A Poem: “Freedom Isn’t Free” [Guest Post]

I’m delighted to share this poem from a like-minded human, a believer in God, a light in the darkness. She’s been through that darkness herself, she knows. 

Sincere and massive thanks to Anita Grace Brown for allowing me to share this poem on this blog. 


resist the urge to scream

So. hard. to. be. thankful. for. these. dark. days

telling all
in confident terms

all is well

freedom’s at hand!

back inside

there’s no escape

a vice-like grip

on heart and mind…

soul like a specter

slipping through

bony, superhuman restraint

resist

resist the urge

resist the urge to scream

focus on the blue sky

thy kingdom come…

in the luminous darkness

i remain

See the original post here:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/01/freedom-is-not-free-anita-brown-poem/

Anita’s website: http://www.smilingheartyoga.org/#home

Find Anita on twitter via: @namasteanita

Advertisements

Momentum: The Magic Potion

Finding a little momentum goes a long way.

This fact is especially when you’re sharpening up your focus to get sh*t done.  The approach isn’t new or complicated, but it is important.

Check your list.

If you don’t have one, write one down.  Depending on your level of motivation and focus as you begin, I suggest writing everything down.  The more items, the more focus you’ll have.

Consider the priorities you’ve got in front of you. Consider the time it will take to complete the various tasks on the list.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the list, be empowered by your effort to get it all down in front of you.  Once you’ve got a good representation of what needs to be done, it’s time to get after Number One.

My personal approach is to target a couple quick hits, items I can accomplish pretty quickly, to get some positive energy going in the right direction.  As you line out items on your list, you can feel the sense of accomplishment. Your focus will increase, your resolve to continue down the path will strengthen, you’ll be one your way forward.

So make that list and get after it.

The momentum you create will make the difference in your effort.  It will make it GOOD.

GOOD Friday

The old Negro spiritual  about the crucifixion includes the phrase, “…sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble…”.  For a lot of years I would take the afternoon off to go to church for several hours on Good Friday, to reflect, pray, and participate in the service.

These days my life is a lot more complicated, and discretionary time is at a premium.  The demands of three little kids and two aging parents means that today, though I’ve got the whole day off, I’ll be attending to bills, taxes, laundry, and other chores rather than sitting in a pew this afternoon.

However, the busy day won’t stop me from pausing this afternoon to reflect about what happened some two thousand years ago, when the Jewish leadership in occupied Israel convinced their Roman overlords to kill a lowly carpenter by hanging him on a cross for speaking out to much, teaching revolutionary ideas, somehow representing God.

The busy day didn’t stop me from looking at the homeless guy I saw in the park while I was walking the dogs this morning, and thinking,  “What can I do to help that guy, or someone else like him?”

The busy day won’t stop me from thinking about the fundamental teachings that Jesus brought to the world.  Not really new ideas, but certainly applied in new ways.  Love one another. Treat others as you would like them to treat you.  Help those in need.  Consider your place in the world humbly, and be filled with gratitude.

For me the Easter Triduum boils down to the teachings that Jesus gave us, the extreme measures he took to make those teachings real, and the hope that we can find in the darkest hour.  It’s that hope we should live with, and share with others, every single day.  It’s that love we should nurture within ourselves, and give witness to everyone around us:  friends, family, children, strangers, co-workers, parents.

On this day remember what it means to give of yourself completely, without concern for reward or outcome, save knowing you’ve given all you have to make life better for those you love, those around you.  And when you realize you’ve done so, when you pause to reflect on your efforts, it might just cause you to tremble a little, in awe of love you feel as a result.  And that’s why they call this Friday GOOD.

golgotha

Off Your Butt. UP. Go!

LHL-pinkteam_24jan2016

In May I’ll hit the one-year mark since I started tracking my sleep and day-time movement/activity in a formal manner.  How?  I’ll tell you.

Don’t remember how I found Jawbone UP, but one of their devices (the UP Move) is the one I have.  I bought one last spring, and have been tracking myself since then.  In keeping with the project, I’ve thought increasingly about how to integrate being “active” into my every day.

At it’s most basic level, it’s clear to me that if I’m going to be as healthy as I can be, I’ve got to remember the fundamental importance of MOVEMENT — in increasing amounts, and frequently. Not just daily but many times EACH day.  It’s about getting UP, staying active throughout the day.

Part of the motivation was from my not being very active since my wife and I started having kids five years back.  We had run a handful of half-marathons, my running had progressed nicely, and then BOOM:  kid #1 arrived.  A MASSIVE blessing for sure (as is #2 and #3 we added over the next three years).  But my running all but stopped.  I got hurt. Then it stopped completely.

So MOVEMENT.  MOTION.  MOBILITY.  For me, it’s about feeling better physically.  And mentally.  About the body.  How it feels, how it works for you.  One of the keys?  No surprise really:  Work to get to and stay around your ideal body weight.  Make your body (and mind) stronger.  Two main factors are at play here:  Good Diet, and Good Activity Level. Regularly.  Every day.

What does that effect?  For one thing, “metabolism”. Your own.  Revving it up. Get it going.  Using the energy you’re consuming.  Get the body doing more of what is suppose to be doing.  Performing well, propelling you forward. Want a little science?  Here.

What else?  Being active gets the blood flowing, gets that heart rate up a bit. Get’s the body warm, and loose, and operating more efficiently and effectly.  A bi-product? You burn more calories.  What’s the result?   At least for me (but I think research backs this up), I feel more ENERGIZED.  And my body physically feels better.  My joints, my back, my whole physical self feels healthier.

There are a few catchy phrases that come to mind to spur motivation.

Here’s one:  “Motion is Lotion.”  I heard a therapist say that once.  Love it.  So true.

Here’s another:  “Move It or Lose It.” Lose your mobility, lose your skill, lose your independence, lose your…mind.  After all, we’re built for MOVEMENT.

USE your body as it was intended. Reference back to our evolutionary ancestors.  200,000 years of motion, activity, chasing, finding our food.  We’ve come a long way since then.  And NOT to our advantage.  Want the Cliff Notes?  Here.

All this is even more important as we get older.  We’ve got to keep trying, keep after it, keep being open to new stuff to stay active as long as possible.

Here’s one more phrase, maybe not so catchy, but direct and to the point:

“Off Your Butt.” GO.  Being more active will result in more happiness.  That’s the best reason to get UP and move. NOW.  You’ll be glad you did.

On Maneuvers

lightfightersmanueverfogofwar.jpg

Often it’s important to circle back to things you’ve walked away from to have another look.  You get fresh, valuable insights from this practice.  Here’s the latest example I’ve come across.

I was 75% along the way to joining the US Navy out of high school.  I was going to use an NROTC scholarship to pay for college.  I wanted to be a Marine.

Ultimately I made the decision not to proceed along the military path.  Over the many years since that time, I’ve come across lessons time and again that stem from military practices and history.  I’ve taken to heart a lot of those lessons.

The concept of “maneuver warfare” came up most recently that has me thinking about the parallels to how we approach our lives, getting things done, being busy, juggling personal affairs, work, and family.  Some basic principles stand out.  Applied regularly (daily) you’ll find these five tips quite helpful.  At least I have.

[Note:  These are my paraphrases, not necessarily direct quotes.]

  1. Be ready for the unexpected.
  2. Be able to adapt your plan while keeping focused on the same goal(s).
  3. Don’t just give orders.  Empower your squad.
  4. Take calculated risks with the knowledge you and your team can recover if necessary.
  5. Maintain a Positive Attitude and Esprit De Corp.

I boiled these five “hacks” down from  Jocko Willink’s fast-growing, fast-moving, often insightful podcast.  He focused on H. John Poole  during one early podcast, a veteran of Vietnam who studied, wrote, and trained thousands of soldiers on small unit tactics.

Funny where you can find lessons if you’re open.  In the daily maneuvers through your life, remembering that might be the most important thing of all.

I Believe In Relationship

From my “This I Believe” submission in 2006. Didn’t make the cut with NPR, and it’s a from a while back, but still holds a lot of truth for me.

I believe in relationship.

With people and places, experiences and emotions, plants and animals; with old shirts, ball-caps, music, writing and cooking. I’ve searched for it in all endeavors, and have only been really satisfied with an experience when I’ve managed to secure a foothold, a rapport with the people and things around me.

I’m relatively sure that I can’t be alone in the feelings I have associated with this idea: connecting with the temporal world we live in. As I reach middle age, however, I’m very certain that I’m more sensitive than most when it comes to the practice. For me it means survival, success, and inner peace.

Whether it’s the first time or only time, meeting someone, or visiting with a friend I’ve known all my life, I always am in flux until I’ve felt the sense of that certain comfortable something that tells me I’m connected to the other. For me relationship is the way to get the most out of the present and is a primer for the future.

On the grade school playground, in the many classrooms of my life, the wrestling room, football field, committees, the fraternity, the swimming pools of summers past, teaching swimming, then later teaching English to Soviets. In Santa Clara, in Moscow, in Rivas Nicaragua, Beijing, Florence or Munich or Hong Kong, in South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, or Morgan Hill, all the experiences in all those places have become worthwhile to me only and ultimately through relationship.

Like most everyone I’ve had my share of successes and failures. I’ve tried to learn what I can from all of them, tried my best to savor the successes; persevere and even gain something through the failures. I am certain that it’s been my relationship with both the good and the bad that has solidified my attitude toward both.

I recently went through a divorce. I only reached a sense of peace and acceptance of the loss through the support of the many good people that let me share the experience with them, relate with them, and thereby process my complicated thoughts and feelings. It was also only by reaching a new, truer relationship with my ex-wife that I was able to find closure in the marriage ending, and begin a promising, connected relationship with someone new.

When I consider this attitude juxtaposed to my faith, it all makes even more sense to me: connecting with others, befriending others, helping others. God in all things and in all people. My relationship with the world around me strengthens my sense of proper path, somehow brings me a bit closer to the Divine.

I believe in relationship. It is the surest indicator of my place in time and space on this Earth, speeding along with everyone else toward the most we can get from life.