Monday, January 8

We Get What We Tolerate, We Can Say Our No As Gently as Our Yes 1/8/18

     Hi there, everyone.

Yes, I am alive.  Life is about priorities.  For the past several months I focused on my profession There is much related to it.

     I'm not com-plaining.  Far from it.  Every bit of it, including filing, writing pre and post-session notes I love.

     It is fulfilling. It demands all my skills and then some.  Just what I want from life.

     I need "help" from a long-term friend.  He was in the group who saw a movie with me.  A fine presentation, "The Darkest Hour."

     The lead actor, Gary Oldman, received a  Golden Globe for it, last night.  His perfor-mance was entran-cing.  As the British say, he was brill.

    (I wept at least six times while hun-kered down in pala-tial, 1917 created Piedmont Theater, in Oakland.  It has not been split into sev-eral mini screens----yet.  I feel better today because of yesterday's catharsis.)

    When the flick was over, the four of us strolled to Gaylord's Caffe Espresso.  I ordered a 4 shot cup of espresso to go along with my brownie.  I noticed this morning there was more hair on my chest.

     I sprung for the coffee my friend of forty-plus years drank.

    Our time at the cafe taxed me.  Much.  I looked forward to decon-structing and luxuriating in the fine film we saw.

       Afterwards, I was not surprised to learn it was directed by Joe Wright.  He helmed one of my all-time favorite movies 2005's Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadden.

    The conversation as the four of us sat together was difficult.  Awkward.  Infuriating.  Although I did not reveal my feelings, much, then.  I will soon.

    I enjoy pushing embers together.

    I like helping others get to know one another.  I enjoy heartfelt fellowship.  It is fulfilling being with individuals, who were once unfamiliar, start the spark of genuine connecting.

    I like it when people discover the better qualities of others.  Seeing former strangers draw closer, enjoying the flame of an active, engaged conversation is fulfilling.

    However, that does not happen when there is dominance. I tried preventing that last night.  I directed questions to the other two men.

    If I didn't, my friend of many years overran the conversation.  He thought he was witty.  Whenever one of the two introspective men paused for breath, this friend prattled on.
          He prevented any con-versation from taking place.  Was.  I.  Aggravated.

          What did I learn?

1.  How close to murderous I can be. Especially when others are not allowed to speak.  I disliked the community of friends destroyed by someone uncomfortable with a second or two of silence.  I was irritated by someone dominating our time at Gaylord's Cafe.

   This happened even when I asserted myself.  Several times, I held up my hand towards my friend.  I said, "I'd like to hear David's response."

    If he doe this again, boundaries will be applied.  I'll leave.   I do not accept unacceptable behavior.

2.  How quickly my patience was tried when frustrated by another person's insensitivity.

3.  We get what we tolerate.  Today, I will confront my old friend. Take that back.  I will carefront.

      This is speaking the truth while being respectful and affirming. Gently, I can say no to his boorishness as gently as I say yes to his humor and other good attributes. The five words starting this point, "we get what we tolerate," is critical for main-taining the joy we know.

       It is not in the power of others---what they do or say that makes us happy.  It is in being true to our values.  We do not exercise boundaries for others to adhere to them.

         We apply boundaries----saying what we want and feel, expressing what is alive within us, including what we don't like----so that we adhere them. We train people how to treat us. 

        That is standing in our power.  This is being true to our integrity.  We are being consistent with our values when we stand by them, living them, not just thinking about them when others poop on us.

        In yesterday's case, I had a strong need for fairness, sensitivity, and mutuality.

        It did not happen at Gaylord's Espresso Cafe on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.  One person dominated the conversation. There was no balance of interaction, no reciprocity.

       There was no forbearing of silent moments.

This includes allowing pauses in our conversations.
 Among good friends, quietude exists, in spades.  It is enjoyed.Moments of warm silence between friends provides tranquili-ty.  It is far better than prattling.

      When there is a lack of silence in conversations, I feel like getting a gun, ending my misery.  I'm just joking, but semi-serious.  It gives you the idea of my need for tranquil-ity and space.

      I am imagining my long-term friend is uncomfortable with silence, when with others.  It was not his job to entertain us.  When we enter-tain, being the kidder, or witty one---we are not our authentic self.

       We are typically uncomfortable and this entertaining response is a coping mechanism.  But it isn't entertaining.

      As Goethe said, "Love, talent, and honor are like a river.  The deeper it is the less noise it makes."  My corollary: "Consider the babbling brook. It is among the shallowest bodies of water, yet it makes constant noise."

      Anyway, by all means, please see this movie.  You'll be glad you did.

       I'll let you know what happens when I speak with the fellow who interrupted everyone and monopolized yesterday's conversation at Gaylord's. 

Monday, December 25

My Favorite Christmas Story 12/25/17

Taken fromThe Christ Child, Illustrated
 by Miska and Maud Petersham 
     Merry Christmas.  That each guest of this inn had a lovely day, is my wish.  I did.

     What is Christmas?  Nope, it is not about gifts.  It is about one Gift, Christ.  This holiday is about God's incarnation, becoming a man.  This day celebrates His arrival.  He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14) I know for many this is an outdated concept.

      What Christmas gift can I offer?  How about

Friday, December 22

My Third Favorite Christmas Story 12/22/17

WWII photo of the Ardennes Forest
       Good evening, one and all. I hope life is treating you well. For many, this is a frantic, mater-ialistic season.       
         Needn't be so.  In the inn, we're having a countdown for the biggest day of this month.  For

Tuesday, December 19

Maintaining Our Sanity and Serenity During This Season 12/19/17

      Now is a good time to slow down.

       I know this is the opposite of what we experience while gearing up for Christmas.

      But, many of us need to process the holidays.  This time of year usually involves interacting with others. Often, it means encountering disturbing people, people frantic because the true message of this season has escaped them.

      Or many will visit with difficult relatives not seen any other time of the year.

       When with them, there can be the combustion of clashing person-alities.  Or unpleasant shared history creates friction, awkwardness.  These challenging aspects of the holiday season motivate us to make time.

       For ourselves.

       We need to grieve and apply the balm of re-covery.  It is impor-tant processing what barrages us, emotion-ally and physically.

       Feeling and processing neg-ative interactions is critical. It helps us maintain emo-tional balance, equanimity.

      As children, we may not have been allowed to mourn.  Being in touch with our feelings when disturbed is being present. It is what it means to be alive.  It is important for our sanity.

      It helps us overcome crazy-making times when relating with others who trigger us.

      When we stay in our head, we distance ourselves from what we experience.  When we feel, we are the experience.  We are in touch with what we want.

      We are our au-thentic selves.  When we do the opposite and present our arti-ficial selveswe experience what Ann Wil-son Schaef describes as "soul murder."  It leads to many ills, depression, isola-tion, self-loathing and many neuroses.

       What causes us to not be authentic?  Toxic shame.  We believe if we present our transparent selves, we will not be accepted, loved.  We fear being ridiculed for our values or having a different perspective.

       What is the antidote for shame?  Enjoying unconditional love and acceptance from the good company we keep.  These are our Balcony People.

My Gratitudes:
1.  For the ongoing growth of the happiness that fills my life.
2.  I am thankful for sleep.  It restores my mind and body.
3.  For fantastic conversations. They nurture me.  I love heart-to-heart authentic conversations.  They meet my need for connection, closeness, and transparency.

   Wishing you a terrific Tuesday.  I know mine will be. 

Monday, December 4

The Miracle Gro Value of Using Boundaries....... 12/4/17

Boundaries: A Source for Sanity

         There are times when we are with a controlling person.

          That presents a problem.  It in-trudes upon our need for autonomy.  Being the gratitude guy, a diffi-cult relationship is seen as an opportunity to adhere to prin-ciples.

         Time with those who cramp our style is like practicing a tennis stroke by hitting a ball against a wall.  We have opportunities to exer-cise boundaries related to their behavior.  It helps us maintain sereni-ty, sanity, and dignity----just barely.

        If not careful, our equilibrium could be thrown off.  Creating distance with an un-safe person can be wonderful, providing the balance needed.
          Bound-aries are not for others to adhere to.  They are for us to adhere to. They are sanity savers, joy producers.  They provide the dignity we need.

        Often, we relate with with boundaryless people.

        Chaos is the measure of their lives.  Their lack of preparation does not make their crises our emergencies.   (See here, too.)  Even when they desperately wants us to rescue them.  Exercising boundaries  with those who lack them, maintains our sanity.

       Relating with boundaryless people pours Miracle Gro on our recovery---forcing us to tightly adhere to boundaries.  We are not loving when we rescue others from the natural conse-quences of their behavior or lack of initiative.

         Is there some-one or a situation that teeters your totter?  Could an in-dividual dump you into the morass of frustration?  How do you handle tough times?

          We want to be mindful of a quote posted months ago.  You can read this post here.  This article is especially encouraging when finding ourselves in difficult circumstances.  The following inspires me when confronting challenges:
We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.  For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a per-sonal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement.
When we are no longer able to change a situation---just think of an incurable disease such as in-operable cancer---we are chal-lenged to change ourselves.                                       Viktor Frankl

         Many good things happened this week. Even though it has been a time rife with tension.  Filled also with deep, negative emotions.  With-in the past seven days, the following gratitudes emerged.

1. Receiving practical support this week.

     It was beyond my wildest dreams. Those in my supportive network emboldened me with their encouragement and wisdom.
2. Love from many gave us a strength we won't have if we go it alone.

      The compassion, empathy, fellowship and sensitivity I've experienced gave hope during a most difficult season. It has been one of the most difficult times in my life.

      I was stunned by the outpouring of affection received.  It gave a bounce to my step that was missing earlier this month.

     Loved ones and friends, visited.   Phone calls and acts of loving service ministered to my well-being in ways beyond imagining.  Their loving concern buoyed my spirit.
3. I'm adding new dimensions at work.  I am participating in my growth.  Good for me!  I'm thankful for opportunities that expand my creativity and resourcefulness.
4.  I have a business mentor.  His help has been like a steady lighthouse, guiding me in directions that were once foggy and unclear. .

Saturday, October 28

Calmness In the Eye of the Emotional Storm Part VI......... 10/28/17

Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us
 for better things. Image: "Countryside: Across theVal-
ley" by Tim Blessed.  Copyrighted photo. Used by permission. .
       It's great being in touch with our emotions, and not  perseverating  when stressed. Be-ing agitated never helps.  How can we be mentally clear, when panicking?

        Having equili-brium, drawing from God's strength and basking in His love and that of good friends is preferred.  It's an amazing gift when this our reaction during turbulent times.  Knowing peace, when we are swirling in the eye of a circumstantial storm helps us maintain our focus.

        Serenity is an amazing gift.  It happens when we apply healthy principles above the vulnerable parts of our personality.  Peace of mind is ours when we have the habit of leaning on God.  We trust his strength.
        Fullness is ours when we are connected with emotion-ally safe friends.  These options are better than the inadequate coping methods our younger selves used when immersed in life's drama.

        With recovery, isolating, anger, resentment, bitterness and self-loathing no longer reign over us.  No longer are they our default mode, when experiencing life's drama or disappointment. Using heal-thy, constructive alternatives, putting one foot in front of the other, is more effective.

       Often, it is better to not think.  Just do.   If we don't live by recov-ery principles, our nature is to analyze too much.  This is trying to control the uncontrollable and futility.

       Retiring the cape, we know ease, emotional safety.  Our joy in-creases.  We no longer carry the weight of the world.  It's not our job to deal with every crisis, to solve every problem.

       Peace now transcends our circumstances.  We know tranquility because we are gentle towards ourselves.  It's a result of moving away from isolating.  We allow our Balcony People to undergird us with their love.

       We are gentle towards ourselves.  When wrong, we treat ourselves with love and tenderness. For many of us, we did not experience it as children.

       Especially when we erred. Back then, it was the end of the world for our parents.  We were punished.  Mercy was nonexistent.

        There is hope for our past.  Recovery allows us to create new legacies. We replace ineffective methods that were used when we lived in our family of origin.  We learn to love ourselves even when we goof.

        When we experience a sad, disappointing or frustrating moment in our lives we have two responses.  Tough times can be a monument to our past pain.  Or, by how we respond, it can reflect the healing, growth, and grace we know because of recovery.

        Sure, it may feel good----temporarily---being petulant.

        But, would we really want to trade that for the peace, joy, and harmony we feel, when we replace character defects with new and better alternatives?  We can be glad we're learning a better way to live.  Life now is not only about being at peace with others, and circumstances, but with ourselves.

How About You? 
What are your three gratitudes for today? I'd love hearing them.  Thanks!

Friday, October 20

Responding, Not Reacting to An Emotional Bully 10/20/17

        Today,  I spoke up when relating with an unpleasant person who tried dominating me.

         If we say noth-ing, when something bothers us, there is zero possibility of things getting bet-ter.  Expressing what troubles us makes it

Sunday, October 8

Spiritual Weightlifting----Developing Better Coping Methods 10/8/17

       As we grow in our relation-ships with others, diffi-culties will arise. Everyone has different vaues which at

Tuesday, October 3

A Pensive, Subdued Innkeeper 10/3/17

       I am at a loss for words, saddened by the recent carnage in Las Vegas, Nevada.

      A lone assailant shot people who were enjoying an open-air concert.  The death tally so far

Monday, October 2

Perseverance Needed For Progress.......... 10/2/17

The Angel Oak on Johns Island in So. Carolina. 
   The oldest oak tree east of Mississippi. It is cer- 
          tainly one of the most beautiful. 

 It's 1500 years old.  It's 65 feet tall, over 6 stor-
ies. The crown covers 17,000 sq. feet. Its longest
         limb is 89 feet long.

         It's maintained by the city of Charleston. It 
         grew from one acorn. Here's to our growth
Patience With Our Progress

         Today, I'm leaving several quotes. May they help us maintain an Attitude of Gratitude. Avail-ing ourselves to God on a daily basis, seeking  His will, helps our patience

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.