Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye Coyote Year

Coyote is a trickster and it is said when he wanders into your life, you are asked to look at something you've been avoiding. Coyote reminds us of the lessons we need to learn in order to walk our authentic path and follows us relentlessly until we get the picture. Coyote will gnaw off his own foot to get out of a trap and expects no less from us when we are in a trap of our own making. For me, 2009 was a coyote year and I hope I have learned his lessons so he can go on his merry way.

I think the words that most sum up this strange and painful yet blessed and joyful year of endings and beginnings, loneliness and new friendships, grief and beauty come from T.S. Eliot's "East Coker, III"

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
So I say goodbye Coyote Year and I wait ... without hope, without love, without thought ... in stillness knowing, and I admit it ... at least hoping, the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

About the Image: Jellyfish from the Monterey Aquarium. They always seem like they are swimming upside down ... which seems like a good metaphor for this year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Search of Ecstasy

An offering from Link TV's Global Spirit:

In this episode of Global Spirit, host Phil Cousineau explores the ecstatic state — a global phenomenon found in all kinds of spiritual, religious, and wisdom traditions. Cousineau is joined by guests Sobonfu Somé, author and teacher of African spirituality, and Andrew Harvey, a British scholar specializing in the works and teachings of Jalaluddin Rumi. This lively discussion is interwoven with video segments that transport the audience on a journey inside different cultural expressions of divine ecstasy, asking why and how ecstatic trance is practiced around the world, and why it fascinates so many people today.This episode includes unique video footage of a Sufi Zikr ceremony in Turkey – the practice of remembrance that brings participants to an ecstatic state of connection with God. Also featured are powerful scenes of traditional and modern day trance rituals which uncover the altered state experience which people seek through dance, trance and spirit possession. The program features Orisha priestesses from Nigeria and Brazil, and Shaman healers from the Kalahari and Korea, all pulsating to a provocatively similar beat with thousands of young people losing themselves at an all-night techno-rave event in an Australian forest.

Click here to watch the video.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Would You Wish For?

The TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) Conference offers a prize to people who want to change the world. The winner for 2010 is Jamie Oliver who wants to change the way we feed our children. There is more information below about Jamie and about the prize here.

But the question we'd like to ask you is ... if you had one wish to change the world, what would it be? (Perhaps if it's big enough, or you are passionate enough, you might be a candidate for the TED Prize.) Please put your wish in the comments section below.

TED Prize Winner 2010:
Jamie Oliver.

The prize grants him $100,000 — and something much bigger: “one wish to change the world.” He’ll unveil the wish on February 10 at TED2010, and we, the TED community, will seek to make it come true.

Some of Jamie Oliver’s key achievements:

  • The Jamie’s School Dinners/Feed Me Better campaign pressured the UK government to invest $1 billion to overhaul school lunches.
  • The Fifteen Foundation, a social enterprise and chef apprenticeship for at-risk 18-24 yr olds. Based in London, it has been replicated through franchising in Amsterdam, Cornwall and Melbourne.
  • A new TV series, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA, is to air on ABC in 2010, bringing Jamie’s vision of fun, healthy cooking to America.
  • 12 television series, seen in 130 countries
  • 10 cookbooks, translated into 29 languages, with almost 24 million copies sold in 56 countries

At the heart of Oliver’s work is an assault on the obesity epidemic: The CDC states that one in four Americans are considered obese. It is estimated that 43 percent of Americans, or 103 million people, will be obese by 2018. The cost of this epidemic, anticipated to reach $344 billion per year. It currently accounts for almost 10 percent of the yearly US health care costs, and that rate will rise to 21 percent by 2018. WHO’s latest projections indicate that globally in 2005 approximately 1.6 billion adults were overweight and projects that by 2015, that figure will rise to 2.3 billion.

From the New York Times: “…this British celebrity chef has made it his mission in recent years to break people’s dependence on fast food, believing that if they can learn to cook just a handful of dishes, they’ll get hooked on eating healthfully. The joy of a home-cooked meal, rudimentary as it sounds, has been at the core of his career from the start, and as he has matured, it has turned into a platform.”

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blessing #13: New Friends

Rounding out a baker's dozen of Internet blessings is perhaps the biggest one ... three new friends. What started as simple blog connections have grown into a conversation that feeds my spirit and friendships that helped me through the rocky shoals of this past year. Diane, Maureen and Louise have become true companions on my journey and I am grateful for the gift of having them in my life. So I'd like to toast each of them:

Diane ... Contemplative Photography and The Gospels of Thomas Meditations

Diane is an inspiring photographer, artist and writer who shares her daily meditations in a way that touches and enlightens. I met Diane at a Miksang photography workshop in Boulder and it was sisterhood-at-first-sight. The connection points on our journey first amazed us and then became almost comical as we discovered an almost "separated at birth twinship" between us. Diane inspired me to return to blogging and gave me permission to admit that my cup was empty. Since then she has poured a continuous stream of inspiration and beauty into that cup and also introduced me to Maureen and Louise. Thanks Diane for being one of my angels in 2009.


Maureen ... Writing without Words and Transformational Threads

Maureen is a brilliant writer, poet and art enthusiast who continuously offers her friends and fans new discoveries and treasures from the wide world of art. Shortly after I started blogging again, I began receiving encouraging comments from someone I had never met. Her notes were so warm and inspiring that I was drawn to her blog and felt like I had fallen into a world of art, inspiration and comradeship. One of the treasures of this year has been the blossoming of my friendship with Maureen.

Louise ... Recover Your Joy blog and author of The Dandelion Spirit

Louise is a courageous spirit who has faced life's dragons and transformed their energy into compassionate action in her writing and her work with a homeless shelter. Her blog delivers on the promise she offers: "This is where you'll learn how to unearth your essence and lighten your spirit. Everyday I share my thoughts and feelings on what it takes to live life with joy." Her story, her journey and her words are a constant inspiration. Her friendship makes me stronger and long to be a better person.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blessing #12: Charter for Compassion

Former nun and religious scholar and author, Karen Armstrong had a wish for a more compassionate world so she took the wish to the TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) Conference and won their support. Karen drafted a Charter for Compassion which stated that compassion is the core of civilized life as well as a central tenet of all religious traditions. When she won the TED Prize, they opened up a website asking for comments and suggestions for further development then a group of world leaders met to write the final charter.

If you believe in the power of compassion, you are invited to affirm the charter before December 31st when it will be sent to world leaders whose countries are involved in conflict. Today I joined almost 32,000 other affirmers ... how many of us will there be on December 31st?

Affirm the charter here ... http://charterforcompassion.org/

More about the Charter story

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blessing #11: Blogosphere


One of the blessings of this year has been my re-entry into the world of blogging ... this time just for personal expression and enjoyment. As I've gotten more involved in blogs though I've wondered: What happens when everyone in the world has a forum to share their thoughts, ideas, feelings, darkest secrets and most trivial activities? Chaos? Rampant misinformation? Or "the Wisdom of the Crowd?" The answer may be all of the above but it's definitely a new world. It's almost impossible to get a firm handle on the statistics for this electronic world. Technorati has indexed over 133 million blogs (however 60-70% last less than a month) but here are some of the most recent ones from the 2009 State of the Blogosphere (a sampling of professional and hobbyist bloggers):

Demographics of bloggers:
* Two-thirds are male
* 60% are 18-44
* 75% have college degrees
* 40% have graduate degrees
* One in three has an annual household income of $75K+
* One in four has an annual household income of $100K+
* Professional and self-employed bloggers are more affluent: nearly half have an annual household income of $75,000 and one third topped the $100,000 level
* More than half are married
* More than half are parents
* Half are employed full time, however ¾ of professional bloggers are employed full time.
* Around half of bloggers are working on at least their second blog, and 68% have been blogging for two years or more
* 86% have been blogging for at least a year

Motivations of bloggers:
* 70% of all respondents say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog
* Bloggers are most likely to describe themselves as “sincere” (75%).
* 16% describe themselves as snarky.
* 71% say they blog at least in part in order to speak their minds.
* 72% say they blog in order to share their expertise.
* 61% say they blog in order to supplement their income.
* 53% of professional bloggers are interested in attracting new clients from blogging.
* 72% of those who are self-employed and blogging are interested in attracting new clients.
* 19% are concerned that their employers might disapprove of their views on their blog.
* For most bloggers (81%), even if the economic downturn has disrupted lifestyles or lives it has not changed the kind of topics or themes they write about.
* 63% of respondents say that blogging has led them to become more involved with things they’re passionate about as a result of blogging.
* Respondents report that blogging has had chiefly positive impacts on their personal lives; just 6% say that relationships with friends or family members have suffered as a result of blogging.
* 42% have become friends with someone they’ve met in person through their blog.
* 15% say that they have more executive visibility within their company as a result of blogging.
* 57% say that their future plans include blogging even more (including 74% of 18-24 year olds).
* 35% – including 43% of part-timers – plan to one day publish a book.
* Part-Timers, Pros, and Self-Employeds are blogging as much as or more than ever (73%, 76% and 80%, respectively), while Hobbyists are blogging somewhat less.

The how of blogging
* 15% of bloggers spend 10 or more hours each week blogging.
* One in five bloggers report updating on a daily basis.
* The most common rate of updating is 2-3 times per week.
* When looking at bloggers by Technorati Authority, higher Authority bloggers are much more prolific content creators, posting nearly 300 times more than lower ranked bloggers.
* The majority of blogs use tags (85%).
* Bloggers are very familiar with the technology they use to publish on the Internet – only 2% of all respondents say that they don’t know how their blog was built. (This data confirms “geeks” are the new influencers.)
* 13% say that they built their blogs themselves from scratch.
* 59% of respondents use a free third party hosting service.
* 82% of respondents say that they post photos to their blog, making images the most popular form of multimedia.
* 13% of all respondents say that they never post any images/videos/audio to their blogs, preferring to just use text.
* Of those who use media other than text, 73% say that that they also create the photos, video, or audio they post themselves about half of the time.
* 75% of those who use syndication syndicate full content.
* 20% of all users report having updating their blog or adding content from their mobile device.
* 59% percent report doing so at least somewhat more this year than they did last year.
* Fewer than 10% of bloggers say they don’t know the traffic to their blogs.
* Bloggers participate in an average of 5 activities to drive traffic to their blogs.
* On average 27% of a blogs page views come as referrals from a horizontal search engine.
* 74% of all respondents use a third party service to track their site traffic. Google Analytics is by far the most popular tool in the space.

Blogging revenues
* 72% of respondents are classified as Hobbyists, meaning that they report no income related to blogging
* Of those who have monetized their blogging to at least some extent:• 54% are Part-Timers• 32% are Self-Employeds• 14% are Corporates
* 15% say they are paid to give speeches on the topics they blog about.
* 51% of Corporates – 58 respondents – report receiving a salary for blogging.
* Evaluating positive and negative cashflows, the mean profits for blogs with reported revenues is $57,369.20.
* 89% believe that it is important that the advertising placed on their blogs align with their values.
* More than 2 out of 3 bloggers monetizing their sites leverage self-service ad platforms.
* Comparing 2008 to 2009 there has been a 68% increase in the number blogs with ad tags installed.
Blogging brands
* 70% of bloggers are talking about brands on their blog organically.
* 46% of respondents post about the brands they love (or hate).
* 38% post brand or product reviews.
* Part-Timers, and Self-Employed bloggers are talking about brands at a much higher rate (80%), with one in three posting reviews at least once a week.
* 71% of all respondents who maintain blogs for a business – their own or one they work for – report that they have increased their visibility within their industries through their blogs.
* 56% say that their blog has helped their company establish a positioning as a thought leader within the industry.
* 58% say that they are better-known in their industry because of their blog
Twitter and blogging
* Just 14% of the general population use Twitter – but 73% of respondents in the 2009 State Of The Blogosphere survey do.
* 52% syndicate their blog posts to their Twitter Account, and 41% do so while also posting tweets that are not associated with their blogs.
* 26% of bloggers who also use Twitter say that the service has eaten into the time they spend updating their traditional blogs – though 65% say it has had no effect.
* 35% of those who do not use Twitter say it’s because they do not understand the point . And 54% report that they don’t feel the need to broadcast their life, despite the popularity of “personal musings” as a blog topic.
* Blogs with greater than 100 page views a day received on average .83% of their page views from Twitter referrals. This referral percentage was constant as the audience size of the blog increased.

Blessing # 10: BeliefNet

It may be a bit of a stretch to call this a blessing but it is interesting and might tell you something about your own spiritual beliefs

Click here and answer a few basic questions and you'll get a response that indicates the religious belief that most closely matches your answers. As you move through the questions, you'll be presented with several ads but you can skip past them by clicking in the upper right corner.

About this image: a window from the Chapel at San Luis, CO.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blessing #9: Parallel Universes

The Internet may offer us endless snippets of the weird, wonderful or downright worthless but it also sometimes offers us a glimpse into possibilities that boggle our minds but which might eventually explain the unexplainable. The theory of parallel universes used to be limited to the realm of science fiction but now there is a growing number of physicists who say that it is may be real. On the theory that boggled minds need to be shared, here are some videos to watch.


Talk with Dr. Michio Kaku

BBC on Parallel Universe (YouTube)

Part 1
"The universe is a symphony and the laws of physics are the harmonies of a superstring."

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4
"Our entire universe is a membrane.

Part 5

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blessing #8 - TED Talks

Years ago when I was launching my annual innovation conference, I kept hearing people rave about a conference called TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design). I was so intrigued by the stories of this always-sold out conference that I called Richard Saul Wurman, the founder, to ask his advice. He was very generous with his time and ideas and I've followed TED with great interest over the years. The conference's success rests on two main pillars ... cutting edge information and giving people a chance to "be where the action is." Speakers are thinkers, activists, artists and leaders who present their best thinking in 20 minutes or less and then the "who's who" conference attendees have big blocks of time to network and share ideas and information.

I always wanted to attend but the price increased faster than my income so I never made it there in person. But, the innate generosity of Wurman found a way to open up the richness of the conference and the inspiration of the TED speakers to all of us. All of the short presentations are now online so that you can see the presentation as if you were there. A sampling of what you might come across in the TED archives is listed below. Wouldn't it be interesting to create your own mini-TED? It could be like a book club only with a short video to stimulate conversation. Anyway, click here to explore the TED talks world.

Globe Skimmer Dragonfly ... While living and working as a marine biologist in the Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the globe skimmer, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world, twice the migratory distance of the monarch butterfly. Anderson not only tells you how the dragonflies accomplish this task but why. All of his discovery was prompted by his curiosity about why there were suddenly swarms of dragonflies where formerly there were none. Click here.

Extreme Forgiveness ... How do people who have nothing forgive the person who took everything from them? This is one of the questions Ryan Lobo answers as he travels the world, taking photographs that tell compassionate stories of unusual human lives, stories of dignity, courage and beauty. In his haunting talk, he reframes controversial subjects with empathy, so that we see the pain of a Liberian war criminal, the quiet strength of UN women peacekeepers and the perseverance of Delhi's underappreciated firefighters. Click here.

Mr. Splashy Pants ... If you've wondered how life works in the social media world, this funny, rapid-fire 3 minute talk by Alexis Ohanian of Reddit will give you a clue. He tells the real-life fable of one humpback whale's rise to Web stardom. The lesson of Mister Splashy Pants is a shoo-in classic for meme-makers and marketers in the Facebook age. Click here.

Internet Enlightenment ... Could the Internet be the path to enlightenment? As we gain the ability to reach out and touch the world, will we eventually gain compassion for each of our planetary companions? This is the premise of Robert A.F. Thurman, the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk by the Dalai Lama. Thurman is a scholar, author and tireless proponent of peace. Click here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blessing #7: Living Dialogues

As my rolling retreat has taken me from the mountains to the beach, I've spent time with many new friends and a few old ones through a series of "Living Dialogues" hosted by Duncan Campbell. His series features some of today's most interesting thinkers in the fields of consciousness, transformation and evolutionary thought, including Paul Hawken, Richard Tarnas, Coleman Barks, Marianne Williamson, John O'Donohue and others.

Not only does this series offer us a wide range of thoughts and advice, it is completely free. You can subscribe by clicking here. Or go directly to Duncan's site ... http://livingdialogues.com/ ... to read more and hear the latest dialogue.

Unlike most interviewers, Duncan is an active participant in each dialogue, enriching them with an endless supply of stories, facts, quotes and interpretation. He opens each program with the following explanation of the process:
From time immemorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions through the work of western visionaries, such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Bohm, mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning - a dia (flow) of logos (meaning) - beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now, as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues."®
Since I've recently fallen in love with John O'Donohue, I recommend his two podcasts as a great place to start your exploration of these dialogues.

Beauty of Death Gallery

This morning I woke with the weight of the past year heavy on my chest and nothing I tried seemed to help. I read the latest postings of my blog circle, reminded my self of my many blessings, and meditated. Nothing lifted the pain. So, I decided to go for a long walk at the L.A. Arboretum which is only a mile or so from where I'm staying with my friend Emily. The grounds of the Arboretum are stunning so I played with some peacocks, hugged a Blue Atlas cedar, and walked through a spiny Madagascar forest. I was beginning to feel a little better when I wandered into a eucalyptus grove where a rust-orange stump called to me from a clearing. I walked over to get a closer look and fell into a world that I had never seen before, a world that I didn't know existed, a world that "sang so sweetly I couldn't remember my troubles." (1)

Each segment of the fallen iron bark eucalyptus (2) was riddled with worm tracings, ancient stories I could not read, wisdom that hovered just out of reach. I started taking pictures of the delicate trails and picking up pieces of bark only to find the most incredible, subtle shades of blue and touches of purple blended with the paths and stories into amazing paintings. I wanted to frame each piece. I kept taking pictures being drawn deeper and deeper into the beauty that lay unremarked in this quiet grove until it started to feel like the most hallowed art gallery ... a gallery proclaiming the beauty that exists all around us, even in death. I began to put pieces of this art on each of the fallen logs, honoring the gift of beauty just waiting to be absorbed into the wounded places in our soul.

It won't be the same as being there in person, but I have created a photo gallery of this beauty and I hope you enjoy it. When you look at them, please know that each piece is exactly as it was ... nothing has been Photoshopped, enhanced or arranged other than moving it to take the picture. Click here to go straight to the gallery.

(1) You may remember this line from this poem by e.e. cummings:

maggie and milly and molly and may

by e.e. cummings

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her
troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing
bubbles; and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone

for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.

(2) no I didn't know what it was until I asked.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blessing #6: Truth

A few days ago, we posted about truth and the difficulty of determining what's true and what's not ... especially regarding the complex issues of our times.

In my search for online blessings, I came across David McCandless who describes himself as: a London-based author, writer and designer who has written for The Guardian, Wired and others. He states, "I’m into anything strange and interesting. These days I’m an independent visual & data journalist. A passion of mine is for visualizing information – facts, data, ideas, subjects, issues, statistics, questions – all with the minimum of words. I’m interested in how designed information can help us understand the world, cut through BS and reveal hidden connections, patterns and stories underneath. Or, failing that, it can just look cool! My pet-hate is pie charts. Love pie. Hate pie-charts."

While I'm not sure anyone can be totally objective, after looking at some of his visualizations, I do believe he has a talent for synthesizing complex information and tries to present it fairly. I was particularly taken with his visualization of the global warming issue. Here's how he described his efforts to find the truth in that tangled web:

"My conclusion is 'what a nightmare'. I was generally shocked and appalled by how difficult it was to source counter arguments. The data was often tucked away on extremely ancient or byzantine websites. The key counter arguments I often found, 16 scrolls down, on comment 342 on a far flung realclimate.org post from three years ago. And even when I found an answer, the answers were excessively jargonized or technical. " If you're trying to sort this one out, click here.

And, if you've ever tried to get a handle on the real differences between conservatives and liberals, check out his "Left vs. Right (US)". It may not have the media drama we seem to have become addicted to but maybe it would help us open a peaceful dialogue.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blessing #5: Valentino Deng

I have a confession ... I'm cheating on this blessing which is supposed to be things found on the Internet. I actually found out about Valentino in a New York Times column by Nicholas D. Kristof (read here). But, he's too important to be overlooked by a technicality. Valentino Deng is a 30-year-old refugee from South Sudan, one of the "lost boys" of Sudan. Kristof writes, "Fleeing government soldiers, dodging land mines, eating leaves and animal carcasses, Valentino saw boys around him carried off and devoured by lions." Once he reached the safety of the refugee camp, Valentino learned to read and write by making letters in the dust with his fingers.

Valentino might have relaxed in his new life but, instead, he formed a foundation with author Dave Eggers and plowed their book earnings into building a high school in Valentino's hometown in Sudan. The school opened earlier this year with 100 students and hopes to eventually have 450 students, with an added goal of having 50% of the students being girls who typically have very little access to education. You can read more about Valentino and his school by clicking here. And, if you feel like supporting this project, you can buy the book, "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers ... or contribute directly online. This is one of those cases where a very little amount of money makes a big impact ... for instance, their website states:

Here are some specific ways you can support the students of Marial Bai:

* Sponsor a student for a monthly donation of $21. For another amount, email us.
*
* $9 provides a student with a backpack full of school supplies
*
* $30 provides a girl with a full set of textbooks
*
* $75 provides a bunk bed for the dorm
*
* $250 provides a girl's scholarship for a year
*
* $5,000 pays a salary for our first female teachers in 2010

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blessing #4 - TheWebster

If you're interested in transforming the world, here's a good place to start ... may 2010 be the year we set free the "imprisoned lightning."

The Webster's Twelve Laws

How to Use the Web to Transform the World, by Ralph Benko


Here are the Webster's 12 Laws of how to use the Web to transform the world.

sevenlaws2.jpg

1. Pulitzer’s Law: "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so that they will remember it, and above all accurately so they will be guided by its light."

The very best "mission statement" for the Web, composed an eon ago, still applies.

And the Webster's corollary: Give them easy, simple, direct ways by which their voices may be heard and by which they can, individually and in concert, take action.

sevenlawstweed.jpg


2. Nast’s Law and (Boss Tweed’s Complaint):
"They can see pictures."

As Boss Tweed famously said, “Stop them damn pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see pictures.”

The Webster says:
Use compelling graphics.


sevenlawsclarke.jpg

3. Clarke’s Second Law: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

Credits: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Learn from our predecessors, but try new things and find out what works now.


sevenlawsbeecher.jpg

4. Beecher’s Law: "No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy."


The Webster says: Controversy is golden – interesting, draws attention, drives traffic, and excites the community. But use common decency.


sevenlawslazarus.jpg

5. Lazarus’s Law: "Unleash the imprisoned lightning."

On the Statue of Liberty is engraved a sonnet by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles….


photo credit: by Tengis, of replica statue near Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, hosted at Flikr.com

The Webster says: The Web can be our means of unleashing “the imprisoned lightning” of millions whose voices have been exiled and who deserve to be heard.


sevenlawsmetcalfe.jpg


6. Metcalfe’s Law:
"The value of a communication system grows at approximately the square of the number of nodes of the system."


source: A Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community: The Wiki and the Blog, by D. Calvin Andrus, Center for the Study of Intelligence vol 49. no. 3, CIA. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=755904

A single telephone or a single fax machine has no communication value. Two phones have a little value. A thousand phones have real value. A hundred thousand has great value. A million or more, extraordinary value.

The Webster says: The more people we enroll and connect with one another, the more powerful we become.


sevenlawsviral.jpg

7. Bianchini’s law of Viral Loops: "When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached."

"Chen calls a viral loop the 'most advanced direct-marketing strategy being developed in the world right now.' *** [I]f you create something people really want, need, or merely enjoy, then your customers will grow your business for you. Users, just by using a product, are, in essence, offering a testimonial 'When your currency is ideas, people become emotionally attached,' Ning's Bianchini says. 'Then you become a public utility like Blogger, YouTube, or Facebook.'" (Emphasis supplied.) Source: FastCompany.com

photo credit: http://spiral.gallery.sytes.org/

The Webster says:
Offer something people really want, need or enjoy.

8. Hoffman's Law: “If you ship your product and you’re not a little ashamed of it, you shipped too late.”
The Webster says: As uber-designer Knox Bronson says, you can always tweak the design as you go along, but your content is durable -- and is what will bring visitors to, and back to, your site.

candlelight_procession.jpg
9. Trippi’s Law: If you pay attention to the community you’re building, then the community will step up and do the work."


The Webster says: The essence of the modern Web – and of developing the power to transform the world – resides in building community rather than broadcasting information.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chatiryworld.


10. Blades' Law: "We need women in leadership and specifically, we need mothers."

The Webster says: empirical review of all advocacy Web 2.0 success stories show women in positions of authority. (Most women intuitively appreciation collaboration better than most men. It's a DNA thing.)
photo credit: Carlo Crivelli, Madonna con bambino, ca. 1470, detail

hogarth_chairing.jpg

11. Pariser’s Law: "This is not about us, it’s about you."


The Webster says: If you are all about serving your community with passion you will succeed.
photo credit: Hogarth: Chairing the Members (from The Original Works of William Hogarth. London: John & Josiah Boydell, 1790)

juliusturm_doorway_larger.jpg

12. Cage’s Law:
"Begin anywhere."

The Webster says: It can appear daunting, the Webster knows. But just listen to John Cage, the greatest experimental composer of the 20th Century – and a profound philosopher – and begin. You will discover what you need as you go.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/extranoise/169187125/



Blessing #3: Kickstarter

Imagine for a minute that you are an avid fan of Calvin and Hobbes and someone offers you a chance to be in a movie about the cartoon ... for a mere $125. (Click here for more info.)

Or perhaps you would like to help create a poetry bomb ... literally, a real, military practice bomb that will be filled with poetry and then taken on tour across the U.S ... for as little as $1. (Click here for more info.)

Or help create a web video series focused on the Big Questions ... for a mere $5. (Click here for more info.)

Or maybe you have a creative project that you would like to launch but need a little seed money to get started. Singer/songwriter Sabrina Velaquez needed $5,000 to make her first album and raised it in 2 months from 61 backers. (If you'd like to hear Sabrina, click here.)

All of this fun happens at kickstarter.com which bills itself as a "funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers... "

So let your imagination run wild and then think about what it would take to make it a reality. Kickstarter is there to help. Or help fund a creative project that captures your imagination. Kickstarter makes it easy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do you love me?

The past month has begun to feel like a rolling therapy session as I have moved through a series of deep conversations with friends, each one peeling back another layer of the onion of my psyche. My friend Emily is a counselor and she is particularly adept at spotting the clues of deep imprinting and helped me recognize a couple of "zero order beliefs" related to my childhood. I thought I'd already plowed that fertile ground and was surprised to find that it could still surprise me.

The concept of zero order beliefs comes from a book Darryl Bem wrote in 1970 titled Beliefs, Attitudes and Human Affairs. Bem describes these beliefs as "primitive" stating that they are the underlying beliefs that rest on actual sensory experiences or on an external authority. Often created in early childhood, these generally unrecognized and unquestioned beliefs form the foundation of the higher order beliefs and values that influence and direct our lives.

The primitive belief that surprised me came through my mom who spent the last three years of her life in a nursing home confounded by diabetes-related dementia. She was a red-head with a razor-edged temper and an acute sensitivity toward real or perceived slights. She grew up in a tough world and lived her life ready to fight. But dementia erased the harshest memories and softened her, eventually reducing her to one question: Do you love me? She asked this question of anyone who came into her presence and toward the end repeated it endlessly to my dad, desperate to fill the bottomless emptiness in her heart. She clung to him as if her very being depended on him.

With Emily's skilled and gentle guidance, I recognized how that same question had spiraled itself deeply into my own core, creating a belief that I need a man, a husband, to love me, to make me feel worthy and whole. The irrationality of it surprised me. Intellectually I don't believe that ... or at least I don't want to believe it. I want to be a strong, independent woman, capable of loving myself, capable of being ... or not being ... in a relationship without losing my self. But, when I unravel my life and look closely at my actions, they tell me a different story, a story of someone who lived my mom's question and was too willing to give away her self and her identity in return for the love of a spouse.

It's embarrassing to find this shadow aspect of myself. It's everything I don't want to be. I'd like to just slide it back under the rug, out of sight and definitely out of mind. But, there's no place to put it where it won't keep working its powerful, dark magic. It needs light, to be seen, to be recognized for what it is, simply a belief, a belief that I can now choose to keep or abandon. It reminds me of Waylon Jennings when he croons, "I was looking for love in all the wrong places ... Looking for love in too many faces."

The Universe returns my mother's question to me but now offers me a chance to ask it in a new way. "Do you love me?" I ask again ... but this time I ask it of myself. This time I look for love first in my own face. And, some how I know that it is only love for my self and my spirit that will heal my heart and make me whole enough to give love freely to others.

My mom and I had a rocky relationship but now I'm truly grateful for what feels like her last gift to me and I'm glad I was there to answer "yes" when she asked her desperate question again and again. May her spirit rest in peace.

About the image: I have a fascination with the architect Frank Gehry and spent a delightful time walking around the Walt Disney Concert Hall this week. There is no way to take "a picture" of this building which curves and flows more like a flower than a structure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best of 2009: Challenge

Gwen Bell is hosting a Best of 2009 series on her blog (click here) and the prompt for December 9 is CHALLENGE defined as: Something that really made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

Here's my thought and I'd love to hear yours:

2009 will not go down as my favorite year ever but it definitely offered me many challenges .... from the loss of my home, my favorite aunt, my dog and my dream of "happily ever after." But, which challenge really made me grow? That honor would have to go to living alone and being totally responsible for myself. Over the past year, I've struggled with loneliness and gradually let it become my guide. It has led me into a deeper understanding of myself and it has led me out into the world where I've met wonderful new people, in person and online. I now find myself coming closer to the frequently quoted cliche of "being alone without being lonely." I don't think I (or anyone else) ever comes completely to that bright state but I am making progress.

For the past three weeks, I've been visiting friends and family in California and yesterday I think I turned a corner. As I was getting ready to set off to the next point on my journey, three warning lights lit up on my dashboard. I panicked and started thinking about what man I could call to rescue me. That lasted a few minutes, then I pulled out my computer, located the local Toyota dealer, called their service department and talked to Molly. Molly told me that I could come in and spend $98 to get a system check ... but that the most likely cause was that I had left the gas cap loose the last time I filled up. I checked the gas cap ... it was loose so she advised me to drive around for a couple of days to see if the lights went off.

Bottom line: I survived. I used resources available to me and found a way to rescue myself instead of depending on someone else. It felt good ... it feels like I'm growing thanks to a challenge I would never have chosen but which is turning out to be a great teacher.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blessing #2: Emma Shapplin

Years ago I went to a women's workshop on Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. Before I even had a chance to get my bags to the registration desk, a woman who was a departing guest came out the door and said, "You have to have a massage. Sign up right away; she books up almost immediately." I'm not an avid massage fan but this woman was insistent so I signed up. A couple of days later I was stretched out on a massage table in a small thatched-roof hut and about to have the most amazing massage experience in my life ... before or since. The music that played during the massage was haunting and a few days later it was still with me. Later when a sudden slot opened up in the massage schedule, I booked another hour, taxing my limited budget but I wanted a repeat performance and by that time, I had to know what the music was that I had heard.

It turned out to be Emma Shapplin and here's what Wikipedia says about her: neo classical artist author and composer, Shapplin started her music career in classical music but then moved to hard rock. When she was 18, singer Jean-Patrick Capdevielle convinced her to return to taking classical lessons so as to improve her singing technique. She discovered that although rock had given her more artistic freedom and hedonistic lifestyle than classical music, it was still not enough for her, so she decided to create her own style.[3] This became a combination of archaic opera and modern trance and/or pop music. Shapplin and Capdevielle subsequently worked together on her first release, Carmine Meo.[4] Capdevielle wrote Carmine Meo.

Although Shapplin was raised speaking French, and sings some of her songs in that language, most of the songs on Carmine Meo were translated from the French in which Capdevielle wrote them in into Latin and ancient Provençal dialect, in which Shapplin sang them.[5] On her second release, Etterna, she decided to perform in old (13th-century) Italian.[2] She did so because, according to her, "It's a language that sings naturally"[3]; and because this is closer to the modern Italian language she used in some of her first classical singing lessons, while the older Italian "lends itself more to poetry, to dreaming, and to drama too".[6] In particular, she used the spelling "Etterna" for the album and track title because this is the way Dante wrote, rather than the modern Italian "Eterna".[2] She occasionally performs one of her hit songs, La Notte Etterna, in Spanish (as La Noche Eterna). Her single "Discovering Yourself" is in English. Shapplin has co-operated with Greek singer George Dalaras and she visits Greece almost every year for concerts in Athens's ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus.

Shapplin was relatively unknown in the United States until composer Graeme Revell used her voice on his score for the movie Red Planet. They later collaborated on her second album Etterna, with Revell producing all of her songs.

Here's a sample of Shapplin in concert: (click here)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blessing #1: Jes Karper

My blogger friends Maureen and Louise have inspired me to create 12 Days of Blessings found on this magical cyberworld. Here's the first:

Almost three years ago, during one of my darkest hours, I went off with my friend Lynne to Long Caye, Belize, for 12 days of kayaking, snorkeling and healing. There we met Jes Karper who seemed like just another young surfer-guide, life dropout ... at first. We gradually realized that Jes was much more than he seemed. Eager to engage us in his world, Jes was always ready to teach us new things ... how to windsurf, roll a kayak, weave a palm frond hat, out-run squalls in our kite-rigged kayaks, or how the magical world around us depended upon the work of a tiny algae.

Every day his spirit and generosity surprised and delighted us but it wasn't until close to the end of our time together that we also discovered that he was a musician who could move all of us with his spirit-filled lyrics and rhythms. One of my favorites of his songs is "Try on Life" and you can find it at his website (click here) ... it's number #5 on his playlist in the box toward the bottom of the page.

I was so inspired by Jes and his teachings and music that it prompted a longish poem about the delicately intertwined system that he unveiled to us. I've posted it separately as "Long Caye Melody" ... if you would like to read it, click here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Long Caye Melody

Long Caye Melody

by Joyce Wycoff

For Jes who introduced us to the mysteries.

There is a line
That divides the world.
Sky above;
Water below.

Sky flaunts its charms
In a never-ending show.
You can sit in a chair and watch
Sunrise throw a paint party of pink and gold.
Minutes later the colors are whisked away
By purple-black cumulus dropping squalls
Across the line.
Then almost before the last rain drop falls,
Black and white frigate birds ride
Thermals across the sun-washed, too-blue sky.
Sky has nothing to hide.

Most people stay on that long line
Where sky meets water, happy
To sail along the surface past the spot
Where the peregrine falcon perches
On a dead tree limb punctuating
The gap between two islands.
The line is a knowable place.

But, water, oh that dark, bright water,
Reflecting sky, challenging the line,
What mysteries lie beneath
Where even the rocks live and breathe?

Dive in and visit one interlaced community –
Coral reef, turtle grass and sand –
Where sponges, orange, gold and iridescent blue,
Filter water for food, wiping clean the view,
While rainbow colored parrotfish chomp
Coral into sand in their pursuit of algae meals.

In anemone-hosted cleaning stations,
Tiny, almost invisible shrimp eat sea lice
From groupers that turn dark
To highlight the parasites then flash back
to their original shade when the cleaning is done.

Schools of blue surgeon fish swim
Over brain coral and around waving sea fans.
Lobsters and arrow crabs dart into dark recesses;
An octopus absorbs dinner on a star coral overhang;
Grunts, jacks, wrasses, barracuda, mackerel,
Chromis, hogfish and a thousand juveniles
Swim in and around the coral fingers and
Sponge baskets … feeding, playing, living.

And, supporting it all,
Feeding sunlight to the coral,
Being fed by the coral,
Unseen and for millennia unknown,
The lowliest algae of all –
Zooxanthellae, in some ways
Mother of all.

Back on the line in the Long Caye dining room,
Marie Sharp reminds us that she has succeeded
And offers us this hot advice:
Dive in. Dive in. Dive in.

Written 1/10/2007 -- notes and more info:

Jes Karper, adventure guide extraordinaire, naturalist, and hat weaver is also a musician. His eco-spiritual gentle tunes can be heard at http://www.jeskarper.org .
Long Caye (pronounced key) is a tiny island in Glover’s Reef atoll off the coast of Belize.
More info at: http://slickrock.com/longcaye.htm
Zooxanthellae, pronounced zoo-zan-thell-ee. More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zooxanthella
Marie Sharp is the creator of a line of terrific hot sauces and jams that spiced and sweetened our week in paradise. More info available at:
http://www.drchilepepper.com/acatalog/Marie_Sharp_s_Headquarters_.html

Peculiar Treasures

Donalee says she’s one of God’s “peculiar treasures.”
And she is. Hat-wearing, dulcimer-playing poet,
mischieveously irreverant and devoutly reverant,
her heart, her soul and her God shining for all to see.

But, aren’t we all “peculiar treasures”?
Each of us crystalline snow-flakes, individual, distinct,
sculpted by a creative force with endless imagination?
Each of us an original work of art unlike any other?

So why do we put on our protective coloration?
Why do we hunker down under a bright reflective shield,
Hiding pieces of ourselves in the tall grass
Until we, too, forget our orange and purple spots?

The six-toed cat doesn’t worry about being queer.
Zebras don’t hide their stripes in thoroughbred envy.
Pandas don’t apologize for their fussy appetites.
And elephants don’t sign up for SlimFast meals.

Who told us we had to be perfect and why did we believe it?
Why do we spend our lives chasing perfection,
trying to fit in, longing to be normal, yearning to belong?
When did we forget our divine connection and source?

When did we forget that we are each “peculiar treasures?”

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Path of Truth

My blogger friend Diane launched an interesting conversation about truth that I tried to respond to in a comment but my response kept going on and on and I realized that it is something I've been chewing on for some time. Her basic question (as I understand it) was "Do we have a responsibility to tell the truth in all situations?" While I believe we should always be honest, there is something worrisome about the word "truth" especially as we use it today ... as if we could weigh all the facts and a computer print-out would state: This is the truth ... go forth and tell it.

Most of the important issues of our time are so complex and complicated that there are volumes of facts that support many possible conclusions ... especially if someone with an agenda is willing to spin or selectively choose the facts that support his or her position. I think most people generally believe that their opinions are "true" ... but I've finally realized that just because I believe something does not make it "true." So, I'm finding it harder and harder to define "truth" and to know what my responsibility is for the telling of it.

As an example, after Thanksgiving dinner, I was in a situation where a group of people started talking about how President Obama was praying to Mecca, replacing all the cabinet with Muslims and refusing to celebrate Christmas at the White House. I did not speak up because I knew it would have been futile and would have disturbed the harmony of the day. (Mine was already disturbed, of course!) The people I was with are good people and, somehow, they have come to believe that what they were saying was "true." Nothing I could have said in our short time together would have convinced them otherwise. For everything that I might have said, they could have come up with a "fact sheet" (obtained on the Internet, no doubt) that proved that theirs was "THE truth."

Another example of the difficulty with "truth" happened recently when a dramatic depiction of the unemployment rates in the U.S. circulated around the Internet. It showed the change from January, 2007 when national unemployment was 4.6% to October of 2009 when it was at 8.8%. The color coding for the lower numbers was light yellows and oranges; the colors for the higher numbers were dark greens and purples. The facts were right and the numbers are definitely dismal but the depiction of them made it seem like the country had gone from bright and cheerful to the darkest gloom and doom. The impression it leaves is that we are in a disaster and on the slippery slope to a full blown depression. Is this the "truth," a spinning of the facts or just a poor choice of colors? I could verify the facts of the unemployment figures but I was never able to determine the motivation behind the dramatic depiction.

Sometimes, in some situations, it may not make sense to speak up for truth but I think each one of us has a responsibility to try our best not to pass along untruths. It's really easy to share stuff that comes across the Internet ... I came within a hair's breadth of sharing that unemployment video. But, I have started to question the source of everything that comes to me online and it was in that investigation that I discovered someone questioning the color-coding method used. I believe it is our responsibility to question everything we intend to pass along as "truth" ... whether it's something we find online or something we hear on television or from a friend. Is what we're about to share the most honest assessment we can make of the situation? Have we looked at it from many different perspectives and considered all relevant facts? Are we claiming that it's the truth as far as we can determine it or are we trying to promote it as "THE truth" which should be accepted without question?

Too often, we seem to have an attitude of "This is interesting ... you figure out if it's true." And, suddenly, millions of people are bombarded with questionable or blatantly false information which weaves its way into the collective consciousness and begins to be treated as if it were written in concrete. And, suddenly you have a man with an odd middle name linked to a vicious dictator as if they were blood brothers.

We are still just getting used to the revolutionary power of the Internet that gives each one of us a voice. In many ways this democratic flow of information is one of the most exciting developments of our time. And, in some ways, it's a scary trend as people and institutions with an agenda discover that they can manipulate facts and information and spread that mis-information almost instantly around the world. We seem to be in a limbo state ... those of us of the older generation who were raised with a news media that was trusted and trust-worthy haven't quite learned to distill the constant barrage of ratings- and attention-hungry commentators into a semblance of "truth." Still thinking that what we read is true, we pass it along in good faith. And, the younger generation who may not be quite so naive still doesn't have the life-experience and status to combat the flow of mis-information.

Perhaps the best we can do until we're all smarter is to think twice about what we forward to our friends and associates. Mis-information is more than just an error, it's a form of poison seeping through our system. If we keep passing it along, we're participating in a form of societal suicide. For, if we cannot trust our media, our leaders, or each other to tell the truth, what can we trust? And, once trust is broken, how do we survive?

Disclosure: All of the above is strictly my honest opinion and is not presented as "THE Truth." Differing opinions welcomed and encouraged.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finding You

"There is someone out there who needs you. Live your life so they can find you."

As I crept through the snowy passes along I-70 out of Denver and then sped through the high, dry plains toward California, I listened to a podcast series that I would soon start to think of as my "RAV-4 Workshop." In getting ready for the trip, I bought myself a new iPhone which has a recording application so I could take notes as I rolled along. One of the notes that has stayed with me comes from Jan Phillips, a remarkable artist and author of several books including, "Marry Your Muse." She offered the Balinese quote shown above. The recommendation to live an "authentic life" is commonplace but this quote puts a different spin on it. Being who we truly are and living our authentic self openly is not just about us, it's about letting the other people in the world who need our message know how to find us. It's the way we activate the "law of attraction."

One thing I've noticed as I've joined the amazing circle of bloggers I call my "Companions on the Journey" is how generously they each share their thoughts, their feelings and their ups and downs on this journey through life. Many times I've read one of their posts only to feel like they took the words straight out of my heart ... and, even more amazingly, that they wrote the words before I even knew what my own heart was thinking. Each of us has our own unique experiences, yet when we share them, we begin to realize that the joys and sorrows are all, at their core, incredibly alike. And, by sharing them, our load is somehow lighter.

Perhaps the health of our world depends on each of us being who we truly are, living the life we were designed for and living it out loud.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Love Reigns

One of the things made crystal clear on my journey of the past few years is that everyone is carrying burdens that we seldom see or understand. As friends and acquaintances have generously listened to my story and shared their own, I have become much more compassionate and aware of the deep level of pain that accompanies us on this journey. I'm also inspired by the incredible resilience and belief in joy that seems to reside within each of us.

This morning I received the following message from a friend who is going through loss ... loss of her spouse, her home, her financial security and the dream of "grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." I think her cleansing ritual might inspire all of us and she gave me permission to share it.

From Alma (not her real name):
Thanksgiving was painful. I wept and felt all the despair and grief that had accumulated thru my lifetime. There was nothing to distract me, nothing on TV, my cold kept me from wanting food, my body was weak and my mind tired. I slept sound that night and woke feeling still a bit weary, some energy had returned and I just knew I needed to start cleaning this house. By the afternoon I had washed all the windows and sorted thru my closet. Saturday I washed everything down, doors, walls, shelves, chairs, and Sunday I mopped, vacuumed and polished. Then I decided to perform a clearing ceremony. I bought this big smudge stick made of sage, I lit it and went into ever corner of the house, especially all the chairs and the bedroom. My intention was to chase out fear and invite love in.

I didn’t know to open the windows and doors and so I sat in my smoke filled house and went to sleep that night. It was awful, I kept hearing noises and felt dark demon’s in the house, I had nightmares that woke me. All the while I was affirming that I was all right that nothing can harm me, and I recited the heart sutra my friend had told me about. "Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. Feeling is emptiness and emptiness is feeling." The meaning of it escaped me, but I said it nonetheless. The morning came none too soon and I could not wait to open all the windows and doors and affirm that all fear is leaving the house and that love remains. I didn’t care that it was in the low 30’s outside. I didn’t feel the cold, only the clearing of the space.

I think it worked. The house feels clean, fresh, open, clear. While I was cleaning I listened to “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I didn’t turn on the TV until late, wrote in my journal, affirmations, a gratitude list and a manifestation list. I watched “The Secret” and am reading “A Course in Miracles" again.

In my gratitude list I state: “ I am grateful for the forgiveness I am granting him and therefore me for all past mistakes”. It is so clear to me that my own guilt about my past has reigned my life and when my husband did what he did I was able to be outraged at who he is and what he has done to me, although I know quite well that I have carried my very own bundle of guilt with me and that I have had this very outrage towards myself all of my life.

Something has clearly shifted. I left the house today glad that it was clean and clear and that my husband will be able to enjoy the house when he comes home. I think of him with a smile on my face and tears of soft emotions in my eyes and a lightness in my heart. I don’t know what that means and I am not going to draw any conclusions and I have no real urgency to take any action. Eckhart talked about living in the now. I am working on that. It somehow seems that everything is going to be okay. Faith has returned. Love reigns.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dragon Country Intentions

Ancient mapmakers
when they reached the edge of the known world,
drew a line and warned:
"Beyond this point there be dragons."

Today, I passed Go,
Skipped through fail-safe and entered
that dark, uncharted territory stretching
deep into the land of the dragons.

I turned my back on safety and security,
Handed in my chameleon badge which for six
Decades let me glide unremarked through
The rushes and thickets of the strange world
That had held my alien soul.

I stretched my back, took off my feathered hat.
Tossed it into life's ring, shouting, "Bring it on.
I'm still here, bruised but not broken,
Ready for whatever comes next.
Ready to take on the reality of me,
Regardless of where it leads or the price it exacts.

No more fear,
No more living the perceived expectations of others,
No more fitting my messy, square-peg-self
Into the neatly-labeled round-hole of normal.

One life-time of tap-dancing to convention's song is enough.
Today my new life begins ... fearless, courageous,
Eyes wide-open, heart blasted free from the past.
From this day, this hour, this moment on,
I claim this life as my own and vow to walk
Step-by-step on my own path, tangled though it might be.

I will listen to what's calling me,
Paying close attention to my own voice.
The Universe offered me a ticket to ride,
Destination: the wind-swept state of my true self,
Impatiently waiting all too close to the border of beyond.

So, on the mirror of my eyes,
I paste a day-glo, neon-orange warning sign:
No whining. No hesitating. No turning back ...
This means you!

written: November 30, 2009

About the Image: Kokopelli's Dance is the first in a series of Affirmation Art that I'm working on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

John O'Donohue

For all of you John O'Donohue fans, I've come across a podcast interview with him, which is even more precious because he died at the way-t0o-early age of 52 early in 2008. The interviewer is Duncan Campbell at Living Dialogues and you can find it by scrolling to podcasts #87 & 88 in the box toward the bottom of the home page.

O'Donohue speaks the same poetry as he writes so these podcasts are a gift. There are many other interesting podcasts available at this site also.

About the image: For the past dozen years, the Christmas season has begun at the Meek household the Sunday after Thanksgiving with the building of gingerbread houses. My friend Emily assembles the basic house from a kit and puts out a ton of icing and candies so people just sit around and decorate, talk, eat and create a unique holiday decoration. After awhile, the kids get restless and start throwing candy and icing and bedlam begins. But everyone knows this is part of the fun so they wear their "icing" clothes and soon adults, kids, dogs and passing photographers are looking a little "snowy."

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Story of We

Yesterday I had an experience that reminded me of something I wrote several years ago. Here it is ...

The Story of We

Once upon a time, not so long ago,
in a land, not so far away,
there were two types of people:
The "We’s" and the "They’s."

The We's were good, pure and predictable.
The They's were a strange and disturbing breed.
Whenever the We's and They's gathered to play,
Squabbles and brouhahas always broke out.

Because of this constant bickering and fighting,
the two groups stopped playing together.
The We's only played with other We's
and the They's only played with other They's.

However, a strange thing began to happen.
Every time the We's went out to play,
they would find someone
they thought was a We
but who turned out to be a They.

It was very upsetting,
but one by one the traitor We's
were sent off to be with the They's.
Until one day there was only one We (Me)
and all of the They's (Them).
Which meant that there was
no one left for the Me to play with.

At the same time on the other side of the land,
another strange thing
was happening with the They's.
One day, the They's woke up and saw themselves
as good, pure and predictable.
"We're good! they shouted. We’re pure!"
"We're We's!" they proclaimed.

So the new-born We's gamboled and played.
Until …
they noticed a few We's
who were acting a little strangely,
playing in a way
that was just a bit disturbing.

Swiftly the We’s took action.
"You're not We’s," they cried.
"You're … why you’re They's!.
Be gone!" the We’s demanded.
And the false We’s slunk away,
sad and lonely.

Each day the We's discovered
more They's in their midst and
quickly sent them away also.
Until one day …
there was only one We (Me)
and all of the They's (Them).
And, once again,
there was no one left for the Me to play with.

This time, however, a wise old woman,
a crone with a face crinkled and kind,
sat down by the lonely Me and listened
as he poured out his sad tale of We's and They's.

"I'll tell you a secret," whispered the crone
as she patted the sobbing Me.
"There are no We's …
and there are no They's.
There are only Me's,
and while each Me is completely different,
we are all Me’s … just like you.

“Each Me is lonely … just like you.
And each Me is looking for a playmate …
just like you.
So why don’t you just play together
as Me’s without trying to make each other
a We or a They?
You would have ever so much more fun.”

The little Me sniffed,
Wiped his little Me-nose on his sleeve,
Then he looked around and suddenly saw
that the playground was filled with Me’s
all wanting to play.

So he ran off to join the fun and
he may be there still
in that magical land of Me’s where
no one worries about who’s a We
or who’s a They.
And no Me is ever lonely
when he wants to play.

About the image: This is my granddaughter Reyna, age 4.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On this day of marking all that we are grateful for, we typically celebrate with a bounteous meal with family and friends ... our tribe. This meal seems to be a tangible act of feeding our hunger, not only for good food but for time with those to whom we "belong" ... a small bridge in time from "isolation to intimacy." In his book Eternal Echoes, Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong, John O'Donohue offers us these wise and beautiful words:
"Our hunger to belong is the longing to find a bridge across the distance from isolation to intimacy. Everyone longs for intimacy and dreams of a nest of belonging in which one is embraced, seen and loved. Something within each of us cries out for belonging. We can have all the world has to offer in terms of status, achievement, and possessions. Yet without a sense of belonging it all seems empty and pointless.
May today bring each of us into a greater sense of belonging with our own spirits, our family and friends, and the world around us.

And, Richard, wherever you are, may you feel a true sense of peace and belonging. We love you and miss you.