The Secret of Creative Competition!

AWARENESS                                                                                                                                                       I was born with it. I’ve lived with it. I’ve dreamed about it. I’ve nurtured it. I’ve left it sitting idle. I’ve picked it up again. I know it will never leave me alone. In spite of moments of frustration, if it disappeared, I’d be lost. It’s the thing I’m meant to do.

outoffocus Harry Pointer en.wikipedia

Image via en.wikipedia.org, courtesy of Harry Pointer

It can be overwhelming. How do I get this thing out of me. How do I make it live in the real world. I’ve trained. I’ve learned. I’ve worked hard at my craft. I’ve tried to focus on the things that are supposed to get me where I want to be. One set back after another has caused me to doubt myself. My gift. My purpose. I’ve walked away. I’ve come back to it. Like a revolving door I’ve gone round and round. I’ve danced with it. I’ve ignored it. I’ve held on to it for dear life. I can’t let go because it is me. It’s who I am.

Comparing ourselves thwarts individuality. We have common destinations – we do not have common journeys. Being exactly like someone else could only result in the loss of uniqueness. The distinction we are born with isn’t meant to turn us into plebs. Our struggle is more about how we are pursuing than what we are pursuing.

Broken Systems                                                                                                                                                 Magic happens when someone emerges from the masses. The declaration is undeniable, the message is clear, I’ve found myself and this is who I am. While imitation might be the best form of flattery, we can miss the point. Personal empowerment isn’t to follow in the steps of someone else. It’s to observe how they stopped following in the steps of others.

Divine intention is embedded in each of us. When we sacrifice the significance within we submit to being wrapped in the heap of those who never break from the doldrums. To find the sum of who we are we need the right equation. It’s not the stars on stage that we should count, it’s the stars in the sky.

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of George Hotelling

Human aspirations are often cloaked in designer rhetoric that stunts our own growth. Following dictates of idolizing is a good way to render our lives idle, immobile, and unfulfilled.

Celebrating others is required for personal momentum. If it becomes more than appreciation we may be forfeiting our creative genius. The very thing that is fighting to be set free.

ASSESSING CORRECTLY                                           New research points out that the pursuit of happiness has become a burden for many. Causing stress, which defeats the reason for searching for it, in the first place. Trying to be someone or something you’re not is certain to hold bliss at bay. Defining meaning is personal.                           

insanity Connor McKee commons wikimedia

Image via commons.wikimedia.com courtesy of Connor McKee

There’s consensus for finding success in daily ritual. The desire to achieve greatness is often bewitched by ignoring small and consistent actions. Discipline, as it turns out, is not profane.

Affirmation, clarity, and identity doesn’t come after accomplishment – they come before it. We aren’t waiting for the world to recognize us, the world is waiting for us to recognize ourselves. Our routine speaks to how we see ourselves.

 

THE FINAL FRONTIER

We all begin with something to complete before we are finished. Competition is the single greatest threat to completing our assignment. When I heard Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, share that he was turned down 144 times before he obtained a publisher, I understood something. When you know what you are supposed to do you do it until you can’t be ignored. With over 500 million copies in print worldwide,  Jack didn’t see competition, he saw completion.

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Image courtesy of pixabay via supermom_4110

The Breakaway’s, those that rise to the top, don’t see a field of competition; they see a field of completion. External competition is imaginary. It’s an illusion. A distraction. Competition feeds the ego, dabbles in deception, and pollutes our best virtues. You can prevent the very thing that’s trying to find you. Completion is about peeling back the layers until all self defeat is gone.

The secret to creative competition is to know, deep in your soul, your only competition is inside 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.

Embarcadero!

We are loading up for the second move in three years. You have to be at least, a little nuts, adventurous, deeply in-love or motivated in some special way to engage in such risky behavior. We didn’t unpack all of our boxes from the last move. Now we are packing again. We decided to purge. So we unpacked the boxes we hadn’t unpacked to get rid of the things we hadn’t seen in two years. How did we ever live without these things?

We purged honestly. Had a nice yard sale. Made many trips to Goodwill. Chose to leave some things behind for the next guy. Decided a smaller truck will do. Colossal mistake. Evidently we’re not as honest with ourselves as we need to be. Truck is completely full, car is on the trailer and securely connected to the truck. Problem is, a third of our stuff is yet to be loaded. Many words made themselves available for employment. I chose wisely. Took deep breaths, reminded myself that I volunteered for this assignment.

My wife will have to drive the car so I can get an additional trailer to tow. It’s the 4th of July weekend. The entire country is moving. Everyone must be feeling their independence. Lost a whole day locating a trailer. Finally, made the swap for the auto transporter and trailer. We load up the additional stuff after some more donations to charity. We are a day and a half late on hitting the road, but let it be known, we aren’t the type to be put off by difficulty. At 9:15 at night, after working like fools all day, we head west. California bound. San Francisco here we come. Got a seven year old grand boy waiting for us. He’s clearly worth whatever it takes to get there.

I had promised to be there to spend the fourth of July with him. We had to push hard. My wife is a trooper; driving for hours alone in the car. Following a UHAUL truck halfway across the country. She had moved at my request many times over the years, this time though, was at her request. She made no complaints though I could see the price she was paying. She just wants to be near her kids and grandson. I owed her this move. It wasn’t like I had to be talked into it. I want to be near my grand boy more than anything.

We arrived safe and sound first thing Sunday Morning. Went to the storage, to unload all the things we just couldn’t live without, to discover a major kerfuffle. UHAUL has some “splaining to do.” Relying upon years of experience and utilizing my negotiating skills, we came to a resolution. I will pay for the first month of storage even-though my paperwork says it is free. My grand boy is literally ten minutes away waiting for us to get there. I have to get through this exercise quickly.

With the trailer unloaded we leave the truck and take the car to go pick-up our daughter and grandson. I can’t remember all the frustration. I’m not even thinking about what we have been through the last two weeks. I’m not feeling the effects of two fifteen hours days of driving. Or the misrepresentations we are yet to deal with. There is one thing on my mind. It’s not the famed Embarcadero of the San Francisco waterfront. It’s the one made up of a little boy, without a father, wanting to be with his Papa who knows what it’s like to be without a father. Now that’s an EMBARCADERO!!!!!

 

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! 15

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of Lucas Raab

Leelee is sitting up in bed. Resting against the headboard. Smiling. On the edge of bursting out in laughter. Alex is singing in the shower. Not just an underwater hum. This resembles an on stage performance. She has never heard him sing before. He likes music. He might turn up the volume on a favorite song, but to break out in a sing along, just isn’t his style. No music is playing in the background. Alex is making his own melody. She is pretty sure he’s making up his own words too.

Life is different. The past months have brought them closer together. She never imagined Alex the way he is now. She saw him as a good man. Loving. Kind. But he always had an edginess. He could be forceful. Even intimidating. She learned how to bring him around. Reign him in. Much of that part of Alex is gone. Empathy has replaced his dissonance. He’s open. Engaging. Much more calm. He looks more alive. Vibrant. Not out to conquer the world. An inner peace rests where turbulence used to be. There’s a new man walking in his shoes. She likes it. A lot!

They usually slept in on Saturdays. Lately, Alex has been getting up early. Making sure to be quiet to let Leelee rest. Waiting patiently for her to come downstairs. This time he went straight to the shower. He certainly isn’t being quiet this morning. She can’t think of a better way to wake up. Her sense of tranquility is sustained as she listens to Alex singing. Wow, she said out loud. The baby just gave her a kick. She isn’t due for a few weeks. For several days, and nights, the baby has been quite active. Since the early scare, the pregnancy has gone very well.

Alex peeks around the bathroom door. It dawned on him that he might have woken Leelee. She grins at him. Says, I really enjoyed your concert, Alex. Did I wake you? he asks. No, she responds. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I’ve never heard you sing, Alex. He blushes. Not knowing what to say. Leelee tells him, I didn’t want you to stop. I think the baby must have liked it too. He was dancing away. Gave me a few kicks to show me he was having a good time. He sits on the bed near her. Puts his hand on her belly. Is he still moving? With perfect timing, Alex feels the baby pressing against her skin. She grunts slightly. They both giggle.

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of Ed Yourdon

They head to the kitchen. Get the water going for tea and coffee. Decide they only want toast to eat. The conversation steers toward what it will be like to have the baby. Life will change. Drastically. They can’t wait. They’re still discussing names. They’ve had lots of suggestions. They just haven’t hit on the right one yet. The conversation moves to parenting. How do they want to raise their child? Lots of back and forth. They mostly agree on everything until religion comes up. Leelee believes the new experiences Alex is having would roll into her faith. She’s surprised by his resistance.

What is your hesitation? she inquires. My faith has been good for me, Alex. I’m sure if you give it a chance you will like it too. I’m not excited about any church I’ve ever attended, he replies. I think organized religion leaves a lot to be desired. What do you mean? she challenges. I think there is too much ritual. I don’t like the way you’re constantly told how to live. It’s like people aren’t free to think for themselves. Your expected to just comply with whatever is being promoted. I just don’t think that religion has made any real impact on the world. It separates people. Which one is right? There are so many.

I know that I’ve been experiencing God, he continues. For the first time in my life I’m not questioning if God is real. I don’t know exactly what it all means yet. I do believe what is happening inside me is a game-changer. I want to figure this out. He asks Leelee, are you willing to consider something besides your religion? She pauses, caught off guard by the question. I have to be honest, Alex. Since you didn’t have a particular religion, I envisioned you would come around to mine. Do you think that is fair? he asks, wondering. I never thought about it that way, she admits.

I’m just now coming to experience God, he laments. I do want our child to believe in God. I just don’t know, today, what to tell him about God. I’m searching for answers, Leelee. For myself and our baby. I’m even wanting you to explore your own beliefs. I don’t think you have ever had my questions. How would you know my answers? What are you saying, Alex? Are you asking me to dismiss my faith? Fearing he might be upsetting her he slows the conversation. Not at all, he replies. I think I have to ask if you can understand where I’m coming from? Have you ever considered there might be a better way than the way you were raised? What if God has more for you than what you’ve experienced so far?

Directions ClkerFreeVectorImages pixabay

Image via pixabay.com, courtesy of ClkerFreeVectorImages

Leelee ponders, I think I have some things to think about. This is somewhat of a surprise. I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now. Alex reassures her, no decision is being made. I agree this is important, Leelee. I think what has happened to me, before this baby arrives, is intentional. I also think this is happening to you. I believe this is something we’re suppose to discover together. We might end up at your church. But I need to be sure about what we’re doing. Can you be open, Leelee? I’m only asking for you to consider that God might have a different path for us to follow. Whatever we decide, we have to decide together. I agree, Alex. Let’s ask God to show us the way. I’m sure He will.

Marty will return next Friday!

 

 

Adventures in Marty! 12

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of Kira Westland

All the tears did a fine job of clearing the air. They all feel lighter. But, it’s like a ton of bricks were unloaded from Alex and his mom. Just underneath his pain loomed a deep love and respect for her. He had turned inward years ago and kept his pain alive. That put his mom in harm’s way. It prevented his own authenticity. He didn’t tell the truth to his mom. He penalized her for being in the dark. Not knowing how much he hurt inside. He sees himself as a fool now. Although his mother is not perfect he had to acknowledge her sacrifices for him. Admit she never failed to put him first. It had been years since he looked at her without bitterness. Today he takes in her beauty. Her love for her son is radiant. Alex understood how he disrespected her. He vowed to be a good son.

The conversation flowed freely. All distance between family members is gone. They’re connecting in a way nobody thought likely. It was the dawning of something more intimate. Leelee leaning on the sofa arm with her legs pulled up squeezed his hand as Alex took hold of her. Eyes do talk. Oh, to be a fly on the cornea to hear what their pupils were saying. Looking into one another’s eyes melted previous versions of their love. These events would prove dynamic. Life altering. Good became great. Love chased fear into obedience. A baby is safe, a man is born, a mother is set free, a father gains a son, a mom-to-be is thrilled, and her mom is thankful.

Talk about a Kodak moment; they all sat non-verbally. Peaceful smiles spoke softly. Leelee politely interrupted, dad she said, when do you think God first gets involved in our lives? You must have a reason for asking that question, he offered. Yeah, I do. I sensed God is near from the moment I suspected I was pregnant. I took my pill. It seems improbable for me to be with child. I wanted to conceive but Alex wanted to wait. When I look at what my being pregnant has done for us all I wonder. I mean, I have questions.

I believe mankind is Gods’ idea. Like marriage, having children is His idea too. I think before we are formed in the womb He is right there with us. We come from Him. We return to Him when life is over. We are all on loan to one another. Children are a heritage. An inheritance given to us by our heavenly father. We are responsible to remind each other of that and to point our kids to back to Him. Leelee stated, I’ve sensed His presence throughout my life. Sometimes more real than others. Sometimes I didn’t know if He is there. This time, especially when Alex rushed me to the hospital, something so real, so definitive happened. I knew He was more than with me. It’s like He was in me, through me, not just around me.

Her mom spoke. That’s yours Leelee. All yours. Nobody can ever take that from you. Your faith and experience are teaching you things of the Spirit. No bible class can ever give you what you obtained since this all happened. Doubt can be a problem. Even for believers. It’s in times like these we own our faith. You advance from teachings to conceiving. You move from ideas about God to the reality of God. John piped in, God isn’t someone to call on, only when there is trouble. Nor is He number one on some lists of priorities. He is our life. He is limited only by our attitudes, lack of willingness to recognize Him, and our understanding of His ways.

Alex couldn’t hold back any longer. He asked, then why do bad things happen? John said, bad things don’t come from God Alex. But if He controls everything He has to allow it, right? This is a point of much controversy, John continues. Many people ask, why does a loving God do nothing when tragedy, suffering, and violence affects innocent people. I would submit a few questions of my own here, says John. People live without consulting with or inviting God into their everyday lives. They make choices from intellect and emotions. If things workout they take the credit but if things don’t workout they blame God.

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Image via flickr.com, courtesy of Edward Conde

Leelee and Grace are almost spellbound. John has never been this vocal. He’s seen as a wise man but the emotion and communication from him today is unusual, to say the least. When I look at the state of politics, John elaborates, even the state of the church at large, I see the results of our decisions. A choice is behind every action. Someone chooses to murder, rape, molest, steal. Gossip, exploitation, and humiliating other people are all choices. Christians who spew hate and judgment also do so by choice.

If God took our choices away from us we would be something other than human beings. Our ability to choose makes us different from every other form of creation. Alex quips, then why doesn’t He help us make better choices? With the patience of a man who has lived through decades of trial and error, John responds. What you have been experiencing through these past weeks is God breaking through years of being closed out. Do you think God suddenly became interested in you, Alex? Or do you think He has been there all along? Alex is perplexed. After a brief pause he answers, I know He has been there all along. You’re making choices now based on your awareness of His desire to be involved in your life.

lightafterdarkness by Jhong Dizon

Image via eyesright.speedofcreativity.org on flickr, by Jhong Dizon

Alex made eye contact with his mom. She had been silent the whole time. She smiled warmly at him. He asked, what do you think mom? I’ve learned something today, she replied. Several things actually. I think I want to spend some time reflecting on all I’ve heard. I will take some time and ask myself some questions before I make any statements. I do hope we can talk more about this. With that the parents decided it was time to go. The good-bye hugs were deeper than ever. There is no lack of love and affection among this tribe.

The Man Upstairs proved He resides with us. He’s not a distant lover or absentee father. He doesn’t attack to force his will. He will not withhold any good thing from us. He never wanted to be on the outside looking in. He wants to be known.

Marty will return next Friday!

Adventures in Marty! 11

happycouple by hafecheese flickr

Image via flickr.com, courtesy of hafecheese

Both mothers and Leelee’s dad head for the house. Alex is doing the paperwork for discharge. The relief they all feel is apparent on their faces. Positive energy surrounds every word. It’s great when things work out the way you want. Everyone had to consider the potential for looming tragedy. Not today. This is a joyous day. A day they will always remember. Each one of them is changed in ways that will soon become evident to them all.

The two moms and dad quickly ready the house to make Leelee comfortable when they arrive. Alex helped Leelee into the car. They thank the nurse who wheeled her outside. Alex slides into the drivers seat. Puts the key in the ignition. Hesitates. Looks over at his precious wife. Their eyes locked on each other. Silence never spoke so loud. With unrehearsed precision they said I love you at the same time. I’ve never been more thankful, Leelee. I feel blessed in a way that I never thought possible. My wife is okay. Our baby is okay. Then Alex said  the most powerful words. You know, honey, I’m okay. I’m really okay. She said, we’re always going to be okay, Alex.

They pull into the driveway at home. John is the first to appear. He’s a quiet man with understated strength and calm. His eagerness today surprises everyone. Both moms follow John outside. They have different personalities but today they express enthusiasm in unison. The belief that supernatural intervention prevailed creates gratitude beyond words. This is a thankful family. The sense that great things are ahead gives them all an assurance not easily found.

Each one of them found a means to assist Leelee inside. Quit fusing, Leelee said. I feel fine. With a mom on each arm and the men trailing after, the door closes behind them. It’s symbolic in a sacred kind of way. A chapter in all of their lives has ended. Leelee is led to the couch. The women had made it up with sheets, pillows, and a blanket. Leelee says, I’m so glad you are all here. But, you have to stop treating me like I’m going to crack. I’m a little tired. Other than that, I’m great. The four voices spoke at the same time. The message is communicated. You just relax, Leelee, and let us take care of you.

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Image via flickr, courtesy of Lama Surya Das

Hot tea for everyone. Settling in to their seats they begin an extraordinary conversation. Alex wants to talk. He divulges everything he had said to Leelee. There’s not a dry eye in the room. Leelee welcomes the surprise. She knows what a leap of faith this is for Alex. It’s a miracle. She’s so proud of him. His mom speaks next. I’m sorry son. I thought if we acted like it never happened it would give us the best chance to get over it. I didn’t realize you needed to talk about it. I’m so sorry Alex. I feel stupid and ashamed. Can you ever forgive me? He gets up and goes to his mother. She stands up and they embrace. He cries so hard that it breaks her heart all over again.

She went back to the very moment she found out he had been molested. You would have to be blind not to see the pain evaporate. This is the healing many people never find. An only child, abandoned by his father, re-bonds to a single mother who couldn’t love her son any more than she does. What a new beginning this would prove to be. From that minute on their relationship flourished. Alex said, mom, I thought you didn’t want me to talk about it because you were embarrassed by me. I thought it was your pride. I thought you were more concerned about yourself and what people would say than you were about my well being.

Oh no, Alex. I wish I had known what the silence was doing to you. I’m so sorry, Alex. I get that, mom. I get it now. I want to apologize to you. Apologize to me? You have nothing to apologize to me about, she cried. I do mom. My pain kept me from seeing how much you tried to lessen the impact on me. I’ve held things against you, mom. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Until today I didn’t understand that I’ve been punishing you. For years, I’ve made you pay for things you didn’t even know I felt. I could have told you how I was feeling. I know now you would have listened. I wrote a very wrong story and I have lived out the story I wrote. It was all wrong. Can you forgive me, mom? Of course I forgive you.

As Alex turned to walk back to his chair John stood up. Tears were streaming down his face. Leelee and her mom had not seen him cry like that. There is a serenity, a hallow presence that filled the room. John wrapped his arms around Alex. He said, I love you, son. These words transformed Alex. John instinctively knew Alex had longed to hear his father say these words to him. Alex liked John but there had always been dissonance. Alex only referred to him by his first name so what he said next shocked everyone. Hugging John as tightly as he could he said, thanks dad. I love you too.

FatherSon pamula133 pixabay

Image via pixabay, courtesy of pamula133

Divine intention manifested. Demonstrating the way things are meant to be. Pantokrater and Marty enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Marty will return next Friday!

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!

 

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