February 2018
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Archive for the ‘Finding Your Center’ Category


The Florida school massacre prompted me to blog about our country’s recent history of mass killings.  I changed my mind and chose another topic. Then I saw a Facebook post that pulled me back to massacre.

Massacre is defined as …’the indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people’; deliberately and violently killing (a large number of people)’. Sadly, massacre is part of human history.  Hitler used gas ovens and automatic weapons in his crazed genocidal persecution of Jewish peoples.

“It is impossible to consider living without ideals.  However, when ideas lead to ideology, that’s a very dangerous thing.  Ideology then leads to creating the image of an enemy, and it leads to the murder and massacre that we’ve seen since the beginning of time.”  ~Micheal Haneke

I researched massacres on American soil.  The earliest I found was the infamous Boston Massacre in March 1770; 5 people died. The famous Valentine Day massacre at the height of Prohibition, Chicago 1929; 7 people died.

My search led me to Guadalupe Canyon massacre, AZ in 1881, cowboys were ambushed in their sleep; 5 people died.

…to the Golden Dragon massacre in San Francisco September of 1977, a gang dispute; 5 people died.

…to the ethnic massacres of Blacks in the south, Chinese in the west, Striking Coal miners in Colorado, American Indians across the country, including the Bloody Island massacre, Clear Lake CA, May 1850.

As I compared the past to the recent history beginning in San Ysidro CA, July 1984; 22 dead, 19 wounded.  Killeen TX 1991; 24 dead, 27 wounded.  Blacksburg VA, April 2007; 33 dead, 17 wounded. Newtown CT, December 2012; 28 dead, 20 wounded.  Sutherland TX, November 2017; 26 dead, 20 wounded. Orlando FL, June 2016; 49 dead, 58 wounded. Las Vegas NV, October 2017; 58 dead, 515 wounded…515!  I noted that past massacres were perpetrated by groups.

The British, a coal mine company acting in concert with the state’s National Guard, White settlers against Native Peoples, Whites against Blacks, fewer, but they happened too, Native People and Blacks against Whites, and gang wars.

Then the shift.  Recent massacres, with the exception of San Diego, were all perpetrated by a single person, acting alone.  Yet the death toll and number of wounded per incident has escalated considerably.

I do believe mental health is a serious part of the issue and needs to be addressed.  We all grapple with trying to find a reason for wanton massacre;  made more difficult by the current paradox of the Las Vegas shooter.

However, assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons modified by blunt stocks used by these killers, raises the the dead and wounded count significantly.  If killers were armed with single shot weapons or a knife, how many fewer lives would be lost?  Not to mention the untold suffering of grieving families, and recovering wounded; all whose lives have been forever altered.

Clearly something needs to be done!  Incidentally, my cursory search revealed that 68% of shooters are white males, fewer are Black men and even fewer are Asian.  There are NO Latinos on that list.  I feel a bigger threat to my life and that of my family coming from inside US borders than from the south.

“After every massacre in a school, Americans grasp at quick cures. ‘Let’s install metal detectors and give guns to teachers’.  Let’s crack down on troublemakers, weeding out kids who fit the profile of a gunman.  Let’s buy bulletproof vests for the students to scurry behind, or train kids to throw erasers or cans of soup at an attacker.”  ~Bill Dedman

The Facebook post I referenced in the beginning of this blog, was a picture of a handgun beside a rock of equal size.  The caption went something like, ‘Cain slew Abel with a rock, this is not about guns.’  I don’t disagree.  Cain was the first killer mentioned in the Bible.

However, my question is this:  If the massacre shooters had been armed only with a rock, how many people could they have killed or wounded in less than 10-15 minutes?

It is a tough time for all of us, as individuals and as a nation.  These are indeed times that try men’s souls and demand a strong faith.


Tolerance has several definitions, courtesy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“Capacity to endure pain or hardship.”

“Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”

“The act of allowing something.”

As John F. Kennedy is quoted, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs.  Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.”  ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”  ~Rene Dubos

In these instances, tolerance is considered a noble practice as we work toward greater unity and acceptance of one another.

What about when tolerance means ‘enduring pain or hardship’?  Too many among us are quietly tolerating all manner of injustice and abuse. At what point does this kind of tolerance become unacceptable?  ‘Zero tolerance’ has become a familiar phrase with regard to drugs and alcohol in the workplace, child abuse and neglect, the many inappropriate behaviors that are coming into public awareness. Is there something in your life right now that you would like to change, instead of remaining tolerant?

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”  ~Thomas Mann

“Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”  ~Dalai Lama

“You must dare to disassociate yourself from those who would delay your journey… Leave, depart, if not physically, then mentally. Go your own way, quietly, undramatically, and venture toward Trueness at last.”  ~Vernon Howard


At some point in our lives we all ask ourselves, ‘What is my purpose?’ and perhaps, ‘What is the purpose of living?’  We are born, we live, we age, we die.  ‘Why?’

Indeed, at one level this is a collective question, certainly, a spiritual question directly related to our humanity and our evolving belief systems.

Surely, it is pure joy to discover our purpose and live it to the fullest extent possible.  Such a seductive, inviting and seemingly simple pursuit.  Mostly, NOT.

I do know a blessed few who have known from an early age where their destiny was taking them.  Passionately committed to the journey, they love what they do, their lives have purpose. But, as I have observed, for most of us it is a process of self-awareness and self-discovery.  Helen Keller comes to mind.  With faith and the trust of her beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan, she found and embraced her purpose.

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” ~Albert Schweitzer

“Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.” ~Bo Bennett

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life from our souls.” ~Pablo Picasso

“The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful.  If our mind is peaceful, we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness.  But if our mind is not peaceful, we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions.”  Keisang Gyatso

I invite you to pursue your purpose with faith, passion and commitment.



Values differ culturally, spiritually, financially, politically and personally; and the variations can be extreme.  Values are prioritized in all the above listed categories and many others, by their levels of importance, usefulness and general worth.

People who collect, whether memorabilia, stamps, coins, art, books, insects, cars, music, artifacts or personal memories and family photos, all rate their collections based on value, tangible and intangible.

Active spiritual values are the heart of our existence.  How we treat ourselves and others is directly related to the enduring qualities of inner peace, harmony with nature, and healthy co-existence with our species.

“Here are the values I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need.  To me, those are traditional values.” ~Ellen DeGeneres

“Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology, but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.”  ~Deepak Chopra

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.”  ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Blessings to all for a day, a week, a lifetime full of the enduring values of love!


….mentally deranged or extremely enthusiastic; really fun or really scary; very impractical or very passionate… quite a broad spectrum.

Circumstances and situations can be crazy-making.  They can be full of exciting, imaginative crazy ideas.  There are moments of being crazy-in-love, crazy about baseball or music, art, history, science, nature, etc.  And moments that feel crazy out-of-control.

More frequently I am feeling like the whole world is going crazy, and not in a good way.  So much divisiveness and a palpable lack of civil courtesy.  However, I am optimistically aware of a kind of crazy brilliance.  A crazy enthusiasm in pursuit of authentic expression of the soul.  This is a powerful juxtaposition for me, and I work to find my way between the opposites.

“Begin noticing and being careful about keeping your imagination free of thoughts that you do not want to materialize.  Instead, initiate a practice of filling your creative thoughts to overflow with ideas and wishes that you fully intend to manifest.  Honor your imaginings regardless of others seeing them as crazy or impossible.” ~Wayne Dyer

“The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.  Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.”  ~Eminem


In our culture the majority of us have a lot of stuff.  The longer we live the more stuff we accumulate.  We have necessary stuff; we have treasures, mementos; and stuff we just want.  We collect stuff, we store stuff, we use stuff; we love or hate our stuff, and we sometimes admire or envy (or find distasteful) other people’s stuff.  And, we throw away a lot of stuff.

“Is it just stuff?” a feature story in The Press Democrat (January 7, 2018) got my attention in a powerful way.  In the article,  Meg McConahey related the experiences of several people who lost ALL their stuff in the unprecedented and devastating October wine country wildfires.

An artist who collected fragments of her former life from rubble and ash created a memorial collage.  I personally have heard stories from friends and clients who found little pieces, little mementos of their former lives and they were so grateful for them regardless of how inane.  McConahey shares stories of friends, families and neighbors who have collected photos of children to help fill the loss of the precious memories that were lost.  And, of those who don’t want to go near the rubble and ash, preferring to move forward with memories not fragments of their former lives.

The author went on to relate the effect the experience is having on the community with regard to stuff.  She points out that area thrift stores are overwhelmed with donations.  Many people who were not directly impacted by the fires are re-assessing their attachment to stuff, downsizing and giving away stuff, a lot of stuff.

We all have an opportunity to evaluate our relationship to our stuff.  Capitalism is built on consuming stuff.  But how much do we really need?  And what is the really valuable and precious stuff?

“The stuff that matters in life is no longer stuff.  It’s other people.  It’s relationships.  It’s experience.” ~Brian Chesky


Richard Louv is considered by many to be the founder of “Ecotherapy”. In Last Child in the Woods, (2005) and The Nature Principle (2012), Louv postulated that direct exposure to nature is essential for our emotional health.

Spending time with and in nature is grounding and healing.  Trees, plants, greenery, wildlife, the birds and the bees, sounds of flowing or falling water, surf breaking onto the beach…all of these direct experiences of nature are calming and healing.  The ebb and flow of the natural world so different from the digital, frenetic pace of today’s societies.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir

“Nature always wears the color of the spirit.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”  ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Stopping to smell the roses is good medicine.  I invite you to incorporate regular nature adventures into your regimen for healthy living.

New Years 2017

Time for ‘out with the old and in with the new’; for celebrating; and for making resolutions.  New Year is reviewing the past, anticipating the future and seeking opportunities for new beginnings.

I have written in prior blogs about New Year resolutions, making them and keeping them. Generally resolutions are about our physical self…healthier diet, more exercise, a better job, etc.  Today I thought about the spiritual self.  What would be my spiritual resolutions for the coming year?

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.  The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”  ~Napoleon Hill

“In the life of the spirit there is no ending that is not a beginning.” ~Henrietta Szold

“The the thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”  ~Anna Quindlen

This week, I invite you into spiritual resolution making.

Wishing all a blessed New Year!!

Christmas 2017

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”  ~Thomas Merton

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  ~Buddha

The winter Holy Season is in full swing throughout the land.  I invite you to plant something special in your soul, and share happiness liberally.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Winter Solstice 2017

Thursday December 21 is the beginning of Winter heralded by the Solstice.

A time of rest and quiet, of reflection on the year past and anticipation of the year coming.

“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.”  ~Gary Zukav

“I believe in process.  I believe in four seasons.  I believe that winter is tough, but spring is coming.  I believe that there is a growing season.  And I think you realize that in life, you grow.  You get better.” ~Steve Southerland

“When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm.  Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring.” ~Madeleine H. Kunin

I invite you to take a moment this coming solstice to listen to the quiet, to feel the energy of winters soft glow.


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