Friday, March 21, 2014

Death of a Wounded Soul in Westboro

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." ~ 1 John 4:8
"Love never fails." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:8

I read it in the newspaper today.  I still get a real newspaper, the kind you read at breakfast.  The headline says Fred Phelps, dead at 84, preached an angry God.  Perhaps you heard it yesterday.  Yes, he's the "fire-and-brimstone" preacher who led the Westboro Baptist Church.  According to this article I have here in The Oregonian, one that apparently originated with The Washington Post, he even "managed to offend the conscience of the Ku Klux Klan".   Now, that's quite an achievement!

The article quotes Pastor Phelps as saying "You're not going to get nowhere with that slop that 'God loves you'....That's a diabolical lie from hell without biblical warrant.'"

Yes, yes, yes, apparently his version of the Bible was somehow missing the verses that I quoted above, that much is obvious.  And I'm sure many are musing about what kind of a "demonstration" they might plan at his funeral (and apparently there isn't going to be a funeral, probably for that reason).

I can see by just a quick glance at the buzz online, many are celebrating this man's death.

I'll tell you what I'm celebrating.  I'm celebrating that a precious, deeply wounded soul is now consciously in the embrace of the God he was carefully taught not to know.

But now he knows.  

Some day, we all will know.  That's the cause for celebration. 

Love never fails.  Ever.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reincarnation expert & licensed psychologist Dr. Linda Backman in Portland this weekend

"If I could live my life again
 in the next one I would try to make more mistakes..."
~ J.L. Borges

Have you lived before? Does your soul evolve from life to life? What is the true purpose of our journeys as souls? World-recognized past life regression therapist and licensed psychologist Dr. Linda Backman will be teaching two workshops in Portland this Friday and Saturday at New Renaissance Bookshop...

Read more on ...

Monday, March 3, 2014

On Pizza at the Oscars: The Joy of Real Connection

"Clap along if you feel like Happiness is the Truth" 
~ "Happy", Pharrell Williams

Why did the appearance of pizza at the Oscars bring smiles to so many faces? Why did 2.8 million of us rush to retweet a celebrity "selfie", crashing Twitter no less in the process?


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Frontier Beyond Fear: Freedom from Chronic Pain with Dr. David Hanscom

Monday's live broadcast of The Frontier Beyond Fear on Blog Talk Radio at 12 PM Pacific / 3 PM Eastern will feature Dr. David Hanscom, an inspiring, brilliant orthopedic spine surgeon in Seattle with an innovative, enlightened approach to freeing patients from chronic pain.  Recently featured on the Dr. Oz program and the author of the new book Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon's Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain, it is a true delight and an honor to talk with Dr. Hanscom on The Frontier Beyond Fear.  The broadcast will be available as a podcast at the same link where you can listen live here.

The medical world often overlooks the powerful mind-body influence of our thoughts on the functioning of our nervous system. Through many wonderful success stories, Dr. Hanscom has demonstrated that pain can be mastered through greater mastery of our minds, awakening and recharging our lives in a world filled with hope. By clearing our minds of anxiety, dealing with anger, moving out of reactive mode, exploring our creative potential and taking back our lives, pain can become a distant memory.

David Hanscom, M.D., is a board certified orthopedic surgeon in Seattle specializing in complex spine problems. He is the creator of the DOCC project ("Defined, Organized, Comprehensive, Care"), a structured rehabilitation protocol for chronic pain. He also founded the Puget Sound Spine Interest non-profit and co-founded the "Awake at the Wound" process, which brings athletic performance principles into the operating room.

I know I will bring some of my own experience into the discussion, and I'm sure many of us can recall times when we encountered situations with pain enduring far too long.  I know many of the listeners are in pain right now, and it is my every hope this broadcast will help a great many people find an empowered way out of what so often can be one of the most challenging situations in life.

In my own case, I was in a serious automobile accident in my 20's.  A truck in which I was a passenger was completely totalled when an elderly couple turned in front of us deep in the Colorado mountains.  In the 80's, there were no cell phones, so we had to wait for help.  But it was quite amazing how other drivers and passengers who quickly came along immediately took control of the situation, bringing quite a bit of amazing experience to the scene while someone went to get help.  Though thankfully I did not experience any sort of life threatening injury at the scene, I ended up with a more subtle kind of injury to the nerves under the seatbelt, as well as severe whiplash.

I was in physical therapy for a year after this incident and along the way learned the pitfalls of pain medications and muscle relaxants, especially if you rely on them to get to sleep at night.  There was a point when I wondered if I would ever feel the same again.  Thankfully I did heal, but it took a very long time, and no doubt the kind of enlightened wisdom Dr. Hanscom has to offer would have been of great value at the time. 

Friday, January 10, 2014


An illusory embrace
In the guise of binds
An unanticipated instant
I watched them fall
In their fall was rising

Photo from Wikipedia Commons, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Bridge

To build a bridge, it is not enough just to have an understanding of both sides of the river, although that is a challenge indeed.  Only with the guidance of Love can one master the chasm in between.

For years, the above statement was my "tagline" on various online forums as an anonymous "bridge builder".  

I have decided there is no better way to launch a new series of blog entries for the New Year than to be reminded of what it is that truly matters. 

It's not complicated, yet we tend to make it so. 

Love really is the answer.  

Once we begin to understand, even bridges become obsolete...

Photo by Susan Larison Danz

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Beyond Thanksgiving...An Inspiring Interview with Dr. Allan G. Hunter

"Be grateful for whatever it is that opens you up."
~ Dr. Allan G. Hunter, Gratitude and Beyond

The Thanksgiving holiday may be winding down, but do we truly understand where Gratitude can take us?  Earlier this week, I had a profoundly moving conversation about the transformational power of Gratitude with Dr. Allan G. Hunter, an inspiring returning guest on my online radio program The Frontier Beyond Fear.  Allan's most recent book is Gratitude and Beyond: Five Insights for a Fulfilled Life.  

With a PhD in English Literature from Oxford University, Allan is a full professor at Curry College in the Boston area, the author of 12 books and an expert in memoir and therapeutic writing.  He provides one-one-one assistance through his spiritual counseling.  Allan worked with troubled adolescents early in his career, later teaching prisoners in Massachusetts.

Allan's own life story reveals how the power of Gratitude can lead to a joyous and fulfilling life.  He experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE) many years ago, dramatically recovering from a serious lung infection, which he later realized was instigated by stress.  "I came very, very close to the time I said 'Gosh, I’m so happy to be alive, I’m so grateful.'...I failed to look deeper into the Gratitude to see what it could tell me about my life."

“I had to stop doing the things that I thought were so important because they were linked to the ego and start living differently, and that is I think the starting point not just of Gratitude, not just of  'Thank you for the tie you sent me on my birthday, thank you for the cake or whatever' but deep Gratitude of 'Oh, something has happened which has called to me to change the way I am.  Thank you for that opportunity to not have to remain on this self imposed, self destructive treadmill that I had made for myself.'  Not many people get that.” 

“But there is also a different dimension to it which is ‘If I am truly thankful, I am not putting my ego concerns first. I’m putting something else first.' And that something else is my connection to this wonderful, beautiful, strange, astonishing planet that we’re invited to be part of.”

Allan eventually realized that there are five insights vital to fulfillment and joy in life.  He advises envisioning these insights in a pentacle, “a very potent symbol of the interconnectedness of all these things, how they lead on from one to another.”  At the center of the pentacle is Love.

Gratitude is the first insight which opens the doors to all the others.  The second insight Allan describes is Humility. “That’s not the same as humiliation or as being in some way disgraced, that’s not it at all.  But it is that shifting away from I, me, me, mine to 'Oh, if I am part of this world and I have just been given a wonderful opportunity to live again, then this world is not about me - it’s about something else - it is directed by something much bigger than me.'”   

This can lead to “radical gratitude”, a term Andrew Bienkowski used to describe the life lessons he derived from the harshest of experiences when family members starved or froze to death after being sent to Siberia in 1939. 

Allan says we can go beyond what we may perceive as being broken.  "So many people think they’re broken.  I think often they’re broken open, and if they can perhaps look at that and treasure that, treasure the scars and see what is to be learned from those scars, that is a form of humility that leads on to wisdom - real, deep, powerful, loving wisdom." 

Our "astonishingly beautiful" world...
The third insight is Beauty.  "When we discover that we are alive, that we can be grateful for many, many things, even in the midst of difficulties and sadness, there are things to be grateful for - when we’re in that space, we look around our world in humility, in acceptance, and we realize just how astonishingly beautiful it is."

“If we don’t know there’s beauty, if we don’t think that there can be beauty, we cannot, cannot see it.  It simply won’t be there...this is a gift we can give ourselves every day and yet we tend not to because it’s easier to pretend it isn’t there.” 

Innocence is the fourth insight.  "When we allow ourselves to respond to the beauty that is in the ordinary, when we do that, we get back to something that is so important and so overlooked: the sense of Innocence...that’s the core of who we are…it’s that optimistic, exploratory, non-judgmental, accepting, innocent self, and that’s where our real feelings are." 

A "huge turning point" for Allan was his realization that we are all invited to focus on those things which bring us joy.  The joyous ways children freely explore their world can show us how we too can "have that uninhibited sense of exploration of what is true for us."  Authenticity is the key.  "Be your best self and let go of outcomes, and being your best self means being absolutely authentic, no matter what."  

This leads to the fifth insight: knowing one’s place in Nature.  "Don’t ask what you can get - ask what you can give.  And giving doesn’t have to be big - it doesn’t have to be splashy - it has to be what you authentically do and what you do with real love."

"If we’re paying attention, if we are giving back to our world, of course we will make a difference, of course we will…It’s the tiny things that make all the difference."

The opposite of the Gratitude pentacle illustrates the dysfunction of falling out of the Gratitude space into Selfishness, with Fear in the center instead of Love.

"Pride will keep you in the wounded ego space every time.  This is the person who wants to be right more than they want to be happy."  This can lead to looking for ugliness in others and suspicion, the place where conspiracy theorists often dwell, resulting in separation.  "What a way to take a wonderful opportunity for feeling grateful and happy and turn it into dust and ashes...we don't have to go into reactive mode...we don't have to give over ourselves to that wounded and sad part of the ego."

Allan explores situations where people have encountered extremely severe difficulties, such as the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.  “Lots of psychological studies have been done on many different kinds of people to find out how people have dealt either successfully or unsuccessfully with stress and difficulties…and one of the things that I put in the book is I give examples of people who’ve been under extreme stress, and what has helped them get through that stress, and over and over again, it has been the ability not to give in to the kneejerk reaction.  It’s been the ability to stand back and say 'Hmmm, what can we improve here, even if it’s only a tiny bit.'”

“When we’re talking about Gratitude, we’re not talking about an easy option.  We’re talking about real work here.  'What can I be grateful for, what can I give back?  Because I’m going to have to give back.'  Really Love is the only way forwards."

"Everybody slips into a negative pentacle for a while.  Everybody slips into the negative circling where we just go round and round mulling over the same thoughts, the same behaviors, wondering why there’s no difference at the end of the day.  We can all get into that space.  The point is not to say 'Oh, I’m a bad person. I got into that space.'  No, no, the point is to say 'Oh, look at that.  Look how I slipped into that.  You know, I wouldn’t mind betting there’s a slightly more effective way to deal with that. There’s a way that will lead on to more joy than that.'"

"And when we can remind ourselves of that, we are indeed given more choices, and more choices usually mean that we’re going to make a better choice rather than the choice we think is the only one that exists.  That’s why I wrote the book.  That’s why I write all of my books because I look around at my clients and my students and I realize ‘Oh, there are lots of people here who need a little bit of guidance, and imperfect as my offerings are, maybe, maybe this will be what’s necessary to start the conversation so that people can find their own way forwards.”

Listen to the entire conversation Dr. Allan G. Hunter: Gratitude's Deepest Gifts on Frontier Beyond Fear radio.  You can now discover all of Allan's interviews on The Frontier Beyond Fear in one place, a new feature I'm incrementally introducing, starting with the returning guests such as Allan who have so graciously appeared multiple times to inspire us all.  For that, I can only be in a space of Gratitude...