Month: June 2015

The Confederate Flag – A Symbol

The Confederate Flag – A Symbol

symbolismI posted a news report on Facebook yesterday regarding protesters in NC and the confederate flag. It generated so much controversy I began to look for a wider perspective from which to view the conflict. How can we see this situation from a position that does not inflame us? I ran across an article that reminded me that the flag is a symbol. Like all symbols they mean different things to different people. The confederate flag is a symbol of slavery to some, of local pride, lost loved ones and fried chicken to others. A symbol that unifies must be one that speaks to everyone. This flag, even in its origin symbolized division to the people in this country. It continues to do so today.

I would never deny anyone the freedom of speech and expression. I do believe, however, that if we are to weather these difficult times as a country, we must do everything in our power to focus on unity, on what we have in common, on what binds us together. Our history has shaped who we are today. The Civil War was a part of our history. As such, we continue to teach our children about what led up to the war. We also now teach boldly what we learned from the experience and how our views have changed. My children grew up in southern schools and they learned more about black history than they learned about American history. They knew Rosa Parks and what she did. They did not know who George Washington was and what he did. As parents, we filled in the gaps.

We live in a very large and diverse country. It is our strength and at times our weakness. We appreciate our right to free speech and we exercise it liberally. Conversation is healthy, even heated debate, but conflict that pits one against another is a deeper, more challenging issue. The expression of our beliefs is necessary. Symbols must be handled carefully. By their very nature they are capable of producing great conflict or inspiring powerful unity. Remember 9/11? The much maligned American flag went up in a flash on houses, cars, storefronts, in windows, on clothing. It meant, and continues to mean, more to us than most of us realized until that day. How quickly we can forget. The American flag is a symbol of unity for the American people.

Cool Tools for Late Blooming Writers

Cool Tools for Late Blooming Writers

I'm pretty sure I never looked like this when I was typing!
I’m pretty sure I never looked like this when I was typing!
Some days when I sit down to write, I think I would be more productive if I went back to using an old-fashioned typewriter. There are so many distractions, so many choices, so much speed to everything! Then I remember the hours spent re-typing term papers, or trying not to be impatient and smudge a correction as I waited for the White Out to dry. I come back to reality even faster when I stumble across a writer’s tool that just blows my mind. Distractions are with us to stay. That’s a fact. Great apps, tools, websites, and hundreds of other helps are also with us to stay, not only making the writing process easier but allowing us to become better writers. Everything we need is right at our finger tips in the comfort of our own homes. Check the three tools that I’m trying. A starter version is free and may be all you need.

FOCUSWRITER – Speaking of distraction free writing, this clears everything off of your screen except exactly what you need and want. There is no spell check and this particular app only accommodates .txt files.

AutoCrit – I love this site! Do you ever worry you’ve used the same word fifty times in one paragraph, or you are pretty sure you’re guilty of an adverb habit? Do you change tense without realizing it? We’re all guilty of bad writing habits. They tend to creep up on us. Well, fear no more. Just click into AutoCrit, copy and paste your ms. into the little box on the site and in nothing flat you will receive a complete report on all your little foibles. The good news is that you will also see what you’re doing right! It will not only help you fix manuscripts you are working on, it will make you a better writer by calling your attention to common errors that when corrected make a piece of writing more enjoyable to read.

Evernote – I downloaded EverNote today. Everyone is talking about it. ComputerWorld touted it to be “the best web-clipping tool you can find”, as did PC Magazine. If you’re looking for an app that helps you organize your online research, give it try.

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

A Father’s Day Gift for the UnFathered

Father's DayFather’s Day is a day, created by a culture whose moral, ethical and spiritual foundation is a times questionable, and yet we are sucked in by it. How many of us are feeling guilt today because we don’t feel a generosity of spirit towards our fathers? Or, sad because our fathers were taken from us too soon? Or, a hole in our hearts because we did not have a father? Not everyone has a Hallmark Father’s Day. I would guess most do not, and yet, we feel somehow that there is something wrong with us when we experience negative feelings on this contrived holiday.

My father died fifteen years ago, but our relationship never got off the ground. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t experience discomfort from the lack of love in my early life. This emptiness, however, has been a gift to me. It has driven me deeper and deeper over the years into an exploration of the inner life; to a richer understanding of psychological and spiritual growth. I have more compassion for those in pain than I might otherwise have had, and a powerful desire to walk with those who suffer through their pain and toward the light.

Our discomfort in life is our signal to take a deeper look inside of ourselves. When we feel the nudge of anxiety, fear, sorrow, or depression, it is our cue that something needs attention. Although we are not meant to dwell in our discomfort, I do believe it is a useful tool for opening our wounds to the light of truth, and in doing so heal the past so that we might live more fully in the present. Our journey in life is to learn from our pain and discomfort and to set it free, in order to create space in our hearts for something better.

I have no real reason to feel sorry for myself because my father was emotionally absent. I know that now. If you feel uncomfortable with Father’s Day, and the memory or thoughts around your relationship with your father, be compassionate with yourself. Use your discomfort as an opportunity to go deeper, to grow in your understanding and acceptance of what was, and most importantly to find the real you, the ember of truth and wholeness that lives within you still. Each of us carries an ember within us of love and truth. It may be buried beneath years of hurt and despair, many of us have built walls a mile thick around it in an effort to protect ourselves from the pain, but it is still there. It will always be there. It is just waiting for us to remove the debris that covers it and blow on it gently until it erupts into a flame.

Replace your pain today with a prayer of gratitude because even in the midst of pain and sorrow there is eternal hope. It is our birthright.

Choose the Quality of Your Life

Choose the Quality of Your Life

“The Truth is that circumstances do not determine the quality of your life; your choices do. Mystical Truth is the nuclear power of your soul. Personal truth is a stepping-stone, but it does not contain nuclear powered grace, so to speak. Why not go for the real thing when you know you have it in you?” Caroline Myss

The subject of “truth” comes up often in politically charged conversations. As candidates enter the race one by one, the pot is stirred, as are emotions. Blanket statements are made and often taken out of context. All rules of debate are thrown out of the window and it becomes acceptable to prove a point with opinion.

We each have our own take on what is true and what is not true, based on our own unique and very personal experience. Our perspective by nature is limited. When it comes to politics, we tend to support candidates whose positions we believe line up with our perceived “truth”, and are let down and sometimes enraged when all points are not congruent with one another. When it comes to politics there is no truth. There is no right or wrong. There’s only opinion. The truth will only be out after the election is over, the race is won and the winner has served his/her time in office. All that precedes it is conjecture, speculation and opinion.

Factual truth, evidentiary truth, is always limited by the very nature of the concrete world in which we live. Mystical truth steps outside of the concrete world and does not bother to take sides in political debates. It knows it is ludicrous to do so. The language spoken is not the same.

The quality of our life is not determined by an election.The quality of our life is based on the choices we make every minute, every day, every hour of our life. What we make manifest in the world today does make a difference. When we manifest political vitriol today we spread ill will and angry energy in the world. Our choices make us who we are. Our choice to be angry and venous today fills our life with anger and venom. It changes us. It does not bring about the positive change we envision.

I broke my own vow, made long ago, to only spread positive, uplifting and compassionate filled messages via social media. There is far too much of the other. I broke it when I became angry with Dell for how they are handling, or shall I say more accurately not handling, my computer’s repairs. I felt my anger at Dell begin to boil. I let off a little steam on Twitter. I justified it in my mind, “I want everyone to know to avoid Dell.” Truthfully I wanted to punish Dell for betraying a loyal customer. These feelings grew as I vented, reminding me of the injustices I experienced with Allstate Insurance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. The anger grew. I felt conflicted. Isn’t fighting for change important, I argued with myself? When all was said and done I felt drained and I realized I was participating in the much ado about nothing of personal opinion and perspective.

What do I want the quality of my life to be today? That was the more important question I kept asking myself. I do not want my days to be filled with fighting and anger. I’ve done too much of that in the past. I want to focus on things that really matter, like supporting people trying to find their voice, their truth, their lives; to offer hope to those in despair, encouragement to those who fear, and support to those who are alone or suffering.

One need not be angry, or stirred up to speak the truth and keep speaking the truth as one knows it. I resolved to keep speaking the truth as I saw it to Dell and while I waited to focus on the positive quality of my immediate life. I have no room for anger, condescension, combat, name calling. It serves no one. It does not serve the world and it does not serve truth.

Anger builds walls. We tear down walls when we go inside of ourselves and find the voice of truth. Then we hold on to it with everything we have while we go back out into the world and live it. When we can say, “This is what I feel, this is what I see, this is what I hear, what do you see, feel, hear and believe?” Then we can learn from one another, even if we do not agree or see things in the same way, as surely we will not. We can, however, allow them to have their perspective, their truth without relinquishing our own. Honor ourselves, honor and respect them and the real “truth” lies somewhere in between.

Fighting for what we perceive to be the truth need not be done with swords and angry words. Real truth will always cut like a knife through non-truth. On that we can depend.

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