A Stroke Of Inspiring Proportions

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Just watched a truly inspiring video from the TED Talks. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist, awoke one morning to discover she was having a stroke. Her insights and enlightenment (truly) will change the way you view your world and yourself.

I HIGHLY recommend watching this 18-minute video!

FYI: If you identified yourself as a Highly Sensitive Person after reading 22 Signs That You’re A Highly Sensitive Person, you’ll particularly resonate with Jill’s description of how it felt when she was coming “back to reality.”



If, after watching this video,you’re interested in learning about tools that will help you spend more of your time in that connected, right hemisphere space Jill talks about, download the free report:

Energetics of Attraction: Understanding and Applying the Harmonics of Human Awareness to Create the Life You Desire.



A Broken Rear-Windshield Sale – Healing The Heart Of The World

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You’ve heard of a fire sale, right?

Well how about a broken rear windshield sale?

A couple of months ago the rear windshield in my beloved old Saab shattered on an early frosty morning. I know, it’s weird. You would think that a car built for those frigid Swedish winters would be able to stand up to the few sub-freezing mornings we have here in Northern California. But my blue lips when I walked into my Friday morning breakfast meeting after driving into Santa Rosa with a gaping hole in the hatchback proved differently!

You’ll be happy to know that after several weeks of scrambling (and driving around with plastic taped over the big hole in the hatchback) my insurance company was able to locate what was apparently the last new replacement windshield for my car, in Miami of all places!

That’s the good news for me.

The good news for you is that, hiding in the hatchback, were two opened cases of the bestselling and award-winning anthology, Healing the Heart of the World: Harnessing the Power of Intention to Change Your Life and Your Planet.

If you’ve ever seen a shattered windshield you know that the glass breaks up into tiny chunks. This prevents people from getting seriously damaged, but it does make a big mess. These little pieces of glass have the ability to trickle down into the smallest spaces and leave little tiny scratch marks on stuff they touch… including award winning anthologies!

And that, unfortunately was the fate of the books in those two boxes.

Healing the Heart of the WorldNow if you don’t know about Healing the Heart of the World, it is a truly inspiring book with essays from Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Thich Nhat Hanh, Bruce Lipton, Prince Charles, Joan Borysenko and many more leading edge thinkers.

It also includes my essay, The Evolutionary Warrior!

Healing the Heart of the World was an Amazon bestseller (it was in the top 10 for personal growth books and made it to the number 23 spot in all books!)

It also won the prestigious Best Inspirational Book of 2006 from the Independent Publisher’s Association

The regular price of this book is $24.95. But I’ve got 30 or so of them that were in those boxes. And I just don’t feel like I can sell them at full price. Even though most of these books are in perfect condition, a few of them do have scratches and scuff marks from the glass. And instead of trying to sort through them looking for scratch marks, I’d rather be safe and let them all go at a huge discount.

So, I’m selling every book that was in one of those books for half price. Just $12.95.

As I said there are about 30 of them and when they’re gone, they’re gone. (At least until the rear windshield shatters again!)

You can pick up your copy right now at this link:

http://tinyurl.com/2lqkl5

Plus, as a thank you for ordering one of these books, I’ll also include a downloadable version of my CD, An Introduction to Brainwave Entrainment Technology for Personal Growth & Success. This CD normally costs $14.95. But if you purchase one of these “blemished” books, you can get the entire recording in MP3 format for free!

Now like I said, most of these books are in perfect condition. Just a few of them are scuffed up. And while I can’t guarantee which one you’ll get, I will say that I will be pulling books from the middle of the boxes first. So that means the sooner you order, the more likely it is that you’re going to get a perfect book!

So if you want to increase the chances of getting a perfect quality book for half price, along with a free CD, you’ll want to put your order in now!

Here’s the order link again:

http://tinyurl.com/2lqkl5

Are you willing to be the hero in your life story?

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And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

— Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

I rented the movie Transformers last week. Now hold on just a minute before you give me a hard time. Sometimes you just need to chill out with a mindless movie. I never watch TV so once a week I give myself the opportunity to indulge my inner child and watch a fun movie. And this was actually very fun!

But I’m not writing this to get you to go out and rent Transformers. (Although I know you want to!) No, this is about your life. Isn’t it always?

You see, as I was watching, I started to think about why we have so many action/adventure/sci-fi movies and why I enjoy them so much (especially the sci-fi ones). And as I was watching and thinking about it (so much for mindless!) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces  popped into my head. Now you’re probably wonder what the heck does Joseph Campbell have to do with the Transformers? Not a lot, really. But somehow through my warped grasp on reality I managed to tie them together!

If you don’t know Joseph Campbell, he was perhaps the most famous and influential mythologer of the 20th century. And, let’s face it, as sad as it might be, these movies are a major part of our cultural mythology. I mean I grew up on Marvel comic books and those little suckers provided the stories and myths that I needed to make it through an otherwise life draining childhood.

And whether myths are stories told around a campfire, or tales told during a sweat lodge ceremony, or action adventure movies watched in 3D, they server a purpose. And that purpose is to remind us that we are the heroes of our lives.

We’re all on a hero’s journey. Whether or not we know it, our lives are the journey and, like it or not, we are the hero! The problem is that most of us never realize that we’re the hero on the journey of our life because our lives don’t very often resemble the Transformers or Lord of the Rings, or the Matrix, or Live Free or Die Hard.

Mostly we think that our lives are just, well, normal.

But that’s where we’re wrong. Our lives are anything but normal. And we get to choose, in every moment, whether we’re going to be the hero in our life, or if we’re going to watch our life pass by.

Remember the scene in Three Kings (another one of those hero myth movies) where George Clooney explained how courage worked to one of the other guys.

The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.

Well that’s how life works, even if you’re not in the Iraqi desert trying to find Saddam’s gold. Except that in our “normal” lives the things that we’re scared shitless of don’t seem like they should be all that scary. So we don’t think that our lives are an adventure or a journey. And we don’t think that we’re the heroes. But we are.

But every time we do the thing we’re scared shitless of – things like saying yes when the boss asks for someone to do a presentation, or starting our own business, or telling someone welove them for the first time, or asking our crush out on a date – we’ve stepped into the role of hero in our life.

So stop waiting for your life to turn into an adventure and start living as if it’s an adventure now!

Stop waiting for the moment when you have to be “heroic” and start looking for those moments right now, every day.

You don’t have to be battling Megatron to be a hero. Your battles are happening right now, even as you’re reading this. Ask yourself, “What would a hero do, if he or she was living my life right now?” And then go and do it!

Have You Seen Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture?”

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Just a quick head’s up in case you haven’t seen this video from Randy Pausch. Randy is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University where the professor’s have a tradition of giving their “last lecture:” the lecture they would give if they were dying. Well for Randy, this is not just an exercise. Randy is dying of cancer.

He gave this lecture on How to Achieve Your Childhood Dreams

I could tell you more about it, but I think I’ll leave it to Randy. However, I will encourage you to spend the full 11 1/2 minutes watching this first video all the way through to the end. There are some truly powerful insights at the end.

Here’s the 12-minute “cliff”s notes version of the lecture he gave on the Oprah show recently:

And here is the full lecture he presented at Carnegie Mellon. This one is over an hour.


A Beautiful Reason To Wake Up Early

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I’m the morning person in our family. So I was the only one who got to see this incredible sunrise. Sometimes it really does pay to wake up at 5:00am!

 

Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter (So Far)

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Children bring a great amount of wisdom with them when they join us here in this world. I have known this for many years and have always loved being around children. But it was not until I became a father, a bit more than four years ago, that I discovered just how wise these little beings really are.Father-Daughter Beach

From the moment of my daughter’s birth (and even before that) fatherhood has been a truly transformative experience. It’s rare that a day goes by without learning something about life from my Ella. And in many ways I really do see her as one of my most effective teachers.

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the personal growth lessons I have learned from Ella over the past four years. If you have children you will most likely recognize many of these. If you do not have children, you may find some of these corny or silly. Trust me, they are not. Every one of these lessons has had a significant impact on my life.

So here, then, are the top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Daughter… so far!

1. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a New Day.
When Ella was younger she would ask me, “Is tomorrow gonna be a new day?” I assured her that, yes, indeed, tomorrow would be a new day. Now that she’s reached the ripe old age of four, she gets it. And now she reminds me: “Don’t worry Dadda. Tomorrow’s gonna be a new day!” It’s good to remember that!

I the only one hearing a refrain from Little Orphan Annie in the background? “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…” Sure it’s cheesy, but there is a lot of power in recognizing that, no matter how difficult today is, tommorrow’s gonna be a new day.

2. Sometimes it’s Better to Make Up Your Own Rules
I already wrote about this one in the post Life Lessons from Candyland. But it’s an important one so I included it in this list.

Bottom line: Sometimes it’s best to throw away the rule book and make up your own!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Your Enthusiasm.
Ella is not shy when it comes to showing her enthusiasm. If someone makes a suggestion that she likes she responds in a number of different ways depending upon her level of excitement. If she likes the idea, she’ll say something like, “That’s gonna be a great idea, Dada!” If she really likes the idea, she’ll nod her head vigorously and let out a loud, “Uh huh!” And if she really, really likes an idea, she starts jumping and galloping around, shouting, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.” over and over and over and over…

My favorite part is when we’re at the dinner table and we make a suggestion (like for instance on a hot summer night when we, very rarely, suggest walking down to the ice cream shop in town) Ella will get so excited that she actually has to climb down off her chair so that she can run back and forth yelling “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh!” Sometimes her excitement is so powerful I’m afraid she’s going to fall off the chair!

Do you ever curb your enthusiasm? I know I do. Somewhere along the line most of us learned that stuff we really wanted or were really excited about could be taken away in an instant. Often the very things that were most exciting to us were used to get us to do or not do certain things: “Get dressed now or you can’t ride your bike today!” Or, “Stop saying that word or you’ll be grounded for a week.”

No wonder we’ve learned to hide our enthusiasm! We don’t want the good stuff taken away from us so we don’t let anyone know what we think is good! How messed up is that.

Well it sure is refreshing to watch Ella express her enthusiasm with no hesitation. Enthusiasm is contagious. People want a taste of enthusiasm. They want to know that it is safe to be happy about something.

So give it a try. The next time you discover something you really like, do a little happy dance and see what happens.

4. Feel your emotions fully.
Ella isn’t always happy. Like all kids she has moments of frustration and sadness. We’ve done our best to encourage her to fully feel those emotions and express them when they’re happening. It’s amazing to watch how Ella has learned to deal with these moments.

If something happens that causes Ella to feel frustrated or angry she’ll go into her room, close the door, lie down on the floor or on her bed and scream or cry for a minute or two. Then she opens the door, comes back out and says, “All better.” And usually she is. The frustration that was moving through her just needed to be let out.

How often have you held onto sadness, frustration, anger or grief? I know I’ve held onto stuff for a long time! And the longer I hold onto those emotions, the more powerful they become.

Much better to just let them out in the moment and let yourself be “all better!”

5. Walk On Walls Whenever Your Have The Chance
wall walkWhen was the last time you walked on a wall? Whenever I’m out walking with Ella and we pass a wall, whether it’s a curb or a retaining wall, Ella wants to walk on it. And now she gets me to walk on them with her: “Come on, Dada!” And I must say, if you haven’t walked on a wall in a while, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun!

The life lesson here is that we adult types tend to pass by opportunities for joy and exploration without even noticing them. These opportunities are all around us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and expand our perception. Hanging around kids (even if you don’t have your own) is a great way to do that.

6. Sometimes you have to do it alone (even if there’s someone right there who could help you).
I often feel a strong temptation to reach out to help Ella put her shoes on or put a puzzle piece in the right place. Simple tasks that I take for granted are a challenge for Ella, as they are for any child. If I were to constantly jump in and say, “Let me do that for you,” it would take her a lot longer to figure out how to do it.

It’s especially tempting to help her when she reaches that frustration point. But I’ve learned that if I let her go a little bit longer, just past that moment of frustration is when she succeeds.

In those moments I sometimes think of the scene in the movie, Ray, after Ray Charles has gone blind and his mother pretends she’s not in the room as he’s calling out for her help. In that moment, he discovers that he’s not as helpless as he thought.

It’s been a powerful lesson for me as a father and in my own life.

7. Know When to Ask For Help.
Now, while this one seems to contradict the previous lesson, they really work hand in hand. Let’s face it; there are some things that a four year old just can’t do yet. Ella is pretty good about trying to do things. And she is also pretty good about asking for help when she has reached the end of her patience: “Please help me, Dada.” Or if she’s tired or frustrated she might say, “I can’t do it, Dada.”

Her willingness to ask for help is a powerful lesson for someone like me: a die-hard do it yourselfer. Countless hours have been spent figuring out something that I could have easily asked or paid someone else to do.

Knowing when, and how, to ask for help is an important life skill to master. And I am learning from a master.

8. Don’t be attached to what you painted yesterday (or 2-seconds ago).
Ella is a prolific artist. She cranks out paintings and drawings faster than the fastest graffiti artist. And the beautiful thing about her creativity is that once she’s done, she’s done. There is no attachment to the painting she just created. She puts her piles of artwork into the recycling bin as easily as the Tibetan monks sweep their intricate sand mandalas back into dust. http://www.artnetwork.com/Mandala/gallery.html

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go of stuff I created 10-years ago! Ella’s willingness to let go of her creations leaves her open to the flow of creativity. She is not attached to what she painted yesterday. She does not compare what she is doing today with what came before. She is free to be open and just let it flow.

9. Singing Makes Everything Better.
No matter how traumatic a situation might be, whether it’s an overtired and cranky before bed tooth brushing meltdown or a big boo-boo, singing makes it better. Ella and I sing together on our way to preschool. We sing the silly tooth-brushing song we made up together. We sing the pee-pee song. We sing our favorite bedtime songs. Just about anything that you can say can be sung (hey, didn’t the Beatles write something about that?).

Singing is fun. Singing makes you smile. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s research showing that singing releases endorphins. And most of us adult types tend to sing far too little. The 7-Dwarves knew what they were talking about when they whistled while they worked! So try adding a bit more singing into your daily diet.

10. Dance like no one’s watching (even when you’ve made sure that everyone is!)
Team Kadena receives free toysLike most houses with young ones, the phrases, “Watch Dada. Watch Mama. Watch everybody!” are heard on a regular basis. Ella loves to dance. And when she does, she lets it all hang out. She makes up new dance moves on a regular basis: There’s the running back and forth dance, the sneaky dance, the jumping up and down dance, the spin around until you fall down dance, and of course Ella’s famous Jiggy-Jiggy dance!

Somewhere along the way, most of us lose that uninhibited ability to express ourselves. The voices of self-doubt come in and we become self-conscious of our performance. Watching Ella dance with all her heart, whether she’s alone or in front of a crowd, is a great reminder of the innocence and joy that we all have inside of us. Isn’t it time we start letting a little more of it out?

So there are the top 10 life lessons that Ella has helped me learn… so far. What lessons have your children taught you? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below and share your lessons and stories.

The Vision Board 2008 Invitational

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Are you up for a challenge? Do you want to get 2008 off to an intentional start? If so, I want to invite you to participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational. Last year’s Vision Board meeting at the January drop in Law of Attraction group – a group I host on the first Saturday of each month – was such a success that we’re doing it again.

But this year, I want you to join us, even if you can’t get to Santa Rosa on Saturday. If you do join us, not only will you start 2008 with a powerful burst of inspired action, but you also get a chance to share you vision with the world and you could win a fantastic prize! Read on to find out more. Whatever you think about the Law of Attraction and the ideas in the movie The Secret, there is one point that you just can’t argue with: Setting intentions works!

You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want. But intention setting, on its own, is not enough. You need continuous focus on your intentions as well as inspired, focused action. And one of the best ways to stay focused on your intentions is to create visual reminders. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind author, T. Harv Ecker, frequently tells his students that, “Visual is memorable.” And Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools I know of for creating continuous, visual focus on your positive intentions. And there’s even a dash of inspired action thrown into the process of creating a vision board.

Now if you’ve never created one, a Vision Board is a collage or other collection of images, words and phrases created and used to facilitate the manifestation of desires. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. Vision Boards are one of the most powerful tools in the deliberate creator’s toolbox.

When you create a vision board you are doing three things that immediately put you ahead of 95% of the people who set resolutions:

  • When you create a Vision Board you are taking Inspired Action.
  • When you create a Vision Board you clarify and focus your desires.
  • When you create a Vision Board (and place it where you see it often) you have an on-going, visual reminder of your intentions.

The process of creating a Vision Board is straightforward:

  • Gather the supplies – board, glue, scissors, magazines, catalogs, markers, etc.
  • Clarify your desires.
  • Cut out images that represent those desires..
  • Glue them onto your board.
  • Place the board somewhere you will see it on a daily basis.

But while the process is simple, taking the action to do it is not always easy! I’ve seen far too many people say they were going to create a New Year’s Vision Board only to find that weeks and months into the New Year they still had not done so. If you’ve ever struggled to complete an “optional” project on your own, you know just what I’m talking about.

This year, I want to help to stack the deck in your favor and hopefully make it a bit easier for you to complete your New Year’s Vision Board Monday, January 14th and get 2008 off to a deliberate, positive start! So I’ve come up with a few incentives and some tips. First the incentives:

  • Share your vision with the world: Sure it’s great to create a vision board and hang it on your wall. But there is something empowering about sharing your vision. By sharing your vision you declare your intention to the world. You put your flag in the sand. So to help you share your vision with the world, on Tuesday, January 15th, I will post an entry here with a link every vision board that is completed by January 14th. (You’ll have to send me the link of course). You can post the photo of your Vision Board on your blog or website, or put it up at a photo sharing site such as Flickr.com. I’ll also feature images of a few of my favorite boards along with the link.
  • Win some great prizes: Everyone who submits a completed Vision Board by January 14th will receive access to the online version of my CD, An Introduction to Brainwave Entrainment Technology for Personal Growth and Success. If you haven’t experienced Brainwave Entrainment, you are missing out on a powerful personal growth tool.In addition, three winners will receive a $40 prize package that includes the physical CD listed above as well as the inspiring, award winning anthology, Healing the Heart of the World, which includes my essay, The Evolutionary Warrior, along with essays from Caroline Myss, Neale Donald Walsch, Bruce Lipton and many others.

I’m also working on a grand prize that I can’t announce quite yet. But if it comes through, it will provide the winner with an amazing tool for following up on their intentions. Now here are some tips to help you create your Vision Board:

  • Set a date and invite some friends and family members to join you. One of the reasons that last year’s Vision Board event at the drop in Law of Attraction group was so successful is because 35 Deliberate Creators came together to co-create their reality for 2007. When a group comes together, and focuses their collective energy on a single goal energy of the entire group is raised. So even just two people coming together can significantly raise the energy.And with a group you can also pool your resources – glue sticks, scissors, magazines, etc. And finally, when you commit to a date with others, you’re much more likely to “show up” and complete your Vision Board.
  • If you are going to create your Vision Board on your own, set a firm date and time. Go do it right now: Get out your calendar and block out 3-hours. That should be plenty of time to create your New Year’s Vision Board. And once you put that time into your calendar make it non-negotiable!
  • Keep your focus narrow. Don’t try to do too much with your Vision Board. Focus on just your top 3-5 intentions. Or create a board for just one area of your life – work, money, relationship, etc. If you try to do too much on one board, you’ll dilute the effectiveness. You can always do another board when you have attracted the intentions in this one or create another board for another area of your life.
  • Set a definite ending time. Creating a Vision Board is one of those projects with the potential to move into the continual “work in progress” category. And, in truth, a vision board is always a work in progress because you vision is always evolving. However, you definitely do want to complete your Vision Board. So set a firm deadline and make a commitment to yourself to finish your board by that time.
  • Let your board be “Not Perfect.” Start with the knowledge that your Vision Board will never be perfect. That way you’ll be more likely to sit down and finish it. And finishing it is far more important than making it “perfect.” whatever that means. This is also a good exercise in getting over any perfectionist tendencies you might have!

Participation Details: To participate in the 2008 Vision Board Invitational, all you have to do is complete your 2008 Vision Board by Monday, January 14th and use the contact form above to send me the link to your Vision Board. If you have a blog or website, you can post your Vision Board there and I’ll link to it from Evolving Times.

If you don’t have a website, you can use an online photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Photobucket. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your grand visions! If you have questions, you can leave a comment below and I’ll answer them as fast as I can.

And if you think this is a good idea, you can help me get the word out by sharing this entry using one of the social bookmarking links below. If you’re new to social bookmarking a good place to start is with a Thumb’s Up on Stumbleupon.

You Cannot Fail In Your Personal Growth (But You Can Be Defeated By Constantly Greater Things)

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failureAn interesting post on failure in business at the Instigator blog got me thinking about the subject of failure in relation to personal growth.

We often hear of the importance of failure in business. We’re told that if we don’t have some failures in our business we’re probably not stretching or trying enough new things. And when we do fail, we’re quickly reminded of all the great successes that were preceded by equally impressive failures.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas Edison

Likewise, in sports, failure is recognized as an acceptable, if not enjoyable part of the terrain. The New England Patriots aside, going undefeated is a goal that draws teams towards greatness even while every team-member recognizes the nearly impossible nature of the goal.

The best business leaders and coaches know that the big winners will be those who are willing to innovate, to try new things. Some will work. Some will fail. But as long as they learn from the failures, they know they will continue to move forward and grow.

Why then, is it so much more difficult to accept failure in the personal growth arena?

How many times have you heard (or spoken) something along the lines of:

Why can’t I stop procrastinating?
I’m so frustrated that I can’t lose these last 10 pounds.
Why does – insert person’s name here – still trigger me after so many years?
I wish I could be more consistent with my exercise.
Why can’t I stick to a budget?

Each of these statements implicitly denies the powerful opportunities to learn from these situations. If we could be more accepting of our personal growth failures life would flow so much more gracefully.

Instant gratification has no place in personal growth work. Too often we want the growth process to be quick, easy and fun. It certainly can be all of those things. But when the process is more difficult and the personal growth road gets a bit bumpy it’s very easy to think that we have failed.

In truth, we can’t fail at our personal growth. Personal growth is about experience, not winning.

The only way to fail at personal growth is to stop trying! If we shut ourselves down to the experiences that cause us to grow, then we have failed.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

Chinese Proverb

Even if it takes a lifetime to transform one habit, as long as we are actively engaged in the process of personal growth we are being successful!Ranier Maria Rilke wrote a poem about Jacob wrestling the Angel. In our personal growth the Angel we wrestle could be the procrastination, the last 10-pounds, the exercise.

Even if we do not “win” in this struggle, the decisive defeat keeps us growing.

The Man Watching

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively
by constantly greater beings.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Robert Bly

So the next time you fail, consider the possibility that you were wrestling with an Angel!

Are You A Cultural Creative?

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When I first read Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson’s book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World back in 2002, I was amazed to discover that there were, according to their research, more than 50 million Americans who shared many of my values, ideals and beliefs.

This was especially enlightening since I felt like I was pretty far out of the mainstream with my values, beliefs and ideals. So discovering that I was not alone was a great relief.

According to Paul and Sherry, almost one quarter of the American population shares a fairly well-defined, yet “non-mainstream” set of values and beliefs. But, until recently, most of us have no idea that there were another 50-million people with these similar world views.

In the years since reading that book, and especially since I began blogging, I have been watching with growing excitement as more Cultural Creatives connect and discover that we are not alone.

It is clear that the blogosphere and other Web Technologies are facilitating connections and opening the eyes and hearts of the 50+ Million Cultural Creatives. From the TED blog and conferences to Zaadz the web is bringing together Cultural Creatives from around the world in world changing ways.So are you a Cultural Creative? Here are 18 questions from The Cultural Creatives book and the Cultural Creatives website that will give you a good idea.

Answer these 18 questions with a Yes or No.

1. I love Nature and am deeply concerned about its destruction

2. I am strongly aware of the problems of the whole planet (global warming, destruction of rainforests, overpopulation, lack of ecological sustainability, exploitation of people in poorer countries) and want to see more action on them, such as limiting economic growth

3. I would pay more taxes or pay more for consumer goods if I knew that money would go to clean up the environment and to stop global warming

4. I place a great deal of importance on developing and maintaining my relationships

5. I place a lot of value on helping other people and bringing out their unique gifts

6. I volunteer for one or more good causes

7. I care intensely about both psychological and spiritual development

8. I see spirituality or religion as important in my life, but I am concerned about the role of the Religious Right in politics

9. I want more equality for women at work, and more women leaders in business and politics

10. I am concerned about violence and abuse of women and children around the world

11. I want our politics and government spending to put more emphasis on children’s education and well-being, on rebuilding our neighborhoods and communities, and on creating an ecologically sustainable future

12. I am unhappy with both the Left and the Right in politics, and want a to find a new way that is not in the mushy middle

13. I tend to be somewhat optimistic about our future, and distrust the cynical and pessimistic view that is given by the media

14. I want to be involved in creating a new and better way of life in our country

15. I am concerned about what the big corporations are doing in the name of making more profits: downsizing, creating environmental problems, and exploiting poorer countries

16. I have my finances and spending under control, and am not concerned about overspending

17. I dislike all the emphasis in modern culture on success and “making it,” on getting and spending, on wealth and luxury goods

18. I like people and places that are exotic and foreign, and like experiencing and learning about other ways of life.

If you answered Yes to 10 or more, you probably are a Cultural Creative. Welcome!

I’d love to hear your results and any thoughts you might have. Use the comment form below to join the discussion.

How to be a Positive Force In The Blogosphere And Beyond

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Are you a force for positive change in the world?

Do your thoughts, words and actions uplift those around you?

Obviously we’re not all perfect, shining examples of enlightened beings. We have moments of lightness and moments of … well, not-so-lightness. And that’s fine. In fact, it’s the moments of not-so-lightness that catalyze us and drive us forward to grow and evolve.

My experience here in the blogosphere is that the vast majority of people writing and participating in this new relatively new realm are overwhelmingly positive. (Now I acknowledge that I could be self-selecting the people I “hang out” with). Most bloggers seem to either consciously desire to be a positive force or do so naturally and unconsciously.

And while this post was written specifically with bloggers in mind, the ideas in this post are almost all universal. Change a few words and you can apply them to any type of business or personal endeavor.

So if you want to be a positive force in the blogosphere and beyond, read on!

1. Intend to be a positive force
When you say to yourself and to the world that you are a positive force in the world you set the tone for everything you do. Intention is a powerful driver of action. If you have not consciously set your intention to be a positive force, you might want to do so now.

2.Be The Change You Wish To See

Gandhi said it best and your blog is your community and a virtual world. Take a look at your “world.” Does it reflect the changes you wish to see in the larger world? If so, congratulations! If not, what changes can you make to your world that will bring about the changes you want to see in the larger world?

3. Be Accountable
I will admit that this is one of the most difficult things for me to do. As I write this, I feel the weight of many “promises” I have made that I have yet to keep: Memes I have not responded to, comments I have left hanging, posts that inspired me but that I have not linked back to. Every time you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, you lose a bit of energy. Each time you make a promise that is not kept you reinforce a belief that your word is not true. So, while it is very tempting to want to say yes to all the amazing invitations you receive, know your limits and …

4. Be Willing To Say No
This is a natural follow-up to the last one. In order to do what you say you will you must be willing to say No. You need the willpower to accept that you can’t do everything. Claim the power to choose what you will do, and then do it well! Learning to say no here in the blogosphere will serve you very well in the wider world.

5. Set Clear Boundaries
Similar to the previous item, this one is about knowing and honoring your boundaries. Examples of setting boundaries include: Letting readers know what types of comments are acceptable on your blog and then moderating out those that don’t meet your criteria. Setting clear time boundaries for commenting on other blogs, and social networking. And, if you are not a full time pro-blogger, you may need to set clear boundaries around how much time you spend blogging.

6. Take the High Road
While the vast majority of bloggers and blog readers are positive, there are a few vocal examples of not-so-positive members of this community. If you’ve read my article on the 10-Best-Insulting-commments or perused the comments over at Digg on my comfort zone article you’ve seen some examples. And there are certainly some bloggers out there who have chosen to use their platform to discredit, demean and insult others. As a positive blogger it can be tempting to respond to these people. (I can assure you that I was sorely tempted to reply to some of the comments on that Digg page)! But experience has shown me that this is rarely a good idea. It turns into a case of fighting fire with fire and inevitably by engaging them, you end up joining them on the low road. Far better, I believe, to let them have their space to rant while you continue on your chosen, positive, road.

7. Acknowledge That You Can’t Do It Alone
No blogger is an island! Our power to bring positive changes to the blogosphere and beyond increases exponentially when we come together. Whether you join or create a formal network such as the Positive Blog Network, or connect informally with other bloggers, these connections will provide fuel for your ever-increasing positive contribution.

8. Write What You Know
It can be tempting to write about something because you think it’s what people want to hear or because you think it will bring you more traffic. However the way to stay positive and, ultimately, to attract the best readers is to write about what you know. Your personal knowledge is immensely valuable to others. When you honestly share what you know people will want to listen.

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Ruffle Some Feathers
Admittedly, sometimes being a positive force means stirring the pot and creating a bit of chaos. Bloggers are good at this! If you’re worried about losing subscribers or want to make everyone like you, you will never become a top blogger. And that may be fine. But if you want to truly shine, you must be willing to speak your truth clearly and without apology. Unless…

10. Admit and Apologize When You Make a Mistake
When you are speaking your truth and stirring the pot, there may be times when something comes out that you later release was not true or fair or friendly. In those cases, positive bloggers acknowledge their mistake and apologize for what they said.

11. Recognize That You Don’t Have All the Answers
One of the most powerful aspects of the blogosphere is the incredible wealth of information that is available. If you are writing what you know, there is absolutely no reason to be tempted to write about things that are unfamiliar. If you find yourself tempted to write about something unfamiliar to you, choose instead to find other bloggers writing about that subject and pass that information on to your readers. You will serve your readers better that way, and ultimately they will reward you with their loyalty.

12. Engage In The Conversation
Similar to the previous item, this is about seeking out and connecting with other positive bloggers. When you join the conversation you bring value to everyone. You learn and grow, you get to share your wisdom outside of the confines of your own blog and you discover resources to share with your readers.

13. Appreciate Your Readers
It doesn’t matter if you have 1 subscriber or 100,000. Your readers have come to you because they see value in what you are sharing. Regardless of how many readers you have it is your responsibility to honor and appreciate them.

14. Accept That Your Readers Are Your Friends
Address your readers as friends. Don’t write down to them. Don’t imagine that you are the teacher and they are the students. The best blogs are truly conversations between friends. The writer is as much a part of the community as the readers.

15. It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Positive
Finally, remember that positive does not have to be perfect. This post is a perfect example. I read this post over at Problogger last night just before turning off the computer. I jotted down a few ideas and went to bed. This morning I got up at five to write this before my daughter woke up. She’s eating her cereal now as I finish it. Is this post perfect? Nope. Will it provide value? I think so. So, in your quest to be a positive force in the world, keep in mind William Stafford’s wise words: Lower Your Standards. Because if a post is gathering digital dust on your hard drive it’s not bringing a lot of positive change to the blogosphere or the world!

And this is where you come in. This is where the conversation starts. I know there are many more ways to be a positive force in the blogosphere and beyond. How are you being a positive force? What important points did I leave out? Share your thoughts below, or take this conversation back to your blog and share your ideas with your readers.

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