Doing Deep Work

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“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking to compensate for a self love deficit. “ ~ Eartha Kitt

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A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. It is usually undertaken by young males entering adulthood. Individual indigenous cultures have their own names for their rites of passage. “Vision quest” is an English umbrella term, and may not always be accurate or used by the cultures in question.

Among Native American cultures who have this type of rite, it usually consists of a series of ceremonies led by Elders. The process includes a complete fast for four days and nights, alone at a sacred site in nature which is chosen by the Elders for this purpose. Some communities have used the same sites for many generations. During this time, the young person prays and cries out to the spirits that they may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in community, and how they may best serve the People.

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I am not a young male entering adulthood. And a vision quest is not what I will pursue. Yet, I am acutely aware of deeper trials that I need to and am choosing to resolve for myself.

“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.” “And the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” ~ Author unknown

Love Yourself More

There is more meaningful work for this warrior. It is time.

Who Do You Listen To?

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“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”  ~ Confucius

This previously shared: I have neither owned nor watched TV for 16+ years. I do not read or listen to mainstream media. However, I do read about topics that intrigue, inspire and/or inform me. It’s selective choice.

Last week a friend forwarded this linked article, knowing it would induce a cringe rather than a favorable nod. It’s a healthy read so I’ll leave that choice up to you. The article is titled “Drugs You Don’t Need for Disorders You Don’t Have.” Essentially, it is about Big Pharma’s campaign to sell us prescription drugs.

For a variety of reasons, drug companies are now increasingly relying on direct marketing to American consumers. Last year, the pharmaceutical industry spent $5.2 billion on ads promoting specific drugs – an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. In this era of escalating drug prices, spending on prescription drugs now accounts for one in every six dollars that go into medical care.

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When the people raising awareness about a condition are the same people selling a drug to treat it, some obvious concerns arise. Ads rarely provide the kind of context consumers need to make good decisions about our health – about how a drug actually works or whether an alternative treatment might be better.

Only Europe and Australia have considered and decisively rejected proposals to allow companies to advertise specific drugs there. Wonder why?

A study on drug safety conducted by the Institute for Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, found that “The credibility of the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, the academic research enterprise, and health care providers has become seriously diminished. Of particular concern are the common but inaccurate perceptions that the FDA approval represents a guarantee of safety, that approval is based on high degrees of clarity and certainty about a drug’s risk and benefits.”

Yet many people listen to these ‘authoritative’ experts.

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Disease mongering is prevalent in today’s media-rich world. It can be harmful to our health. When it comes to considering any prescription drug, I listen to my body and personally vetted, trusted sources. What do you do for yourself and loved ones?

There are many steps we can take to ensure we are listening to the right sources when it comes to what (if any) pharmaceutical we put into our bodies. Following the Nike tagline is not one of them. Here are three for your consideration:

  1. Ensure you are getting the right medication. Make sure your health care provider understands your condition and the signs and symptoms. Ask that individual whether there’s an alternative medication with ingredients that have less potential for bodily harm or addiction.
  2. Familiarize yourself with Alternative, Complementary, Holistic and Natural Medicine. Western medicine is not always a silver bullet.
  3. Consult Medication Risk Assessment Tools online. They are simply another resource as you evaluate what you may not need for a disorder you may not have.

Finding Your Way

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“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~ Anaïs Nin

First and foremost, Ron Chapman is a full-time, all-time student of life. This allows him to approach any discipline, principle or practice in a search for valuable ideas to incorporate into his life. It also presents continual challenge, an opportunity to shatter old perspectives and ideas which no longer serve well.

An integral part of the role of the student is to seek. And for this Ron has become an adventurer and wanderlust. Who knows what places, events or circumstances may hold for any one of us. Yet we must commit ourselves to such experiences.

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From a developmental point of view, Ron values a notion described by the American philosopher Ken Wilber as “transcend and include.” Essentially, this is to incorporate everything new in a way that allows you to elevate your practice in the world, no matter what form it may take.

More important is the need to use knowledge and experience for the benefit of others…to find a way to make a contribution that is larger and provides greater value.

                    Ron Chapman

Ron Chapman

As this week’s guest on the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Ron discussed life transitions, what he’s learned from working through his, the concept of ‘metanoia,’ his work in the areas of healing and forgiveness and, the fact that – as boomers – vital years are not waning but beginning.

Ron talked about stepping out of comfort zones and “leaning into” / getting comfortable with discomfort as well as convincing ourselves that doing so can be in our best interests, as well as how this action can better prepare us to create breakthroughs and turn our lives into new directions. We get a sense of how Ron’s work and experience is transformational.

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The show’s podcast and Ron’s contact information is linked here.

It’s About Having Fun

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“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”   ~ Danny Kaye

Bobette Reeder is Past President of the International Coach Federation (ICF), the global professional organization that represents personal and business coaches. She has been a professional Coach since 1995 and was among the first 20 coaches to receive the distinction of ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC). She holds a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders and her coaching voice has been heard by hundreds of clients in 41 U.S. states and 10 foreign countries.

Bobette Reeder

Bobette Reeder

Bobette is active as a Partner with Serendipitous Events and a Co-Host/Co-Producer of the first invitation-only event for Master level Coaches,”Conversation Among Masters” (CAM). She has been married for 42 years and has two married children, four grandchildren and Murphy the Wonder Dog! Her style both personally and professionally is all about having fun and seeking the positive side and opportunity in everything life brings.

As my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Bobette shared how and why professional coaching can be of considerable value to baby boomers; how the word “pause” and its practice is significant; why it’s important to know who you really are; why playing and having fun, especially when in a life transition is key and; the need for both a coach and ‘coachee’ to have chemistry or a “fit” for the partnership to be productive.

5055545286_5983b7c600_mShe also addressed continuous learning; having a positive impact and ‘giving back’ and; how coaching helps to create new awareness. Interested in listening to the show, here’s the podcast link. If you’d like to learn more about coaching, you can reach Bobette at: http://www.bobettereeder.com http://www.coachinitiative.org or coachbobette@gmail.com

That Time of Year

9466455337_8c3cfda7ae_m“Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action.” ~ Joshua Welch

Though she lives 1,800 miles (2,900 km) to the East, I talk with my Mom every Sunday. At 83, she is blessed with a sound mind and able body. She lives independently with a healthy dose of pride. And soon, in one of our conversations, she’ll ask: Did you get a flu shot? What can I say, she’s a Mom; a wise one.

We in the Northern Hemisphere are heading into that time of year: winter, the solstice, an extended holiday period, the annual cold and flu season… and whatever else typically accompanies days of shorter daylight. In the spirit of awareness and your personal wellness, are you preparing for the coming months?

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Yes, we get colds and we try to avoid the flu. But there are other seasonal risks. It seems unfair, but if you’re prone to summer allergies, chances are you’re susceptible to them in winter too. Why? Because those warm weather irritants are around all year, like pet dander, mold and mildew. When you settle indoors for chillier weather – the windows closed, the heater on – your exposure to the same allergens heightens.

Research also shows that the incidence of heart attacks spike during the holiday period. In combination, overeating, overdoing alcoholic consumption, being too sedentary, and even the stress of the season can trigger heart attacks. Yet how many people plow, unwittingly, into the vacuum that this time of year can be?

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Some people plan for the challenges that accompany this time of year. They consciously prepare. Not that preparation can cover everything that presents, but it can provide some insulation from endless marketing, external stimuli, bacteria, and things that can threaten our wellness. Getting a flu shot is simply one of those preparations.

There are countless other considerations. You likely have practices that work well for you. If you are looking for some simple ideas to help prepare for and get you through the next few months, here are three suggestions:

  1. Slow down. Intentionally. We all have so much to do and so little time in which to do it. And you want me to slow down? 🙂 Who has time for that? Rephrase the question: who doesn’t have time for that? The answer: our bodies. If you squeeze every second out of every day at record speed, your flesh, bones, muscles, and organs will eventually suffer. A serene mind really is nothing without a healthy body to carry it.
  2. Rethink your commitments. Ask: Are you committed to something because of genuine compassion or interest rather than a sense of obligation? Continuing to give your time and energy when your heart isn’t truly engaged often does you and others a disservice. Think fulfilling your own needs while connecting with and helping others.
  3. Highlight health and feeling well. Focus on the way being healthy makes you feel and what it gives you. Feed your body nourishing food so you feel your best, and remove the worries about dis-ease and poor health.

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To our Southern Hemisphere friends, here’s wishing you a refreshing spring and summer.

Quality of Life, Varies

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“The significance of a man is not in what he attains, but rather what he longs to attain.”  ~ Kahlil Gibran

Reference.com defines significance as, “importance; consequence; meaning.” I’ve previously posted about significance and given what I believe it means to many, I’m revisiting it.

Significance is not a subject on which people often dwell. Instead, many are focused on achieving success, however one defines success. When you ‘Google’ the word significance you find abundant reference to: statistics, physics, ethics, religion, history, locations, and significant others. But you need to dig deeper to find works that address it in the context of life meaning and the accumulation of moments that matter.

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It’s easy to feel like small acts of kindness are unimportant in the big scheme of things, especially in parts of our world that are captivated by fame, promotion and bravado. But small acts can be incredibly important. Life stories, even legacies, are not possible without a series of meaningful acts; with each moment adding on a quality to the next.

A person who is leading a significant life is unimpressed with him/herself.

Many of us are passionately engaged on the road towards success (I certainly once was), but if we are asked whether or not we are living a life of significance, some may not have an answer. It’s not easy. And it’s not for everyone. Creating a life of significance takes planning and awareness of your calling, values, and goals. And this is something that can become lost in day-to-day living. However, it is attainable.

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Copious choices exist if living a life of significance is an aspiration. Here are three possibilities to consider:

  1. There are opportunities every day to learn new things, meet new people, explore new ideas, and contribute to the betterment of yourself. Many only appear once. Don’t miss them. Or… maybe you’d rather create them!
  2. Contemplate telling your truth of the moment. (It evolves as you grow and change.) Be authentic by your definition, not what others cast upon you. When you become grounded in who you are, it becomes easier to push beyond limits and live more significantly.
  3. Opportunities for turning what you do into ‘what you give back’ are virtually limitless. If you’re itching to shift your focus towards doing things of greater value, what would you consider to be the most pressing issues of our time? How could you leverage your skills and interests to help solve a piece of those problems?

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Significance can be core to the overall quality of how you live your life. In part, it’s about ‘who you are’ and how your choices have a ripple effect on your family, community, and the wider world.

More Meaningful Interactions

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“You can’t upload love, you can’t download time, you can’t Google all of life’s answers. You must actually live some of your life.” ~ author attributions vary

A recent TIME mobility survey polled 5,000 people and found that 84% of participants couldn’t go a single day without their mobile device, with 25% admitting that they checked their phones every 30 minutes. With so many ways to check in and let the world know exactly what you’re doing and when, many feel pressured to maintain their online identity, tweeting, and over-communicating around the clock.

That’s not all bad, but it’s not all good, either. More and more, many people live under the expectation of constant connection. The digital age brings with it many blessings, especially in terms of ready information and immediately accessible research. We know issues, developments and stories instantly, promptly communicate them to friends and colleagues, and get instant feedback. Some ask, is this critically important?

How often do we find ourselves reading or posting to social media instead of socializing with family and friends — or tweeting life as observers rather than living it? Is there balance? Does there need to be balance?

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There is a technology backlash that has been gaining momentum over the past few years. The idea? Unplug yourself and reconnect with an analog way of life. Oddly, the epicenter of this movement is the San Francisco Bay Area, also home to the tech-saturated Silicon Valley. Why? Because people are finding that being digitally tethered distracts them from more meaningful interactions.

At the heart of this movement is getting back to a purer way of living: rediscovering hobbies, using one’s hands, getting outdoors, and having conversations that aren’t mediated by bits and bytes.

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Here’s an ironic observation: All of our devices have rechargeable batteries and in order to recharge, they all need to be plugged in. Unlike our rechargeable toys, we often need to unplug — in order to recharge.

If you’re someone who wants to unplug or not always be “on,” these three ideas may help to shift your digital device dependency. Who knows, they may even yield less stress.

  1. Use technology to master technology. Block your email or Internet access so you’re not tempted. As an example, Apple users can use the program “Freedom” to disable networking from their computer. That way, they can concentrate on what they need to get done, and can only get online by going through the hassle of rebooting.
  2. Find something better to do. It’s natural to flip through your Facebook news feed or channel surf when there’s seemingly nothing better to do. To mitigate these sessions, create other options. Craft a list of hobbies or activities that you really like, then choose one of those alternatives instead. Bake, read a book, draw, play basketball.
  3. Set limits. Consider “lobotomizing” your smartphone by killing your data plan, which means you can only access the Internet through WiFi and not at every red light. Then, when you’re sitting at a railroad crossing, instead of being on your phone, look at the graffiti on the boxcars going by. Would that be so bad?

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Jumping Off the Bandwagon

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

WARNING: This post is not about Robin Williams.

I may lose readers after having read this post and that’s fine. This blog has never been about the numbers game. It’s about stirring your soul… and encouraging you to look into yourself… to realize your potential… and to focus on what really matters — how you choose to use your gifts, live, and contribute to humanity.

Earlier today I scrolled through the WordPress Reader and recent posts on other social media sites. I knew I’d see them but was astounded at how many people jumped on the Robin Williams bandwagon. Then I intentionally paused to process what I’d seen and read.

I have nothing against Robin Williams. He was a creative and talented man. He brought laughter and thought into many people’s lives, in and out of character. He battled his own demons. And I began to wonder, why does it often require a celebrity, fame, or someone with name recognition, to call our attention to social issues, serious needs, and opportunities? Why do people frequently hold up and pay tribute to talented individuals, people with marquee names, upon their passing?

What about mankind’s masses who struggle and are similarly burdened but are not wealthy, famous and/or “successful?”

In the above video, Clark Little tells how he has chosen to pursue his passion. He didn’t do what everyone else was doing. He blazed his own trail. And he’s loving every minute of life. He’s focused on and using his personal gifts to fulfill his potential. He’s not a lemming; expending energy on simply doing what many others are doing.

Sure there are lessons to be learned from Robin Williams’s choice to end his life. He has, as have others before him, rekindled and created awareness about mental health and addiction. They are real problems and warrant attention. But does jumping on the viral bandwagon to share a few kind words about him change anything?

So you may be saying, what’s your point Eric? Well, it’s pretty simple. Each of us, however illuminated our names are in lights, has unlimited potential. We possess personal gifts and skills. We have enormous, untapped capacity to live our purpose.

The questions then: Are you? Are you acting in your own unique way to effect change? Change that you desire and value? Are your actions genuinely aligned with what really matters? If they are/you are not, what are you waiting for? Are you your own leader? Are you creating moments that are meaningful, even if there is no fame, fortune or popularity involved?

When young, ducklings follow the brace because it’s instinctive. Humans, too. But what makes our species special is that we don’t have to paddle or flock in formation. We can soar in any direction we want. And create amazing outcomes, singularly.

Hoeing Your Passion Row

 “It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master position.” ~ Rebecca West

Passion, to me, is a vivid word. It conjures many images and is significant in the creation of exceptionalism. Great musicians, stunning artists, gifted athletes, extraordinarily accomplished business people, revered leaders, and compassionate social entrepreneurs (among others) all share the passion trait. They have influenced the world, they’ve stood out, and their achievements are frequently admired.

Yet according to a recent survey, nearly 75 percent of the population do not know what their true passion is. And yes, the word “true” is open to interpretation. Still, to me, this says a lot of people are not doing what they are meant to do. Perhaps this contributes to why there is considerable discontent in society.

Finding one’s true passion is not as simple as it seems. For some it comes easily but for many, it requires some inner reflection (and serious questioning) to identify what you were born to do.

I spent a quarter century working in corporate settings. What I did came easily to me and it yielded a comfortable lifestyle. But as I have shared before, I wasn’t thrilled with what I was doing to earn a living. When I focused on people who were upbeat about their lives (and often their work), I knew I wanted to learn what made them passionate.

Pursuing what you love is great advice but it’s not always a simple exercise. This because it’s a process. For simplicity sake (and to reign in the word count), here are six questions you can ask yourself early in the passion exploration process:

  • What do you find doing to be easy?
  • What do you like to talk about?
  • What lights your inner fire?
  • What puts a smile of your face?
  • What would you do for free? (My favorite question.)
  • What would you regret not having tried?

Many of us have a sense, if not some clarity, about what we love doing. If you’re interested in finding your passion(s), here are four steps you can take:

  1. Talk to people who know you well. They will have insights to help you identify what you most love and do well, naturally. Ask them for their ideas and guidance on what aligns best with their view of your passions.
  2. Start saving money. Try not to let financial pressures dictate your choices. Once you feel strongly that you want to pursue your passion, start saving. A lot. The more you have saved, the less finances will rule your decisions. And the less frightening it will be when you venture outside your financial comfort zone.
  3. Acknowledge epiphanies. Life-changing experiences can present out of the blue. Your passion could be illuminated through major events or in quiet, reflective moments as you ponder change.
  4. Don’t rush or force awareness but when your imagination is sparked, act. Keep your mind open to new ideas that can present simply through new activities and/or everyday interactions.

Positive change can be stressful, even frightening. Consider flowing with the process and experiences. As you hoe your row, your passion will reveal itself – in due course.

Tapping Into Your Wisdom

“Those who know are wise. Those who know themselves are enlightened.”       ~ Laozi (Lao-tzu)

One of my sisters is a ‘go to’ person. She is an impartial sounding board, grounded in integrity, and she serves as a lens through which I can see matters differently. She is intellectually and emotionally wise and she possesses a solid sense of self.

Throughout our lives, we encounter people who presume to know what is best for us. The insights they offer cannot compare, however, with the powers of awareness and discernment that already exist within us. Even my sister.

Like most people, I have spent much of my lifetime looking for answers, direction, and solutions. This meant always looking to change something or acquire something to improve my life. Society conditioned me to focus on improvement, getting more, and fixing what kept me from getting more and better. Does this sound familiar? Over time I have learned that I always knew what was best and right for me. The answers, direction, and solutions were always inside, while I was often looking outside.

When you couple your innate knowledge with every experience, sensation, and process in your life, you accumulate wisdom. The longer you live theoretically, the more wisdom you possess. So when the tables were turned and this sister asked for my thoughts on a matter, I suggested she find quiet, listen to her inner wisdom, and reflect on:

  • Imagination – This is the imagination of what you desire and what you want to feel. For example, you may want calm instead of stress. Imagine what calm would feel like and your wisdom will guide you to the thoughts, words, and choices that bring calm.

  • Inspiration – You are inspired a lot, but probably ignore it or misname it. The wisdom that comes through inspiration can be accessed through a focus on possibilities. If you want something to happen, ask yourself what you can do to create what you want and the guidance will come. Simply ask, then listen.
  • Intention – We create everything through intention. So intending an experience, relationship, or object is done by thinking about it and feeling it already present. The wisdom of intention will then be verified in the form of possible choices, something you hear someone say, or an opportunity presented to you.

Keep in mind that accessing wisdom is more than just wanting to or hoping to, especially if you have ignored or resisted it. This is a journey of exploring, discovering, and experiencing, one day or one moment at a time. When you are unsure of whom to trust, how to respond, or what you require, the guidance, direction, and knowing you need will be available when you tap into your own wisdom.