Christmas Peace 2014

Christmas is a great time to re-reflect on the need for peace in our families, tribes and planet. We often hear about the need to reduce personal violence or eliminate war, or better yet, to embrace peace. Making peace with people is the right thing to do, but perhaps there is an even better plan than some amorphous peace.
What if, instead of identifying with a fuzzy kind of peace and brotherly love, we focused on the two specific things I so often blog about: acting with Gratitude and enabling Understanding with those connections we have now?
Peace is a good choice and a civilized principle that helps us to avoid anger and violence. As grownups we know that there is a better path that includes the benefits of finding joint solutions. And beyond using political diplomacy is the will to understand those people and situations that bother us. This allows us to live without fear of those troublesome aspects of connection.
Fear, the Great Barrier to Peace
All of us are badgered by fears of multiple sorts, crippling our efforts at peaceful coexistence. And typically we believe that it is other people that are responsible for our discomfort. But what makes us truly afraid is the fear lurking within ourselves. Too often we don’t Understand that others are sorting out and reacting to their fears, living in fear of their unknown. In other words, afraid of what they do not yet Understand.
Yes, others are very much like us and it may just be their fears that show us the truth about fear itself. But how will we come to grips with that if we don’t reach out to Understand others? And when we reach out to find Understanding beyond ourselves, we learn that our problem was not where we thought it was. It was simply within ourselves doing to us what fear does….or tries to do: shut us off from others.
Enter Gratitude, the Next Step Toward Peace
At this point we can let the fears be known and assigned a smaller role. This allows us to entertain Gratitude where fear used to live. I have learned to be Grateful for Understanding, for fear, for brains that learn and then move forward. All of us can begin to have Gratitude that others are different, that we can work together, and for the freshness that each connection allows us to feel. We can give a place in our hearts to what is known as common respect, not out of principle but out of appreciation.
Gratitude for one another is the antidote to fear within, both imagined and real. This grows into Gratitude that the unfounded fears have no place to grow.
Thank you for reading my Christmas message of peace and I wish each reader as much Understanding and Gratitude as they can hold. Not just a comfortable peace, but a knowing that can never be taken away.
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PS. I just found a week after making this post a quote from Albert Einstein that speaks directly to the above Christmas message:

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

Here’s back at ya, Albert! Einstein_laughing

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Jessica Loves Her Life

This adorable video strikes home! (Apologies if you already saw it, but, I have seen it several times and still find it inspirational.)

My wife and I often repeat, hopefully, with as much enthusiasm as Jessica, the things we love about our life… each other, our dog, our house, our jobs… you get the idea.

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Living the Future in the Present

I have this strange belief about the future. I think some, probably a majority, of us, are here in the present, but from the future. We retain a memory of what the future is like. It is amazing, full of love, gratitude and understanding of all that is. In the future, we know that the love we share is more than in the present moment, it is throughout all time. But something in our spirits has compassion on those in the past that don’t have such an abundance of love, understanding and gratitude. So, we come to this century (and the last) to bring more of that love, joy and connection of the future that we know there. flocculent spiral NGC 2841

You don’t have to believe this odd concept to understand that when we love others in the present, particularly those that don’t know much of it, we are acting in the interests of a better future. When we appreciate something before it comes to pass, we are acknowledging a positive and beautiful future. When we listen to facts and feelings to understand, without rushing to judgment, we make more room for everybody’s future.

This we all know when we slow down and think about it. (Well, most of us.)

With this in mind, it’s simple to think of ourselves creating a beautiful future in the present moments. Living this way will assuredly move us toward the future we know we want: a future some of us have described as “heaven” or “utopia.” It’s heaven on earth when we have peace, loving service, trust and patience with the process of becoming better human beings.

The more we have gratitude for Life and life’s circumstances, the easier the tasks of life become, giving us more time to act in love and sharing.

The more we understand others, our environment and the wonderful balance in our own bodies, the healthier we feel and the better choices we make for the future.

The more we love others, ourselves and Life itself, the more like heaven it is.

Let’s promote living like heaven. Today’s present has a way of becoming the future.

Galaxy photo credit: Hubble

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You Are Life

you are life
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Bonding with Life

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of bonding with my new dog Molly.

Molly's profile photo

Molly’s profile photo

It began with having to discipline her for her “fear biting.” Of course, I recognized that she had been abused a couple years back in a puppy mill, and she had reasons to be fearful. But she had to get beyond it because of young children in the family that could be needlessly bitten. She had nipped and threatened to bite.
As my wife and I began training her and attempting to convince the rest of the family that Molly was less of a threat, we brought in a second dog whisperer. Gina had a different approach than the first dog whisperer. She talked to Molly, and after a few minutes exclaimed, “I’ve talked to Molly and she’s okay. She’s totally okay. It’s you two that are neurotic. Not her.” We had a big laugh at ourselves and asked Gina for some insights.
As we talked, I realized that Molly’s intuition and precognition of what was about to happen was a big part of the problem. For example, when I had “simply decided” that I was going to give her a bath, she promptly hid under the bed. Later, when I came to enforce her bath time, she bit me.
But worse than the bite, I was frustrated that she hid before I could bring her the bad news. She smartly pre-empted me. Gina’s response was very much from the canine perspective. “Since she knows beforehand, just tell her, ‘Molly, you’re freaking me out!’ She’ll understand and respond.”
The time my wife and I spent with Gina was not about getting the dog to understand that we are “Alpha.” It was realizing that Molly is as smart as we are and she deserves to be treated like that.
Since then, things with Molly are much improved. For example, I bought the kind of leash that extends, allowing her to run and be a dog, instead of the short leash that requires her to march to my tune. Our walks are not a tussle for who will do the leader, but a pleasure walk; me at my speed and her at hers. Bonding is so much easier when there is more pleasure and mutual respect.
And now that my wife and I are less neurotic about being “Alpha,” the grandchildren have warmed to Molly and play with her not as a doll but as a family member.
Bonding to Life can be much like bonding to Life’s creatures. Human beings in the Western, industrialized world come to Life with an eye to mastering it. The whole idea makes me laugh. How can we, the creations of Life delude ourselves into thinking that we can master Life?
Within the above time frame of bonding to Molly, my wife picked out a book while browsing the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. The book is “Animal Wisdom.” Written by Veterinarian Linda Bender, she speaks about the wisdom animals bring to us if we will listen. She is respectful of and humbled by the evidence of intelligent and capable creatures, beings that can make our lives more meaningful, connected, healthy, joyful and responsive to Life.
Of course, dog and cat owners can readily understand this kind of mutual care and broader sense of belonging. And the joy brought by animals may be easily witnessed on Facebook, with the many postings of cute dogs and wise cats, protecting us during a time of decreased human to human contact.
I’m not suggesting we all get a pet, but to realize that Life reaches out to us in so many ways and requests our humility, respect and full engagement. When you get a chance, gratefully eyeball a goldfish, stroke a friendly dog or cat wandering outside. Read more about these amazing creatures or read some snippets of “Animal Wisdom” using the “Look inside” feature at Or go to Barnes and Noble.
Peruse cat or dog books. Share pictures of pets. Celebrate Life by listening to the love, playfulness, wisdom, intelligence, persistence, healing kindness and ability to relate between species that animals bring to our vision of Life’s possibilities.
There is no denying that animals help us heal, take joy in Life and lower blood pressure. Do yourself a Life-giving favor. Don’t waste a minute more. “Reach out” and learn about animals. There is nothing more important than connecting with Life.
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I love my dog, but I had a problem

About six weeks ago, my wife brought home a rescue dog. Cute to the bone. I hadn’t planned on adding a dog to my life at this time, but… I was open to what lessons it might bring me that couldn’t come any other way. The poodle took to me immediately and we bonded. Besides the bond, I loved that her needs to walk enforced a walking program on me. 2014-05-19 11.10.25
The problem first raised its head when my cute, cute dog decided to be vicious to a passing neighborhood dog. Not wanting this to happen again, I made sure she was kept away from other dogs.
In the meantime, every walk we bonded more. But less than a week ago, she bit me when I tried to take her into the bathtub. I was dumbfounded, but was reminded that she was a rescue and had previously been abused. My bite wound had almost healed when I came home from work, tired and not fully attentive; she slipped out the door and spied another dog in the yard, doing some business.
I wasn’t fast enough. I blame myself, but soon resigned myself to the sad conclusion that the partnership was doomed. It hurt me tremendously, but I had a “biter.” Biters cannot be tolerated, I told myself, not under any conditions. As my wife and I discussed what we would do, I told her I would not send the dog to a new home, lest she bite again. Unless a miracle happened, we had to put her down.
My wife talked the problem over with her friends and the next morning we got a call about a “dog whisperer” that had recently landed in our circle. She started the miracle of healing the next day.
There are lots of techniques and teachings when it comes to dog training, and I already knew some techniques that were effective, but helpless in the face of a “biter.” My dog whisperer, and now friend, Ildi, would take no credit, but within 24 hours, we had a new dog.
What does this have to do with my theme, “Love, Understanding and Gratitude?” A lot. I went from angry at the dog and myself to a commitment to this dog because she is, like me, an expression of Life. I went from being scared of being sued if my dog bit someone, to being recommitted to Life. I went from sadness and regret to Gratitude that this dog came into my life and challenged my commitment to Life. I went from ignorance about biting dogs to knowing and Understanding what to do.
Ildi gives all the credit to Cesar Millan, a dog whisperer anyone can find on YouTube. My wife and I watched episodes where he took dog owners that had decided, short of a miracle, their dog would be put down, to an unbelievably loving reunion in the matter of a few lessons. These were people that loved their dog, but were at the end of their leash. I thank Ildi, Cesar, Life and Gloria (my wife) from the bottom of my dog-loving heart. Without them, I could have made a terrible, life-long, regretful decision.
I invite you to Cesar’s YouTube channel and Ildi’s House and Pet Sitting. Ildi can be reached at 760-574-6520 and I vouch for her 100%.
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Stay Younger for Longer

Ben Fletcher blogs in Psychology Today about staying younger for longer. It’s the simple things we can do to avoid succumbing to age.
Ben regularly reminds himself that habits have a tendency to stop growth and interaction. He says it more succinctly, “Habits steal your life.” And while it’s important to remind ourselves that habits can be deadly, it’s more important to do things differently as a matter of course. Children love doing things differently. It’s fun. And that is one of the best things about being a grandparent, being with the young ones who are testing things and ideas as if the rules are flexible.
To stay younger for longer, try some difference in your life.
Question: What have you got to lose?

Answer: The sense of being old.
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