect people. Imperfect systems. And, imperfect institutions. I don’t trust people unless they walk with a limp. Success without failure isn’t normal. Does everyone have to crash and burn? I don’t think so. But do I think you’re perfect? No I don’t. I don’t need to know the details of your misdeeds to satisfy some sadistic tendency. I don’t want to know your failures to make me feel better about mine. Or to provide comparisons where I can extract an excuse for myself. I need to know how you started treating yourself appropriately. When did you learn to be your own best friend?

The occasional traveler seems to carry the most non-essentials. People with the most baggage tend to have low to moderate success. Frequent fliers learn not to pack every experience into their suitcase. Not every story can be the headline of your life. You can’t love others until you love yourself. When people do you wrong don’t agree with them. When you are discounted, disrespected, or made to feel invisible don’t internalize it. If someone fails to honor you don’t fashion the experience into a way of thinking about yourself. We can all prolong pain with wrong interpretations of life events. Whether self-destructive or abuse toward others, forgiveness unwraps your potential. 

Dr. Joe Rubino, creator of the Self-Esteem System, estimates eighty-five percent of people suffers with low self-esteem. A self esteem deficit doesn’t lend itself to reaching our potential. Living our dream. Understanding our value.

More than Wishful Thinking  

I’m not lovable. I’m not worthy of love. I’m not smart enough. Attractive enough. Interesting enough. I’m defective. Flawed. I’ve created such a mess in my life. I have addictions. I haven’t been able to form lasting relationships. I don’t follow through on anything. I let people walk on me. People use me all the time. I’m hopeless. I have dark thoughts. I’m an angry person. Volatile. Explosive. Destructive. I’m a hater. I’m rebellious. I rage against the machine. I’ve hurt people. Use people. I’ve been and abuser. I’ve caused a great deal of pain. I don’t respect anybody or anything. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum you are not as bad or as good as you think you are.

God is, and always has been, the perfect match for each of us. To think you are beyond His ability to remedy, redeem, and restore is wishful thinking. Do you think your set of circumstances are so prolific that you’re the “one” God has no answer for? Religious rhetoric, hypocritical behavior, right-wing ranting, and left-wing promotion are all in His purview. The atheist may think he has outsmarted God by claiming He doesn’t exist but God doesn’t move any further away from him than He does anyone else.

perfectmatch Louise Soe on flickr

by Louise Soe c/o flickr.com

If you think God cares for, gives Himself to, and loves you while hating the person next to you, think again. It’s always been unwise to compare oneself to others. Thankfulness and judgement don’t cohabitate. Wars, violence, protests, politics, even religion isn’t making the world a better place. If we think we are too outrageous, if we think we are exclusive, one way or the other, we are confusing our intention with God’s intention. What I accomplish on the inside, the maturity I grow into, the self-mastery I achieve has the greatest ability to bring about positive change in the world.

I can think I’m so good I don’t need God. I can think I’m so bad God can’t help me. I can’t think I’m somewhere in the middle, lost in space. At some point in time I may have subscribed to every concept. One thing is certain. God is not hiding. It might be shocking, to some, to know just how close He is to all of us.

One of the best rituals I’ve ever incorporated into my self-care regimen is asking myself this question everyday.

Are You Thinking To Highly Of Yourself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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