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12 February 2019      

Grow Down
Bernie Siegel

Strategies for Living an Authentic Life
tom walsh

If You Feel like a Baby, Get a Babystter
Charlotte Sophia Kasl

We win half the battle when we make up our minds to take the world as we find it, including the thorns.   -Orison Swett Marden

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Simple and Profound Thoughts
(from simpleandprofound.com)

There is a little plant called reverence in the corner of my soul's garden, which I love to have watered once a week.   -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Perfect courage is to do unwitnessed what we should be capable of doing before all the world.   -La Rochefoucauld

If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow.   -Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.    -Maya Angelou


Grow Down
The Wisdom of Children
Bernie Siegel

Love. Accept the miraculous.  Be open to possibilities.  Take part in the ongoing act of creation.

We've heard all this before.  We know we should love one another and enjoy creation.  But how?  That's the hard part.  St. Paul was feuding with some of the other apostles when he wrote the famous love passage in Corinthians, and the people he was writing to were arguing among themselves.  It is one thing to know that love is the key to a life of peace and joy, but it is another thing to be loving.

If you want to become more loving, I can tell you where to find good teachers.  Animals can teach us a lot about living in the moment and appreciating the day.  About being in the right relationship with God and your fellow creatures.  About not being affected by money and not moaning and whining about problems.

If you want human teachers, I can tell you where to find them, too.  At lectures and seminars I tell people they'd be happier if they grew down rather than up.  My adult audiences usually agree when I go on to explain that many grown-ups aren't very good company.  We listened when people told us, "Grow up.  Get serious."  We have a limited view of the world.  There is a sadness about us.  We grew up, got serious and became depressed adults.

Prophets, mythmakers, and storytellers all advise us to be more childlike.  Who inherits the kingdom of heaven?  Who sees the truth about the emperor's new clothes?  Who lives a timeless life?  As a parent and physician, I have learned that when you lose the ability to be childlike you put your life and your health in danger.  Children, sick or well, can teach us about honesty and feelings.  They can show us how to be loving in the face of adversity and even death.  I have seen many children beat cancer--some by getting well and others by living fully despite the cancer that ended their young lives early.  Many children with cancer have written letters and some have written books telling what they learned from being sick, and those letters and books are some of the wisest writings I've ever read.

I saw the wisdom of children in my own family many years ago when it appeared that our son, Keith at the age of seven, had cancer.  He had complained about his leg hurting and finally, at his urging, we took an X-ray that showed a defect in the bone.  I immediately assumed cancer.  As a physician, I knew that the only treatment available was an amputation, and that even with this treatment our beautiful child would probably be dead in a year.  He was scheduled for surgery to biopsy the tumor, but in the week before his biopsy I viewed him as dead-within-a-year.

I was already living in a tragic future, mourning a death that hadn't yet occurred.  I couldn't play with the children or have any fun or make love because I thought I knew what was going to happen.  I wanted to tell all the children in the house, "Be quiet.  Go to your rooms.  Your brother is going to be dead in a year."

The children knew something was wrong with their brother, and they knew it might be serious.  But they didn't know the statistics so they did not live in a tragic future.  They went about playing, having fun, living each day as it came and not worrying about events that might or might not happen.  For that week, I was separated from the family by my grief.  Then the biopsy results came back and the tumor was a rare but totally benign growth.  So our beautiful son was not dead-within-a-year and I was able to rejoin the family.  Keith told me I had handled things poorly.  I agreed because I needed him as my teacher.  The experience helped me understand what the parents of my patients go through, and it also taught me the folly of living in the future. . . .

Here is a list of survival traits.  This list was compiled from the works of many different authors, all of whom had a common experience.  See if you can guess what they have in common.

Live life to the fullest; no one knows what will happen tomorrow.

Accept what comes; use it to master the art of living.

Worrying won't help.

Live one day at a time.

Share hope with people.

Remember there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

No one knows the power of the individual.

Keep trying.

It's all right to show emotions.

Don't stop dreaming.

God is always there to help.

Don't wait for tragedy; say it today:  "I love you and I'm glad you are alive."

What do the authors of those twelve pieces of wisdom have in common?  For one thing, the authors are all children.  No doubt you are familiar with some of these maxims.  You can find similar messages in popular songs or storybooks.  I know I had heard most of their suggestions twenty years ago when I thought our son had cancer, but I certainly didn't act as if I knew the value of living one day at a time.

Children who contributed these items are not simply repeating platitudes from songs or storybooks.  They know what they are talking about, because each author has or had a life-threatening cancer.  I've been fortunate enough to meet some of these children, and I consider them my teachers because they live the message faithfully.

more on children


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If You Feel like a Baby, Get a Baby-Sitter (excerpt)
Charlotte Sophia Kasl

I have deduced that the part of me who had to be too independent too soon and who decided never to show her tears pays a visit when I am faced with a difficult task.  It's as if a three-year-old is being told to fix dinner and do the dishes.  But figuring out where it comes from doesn't always take the anxiety away.

Once I owned up to my anxiety, I started asking others if they got frozen or anxious trying to do various tasks.  I spoke to a man who could scale mountains but had a terrible time grading student papers at the end of a semester.  There was a brilliant physicist who got nervous trying to make spaghetti.  And a professor of political science had anxiety attacks trying to balance her checkbook.  In other words, it's not about brains.

I pondered this for a long time and thought back to my parents, particularly my mother, who never seemed to get as anxious as I do.  I thought of her growing up with five brothers and a sister and having numerous relatives all living within a few blocks.  Everyone helped everyone else, and no one had to be good at everything.  When I was a child, my father fixed everything around the house, my mother sewed and cooked, and all four of us children had chores.  Mother would take us out to every kind of orchard and farm to pick fruit and vegetables, which we would bring home and can.  It was definitely a team effort, and one was seldom alone.  Now we are often faced with running a household alone and have expectations that we should be able to do everything.  In reality, most people have some tasks that reduce them to feeling about four years old.

Irene, a rehabilitation counselor, was chronically late getting her client reports written up.  Every day, she gagged on guilt, seeing the file folders accumulate, and she worried about it on the weekend.  Yet she felt powerless to get at them unless a crisis occurred--either her boss got mad or she needed the notes for court.  We tried several tactics for getting her motivated, but nothing worked.  I suggested she get help.  She kept saying, "I don't need help, I know how to do it, I just have to get started."  She would also add, "I feel so stupid about this, I don't know why I'm such a baby."

I laughed and asked, "Do you want to know what I do when I feel like a baby?"

"Sure," she said.

"I get a baby-sitter."

She laughed.  "But isn't that giving up?"

"Giving up what?" I asked.

"Well. . . working it through."

"Well, that's a nice idea," I said.  "But what's life for?  To be grueling it out all the time?  When I get anxious trying to get ready for a workshop, I call my neighbor to come be with me.  I get help organizing my writing."

"What kind of help would I get?" she asked.

"Hire someone to come sit with you and talk you through it, develop a new system--whatever you need," I said.

Irene countered, "But that costs money."

I laughed.  "And these therapy sessions don't?"

She smiled, paused, then said, "So you don't think I'm a baby?"

"I think you are a normal, grown-up woman who sometimes gets overwhelmed.  I think most of us have times when we feel like a kid wanting a mommy to help us."

So Irene hired someone to come in and help her get a system together.  Then she asked friends to keep her company on Saturday mornings while she wrote her notes.  Her Catholic guilt dogged her for a little while (things shouldn't be this easy, there should be more struggle) but she certainly felt a lot happier having her work under control.

So remember to ask friends for help sometimes.  It is also wonderful if partners and loved ones can be "baby-sitters" for each other on some of these occasions--not as caretakers but as friends in need.  It's much easier to do things when we're not alone.




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This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by
yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are
thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a
feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that
the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

George Bernard Shaw



Strategies for Living an Authentic Life

Much has been written and spoken about authenticity, about its importance in our lives and its great effects on the ways that we act and live--as well as about its scarcity and the difficulties we seem to have when it comes to being authentic human beings and acting as such.  Almost no one will admit to living and acting in ways that aren't authentic, but the simple fact is that we're taught from day one of our lives to act in order to please other people.  And almost any time that we do that, we're acting in ways that aren't authentic.

For example, If I drive the speed limit in order to please others and not get a ticket, does that make me inauthentic?  Hardly.  One element of who I am is my desire to have caring and compassion for other people.  I know that speed limits are in place because they help to make areas safe for everyone.  Driving the speed limit, then is an authentic reflection of my compassion for others and my desire not to cause damage to them.

But what about the person who regularly violates those limits?  Is that person really expressing an "authentic" life just because he or she doesn't "feel like" following this particular law?  That's debatable.  In my experience, people who do such things aren't necessarily trying to be authentic people--rather, they're trying to be rebellious just for the sake of being rebellious, which is a form of inauthentic living.  Or it could be that they just don't understand the dangers involved in driving over speed limits, and then we're talking about simple ignorance of facts--and living from a place of ignorance also can't be called authenticity.

Socrates allowed himself to be put to death in order to follow the laws of Athens because he realized that he had made himself subject to those laws.  Jesus taught that we must follow the laws of the governments under which we live.  Other spiritual leaders have consistently said the same thing.  They knew that in order to live authentically, we must accept some limitations based on the common good, which is basically what such laws are created for.


The more authentic you become, the more genuine in
your expression, particularly regarding personal experiences
and even self-doubts, the more people can relate to your
expression and the safer it makes them feel to express
themselves.  That expression in turn feeds back on the other
person's spirit, and genuine creative empathy takes place,
producing new insights and learnings.

Stephen Covey

So how do we live authentic lives?  Most importantly, I believe, we must practice reflection.  If we do something and it doesn't feel quite right, we have to honestly ponder the reasons for which it doesn't.  When I was very young, I lived in a world in which sarcasm and the insult were considered to be humorous.  I got to be pretty good at the putdown, which was intended to make other people laugh.  As I grew older, though, I started to think about what I was doing, and how I was making other people feel.  I realized that I didn't want to be a person who tried to get laughs by putting other people down--I would much rather feel the satisfaction of having lifted other people up.

Think about things, seriously and honestly.  Answer some of these questions:   How do I want people to remember me?  How do I want people to react when I walk into a room?  How do I want to feel about myself when I go to bed at night?  Am I sharing the true gifts that I've been given by God?  If you tend to get angry a lot, ask yourself why.  Is it really about the other person's actions, or about my need to get what I expect to get in all situations?  What will happen if I don't get angry?  If you're not content at your work, ask yourself if you're giving all you can to the work you do.  If the work is unfulfilling, then what can I do to make it fulfilling?  What kinds of challenges can I personally add that will make it even more interesting?  Or possibly, if I'm not meant to be doing this kind of work, what kind of work am I suited for, and is most suited for me?

Most importantly, though, once you feel you've come up with a true answer to those questions, it's important to consistently make decisions that reflect your true self.  Perhaps you more enjoy staying at home in the evenings to rest after a hard day of work instead of constantly going out with friends because that's what they want to do.  It could mean saying no to some things that you've tended to do, while saying yes to others that you've tended to avoid.  This can be most difficult in relationships--one of the most difficult decisions we can make is to end a relationship because we realize that it's harming us and causing us to act in ways and do things that are not truly authentic for us.

It's a funny thing, how it works.
The moment we stop trying so hard to be someone, we become
ourselves--only what was there all along, waiting and
peeking out from behind all the masks we wore.
And when this happens, we discover that Who We Really Are is
much greater than anything we might have
pretended or even hoped to be.

Jacob Nordby

Our hearts can tell us what our authentic selves are like, so it's important that we listen to them.  I've heard that advice my whole life long in various forms, but I've always wondered, "Just what does that mean?" It's taken me many years to come to a point at which I feel that I'm able to listen to my heart.  Due to several changes we've made in our lives, we've at times reached points at which money has been tight.  In those situations, it's been very tempting to look for work that pays more.  But I know in my heart that I'm a teacher, so I've stuck to the teaching.  I'm really good at it, and quite effective, but it pays poorly no matter how you look at it.  While I also feel that I could be just as happy earning a living in other ways, I'm sure that anything that I do will feel inauthentic to me, and that my heart will draw me back to the classroom no matter what.

Jacob tells us something important above.  He says, "the moment we stop. . . ."  That's part of listening to your heart--stop listening to other sources to determine what's best for you.  Stop listening to what your friends say is best for you--their hearts may be in the right place, but they can't hear the messages of your heart.  Stop allowing advertisements to tell you how you should dress and act.  Stop the negative self-talk that keeps you from listening to your heart by keeping you focused on what you perceive to be your shortcomings.  If someone else tells you something about how you should live your life, carefully weigh what they say and then decide whether it's good advice that complements your authentic self, or advice that simply doesn't fit with who you are and who you want to be.

What it means to be authentic:
- to be more concerned with truth than opinions
- to be sincere and not pretend
- to be free from hypocrisy:  walk your talk
- to know who you are and to be that person
- to not fear others seeing your vulnerabilities
- being confident to walk away from situations
where you can't be yourself
- being awake to your own feelings
- being free from others' opinions of you
- accepting and loving yourself

Sue Fitzmaurice

And Sue adds something else that's extremely important:  "being confident to walk away from situations. . . ."  This has been one of the most important things that I've learned in life--being able to turn around and walk away.  When someone that I would love to get to know turns out to be doing something I'm not comfortable with, it's important that I turn around and walk away rather than trying to change that person in order to fit my wants or needs better.  I may lose a possible friendship, but if that friendship includes being exposed to actions that make me uncomfortable, then it's really no friendship at all.  There are plenty of other people out there, and many of them won't ever put me in such a situation.

My efforts to lead an authentic life are often sabotaged by other people and by my current situations.  But it's also important to remember that sometimes it may be necessary to go through times during we may not be living authentically.  I've had contracts that have obligated me to stay in a certain place even though a job has turned out to force me to compromise my integrity as a teacher and as a person.  I spent four years in the Army, though I'm not a military-minded person (though I am service-oriented).  As long as we keep in mind, though, that such times are simply that--times that we go through, temporary situations--then they're not just bearable, but we can make ourselves thrive during them.

Be authentic.  Live your life as you feel called to live it, not as others tell you that you should live it.  And if you don't know your calling, find it.  Listen to your heart and let yourself go in the directions that make you feel good at heart, not directions that make you feel uneasy or unfulfilled.

You are a very special and completely unique creation.  There's never been another human being quite like you.  So live your life authentically and be that completely unique person that you were made to be.  The world will be much better off when you do so!

More on authenticity.



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Passion doesn't come from business or books or even a connection with another person.  It is a connection to your own life force, the world around you and the spirit that connects us all.  You are the source.  Books, work, music, people, sunsets all provide sparks, but only you can light the fire.

Jennifer James
Success Is the Quality of Your Journey

Be yourself and only yourself.
Be careful what you allow
into your body and into your space.
Even the food you put into your body
is crucial to your well-being
and to your sense of Self.
Take care of yourself.
Do not allow anything outside of you
to contaminate you.
Whatever you read affects you.
The television programs you watch,
the movies you see
and the music you listen to
have a profound impact on you.
Be discriminating.
Be discerning.
But do not be judgmental.
If you live a refined life,
you will become more refined.
Choose your friends wisely.
Do not allow others to get caught up
inside you or attached to you.
And don't you become caught up with
or attached to others.
You must be yourself and only yourself
If you are to know the truth of who you are.

Leonard Jacobson


Why is play so elusive for some grown-ups?  Because we are so
strongly attracted and attached to a profoundly goal-oriented,
work-ethic-driven society.  Like other forms of non-work, play
connotes wastefulness, a stoppage in the way of what needs
to get done.  Yet often what really needs to get done has more
to do with our hearts and spirits and less to do with a deadline
or longstanding project.  Play beckons to us, urging us to live in
the present moment, a moment that becomes more luminous
when we disallow interruptions like work and worry.

Leslie Levine




A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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