13 October  2015      

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Thermometers and Self-Esteem
John Marks Templeton

Perfect As Is
John Burton

A Heavy Wind
tom walsh

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Taking an interest in what others are thinking and doing is often a much more powerful form of encouragement than praise.

Robert Martin

Silences make the real conversations between friends.  Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts.

Margaret Lee Runbeck

Enlightenment is not about becoming divine.  Instead it's about becoming more fully human. . . It is the end of ignorance.

Lama Surya Das

Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.

Dag Hammarskjold


Thermometers and Self-Esteem
John Marks Templeton

A thermometer is a long, thin glass tube filled with mercury--a simple device designed to give a reading of the temperature of its surrounding environment.  When the environment becomes warmed, the mercury rises.  When it become cooler, the mercury descends.  At a glance you can know how warm or cold the air is around the thermometer.  Some thermometers can tell you whether your body is functioning at a normal temperature, and others indicate if your good has been properly cooked.

Unfortunately, many people operate like a thermometer.  Instead of mercury, their self-esteem may rise and fall according to the "temperature" of other people's opinions of them.  When others think highly of them, these people tend to feel good about themselves.  When they are criticized, their opinion of themselves may drop to a low, cold level.  Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady in the United States, stated an important truth to remember:  "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  Think carefully about these words.  You are under no obligation to let the world decide how you are going to feel about yourself.  You have the right and the opportunity to discern the events in your life and judge yourself.  Criticism may take on many forms, the majority of which seem petty and trivial.  And criticism, whether directed toward us or coming from us, can be a deterrent to progress and may lead us into discord and trouble.  By feeling confident and enhancing the positive qualities in others we may actually be revealing our own fine qualities.

Many of us may have been raised giving others a great deal of control over our feelings.  But, as we grow, it's important to learn that how we feel about ourselves, in spite of the opinions of others, can be an essential ingredient of a happy life.  If you allow people the power to set or adjust the thermostat of your self-esteem, you may find yourself at the mercy of their opinions.  Your happiness could then seem to depend on many conditions over which you have no healthy inner control.

How you feel about yourself can determine, to a large extent, your experience of life.  You cannot afford to surrender control of your feelings to the whims of others.  If you know persons who seem to be going through life constantly miserable, and for no apparent reason, it may be likely that they have relinquished power over their feelings.  Like a thermometer, they simply reflect the world's opinions.  They have handed over to others the power to judge themselves, and this state of powerlessness often creates a high level of tension and anxiety.

Unlike the thermometer, you can take your own "temperature."  You can feel good about yourself and your life, despite what others think.  No one knows you or your capabilities as well as you do.  Therefore, it is important that you be in charge of how you feel about yourself.

Be open enough to learn from others, but make a commitment to stay in control of your feelings about yourself and your estimate of your worth.  What works wonderfully well for a thermometer can prove to be disastrous for you.  If you find that you have put someone else in charge of your self-esteem, begin making a simple statement like the following to set you free:  "Today, I feel good about myself despite what others say, think, or do.  I am the master of my feelings and hold that authority in my life today!"

Self-knowledge may be difficult to attain because the tendency to self-protection may seem so great.  But it is in looking squarely at our own feelings and possible shortcomings that we may be able to see the work that needs to be done to bring about transformation in our lives.  Once the decision is made about a "weak spot"--whether it be a "short-fuse" temper, feelings of unworthiness, feelings of being inferior, or whatever--we can engage our desire to curb feelings of inferiority, think about the desirability of a pleasant disposition and feeling confident of the spirit within you.  You can give your thoughts and feelings a new direction.

When you live from the center of your own being, life can become much more productive and joyful at the circumference.


In this book, Templeton builds on his earlier Discovering the Laws of Life to collect over 200 spiritual laws that he believes affect personal attitudes and personal development. These laws, or spiritual principles, are drawn from all of the world's religious traditions as well as from successful figures in secular life, such as inventor Henry Ford and Templeton himself. Templeton has divided the book into increments of 40 weeks, and he provides five laws for each weekly period.


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Perfect As Is
John Burton

It took me several decades of living to realize that nothing is perfect in life except everything.  Allow me to explain.  For many years I suffered from what I call dyslexic logic, getting cause and effect reversed.  Actually I've come to realize that there is no such thing as a cause, but that's for another time.  For a long time I used to think, like so many people do, that I had to behave in a certain way or achieve certain levels of success in order to gain self-worth.  I believed that, to stave off some nagging sense of inferiority or imperfection, I simply must make perfect choices and behave in perfect ways.  At best, self-worth would be the temporary byproduct of these perfect acts.  The chase was on!  Of course, the degree of success was frustratingly inconsistent, only feeding the awareness of leaky self-worth and fueling the pursuit this much more.

After years of enduring this chase for worth; anguished wrestling with my self; and much solution-seeking from friends, books, and professionals, I experienced what might be considered an epiphany.  I came to realize that my worth actually preceded my any and every thought and deed.  Well, this changed everything.  Now I reconfigured countless beliefs about myself, life, and others.  Not a paradigm shift, a paradigm expansion.  An awareness expansion as though a veil obscuring my awareness had been lifted.  Knowing that my worth precedes my thoughts and deeds removes the need for perfection as I, you, and everyone is already fine from the beginning of life.  I do wish I'd known this long ago.  I imagine many different life choices, and yet, knowing and experiencing this pre-existing self-worth now, softens regret as well.

As an analogy of self-worth always being present, consider the moon up in the night sky.  One night you look up in the starry sky and see only a sliver of a moon.  Another week you look up in the night sky and see perhaps a half moon lit up and eventually a full moon shining down on you.  Now if you did not know any better, you'd swear that the moon shrinks and expands through the month.  But you know full well that the moon remains the same size night after night after night.  The part of the moon that is illuminated varies, but the moon remains the same.  It is the same situation with you and your worth.  The only thing that changes is your awareness of it.

I am not and no human being is perfect, yet we were made perfectly.  Our very being stems from and is made up of worthiness.  We could not exist otherwise.  Knowing this, feeling this, and confirming this daily reminds me that I retain a constant and irrevocable worth.  I can use it however I choose, with no risk to my worth.  So many, if not all of life choice errors, dishonoring of self and others stem from the belief that we can lose or have already lost our worth.  Verifying self-worth before taking any action naturally leads to positive constructive choices.  I came to realize that I, you, every tree and every blade of grass and every rain drop and snowflake are already exactly perfect, as is.

* * * *

Paraphrased from the unpublished manuscript, The Myth of Original Sin:  Remembering Aboriginal Unity.



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For years, the people of Canyon Bluff have shared the stories of the Nogglz, their own version of the monsters in the closet. "If you don't behave, the Nogglz will come and get you and carry you down into the mines," they've told their children. Of course, they were just stories. Nobody could have stayed alive in an old mine for six decades. But when one of their own is brutally murdered one cold November night, it may be time to come to terms with the sins of their fathers and their own ties to the town's dreadful past. And for the sheriff and his deputy and the state troopers who are called to the town to deal with the murder, an ordinary day becomes an extraordinary battle for simple survival.
Sometimes I write things just to tell a story, but I just can't help mentioning some life lessons, even in a novel about creatures running amok in an old mining town in the Colorado mountains.  Using the mining town as the setting is a tribute to my mother, who grew up in a tiny mining town herself, and who has never left there in her heart.  -tom walsh
Nogglz is available in print here, or as a Kindle e-book by using the link to the left.


Forgiveness of self is where all forgiveness starts. If I am unable
to forgive myself, it is impossible for me to truly forgive others.
And I must forgive others.  What I give out is what I receive.
If I want forgiveness, I have to give forgiveness.

Betty Eadie



A Heavy Wind

One of the fun parts about running, for me, is that whenever a race comes along, I get to see how I'm doing in my training.  I race only semi-seriously:  I enjoy pushing myself to try to improve, but after the race is over I usually don't care that much what the result was, as long as I gave it my best.  After all, when all is said and done, it's just for fun.

Sometimes, though, races don't go as planned.  A race that I went to this weekend was like that.  Many people go to these fun runs year after year to try to improve their times--they know they've been working hard at it, and it feels good to be able to say that they were a minute faster this year than they were last year.  Unfortunately, though, Saturday dawned a windy day, and things were going to be different this year!

All of the people who hoped to gauge their improvement over the last year by running this race were in for a huge disappointment--because of the wind, the times this year were much slower than they were last year.  People who regularly run well under seven minutes per mile ran well over seven.  Someone who ran more than 45 seconds per mile slower than she ran last year actually went from 12th to 7th place!  The time I got in my race would have been good for 5th place last year, but this year it got me 2nd.


You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact,
it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you
are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

Maya Angelou

The race got me to thinking about how many times we try to figure out just how much we've improved in some area of our lives, only to be sabotaged by forces completely out of our control.  The problem is, if we don't recognize what's going on, it can be very easy to get discouraged and tell ourselves that we haven't improved at all.

I see this a lot as a college teacher--I get students who have been getting "A's" all throughout high school on their writing, only to get to college and start getting "C's" or even lower.  And the change doesn't have to be from high school to college--it can happen just by getting a new teacher who grades in different ways.  While a student might have improved greatly in his or her writing, the grades coming back seem to indicate otherwise.

In some ways, this is a natural tendency.  After all, as we get better at something, we often try to challenge ourselves by moving up to another level.  After I become an intermediate chess player, for example, I'm hopefully going to start playing against people who are much better than my old opponents.  And I'm going to start losing, even though I used to win a lot.  And that's a very good thing, if I accept it as such--after many losses, I am going to start winning at the new level eventually.

There are not so many lessons in glad times.
Adversity is by far the better teacher.
Adversity will be part of almost all our lives.
So it is not in escaping adversity,
but in answering it, that our character is defined.

Christopher Warren

I think that we have to be careful of the criteria we use to judge ourselves.  Anyone who judges themselves harshly based on Saturday's run is going to be discouraged and frustrated--when there's absolutely no reason to be so.  Nobody could have done anything about the wind, and the slower times across the board show quite clearly that the wind had a major effect on almost everyone.  It was one of those days that you chalk up to experience and that you count as a training run, and then you move on.  Without beating yourself up for your slow time.

So often we need to adopt this attitude in life, too.  We need to move on without beating ourselves up for not meeting some sort of goal or standard, especially if there were other factors involved over which we had no control.  We need to accept the fact that we're not always going to shine in all that we do, and allow for the fickleness of life to sometimes lead us into moments in which we don't shine as we'd like to.

Adversity can be one of our best teachers--I took a lot from that run, especially after I found out that other people had been affected even worse than I was.  Before I discovered that fact, though, I'll admit that I was a little frustrated.  Knowing that everyone was slowed down by the wind, though, took away all the frustration because I knew that I did the very best I could under the circumstances that the day offered me.

The difficulties, hardships, and trials of life, the obstacles
one encounters on the road to fortune, are positive
blessings.  They knit the muscles more firmly, and teach
self-reliance.  Peril is the element in which power is developed.

William Matthews

Sometimes we all have some sort of wind blowing against us as we try to run our fastest.  And our fastest against the wind will not be an accurate representation of just how fast we actually are.  And that's okay.  It's important that we realize what's going on, take a deep breath, and accept the situation as it is.  A better day will come--a day when we can see more clearly just how much we've grown and improved.  Just because it didn't happen today doesn't mean that we haven't grown--it just means that we don't see how much we've grown on this particular day.  And that's okay.

More on adversity.


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It is not that you must be free from fear.  The moment you try to free yourself from fear, you create a resistance against fear.  Resistance, in any form, does not end fear.  What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it.  We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it, not how to resist it through courage and so on.

J. Krishnamurti


When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen!  All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do. . . just hear me.
And I can do for myself.  I'm not helpless.  Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about this business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling.
And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice.  Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what's behind them.
Perhaps that's why prayer works, sometimes, for some people. . . because God is mute and doesn't give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So please listen and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn. . . and I'll listen to you.


Whatever we are waiting for--peace of mind, contentment, grace,
the inner awareness of simple abundance--it will surely
come to us, but only when we are ready to receive
it with an open and grateful heart.

Sarah Ban Breathnach


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