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"Free and critical minds can emerge only by a return to the source-the primary sources. A free and critical mind takes nothing for granted and is not intimidated by "authorities" who frequently may be more confused than the general public. Free and critical minds seek truth without chauvinism or shame." - Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III (1)

“One single bit of information, if missing, incomplete, out of order or just plain wrong, has the potential to significantly alter thought processes, conclusions, decisions and behaviors, even when that one single logic entry exists in a sea of accuracy.”

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Half-Stepping

I moved away from a rigid adherence to holidays several years ago. My awareness was on a time limit right along with the meaning of the holidays. I was only aware of peace on earth and goodwill towards men at a certain time. I was only aware of being thankful at a certain time. I was only aware of celebrating independence at a certain time. At all other times, a respected routine helped me ride out the wait for the next thing to celebrate.

Since it was not on the calendar, I was not celebrating me. I had no personal celebration in mind. Since nothing or no one was shaking me out of my stupor, I was settled in like sediment. I was not honoring hundreds of days of my life. This lack of awareness caused me to half do whatever I was doing. I ate up a bunch of resources. At the same time, I helped myself to a full helping of half-stepping.

Half-stepping is the same as half-asterisk. It is a low quality, low standard, low expectation way of thinking and living. I was doing fine by worldly standards with my degrees, job, house, car, bank accounts, vacations with photo proof, and more, but still half-stepping. I was not reaching, stretching or “raising the bar” for myself and my relationships. Half-stepping lazied me into feeling satisfied with being busy instead of being better.

Half-stepping steps in the way of progress by occupying me with a whole lot of activity that adds up to a bunch of nothing. I've seen evidence of this over and over again at the end of people's days. It up to me to learn to avoid those mistakes so the story of my life is not a replay of the same regrets. Half-stepping is not dedicating time to rest, to reflect and to rejuvenate on a regular basis so I can stay aware of what I should be doing with my life.

Half-stepping is having a to-do list but not having a to-live list. If I am not doing what I was born to bring forth for the world, I am half-stepping no matter how great I am held up to be. How am I supposed to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest when I'm not planting, tending or harvesting any natural goodness and freshness into my life? If I am not doing what I was born to bring forth for the world, I am half-stepping.

Half-stepping is waking up each day but not putting much effort into waking up my mind and spirit. It is a mentality of running here and there instead of trying to get there from here. I know you feel it...stuck in traffic...unable to do anything because the way you're going is the best way 'you know how' to get there . You've settled in and accepted 'the fact' that what you have to deal with comes with the territory.

How do I get there from here? I go the way where there's never any traffic. The spirit is bursting with blessings. It is able at any moment to scoop up handfuls of heavenly here-you-go's. Once I value and respect this resource, reach out, stretch, trust, reach, believe in my value, submit to guidance, reach, give up distractions, reach and reach again, then I'll be able to receive what the spirit is trying to give. It will be mine. It will be the world's. Then I'll remain aware of how sacred, holy and precious gifts are. I'll understand what it takes to have these additional, unique, custom-made-for-me gifts and I won't take them for granted any longer. There you go.

Try going this way once. Just try it and see. You can go where you dream of going. It doesn't matter how many people are trying to go to the same place at the same time and how many are already there. The road was made for you. The speed limit is fast. Your seat is reserved. The only thing stopping you is you. A lot of what we think we have to put up with, especially other people's behavior, is simply because we're not going the best way possible. I am a work-in-progress not a stuck-in-traffic. I am fortunate.

Most Christmas movies and stories are about people forgetting and then realizing the true value of something. It's good to value the true meaning of Christmas; however, it does me no good if I'm not aware of my own true meaning. I can celebrate them both, all the time, by knowing what I'm about and by being better.

Several years ago I made a personal calendar to remind me what I should be celebrating and when. I now work on me and celebrate living each day, one full stride at a time.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clarity From Children

Broccoli is on the short list of green veggies my son eats without smothering with some sort of sauce. I'd like to keep it that way.

In an effort to help him become one with broccoli, we are growing some. We periodically go in the back yard to check on its progress. The two plants, like the two of us, are braced against the cold. Side shoots have formed. He cut the center heads which made our first harvest official. He dropped them into a plastic bag then we hurried inside.

Anticipation of this agricultural event caused me to open the bag as soon as my coat was off. I brought it towards my nose. I was greeted by the two small florets as though they were trying to escape. They emitted a powerful, intoxicating essence. My son said they smelled green.

I knew our broccoli would not be enough for a meal so I bought some the day before. We opened this “fresh” package. My son said it smelled like air. To be clear, the air in our house did not and does not smell like broccoli.

Later that evening my son read a poem of approximately twenty lines. Without hesitation he gave a very thorough explanation of the meaning he absorbed. He did so referencing points in the poem. He responded confidently to fleshing out questions. He's eleven and a sixth grader. It was an invigorating environment. We were as one with growing, breathing and learning. Clarity was in the air.

Related Links:

Another Dangerous Habit
Mother's Day Poem - Motherly
Pleasures Of Nature

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Break Away, Still Away

My Big Break – Part II

They let me go one mild morning.
No longer licensed to make boilerplates.
After putting on the same uniform, I walked from the gatehouse.
The guards shot poorly. I hit one with a rock.
The accident and innocence claims would have to be adjusted just so.
Dogs came and barked; but left, since I wasn't running.
That's what happens when you send lap dogs to a hunting dog's job.
Each step into the full world was accompanied by a livening understanding.
Though inmates sometimes gain control of prisons, they're always still in prison. As they carried on, I moved to be still among reeds and waters.

Sometimes you gotta be still
Before you can get ahead
Be still
Ask the universe for help
Be real
You can't do it all by yourself
Sometimes, sometimes you gotta be still
It takes some time to rejuvenate
Be still
Take some time to clear your space
Be real
Chaos isn't good for your health

(From Slow Down, India.Arie, Voyage To India)

Taking time to rejuvenate is a critical step I must take if I'm ever going to break away from anything. I need time to re-energize and reclaim awareness of my "why I'm here to-do list."

There's not enough time after work, on weekends, during jollydays or while on a two week vacation. It takes a lot of time to break away from whatever has been holding me for forever. I need long, extended periods of uninterrupted, by-myself time to break away from habits, to break away from routines, to break away from all my mindsets and to break away from things I might not realize keep me orbiting around bodies of foreign beliefs and unnatural behaviors that hold me in place, never allowing me to find fulfillment in the Styrofoam world my life revolves around. I need time to get to know my spirit better.

I need time to build up enough energy to reach escape velocity and break away from the atmosphere and gravitational forces that have kept me circling like crazy. If I don't dedicate enough time, I will be pulled, sucked, dragged and welcomed back in.

Jesus took forty days and nights by himself away from everyone and everything. My guess is that I need just as much time away and more. When anyone is successfully rehabilitated from the menacing effects of self-administered drugs, they are placed in a very different environment for as long as it takes. I've been under the influence for a long time. I need time to get to know the me I'm going to be from here on out.

Breaking away necessitates leaving the present environment. Millions can attest to that. Now that I'm on the other side of that wall and no longer hanging out in the yard, I have a far greater chance of thriving despite the circumstances as opposed to surviving under the circumstances. I did some breaking and entering to get myself into that kinda mess and now I'm breaking and stilling away.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One Second Future

Borrowing Against The Future

I used to think of time occurring as the past first, then the present, then the future. Turns out this is true only when I view time as a stagnant event. When I view time as a moving event, I realize time occurs in the opposite direction. The future occurs first, then the present, then the past. This means I always live one second at a time, in the present, using one second at a time, borrowed from the future.

The instant I was born, I did not have a past. I only had that present instant and then another and another. Where does each instant/second come from? It comes from the future.

As each future instant is given to me and then used in the present, each one moves into and adds up to become my past. It is always this way. Just because I'm older, doesn't mean my past happened first. If my past is now occurring first, I would be living my life backwards. If I keep thinking my past occurs first I really am living my life backwards because my approach to living is backwards. I'm going about it the wrong way. I am out of order and so is my life because I have time in the wrong order.

Time Soliloquy

My understanding, approach and use of time determines everything. If I look at time in large groups of seconds such as a year or a month or a week or a day or an hour or a minute, I will always think I have another large group of time just waiting for me. I'll fool myself into believing I have a heckuva lot more than I should reasonably expect and more than I can borrow.

Every Time Is The First Time

I've had nearly 1.5 trillion opportunities represented by seconds of time. Yet, there is no deep depository of time called “The Future.” There is no tomorrow. The future contains one second only. Future time is freshly created and is instantly handed to me in the present. Present time is used and instantly handed into the past. Time moves quickly through this short and seemingly nonstop process.

Thank goodness I can't borrow more time than I can use at any given second especially since there are no rollover seconds for later use. There is no do over of time. One second, one shot. There is no saving time. It's here and then it's gone. There is no wasting time. It still matters and has an effect. It still adds up and fills up my past.

Just like empty calories, wasted time might have seemed right or good or necessary then, but I received no nourishment and am ultimately left with a past full of time but a nagging, empty feeling I can't stomach. This miserable feeling is so strong it stays in the front of my memory. From there it can easily creep from the past into the present leaving me unable to concentrate on each new, start over second I have.

This can stop happening in an instant. Each time I get a brand new, unmessed up second, I can help make it different, very different. A one second future is more powerful than every second in the past.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holy Words of Love

Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears
Stand up and be counted
Don't be ashamed to cry

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Despite all the truth and inspiration in those words, it does simply come down to love. Beautifully-said sugarcoated love is our salvation - sometimes. At other times, a stripped down, tougher love is needed to save us from the darkest of days.

The Supreme Scripture

Aren't personal growth, respect for nature and seeking spirituality basic themes in holy texts such as the Christian Bible, Qur'an, Divine Principle,Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Buddhist texts, just to name a few? Don't these themes and scriptures require love? Isn't love the holiest of holy themes?

Aren't words like, higher power, spirit, spirituality, universe, energy, karma, kismet, Chi, Ubuntu, Roho Mtakatifu, Supreme Being, enlightenment and God, good words. Aren't they all part of the same intricate whole that seeks to help, heal and connect us to our better selves? Are we harmed by having faith in two or more of these philosophies? Not necessarily to the nth degree but to the degree they promote love. How could that be blasphemous or sacrilegious?

Each philosophy is essentially about a uniting and a oneness. That's what love is, ain't it?

Not considering other beliefs whose essence emanates from the core of love is to act contrary to peace, goodwill and salvation. We do the world no good with this kind of faith. Great faith, with little leeway - for love.

Diversification, Not Interpretation

If we cling to any singular text as the one and only teacher of truth, look out! Not only will we miss truths outside of the text, we will miss truths in the text.

We won't discover much with closed minds, not even our spirits. The spirit sends messages in more ways than just through a select few. First of all, message are sent directly from our spirit to our awareness. The rest of the time messages are sent through anyone, any experience, nature, dreams, conversations, writings, music, television, sports and so on.

We won't discover the bounty of positive, helpful things if we don't consider, read, study, reflect, observe, have conversations and expect guidance from anywhere at any time. We will not be overwhelmed. By opening our spirit, we will become better discerners as we move through this maturation process.

Love Saves

One day, our depiction of life will be played back. Will this replay show languid, loveless lives reading from scripts instead of taking their cues from the spirit who knows the truth in every text by heart? Why risk our only chance by betting it all on man's adaptation?

Perhaps this replay will be different because we started acknowledging the entirety of love's breathing includes holy words like “You Gotta Be” by Des'ree.

Once again, only paying attention to a small number of texts, VIP's and insiders is like listening with one ear closed. It throws off our balance, makes it hard to hear breathing.

Why do that? For fear of desecrating our souls with love? If we behaved as truthseekers, we'd quickly intuit: love consecrates souls. Love is the salvation. Love is the Supreme One.

Will today be the day we become followers of the one holy word that saves us all no matter what other words we choose?

(1) You Gotta Be by Des'ree

Related Links:

When Was The Last Time You De-Learned?
Listening For Understanding

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spirituality Meets Money Mentality

Money is needed, few doubts about it. Spirituality is needed, fewer doubts about that. Sometimes these needs appear to be at odds. It's about time they learn to get along.

What Spirituality Represents

The primary purpose of the spirit is to help us get the most out of the value in ourselves. By doing this we will get the most out of this life and the one to come.

Our spirit represents the greatest portion of our individual, personal value. We own this value free and clear. The spirit is our birthright. It was granted to get us started on an equal footing and to keep us going. It is life ensurance.

What Money Represents

Money is an accepted and simpler measure of value. This value is used to trade one thing for another. For instance, money represents the value of one hour of work. We trade our time and skill for that money by performing that work. Without money, there would have to be something else of value to give us in exchange for our time and skill. We'd need a bigger wallet and it'd be hard to make change. The power of money is that it makes it so much easier to trade things.

Back in the old days, more people had a greater understanding of the value of things. They were more aware of the time, energy and processes required to make things available. Today, that understanding is highly questionable. Yet, money still represents value. This was just asking for trouble. Along the way from then to now, what we hand over of ourselves, how much money we receive and finally, how much of that value we hand over for other things got really out of whack.

We are no longer connected to what it takes to produce basic things like food or how valuable our time is or our abilities are. All we know is we need things. We also know we need money to get those things. Somebody's got it and we got's ta have it.

We quickly and automatically come to the conclusion money comes from jobs and things come from stores. With this limited perspective of the trade-offs, we cheat ourselves in so many ways by giving up way more than we get or is even possible to get. We seek shortcuts and end up short circuiting.

We give up time, effort, brain power, peace of mind, skill, knowledge, character, health, relationships, honesty, life, dreams, spirit, passion, purpose and so on in order to get apples, milk, eggs, bread, sugar, corn, rice and wheat, lumber, bricks, leather, machines, cotton, power, prestige, safety, security, entertainment, stuff, happiness, success and so on.

Our disconnection on one hand and desire on the other have made it come true that money is a major motivator. Well it is and it isn't.

If money was truly the motivator we act like it is, we would be motivated to get the most out of what we trade to get money. We would appreciate and improve upon the use of our time and skills. That way we would get the most value we could. Then we could have all the things value can buy.

If we have a money mentality, then we should at least go for it completely. Pursue it like we mean it. Be truly motivated. Get the full value for our worth. Quit trading all our important resources for a little bit of monetary value. No wonder generation after generation do not appreciate the value of a dollar spent. It's because we do not communicate the value in a dollar earned.

At Least These Numbers Don't Lie

The other day I read someone earned $10,000,000 a day for the past two years working a job. If I work from age 18 to 68 for an average of $50,000 a year, I would only earn $137 a day.

Evidently I need to change my perspective and awareness concerning my monetary worth. I need to start trading myself for no less than $1,000 per day. That's $365,000 per year. Sounds like a lot but it is not uncommon for many people to earn a million per year. It is even more common for people to earn more than $365,000 per year.

Even if I did earn $1,000 a day for 50 years, the person at the beginning of this example could earn the same amount in just two days. For those making a million per year, their 19-year income would be more than my 50-year income.

The Right Tool For The Job

No matter what, being our best will serve us well in this life. Being our best is not improving our skills, it is doing what we were designed or redesigned to do.

Humans and many animals can learn to do many things and do them well. Doesn't mean that's what we should or were meant to do. Even plants can be trained.

Being our best will help us remain aware of our true value and begin trading that value for things of greater value, including more money. If it takes the motivation of money to move us towards our best, then so be it.

Here's the other side of reality. Trading our value for money will never be equal. It ain't supposed to be. It's impossible. You can't take something of immeasurable value and value it with something that is merely a carnal convention and convenience – money. However, when you employ your spirit, you'll have all the money you desire plus fulfillment.

This doesn't keep us from knowing there are clowns who receive more money and contribute far less value. If they seem to be better off, that's the trick of the enemy to get us to forsake our faith and also trade supposed success for the siphoning of our souls and the sacrifice of our legacy.

Being our best will help us remain connected to our gifts which is spiritual exercise. It's stupid not to use our spirit to our advantage. By not valuing my spirit and using it for all it's worth, as far as I'm concerned, I've clowned myself.

This is even more laughable when it's obvious that if it takes money in this life, the spirit has no problem with us having money and lots of it. Makes me wonder...when they were passing out spirits, did we think they said lyrics, which might explain why we trade our spirits for a song.

Money is a tool and resource. Money replaced bartering, checks replaced money and credit/debit cards replaced checks.
Our spirit is a tool and resource. It cannot be replaced. There are no substitutes but many prostitutes.
It is a crime to deface money. It is a sin to disgrace the spirit.

Spirituality and money mentality need to keep on meeting like this.

Related Links:

12 Resources I Have
How To Escape The Rat Race
Job Lost? Don't Lose Spirituality

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Challenge Your Spirit

all men are created equal because all are given an equal portion of the Creator's spirit.

the spirit leapt and cries announced the arrival of joy to the world. yet, the spirit is more than a body quickener. the spirit wants you to have a life without restrictions. listen to this intuitive self, your gut and the voice within...then follow that something only you can sense.

but don't stop there. Challenge Your Spirit to help you become more than possibilities. do not hold the spirit's breath. allow it breathe from all atmospheres and into everything you are and every element you touch.

ask for what you really want. the spirit knows the way past the sun so why ask to reach the sky? if we are capable of more, then the spirit easily is.

beyond physical tears and beyond crying about this and that, it's time to re-cry the cry of creation, the marvelous cry, the cry of new day and the confident cry that your birth was indeed a miracle. living is commanded to reflect that type of miracle-confirming joy to the world.

every body and soul and mind working hand-in-hand-in-concert strengthens the immune system of the world. this harambee (pulling together) within every living cell (person) makes the body (world) more resistant to cancerous wickedness lying in wait for weakness. Challenge Your Spirit to help you reclaim your strength. this will help heal the world simply because you are doing your job by living your life. everyone has an equal opportunity at greatness. Not by law, by love. Challenge Your Spirit to help your life bear proof of its greatest truth.

Related Links:

What Does It Take To Live?
Average Person's Expert
Giving Thanks & Wondering

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Unemployment & Inflation

The ugliest American scandal of all is that the have-nots do not have a handle on what's really going on.

Part of personal growth is improving our understanding of things that affect us. With a better understanding we can reshape these beliefs and finally escape the associated fears. We've already fallen for shenanigans such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “too big to fail.” This time around we don't have to be fooled or frightened by how high the unemployment rate is or by the mention of inflation. Let's explore what those two things really mean.

Inflation starts occurring when the cost of things rise over time. What causes prices to increase? More money in our pockets does. The more money individuals/consumers have, the more things they demand. When demand exceeds supply, prices increase.

Unemployment reduces the disposable income of a population of individuals which reduces demand which in turn reduces inflation. In high unemployment economies, those who are employed, since they are now grateful to have a job, settle for less disposable income by agreeing to wage and benefit concessions and by not asking for raises while the costs of things around them continue to rise. More people spend less.

Not only does high consumer spending add to inflation but also high spending by the government. The government is already spending money on at least two wars and has been for years, now add to that stimulus spending upon stimulus spending upon stimulus spending.

Where did this stimulus money come from? They simply printed it as always. This adds to inflation. But inflation hasn't gotten worse as the government continues to spend more and more money for several reasons. Less spending by consumers due to unemployment, less spending by those who are employed due to uncertainty of how long their job will last and less spending by individuals and business because banks are not lending money.

The government helped reduce spending by individuals and businesses by allowing crucial economic areas such as banking and real estate to go unchecked, which caused the economy to become unstable and take several steps backwards. Adding to this was the continued behavior of Wall Street and insurers of financial products. Our government allowed enough unscrupulous behavior for businesses to fail in rapid, trickle down, domino succession then came to the rescue. This set the stage for rising unemployment and a nervous nation.

Let's jump to 2010. Government stimulus spending and war spending will remain in full force and effect which is why unemployment will remain high. Also, there will be fewer conflicting reports about the economic recovery. Once more individuals start believing what is already taking place, individual spending will increase and banks will lend more money. These two things will cause businesses to spend more. This is why unemployment must remain high. You can't have everyone doing better, at the same time everyone is believing, things are better. Why? Because they will spend more money which creates more demand for goods and services faster than they can be supplied which will increase prices and create inflation especially now since a lot of purchases have been delayed over the past two years.

The unemployed are the last ones to be reinvited to the party of consumption. In the meantime, the government appeases them with extension of benefits to keep them from becoming completely hopeless, desperate and dangerous which would create additional societal problems. At the same time, the government takes this opportunity to say we also need job creation measures and incentives so they can give businesses “too little to grow on their own” tax breaks, bailouts and handouts while most are left out. This is what happens to those “too asleep to suspect anything.” If we fail to understand what's really going we will always have to settle for a smidgen compared to the smörgåsbord others are invited to partake. On a related note, Congress has voted to not give seniors a cost of living increase in their social security but are considering giving them $250 next year. They must be “too old to need much.”

Finally, let's revisit the automatic, underlying thought we have when we hear the words, “high unemployment” or “rising unemployment.”

If we think those words mean there are no jobs, we are wrong. There are thousands upon thousands of advertised and open positions and more that are not. Jobs are not hard to find.

What's difficult is the lengthy hiring process that is antiquated, highly inefficient and filled with bottlenecks. Another reason unemployment remains high is many employers don't want to hire too quickly because they can temporarily get existing workers to pick up the slack while saving the cost of a new employee. The third part of the problem is employed people seeking jobs. It's their right but it slows down the timeframe for some unemployed people to become employed if the already employed person gets the job. This creates another open position and the process starts again. The last thing that makes the job outlook seem worse than it is, is that many job seekers are not willing to work anywhere doing anything for any pay which is their prerogative. It takes time for all these things to sort themselves out.

Now as the events in the economy continue to play out, we should be able to make better assessments since we know a little more about the script. We already knew who most of the players and actors were. It's up to us to decide if we want to continue to be used as extras or have a more significant role in the next episode of this delightful democratic drama.

Related Links:

Think Kuji! Think!

Quotes & Proverbs To Live By

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Father May I Start Over In 2009?

As children, we used to play a game called “Father (Mother) May I.” The name changed depending on whether a boy or girl was in charge. The game consisted of at least three players: two or more “children” and one “father” We would take turns asking if we could take baby steps or giant steps to reach the place where the father was. It was up to that person to grant the request. If we failed to begin a request with “Father May I,” we would lose a turn; however if we did ask correctly, more times than not, the request would be granted. Sometimes we were granted fewer steps or additional steps. Anyone caught moving when they weren't supposed to or taking more steps than granted would have to start over.

Even at that age, I wondered why anyone would ask for baby steps when they could ask for giant steps. I also wondered why anyone would ask for one giant step when they could ask for any number. The only thing that made sense was taking steps without permission. We wanted to win and there could only be one winner. That's what it took under those odds and those stakes.

Thankfully life is not a game, although if we are not attentive, we could easily end up playing around, fooling around or messing around with our lives (been there, done that and ain't trying to go back). Our saving grace is realizing we have been moving out of turn with our true selves and feel the need to start over somewhere, some way, somehow. This is a good thing because it is always our turn. We can take the next step – baby step or giant step right now. We don't have to wait.

We don't have to wait for anyone else to get their steps granted first. We're not competing with anyone so the size and amount of steps and the time it takes are for each person to measure against their own standards. We don't have to ask for permission. We don't even have to wait until retirement. We do not have to wait for a new calendar year. Many who had to start over in the children's game did so immediately and many of those same children won the game.

What steps am I wiling to take when I'm trying to reach the place I should be? What steps am I willing to take when my life is at stake, when living is the prize and when my life is the main objective?

favorable odds by Usiku

everyone can win
without giving in
for the meeting of ends
since dreams don't depend
on family, friends
or the adulation of men
it's wise to start over again
now is the time to begin

There are two months left in 2009 but only two motions, an inhale and exhale, until I can take a step to start over in some aspect of my life. My higher power granted me lifelong permission at birth and renews it every second of every day. How about yours?

Since I am now plenty old enough to have learned this, when I continue to hesitate, my Father says, "Please child, go ahead already!"

Related Links:

Personal Growth: It's Your Job

Listening For Understanding

I'm Not Holding My Breath

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Loving Leaves

The rapid onset of deep Autumn was unsettling. Since then, tomato plants welcomed in from the cold are providing refreshing fruit and energy. As their leaves soak up the southern sun, firm green becomes supple red. The plants and I are adjusting.

Meanwhile, chilled leaves are one of the great pleasures of the season. Although I dread the spring onslaught of thousands of Maple seeds on freshly prepared garden beds, it is the Maple's current combinations of reds, golds, purples, lemon lime and fruit punch that are most delicious. The eye-watering colors shimmering to the breeze, the leafy rainbows sifting downward and the decorative accessorizing of the landscape, link the visual, the spiritual and the practical.

Leaves are adjusting to their critical roles as nutrient recyclers and as earth's organic, biodegradeable blanket. In this way, leaves add life to the largest living organism on earth, soil. Sadly, many leaves never make it home. Instead they are stuck to the hardscape, raked to the curb and either burned or carried away by the bagful and vacuum truckload. What a waste.

Contrary to popular belief, leaves scattered over lawns, flower beds and gardens insulate, feed and strengthen. Leaves covering the ground during winter are essential to the survival of many things. In turn, these microorganisms, insects and animals are essential to healthy lawns and human living environments.

No one rakes the forests, fields and clearings, yet these areas do pretty darn good without lawn care. All the luscious varieties of plant life in these unmanned natural environments, including grass, survive and return every single year.

Enjoy leaves on every level! On any windy Autumn day, try catching a falling leaf. It's much easier than catching a falling star and worth one wish just the same. The next time you look at leaves, love 'em and leave 'em.

Related Links:

Skeletal Existence Poem.

Nature: Friends Like Gardens

Poetry Is A Feeling

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Achievable Advantage

I've told my children to “think, use your head, learning to think is the best way to give yourself advantages in life and learning to think is one of the few things completely in their control.” Now it's time for me to do as I say and start taking advantage of what I already have – my brain.

According to estimates I don't even use 33% of my brain. If I doubled this, what could I do, create, solve, help, heal, avoid?

Whatever I'm doing right now, I'm doing the hard way. I'm making living harder than it has to be. I keep living against my own wisdom.

Whenever I ignore my own advice and do not take advantage of my most basic and precious resource, I might as well have been born yesterday and fallen off that turnip truck.

Running around everyday pursuing the things I do instead of first utilizing my brain to its fullest capacity is like chasing pennies rolling down the street while millions of dollars are undiscovered under my mattress. I cannot consider myself smart, open-minded, objective, adult, intelligent or educated until I learn to tap the potential of my brain and pursue this achievable advantage instead of chasing the type of “who I know” advantages from “you know who”(other penny chasers) that always seem to cost more than they're worth.

Watch this video*

*Shared by CRPS/RSD A Better Life. This blog is by a sufferer of chronic pain. It is resource rich with links, articles, encouragement, endurance, insight and a quest for solutions. Jeisea's journey keeps me mindful of one importance, living.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nature: Friends Like Gardens

Autumn is not herself. She has allowed Winter to change her. She is surprisingly different.

She doesn't understand how much I need her to be the person who understands her role in the garden.

For now I focus on the harvest of a few friends like cabbage, broccoli, carrots and the soil. I am keenly focused on the fullness of homegrown grapes that will accumulate again especially if I contribute understanding and care again. This year the newborn vines gave what they could of themselves. Next year, they will bear the fruit they live for. It will be their first time. It will be their time nonetheless.

Consider the thoughts of Alice Walker from “In Search of our Mother's Gardens:”
“Please remember, especially in these times of group-think and right-on chorus, that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Or who belittles in any fashion the gifts you labour so to bring into the world.”

Though I question Autumn, I mainly question myself. Are my friends like gardens or are they like Winter?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spirituality: Completing The U-Turn

[continued from Life's Intersections & U-Turns]
“What the hell?” That crazy fool gon' tear sumthin' up! Gon' rearrange the front end offa one a dem cars!
But that sucka made it and kep' on trucking.
Made me wonder what else is possible.
Made me realize you can't make u-turns with the hammer down.

Polepole, is a Kiswahili word meaning, slow or slowly. It is pronounced (po-LAY-po-LAY)

Some of us are hardly guilty of polepole. We are guilty of traveling too fast.

We allow life with all of its required components to set the pace. We allow house work, yard work, errands, holidays, people, jobs, churches, organizations, obligations and many other things to keep our foot on the go pedal.

That leaves little to no polepole time to take in life and look at our map to make sure we're on course.

Still, all is not lost even if we've traveled hundreds of miles out the way ending up in East Bumbleton somewhere at the wrong end of a fork feeling stuck.

It's time to get off the expressway of expectation. Life is amazing but this ain't the Amazing Race. Rest stops are for resting. We need plenty of spiritual rest stops along the way for replenishing, reassessment and recommitment.

Anyone making a U-turn always has the right of way so don't worry about rearranging someone else's life. Even if it's the children's. Start slowing down...turn here. I've seen far crazier and scarier things work out just fine. It's possible. Polepole......polepole.........polepole...............You can make it. Come on. You got it! Now keep on trucking, sucka'.

Life's Intersections & U-Turns
Starting With Seeds Of Resources And Becoming A Positive Force That Directs Change

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life's Intersections & U-Turns

Sometimes paths cross, sometimes they align.

From baby steps, to footsteps, to leaps and bounds, to stumbling and falling down, we are always forging paths of our own. Even though we might share the same household, community, school, workplace, organization and sports team, these periods of time amount to pauses when compared to all other time spent throughout lifetimes.

These pauses are similar to those we encounter at intersections. We are at the same place at the same time for those series of seconds, but then the light changes and we move on.

In life, those seconds our lives intersect can just as easily be months or years, but then life changes and we continue forging our path. Always at intersections some join and pursue similar paths while others leave. Sometimes we change. This is the whole point of intersections.

Perhaps we're meeting for the first time or once again. Which way are we headed now? Perhaps in this pausing we will share something for the next portion of our journeys.

I actually saw an 18-wheeler make a U-turn in a standard-sized intersection. The analogy is clear. No matter how big (old) we are, no matter how much weight (bad decision baggage) we carry, no matter how difficult (not the perfect time) it may seem, no matter how crazy it may look (others would advise against it), it's possible to make a U-turn on any portion of our path once we realize we need to change directions, in relationships, finances, jobs, health, habits, dream pursuit...

Spirituality: Completing The U-Turn
Starting With Seeds Of Resources And Becoming A Positive Force That Directs Change

Monday, September 21, 2009

Another Dangerous Habit

Writing While Hungry

It is one week before autumn's calendar entry. She has already begun spritzing color and turning down temperatures.
The evenings are unusually silent. My sparrows have moved out. Their melodies missed. The robin family left much earlier after field days foraging in the backyard and literally outgrowing their space.
The grapes are peaking while the main garden is slowing. The August harvest explosion seems an understated event compared to the newly discovered smell of fresh peppers. It is the smell of molecules actively formulating flavor. The aroma yet another proof that this connection must never be broken. A pepper eaten by itself is a delight. The energy transforming.
The grapes are a bonus. The vine started from just a twig last year, bears mammoths compared to those from spring. Nature gives so much more than our efforts justify.
I cup the grapes gently like babies as I wash them. Spitting grape seeds at various angles is my kind of entertainment. There is no simpler pleasure other than skipping rocks in moving water, the soft sweetness of just pulled baby carrots and perhaps sausage cooked over a wood fire topped with some Sweet Baby Ray's, yellow peppers, tomatoes and cheese. I can already taste next summer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quotes & Proverbs To Live By

1. Fear and opportunity use the same window.
2. Feelings can only be hurt by your own thinking.
3. Winning is only possible when losing is possible.
4. Before children can achieve their own dreams, they must sleep in their own beds.
5. If artists starve, they don't do it alone.
6. The more time I use hiding things, the less time I use finding things.
7. Silence strengthens the status quo.
8. Money cannot change your standard of living.
9. Reinvent instead of lament.
10. Instead of looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, look for the light in the tunnel.
11. Losing can't exist in the same place as trying.
12. The only thing performed with 100% accuracy is waiting.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Parenting versus Overparenting

I was at my son's school for parent orientation. While some of the parents were in meetings, the children played outside. In front of the middle school is a narrow two-way street flanked by sidewalks. Leading up to the entrance is a thirty-foot, two-sided walkway, partially separated by a raised, but low, planting area. Some kids were standing in this yet to be planted, mulch covered area and sitting along its retaining wall. Several steps and a 10x20 foot landing area with railing are just outside the front doors.

Two children stayed on the landing. They appeared to be about eight and eleven years old. While the other fifty kids moved freely from the building to the landing to the steps to the walkway and to the sidewalk, those two children looked on longingly like puppies on a couch in the living room window.

The older child's friends asked her to come down the steps and join them and she said they couldn't. One friend replied, “Dang, your mama don't let y'all do nothing.”

It was kinda funny because I was thinking the same thing. It was sad because what those two children on lockdown felt and what the others with leeway recognized is something some parents don't. Children need room, more than homerooms and bedrooms. It is difficult for them to grow and move beyond what makes parents nervous or uncomfortable.

Learning, for children, is continuous. It is not confined to classrooms. Most of it takes place at home and in the neighborhood. Trying to have peace of mind by ensuring a child's complete safety at all times will restrict learning. Keeping our precious babies on leashes or caged in when we can't watch them might be okay for puppies but not children if we expect healthy development.

Overparenting hurts a child more than it helps. It puts them in danger of not being able to think for themselves. If children spoke as freely to their parents as they do to their friends, they'd probably say, “Back up off me Mama” or “Give me some room to breathe Baba.”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Give Everything To Your Dreams

Far too often we say but don't do. Fortunately, Dr. King did more than say he had a dream. He took real, tangible action. Most were untelevised. We know people attacked him with threats, jail and bombings yet he kept on doing something about his dream.

To hear us tell it, you'd think Dr. King's main thing was having a dream. A more accurate historical context for Dr. King is that he gave all he had to a dream.

Dr. King was led by his beliefs. He was not deterred by the physical dangers to him, his family and supporters, he understood the greater dangers that threatened millions more like me who would have a dream. Dreams that could help and heal this world. So he gave.

'I give you' is worth more than 'I love you'.
--Traditional Tutsi proverb from Rwanda.

Thankfully Dr. King is not remembered for saying I love you. His life and the millions of others who were murdered so we could have basic rights are at least worth giving everything to our dreams.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fear, Failure & Belief: Another Perspective

This article from Litemind coincides with this blog in so many ways.

Overcome Fear of Failure, Part I-Building The Right Mindset

I like the fact that "another perspective" doesn't necessarily mean it runs counter. Continue to feed nutritiously.

Scan Other Posts on This Topic

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Voices, Personal Growth & Spirituality

What if Muhammad Ali had a military career?
What if Michael had been a school teacher?
What if a school teacher were a singer instead?

What if Imhotep had not created what Hippocrates appropriated?
What if Lewis Latimer's, Norbert Rillieux's, Jan Matzeliger's, Garrett Morgan's and Elijah McCoy's voices were never heard?

Medicine would be on a different course. There'd be no light bulbs. There'd be sugar for the rich only. There'd be no paying less for shoes. There'd be chaos in the streets. There'd still be a slow churning to the Industrial Revolution.

What if I were someone else?

How I Tried

Tried singing chorus
voice didn't blend
Tried playing sports
skills didn't win
Sought girls attention
Only got chagrin
Tried disco dancing
jitters cut in
Gave words a try
found Pit Bull friends
Tried make-believe
GI Joe and army men
Fought to reconcile
what soldiers defend
Tried another legacy
Can't stop my pen

What if any one individual person works at working, instead of being, living extensions, of their created intentions. It is the makings of tragedy. Life on Earth is decidedly different. There'd be no eloquence.

Don't live a tragic life in triumph simply working away at each day as your best and strongest voice is never heard above the noisy grind.

Listen - to your own - voice.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Be One or the Other

I was able to make a contribution because we had the Brotherhood and because I wasn't afraid.--E. D. Nixon, the person who recruited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Asante for the person, E. D. Nixon, whose person-all convictions were stronger than fears. He looked the gangbangers in the face, stayed the course and continued to make contributions that have lasted into my person and lifetime.

We fear because we don't “understand” history in the context of its everyday all day impact on our thoughts, behaviors, lives and situations. Neither do we “understand” the impact of each person on the continuum of history.

Dr. King and Rosa Parks succeeded because they put their person into how they lived. They also succeeded because of others. E. D. Nixon succeeded because he put his person--all in also. His success was enhanced by the Brotherhood and enough community members to support a boycott.

There seemed to be more persons, “ones and the others,” way back in the day who understood their ability to change history and impact lives in accordance with their beliefs. There seemed to be more persons then, than now even though being afraid seems more warranted then, than now. Those people were jailed, assailed, bombed and what not. We succumb to mediocre M-bombs.

They gave up convenience when it interfered with courage. The bus boycott lasted three hundred and eighty-one days. Nowadays, each person can at least give up those supposedly convenient stores in their neighborhoods that ain't doing their communities a bit of good and drive to the ones that will. [economic impact] Each person can at least vote in people with their interests in mind. [political impact] Each person can at least begin the mental journey back to Ancient Egypt. [cultural impact] The ancestors are waiting and rejoice each time one person enters the epicenter of all history...[spiritual impact]

E. D. Nixon put up his house in order to bail Rosa Parks out of jail. Many of them gave their precious resources to the futures of what was right and necessary. They put up their jobs. They focused on the dismantling of systems not just individual situations.

In one sense, E. D. Nixon was already doing better than most since he had a "good" job as a Pullman Porter. In the true sense, he didn't do what he did for himself or his family...understand the personal and historical impact of this one person's actions. He understood legacy. Thankfully he was not too busy or tired.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was successful because economic banks were breaking, yet the will of the people could not be broken with fear.

Who will be the next person, the one to step to the front or the one to support someone who is not afraid? Be one or the other.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flying & Flowering

In solace, the banter of birds, however unknowable, feels full of living...Wonder... do sparrows desire eagle's lives the way we seek paths not our own?...Do clover aspire to be plants that climb to trumpet honeyed fragrance?

Fortunately, to be anything other than themselves is not in their nature.
How much more should all our human energy remain focused on why we were born and bred?

What are our specific contributions supposed to be?
Find out through solace.
Get to know a little more about yourself and the feel of living.

Wondering still...What if some sparrows didn't fly and clover neglected to flower?...How crazy would that be? What if they spent half their time tending the business of others? When could they individually be?

It takes full time use of our best energy and time to develop clarity, calmness and a sense of correction.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life Sentences #5

1. Wherever and whenever you find yourself, at least you've found yourself.
2. Exercise your brain and your body. Doesn't matter which one you do first just which one you do second.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Week In Racism

In addition to what makes the national racist news every six months or so, there are daily racist incidents. These just happened.

My son and I were riding our bikes in the direction of two boys over forty-ish. Before we got there one of them spat on the sidewalk. As we passed, the other one, in typical hee-haw fashion, said to me, “now don't run over him” as though I was his child who needed guidance from a collective history of superior childrearing. It's not so easy avoiding these folks all the time.

My son and I were at an arcade in Crestwood. At midnight, closing time, they turned off the electricity in the midst of everyone's game without even a two minute warning. When I inquired they said they made three announcements. No one on the second level seemed to have heard. For the record, we were playing an extremely quiet game of pool at the time. None of the employees on the second level said a thing either. There were no attempts at courtesy to their customers. Do you think this would happen where 98% of the clientèle were of another color. Hell no. No need to get too upset though. It's easy enough not to give them anymore of my resources.

Perhaps these are just examples of stupidity and idiocrity. Even so, I teach my son what these incidents teach us. He may not fully understand, but I prepare him for the not always avoidable and continuing inevitables. He then related a story of an incident his mother experienced recently while spending her resources at a place designed to provide less than what you pay.

My sister told me about mess going on at her job. All of us should be able to relate to this. If not, you're a big ashy fool hoping your ashenness is helpful. It's a little harder dealing with folks at your job but it's possible to overcome if you put the right things into your mind and spirit while not at the job.

Systemic and systematic racism along with racist behavior are storms. I am no longer concerned about the effects of these storms on my person, mind or spirit. I am concerned for the children. We can all try to get along, but I will continue to teach my son to try only with those who try with him. He reads words well, now he must learn to read racism even better. It's already in his public and private education, in textbook fashion. Ain't nothing new or old this week in racism.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Zambezi Spirituality: Emerging After Storms

8:21 p.m.

On this day, the sun has nearly ducked out of sight continuing its perpetual game of “now you see me...” A powerful storm has lost its stamina. The sky is reminiscent of Fanta on another carefree journey, this time mixing her watercolors in the Zambezi's Smoke That Thunders.

On this day, it is still storming softly. Despite the recent deluge, brightness immediately reasserts itself through the same window darkened seconds ago. I am drawn outside.

A soft pollen, blue and gray sky awaits along with a sunbow tied in new gold at both ends. What should be unachievable, sandwiched between a heavy storm and impending nightly darkness, is left for me to receive. It is dreamlike and sweet. The satisfied earth easily carries the gentle rumble of exhausted thunder gods. Grace abounds in sparrow talk, the wave of trees and large drops of water cupped in leaves of young cabbages.

It is impossible to live and avoid storms. Perceive them differently and majesty, even alluring mystery, awaits. Where there is the tumultuous descent of river waters, receive waterfalls instead. Instead of stormy upheavals, turmoil, confusion, stress and dissatisfaction, experience sweet dreamlike unachievable living. Step outside. Emerge.

Emerge from the constant downpour of social insecurity, terrorism, taxing authorities, anthrax, salmonella, identity theft, gas prices, retirement, annual budget deficits, H1N1 and the economy maelstrom, etcetera, etcetera. These don't have the power to drown dreams or even dampen living unless you look to the storms instead of the spirit that creates wonders from falling waters. Most storms are man-made. Fortunately I am not. This means, I was made to live: despite, outside of and in the midst of these storms. There's no good reason to even wait until after these storms.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Personal Growth: Enjoy Monstrous Screams

A child screamed. Both parents rushed into the bedroom and asked the obligatory, “What's wrong?”

The frightened child stated he saw a monster. One parent quickly dismissed it and said, “It was in your dreams.”

Now annoyed, the child said, “my eyes were open.”

Although this is a movie snippet the opposite is true in real life. Monsters really are in dreams. They are blocking the doorway and saying, “Don't even try it.” Some monsters are inside your dreamspace, the “What if” monsters.

Then there are the real monsters – self-doubt and people who will cosign your fears and donate some of theirs if you don't have enough.

These are the practical people who save up fears for their friends just in case they lose touch with reality and start to slip into the dangerous world of dreaming. They will gladly help you brainstorm all the scary and monstrous reasons why not. Their philosophy: “There are monsters everywhere but if we stay together, the monsters will get the few who venture out.”

There are many approaches to dealing with self-doubt and other people. Simply put, distractions from dreams in, distractions from dreams out. Spend more time with yourself, letting go of bad things and taking in good things, avoiding some things and people and then seeking out some things and types of people.

Most importantly, know there is fun to be had while dealing with the monsters. I enjoy having my own little make-believe massacre with each one. It begins with believing these monsters dream too. Their greatest fear - what if no one dreamt them up? It ends with the sound of their screaming as it trails off behind me.

I also enjoy annoying/torturing monsters by responding to all the scary thoughts they try to get me to accept.
Monster (using self-doubt): What if you don't sell any books?
Me: It's better to have a garage full of books than a mind full.
Me again: It's better to have a record of attempts than a history of regrets.
Monster #2: (using others) “But what will people think...?”
Me (cutting them off, annoyed and focusing on what I choose): If there is any uncertainty associated with dreams, there is definitely a lot of certainty without them. These are life's terms and I won't allow you fake as# monsters to confuse me with what's really at stake.
Monster (super desperate, sulking away, still cocky): The American dream is all about the mo'ne', not living. Don't be stupid! I'll be back when you're starving.
Me (with lots of responses but keeping silent because I know the monstrosity will be back with reinforcements, hanging around on the corner)

Recognize the pattern? Without self-doubt or other people, monsters got nothing. Without self-strengthening thoughts, you got nothing. The better your thoughts, the better your actions. It all starts with what you tell yourself. I am more than capable. Somebody screammm!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What Does It Take To Live?

In the face of the unexpected,
you never know what's gonna happen tomorrow,
but I wanna live, I wanna live, I wanna live.*

What does it take to live? What do you really need? There's a cost of living and there's a cost to not living. Not living your way.

What it takes to live is individual, yet some things are the same.
If you can live with your decisions and the results, you can live.
If you can live despite derision from others, you can live.
If you can live despite circumstance or economy, you can live.

Most basically and importantly: All organisms need energy to live. If you're not getting an equal or greater energy from the things that take up most of your energy, life is being sucked out of you. Are you working to make a living or making living work for you? Are you living for weekends and holidays or every day? Do you wanna live? You never know what's gonna happen tomorrow...

*Interlude: Living, Testimony, Vol 1, Life & Relationship, India Arie, Copyright 2006, Universal Republic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson: The Man in the Music

Michael Jackson Died

I was told Thursday evening. Though saddened, I refused to give his death more of my sorrow than any of the thousands who die daily. I listened to television media reports because I didn't know what else to do.

On Friday I had two conversations that centered around Michael and honoring someone's life which means we take action to better ourselves. A third conversation centered around the question, “What does it take to live?”

Michael Jackson's Music

On Saturday something urged me to listen to music. Michael Jackson's HIStory was right there. Part 2 is my 10-year old's music of choice while exercising. I have yet to tell him Michael's music got me through many workouts before he was born.

It is useless to be good or great at anything unless it extends beyond the accomplishment itself and enriches life. Michael's music obliterates that criteria. The softness and rawness of his voice draws you in while his ability to fill the music with nuance infuses you with vibrancy.

Michael Jackson, The Man

Michael is not the cute boy singing ABC or moonwalking. Michael is one with the beat because he is one with himself. Michael was one before he learned his ABC's. We all are. Our “growing up” from our spiritselves limits our understanding of a grown man who bravely ”loves in such elementary ways.”

Michael is a genius in so many ways. One of the ways he is a genius is that he is a child in so many ways. This allows him to maintain the purity of who he is as a man. He is a strong person, a loving person. This is what it takes to live.

Michael Jackson Lives

It is useless to be good or great at anything unless it extends beyond the accomplishment itself and enriches life. My son and I are 35 years apart but not while Michael's music is playing.

Tonight I dance a new dance – not because Thriller plays in the background – but because contemplating Michael's life helps me listen more carefully to my own beat. Michael is known for his music, but it is his message and his example of how to live that keeps him alive. HIStory continues...

I am thankful for his family and friends who supported Michael's safari. Without them the sadness we feel now would be much greater because we would have been completely without Michael.

Asante Sana Michael.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Nature of Ant Problems in Houses

I'm convinced ant problems inside the house have a lot to do with an environmental problem outside the house. It stems from this: Living Area With Nature. This is clearly not what lawns/yards have become. For now, back to the ant problem.

Ants ant the ant problem

Ants only become an indoor problem for us when we create an outdoor problem for them. For those who think the ants themselves are the problem, stay with me.

Just after the heavy rain yesterday, construction season is back in full gear. The spectacular evidence of the excavating, rises nobly. An ant colony has upgraded their living from a two-holed, side-by-side townhome arrangement to a five-holed village complex. Times of late have been good for the colonizers. The gritty, gray, circular mounds of earth are arranged like the Olympic Rings or vice versa. A line of red and black shimmers among the overgrowth between former and current residences in the late-morning sun. The line materializes into ants carrying insects, larvae and pieces of things. I provide a cheese curl my son left in the car as a house-warming gift.

This year, after two years on this land, I've noticed a doubling and tripling of the amount of ant holes. So far, not one ant has been seen indoors. My manmade cave is not airtight so if ants wanted to get in they could. My analysis: I've also noticed a greater variety of plants mixed in with the grass and increased bird activity. A more diverse flora provides or attracts what the ants need and does the same for their predators.

I just learned ants do a lot for any environment. I won't be needing those aerating shoes. Amazingly, ants turn over more soil than earthworms. Yet, it is not ants over earthworms, bees over flies or birds over rabbits. It is not one over the other, it is one with the other. Ants are fellow soldiers of the soil working together with the earthworms, multi-legged crawlers and microorganisms. They are the healthcare workers of the ecosystem.

Solutions: What works for me

I mulch and leave grass clippings and leaves in the grass. I do the same for plants pulled from the flower and vegetable garden if I choose not to compost them. Come Spring, I don't rake the grass of all the partially decomposed grass and things leftover after Winter. I don't use synthetic fertilizers. I have yet to add any natural fertilizer. I allow the natural plant diversity that emerges to continue. I don't cut the back yard as often as the front. I don't primp and preen my yard for the sole purpose of making it look a deep thick lush green and contain grass only. This “nice, lovely lawn” mentality that is so important to our social system is detrimental to the underlying health of the ecosystem. That's not nice. Finally, I assist plant diversity by planting things, especially plants my neighbors don't have, that feed me, birds, insects and a host of other living things.

My theory is selfish. If I can help the natural world as much as possible, when I need it to provide nutrients for all my plants, including grass/lawn, it will be able. When I need it to pollinate my fruit and vegetables, it will be ready. When I need it to maintain balance, it will oblige.

Solutions: To keep ants outside

Instead of attacking ants where they live, feed them where they live. Drop vegetable and fruit peelings outside their entrances. If ants will take my nail clippings they'll take just about anything organic or food scraps or anything we eat.

Why not put out food for ants? You won't attract ants by feeding them, they're already there. You will keep them where they are plus keep them doing what they do best which benefits us all. Just give them some of the stuff you don't want and do it in the morning, not at night. The only reason ants are coming in the house is because that's where the closest and best food source is. There's not enough food in their environment. Since ants will eat a lot of naturally-occurring stuff, it's a big environmental problem if there's not enough naturally-occurring stuff in your yard for non-finicky, scavenger-minded, eat-anything ants.

Solution: Cheapest, simplest and most sensible

Leave all of nature's food in your yard and the ants won't pass it up just to come into your house. Ants are exceptional opportunists yet they will not travel to a house to raid its indoor storehouse while passing up food on the land along the way.

Ant Problem Redefined

For the past two years, when there weren't as many ants on the land I share, there really was an ant problem.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Personal Growth: Michelle Obama's Garden

Michelle Obama First Mama
Why does your garden grow?
To remind us what's worthwhile
And the impact of our lifestyles
Returning to what we used to know

It's wise for Michelle Obama to have an edible garden at home. Understanding what it takes to keep us alive by understanding what it takes to keep plants alive is crucial to the continued viability of the human race. This is the real way to achieve security – reconnecting to the basic, sustaining things in this life. We cannot be completely connected to each other unless we are connected to nature since nature is the common denominator.

It's smart for Michelle Obama to show us that a garden bigger than many living spaces, cost under $200 plus a free investment in exercise. I know I spend over $200 per year on fruit, vegetables and herbs I could grow a little more of myself. I guarantee you, once you get going and see how much easier, cheaper, tastier, healthier and rewarding gardening is, you will be forever changed for the better.

Gardening indoors or outdoors is about enjoying, growing, caring, nurturing, understanding, learning and experimenting. There are no masters or experts. Gardeners and farmers control very little and only influence a few things so we can plant without the pressure of perfection.

Growing something is not an exercise in getting it right but in not getting it wrong. Our focus should be on not harming, destroying or disrupting the natural processes. Once we become aware of our impact and imprint on the soil, environment and every living species, eating and planting become more about a privilege and partnerships.

We will no longer lament the rain or lightening. We won't care whether it's the heat or the humidity, just that both are present. We will reuse containers, cardboard, wood, leaves and grass clippings like crazy. Mulch and compost will become the new checking and savings accounts. We'll inadvertently become a mini-ecologist/biologist and learn to welcome more than birds because you'll understand that biodiversity is in everyone's favor. Beyond bees we'll begin to appreciate the importance of flies and midges. Our awareness will increase through germination, respiration, differentiation, pollination and maturation. We'll become intimate with photosynthesis and it's relationship to digestion. Everything that stimulates roots to shoots to fruits will also fascinate us. We will ultimately become a part of the process of growing soil and embracing the ecosystem. Gardening really is about learning and sharing from the ground level to the spiritual level.

Just as enjoyable as the food are the rich rewards of an environment with increased diversity. Yesterday I saw a brown and yellow hummingbird poking around in the stylish purple and yellow flowers of the Wild Columbine. Later on a Silver-Spotted Skipper stopped by. As kids we called them police butterflies. Perhaps it was searching for the tangerine Monarch that flitted through this morning casing the bounty of blossoms that are just a few weeks away.

Layer upon layer of interdependency is what it takes for us to be fed yet growing food at home is something we can easily achieve. Hopefully we will follow the leader.

Poetry & Poems About Nature
White House Garden Details

Michelle you're very, revolutionary
More than you'll ever know
Using renaissance and influence
To help us personally grow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fear of Fear

Fear is a catalyst. It causes you to take action to preserve life, liberty and dignity. You won't sit there and take it. You won't bow down or bend over. You won't continue to do the same thing waiting and hoping for fear to go away.

Fear does not freeze up. That's either panic or anxiety. Both inhibit our ability to think clearly and make good decisions. When we do nothing we could be really nervous, really worried, anxious, panicked or perhaps comfortable, but not afraid at all. Quit thinking it's fear.

With fear, there is still a sense and awareness of control. There are options. Even when choices are limited, there are still things you can do. At a minimum, you can fight or flee/defend or run.

Since you can run, that's what I'm afraid of.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

John Hope Franklin - Historian of Truth

"I think knowing one's history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one's history would not urge one to be an activist."

John Hope Franklin spoke these words to Emerge in March 1994.

Historians are in the group of often forgotten, true stars. There is a popular notion that positions societies, nations and worlds upon foundations wide and broad. It is more accurate to understand the development of life over time as positioned upon an inverted pyramid deeply and continuously rooted in an apex containing history. Successive generations must continue to build upon this base of knowledge but first they must build up and around the foundation by making sure they teach the history of all people to all people. They must also hold to the main principle of history. Peoples who build and suppose to live without the base in mind, that life depends on a few things, not many, or this basic sensibility will surely topple or in the very least, suffer many unnecessary hardships.

John Hope Franklin's legacy encompasses the telling of events like it was and is. His legacy added a layer of history of Colored People, Negroes, Blacks and African-Americans.

For my dollars worth, historians have a responsibility to provide the comprehensive context for their subject matter. John Hope Franklin identified another responsibility, though it is not peculiar to historians alone.

You can't have a high standard of scholarship without having a high standard of integrity, because the essence of scholarship is truth." (Winston-Salem Journal, Aug. 6, 1989)

Truth, i.e., accuracy, is the main principle of history. John Hope Franklin is a scholar in this regard. We have a collective responsibility to act upon the information he left to guide and gird us. Inherent in our personal, individual responsibility is seeking knowledge that leads to the truth. Reading history, hearing history, watching history, memorizing history, talking about history and commemorating history with events are empty exercises unless we truly understand history and become activists – those who take continuous action for the few things that matter. When we don't understand, we become inactivists despite the things we do if those things do not first ensure the foundational beliefs and practices are in place that we've learned as a result of history.

Historians such as John Hope Franklin, who have upheld the principles of his craft, have done their part. What will I do? What will I do a little better than I did yesterday?

John Hope Franklin: b. 1-2-1915, d. 3-25-2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Overcoming & Clearing Boundaries: Man, Woman, Child

There was a woman who walked the same path for quite some time. On one side of the path were trees, bushes and underbrush. On the other side was a ditch both wide and deep. On either side of these boundaries were clearings, though she could only perceive one of these clearings.

A man walked this path and found it too narrow in some places and too wide in others. He knew all it would take is one moment of inattention and he could fall into the ditch. “If you're not careful, you're going to fall into that ditch!” he would often remind himself.

Since the clearing on the other side of the ditch allowed them to see what was coming before it came, they both decided to always cheat to this side despite the ditch.

Though it seemed as one continuous, mostly straight path, it was actually an egg-shaped loop. The landscape only appeared to change due to circumstances and time.

One day, after slipping for quite some time and ignoring the fact, these two children fell completely into the ditch at different times and places. They both sat up, checked themselves out, checked out their situation, studied, uplifted themselves and climbed out. Instead of climbing out on the side where the clearing was visible, both of them crossed the boundary and walked steadily in among the trees. There they found different paths leading back to the same clearer vision of themselves.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poetry is Finished

...when it is finished. That's the short answer.

Poetry is finished when you no longer wonder. Is it possible that it's finished and you don't know it? Not usually.

The only way to not know whether poetry is finished is by trusting neither intellect or intuition or by not having a cooperative blend of the thinking self and the sensing self.

Whether you write poetry from a mental standpoint, spiritual standpoint or combination, you finish when the urging ceases.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Poem - Spring Means Things

The Nature of Things by Usiku

Spring's in the air and I can taste
the smell of renewal and yard waste.
Soon I'll be fussing over flower beds
getting way in over my head.
My veggies will be organic for sure
because I'm using cow manure.
The backyard is neglected since
I have a six foot privacy fence.

See Also Natural World Observations: Going Wild Like A Flower In Spring Breaking Free

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How to Write Well and a Lot

The following is condensed and reprinted with permission from Technical Communication Center by Dr. Ugur Akinci.

Writing well and writing a lot are closely linked.

Usually, people who write well write a lot too. And those who cannot write well cannot write anything at all. There is a very good reason why that is so. It's an internal connection that may open the doors of both creativity and productivity for you, simultaneously.

Here are the keys to this not-so-mysterious phenomenon:

First: Write about things you really care about or things that move something inside. Do not write about a subject just because "it's popular" or "it brings money" because you can't. The result would be a bone-dry piece of nothing. You wouldn't enjoy reading what you've written.

Second: Try to get an approximate understanding of WHY you're writing what you're writing. And that does not have to be a well-constructed and tightly-argued reason. No. It can be just a feeling, or a sensation, but you still have to be fully aware of it. Good writing requires you to be well aware of yourself, your mind and your heart. Your radar must be actively scanning your interior landscape when you write so you'll know why you're doing it. Knowing why will set the color of your canvas. That's what you'll leave the reader with.

The reason "why" you are writing something is the tool with which you take one slice from Reality and make it your own. Life is the big pie. You take the narrow serving knife of "why" and serve your readers a delicious slice. If you don't have the "why" then you can't serve the pie.

Third: Accept your uniqueness. That's perhaps the HARDEST part to writing well.

We all do have a different take on things! But we usually end up joining the choir, and going along with the team. That's when we collapse our fresh viewpoint onto a worn out template. That's when we start writing awfully stale stuff; dead matter that's not breathing.

As a writer we have to overcome the anxiety of individuality. We have to suspend our anxiety of judgment by others by accepting upfront that 99% of anything we write will not be liked by anyone anyways! Once we accept that hard blow on the broken nose of our ego, we're out of your own jail. All the damage is done upfront and we're free to sing with our own voice.

Once you develop the trust and habit of listening to your own matchless take on Reality, you'll also discover what a PLEASURE it is to write about - anything, really! When writing is such a personal pleasure you can't stop but write long and write frequently. That's when quality joins quantity.

Have the courage to be yourself. That's when you'll start writing well and writing a lot too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry is a Feeling

Part 3 of Understanding Poetry

When it comes to understanding poetry, feeling is an essential ingredient. Nathan's spiritual blog, Walls Come Down, “feels” us in with poetic words and insight:


in the dark,
writhing with ecstasy
in light rain drops

This is a movement away from thought, to feeling. It is a move away from structures in which distractions are embedded. Both in writing and reading, we are peeling away what we are not. What's underneath? We need a willingness to see things directly, for what they are. It doesn't matter if you 'understand it' or not. It's more about what you feel.

For Matt

Why should we not
and grow
like leaves
on trees
in forests careening
roots through buds
to blooming
singing moving,
floating on
and through?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vicarious Reader of Poetry

The hardest part of writing is living. Living also incites the imagination. The second hardest part of writing is extracting understanding from living.

Doing the first and second parts, opens the portal to poetry. The writer trustingly takes the extended hands of living and meaning and follows life through the opening no matter the size or lighting.

The vicarious reader follows. They are also wonder seeking.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free Books- National Poetry Month 2009

Buy one book and get one book FREE.

This is my contribution to National Poetry Month.

Visit my website, , order one book and I'll send a second book for free during the month of April. Free also includes the additional shipping cost. This is approximately a $24 value.

Just be sure when prompted to list autograph instructions for the first book, to also include instructions for the second book. Thanks.

Since Eloquence: Rhythm & Renaissance encourages personal growth and spirituality it's a great graduation gift and birthday gift.

Also, its theme of nature works well for relaxing, summer reading at the beach.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

National Poetry Month 2009-Understanding Poetry

Approaching poetry in a hurry to understand it is the wrong approach. Understanding some poetry is like getting used to drinking grape/orange Kool-Aid with orange and apple slices. You know there's a lot going on but you enjoy it nonetheless by savoring the blend, moving it around in your mouth and drinking slower. You extend the pleasure by patiently waiting to enjoy the fruit. The process is the same for understanding poetry.

Approaching poetry hoping to merely understand what the writer was trying to say is the wrong approach. There are always numerous meanings in poetry regardless of what the author intended. An artist's intent should never be the boundary. I'm still hoping to understand more about some of the poems I've written.

Approaching poetry merely as an intellectual event limits understanding to what the mind has experienced. To receive additional understanding the spirit must become engaged. After the mind reads poetry you must release it to your spirit, otherwise inspiration and encouragement are not possible.

With that being said, poetry whispers something different to each person. Some poetry will urge you to take a step towards your own personal next level. Its purpose is to not leave you where it found you. There's really no cause to be intimidated when it comes to understanding poetry. Poetry is like a child seeking friends to get to know. Welcome it and soon enough you will learn that poetry understands you.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pleasures of Nature

Nature is not just for the pleasure and contemplation of poets. Anyone can spend more time doing fewer things to allow room for the healthy pleasure of peaceful, unwinding moments. Restoration and appreciation can come from being very active with nature or from low-key relaxing. Either way it gives our spirit time to talk to us. Nature rejuvenates the spirit. It feeds the spirit. With this energy and downtime from the daily grind, our spirit is able to sort through the notes posted in our subconscious and provide clarity and guidance.

When it comes to benefiting more from nature, our haste has made us waste a vast amount of easy opportunities. Our tendency to hurry, along with our tendency to notice the same things over and over has caused us to pay more of our limited attention to birds, flowers and trees to the neglect of so much more of the readily available pleasures of nature.

Seeing the sun and moon is one thing but watching light and darkness switch places is witnessing the spiritual storytelling of rest and renewal. Each new night and each new morning another generation takes the exchange - never once dropping the baton.

Enjoying the transformation at dusk and dawn requires a slower gear and another level of awareness. Establishing a rapport with the wind is no different. If I weren't so busy I could prepare to learn from the wind instead of entreating it to tell me where it has been. I wouldn't lament it either when the wind seems heavy-handed. I'd thank the wind for its importance to every kind of weather. I'd mimic its constancy and change paces with the easygoing breezes, breaths and wisps. Each time it passed by, I'd welcome it as a natural reminder to the plentiful pleasures of nature.

Related Posts: Definitions: Communing, Sustainability, Descendent, Family Values & Spiritual Genetics Context And So Continues The Meaning Of Life & Existence (Part 7d)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't April Fools' Yourself

Sometimes fear can be funny when it's a reaction to a playful surprise on April Fools' Day. A harmless trick might provide a momentary laugh or two but tricking yourself ain't funny at all, especially when you allow fear to outsmart you.

Fear twists things around until it makes sense. Fear makes opposites exactly what they are not. Because fear is a trickster, it intentionally confuses right with wrong, good with bad, best with worst and risk with danger. For instance, fear can make something right seem seem stupid and something wrong seem intelligent. This is the exact opposite.

What's truly amazing is this. Were it not for the “apostrophe t,” the fearful and the brave would live the same lives.

The “apostrophe t” makes all the difference. One can, the other can't. One learns they should, the other knows they shouldn't. One will, the other won't. To one, there is a choice. To the other there isn't. When it comes to making important decisions, one must and will have. The other mustn't and will have not. Peace that is.

Removing the “apostrophe t” from just one of the statements above gives us this: One can, the other can. Both the brave and the fearful can. What's the difference?

Don't be fooled. The brave know fear. They just prepare themselves to resist it daily. They use awareness to resist the infectious, comforting, contagious nature of fear. So can you. The brave know all about fear. They just understand it in its entirety.

The brave understand fear is more of an obstacle to opportunity than anything else. The brave understand this: Nothing we have that fear tells us we could lose, is ours. The brave have learned that what is achieved through bravery can only be maintained through bravery and what is achieved through fear can only be maintained through fear.

The simple story of life has two sides. One where we take hold of life with power and the other where we are held back and we cower. Fear infiltrates belief until you are unable to tell which choices lead to triumph and which ones lead to personal tragedy.

No one wants to be fooled on April Fools' Day even if it's just for fun.
When the trick is self-imposed and fear becomes the default choice come decision time, then April fears can occur anytime of the year. That kind of fear ain't no joke.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Belief versus Fear: Who Wins?

I'm just trying to get to the heart of the matter. What helps us most? Analyzing our beliefs or managing our fears?

It's gotta be belief. Belief is the only reason we are able to choose between action and inaction. We don't have to agree with the belief. We only have to believe that the belief is necessary. Belief has nothing to do with the truth which is why antelopes run for their lives instead of fight for their lives. An antelope stampede against an attacker is a powerful thing yet antelopes run because they believe running is their only choice. Likewise, a stampede of beliefs such as, I am strong, I have value, I am special, I can do this, I should do this, I can learn to do this, etc. can turn away the strongest fear. Belief is what controls us, not fear.

It's gotta be fear. No matter what we believe, fear is either a motivator or demotivator. We remember fear most. We consult with fear most. Fear is more powerful and important because it is what surfaces first and imposes its own belief upon us. Fear is a master of disguise. It presents itself as all the things that seem right and sound good. It presents itself as logic, reason, caution, safety, security, protection, self-preservation and so on. Fear is what controls us, not belief.

Which one is it really? If it all came down to belief and fear, which one would be the deciding component of our life? Which one is most important to our personal growth? Which one is most important to our personal defeats or victories? Belief or Fear? Are we better off analyzing our beliefs or managing our fears?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Listening For Understanding

My quest for understanding is about things in part and things in entirety. I desire to understand my self, my spirit, the highest powers and hopefully one or two other people over the course of a lifetime. The understanding I speak of is not merely an intellectual, mental acknowledgement. It is an understanding which encompasses the spirit, nature or purpose of something. This understanding causes me to appreciate, respect, learn, improve and connect.

Often my quest involves devoting thoughts, time, reading, discussions, writing and observing to obtain understanding. This is a process and takes a lot of time so on occasion, I'll ”just put it out there” and have a frustrated-type conversation when I need some understanding right now yesterday.

Help me understand! I need to! I want to! Why all the secrecy? It could just as easily be a glass clearly instead of a glass darkly! Let me see everything and live to tell it and even longer to show it! Share understanding the way a knowing and loving parent forms the foundation in their infant. If I don't understand more, then what more is there? What I'm trying to say is, what's the point? I need to know more about what you're doing and what I should be up to so I'm not doing a good job but not doing any good. I need you to work with me and trust me on this one. Have faith in me! I just wanna understand something. If you control the big picture, and I am my own individual brushstroke, how is that supposed to work, especially when we all have free will but limited understanding? How can the big picture not be an abstraction when puposely-placed bold strokes of clarity are met with purposefully-placed fresh strokes of disparity? Give me something! You've got the power! Surely you can teach me something without sending me through another trial, tribulation or waiting period! You said ask! All that, “you have to go through something” mess is for nonbelievers. Please! If you can open heavens, earth and hearts, certainly you can open plain me to understanding in an instant. I'm telling ya, me not tryin' ta resist nuthin! Here me now. If you're the one putting images of Jesus and angels in places and causing statues to cry, please stop. That stuff don't matter none. It's time for another clear-cut miracle. Something simple, powerful, revealing, convincing and everyday. A miracle witnessed and understandable by millions and either caught on tape and put on the Internet or that spreads quicker than words from lying lips. It could be as simple as, the next time those lips part and speak, shut them for a season so the last lie spoken creates the type of fear that halts destructive behavior instead of helps it. But why waste it on fools. Interrupt regularly scheduled programming and bring back some folks who never should have been taken from us. Let's see some babies saved, some quality of lives raised and a physical sickness or two erased. Some tangible stuff, not the promise of blessings and paradise. That's all I'm saying. Make one of the things among all that are possible, true, now, and make it evident. I know that with just another peek at the things I seek with the light cast by your lamp, understanding will glisten. If it does already and my vision is blighted and my brush misguided, teach me to listen with a renewed sight.