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Sunday, December 13, 2009

To Breath and to Smile

To breathe and to smile? Why would I make such a ridiculous title for a post?

Look at the children. Examine their faces. My favorite smile is of course in the middle! I actually know these small children. I wish you could have could experienced meeting them like I did. These little expressions of joy I met while on my first trip to San Matias, a little Barangay (village) that was devastated by the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption years before in the Philippines. Despite their circumstances these children and their community have grace and hospitality, I have only observed first hand once in my life!

My wife and I walked the dirty street that led to her Grandmother's small concrete home. We approached the gateway to the little dwelling when it seemed like 10 - 15 beautiful tiny figures gathered around in front of us. I did not know it but my wife was related to all of them and was greeting them for the first time! She had been away from her native country for 10 years so she had not seen these children. There is a custom in her country that the young are to always show respect to their elders. I had heard of this ritual but never participated first hand. The children formed a line in front of us. The first one grabbed my hand gently, bowed, placed the back of my and to his forehead. Each child repeated the same until they were done. I cannot accurately describe the feeling that came over me!

These children one by one paid respect to me and my wife as was their custom. You could see the fact that they were in poverty, a way of life that they were quite accustomed to.

I guess what I am trying to convey is when you strip life down to the very basics, all you really need in life is to breathe and to smile! You cannot tell me that these children are not living happy lives! I know they live on much less than we do, however they are happy in whatever circumstance they find themselves in!

We in the Western world are governed by our appetites, our addictions and to pop culture. We live our lives to varying degrees according to what our world view tells us is right. We are marketed to at every turn, overwhelmed with ads in print, television and on our smart phones! We are so engrossed in the virtual world that we miss out on reality!

I want you to try an exercise that I learned from a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Buddhist and Zen Master from Vietnam. He has published many books and is known the world over for his wisdom. This particular book is entitled "The Miracle of Mindfulness".

This simple exercise will help bring you back into focus so you can, like the little children, once again learn to smile and enjoy the little things. This is a breathing exercise, so find a quiet place the first time you do this. Soon you will be able to practice this wherever you are.

  • As you breathe in, say to yourself in your thoughts "I am breathing in a calming breath".

  • As you breathe out, say to yourself in your thoughts " I am breathing out a smile". Put a smile on your face! It will amaze you how much better you will feel with a smile rather than a frown. The physical act of smiling will bring a happier emotion to you shortly if you will keep it up!

  • Next, as you breathe in again, say to yourself " I am breathing in this present moment". Take take time to be in that moment you are currently in and experience it.

  • Next, as you breathe out, say to yourself " Wonderful moment". We should be thankful for every moment we live.

By repeating this process you can achieve much comfort and stress relief! By counting our breath and making the most of each moment we can live a much richer and more fulfilling life!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kape Anyone?

I was stirred to consciousness at 5:30 a.m. You know that fog you wake up sometimes when you are mildly confused as to what day it is? Maybe you thought it was a workday and it just happened to be Saturday. I was in a small concrete room, on the floor, on a thin foam rubber mat. A fan whined nearby giving some comfort from the humid air. There were bars on the window from my second story confines.
I could hear strange voices and the sound of footsteps outside my door! Was I in prison? Heck no! It was my first morning visiting my wife's family in the Philippines.

When I stepped out the door I was greeted by her uncle Augusto. He is a morning person and a happy Filipino having his first American guest. He said "Good Morning, would you like some Kape?". I said sure not really knowing what it was but hoping it was just coffee. I went outside on the porch and quickly got ready for the day, a quick shave, washed my face from a small sink they have outside all the while being greeted by stares from various rooters who were on the job waking their owners! In a short while her uncle returned with a cup in his hand.
I can remember negotiating the stairs that led to the ground floor sipping on this hot beverage thinking to myself "this isn't coffee, it's more like hot chocolate". He led me to the dining room, a small area about 6'x6' with a handmade table with an oilcloth table cloth. He offered me a small bread or roll called "Pandesal" and we went to the street.
The Kape was sweet and warm, the bread was hot with melted margarine. The street was filling up in this sleepy little village as people stirred out of their homes. I had stumbled on one of this towns local traditions or routines. It seems at least for a little while in the morning people will come out early and chat with their neighbors in the street. They have polite conversation with each other collectively greeting the new day. One can see the small uniformed children rushing around, laughing and boarding their transportation on their way to school.
We tarried outside for maybe 15 minutes. I met smiling neighbors petted a small dog, and waved at cheerful children as they made their way to school! All in all, not a bad way to start the day!

What can I take away from this experience? Hmmm, maybe it's cool to slow down a little and enjoy people and the time we have here. I think we, as Americans live our lives at twice the sound of Stupid!! Hey, we grew up here, this is what we know. I would offer that we should take a little time to examine our daily routine. Is this how you really want to live? As I get older the weeks fly past faster than ever. I remember like 5 minutes ago it was Sunday night and I was dreading Monday! It is now Friday and the week was spent like a Black Friday outing!
If you were to plan the perfect day what would it look like? It is time we live life on purpose instead of drifting downstream without a rudder hoping against hope that someone will throw us a lifeline. I hate to break it to you but your the captain here, it's up to you to do something! I often think of planning the perfect day. How would it appear? Just list some things you want to get done everyday, not at to do list but a priority list. What is important to you? What are the things you know you should take time to do but are putting off?

Make your list, do your list and repeat! Just take time to live on purpose!

Kape ingredients: Don't laugh when you read this, just try it once. One tablespoon Nescafe Clasico, two tablespoons brown sugar, two tablespoons CoffeeMate! There you have it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I love the smell of Pollution in the morning!

I cannot explain the way you feel when you get off of an airplane after you have travelled for 30 hours. I do know how I felt the last time I visited the Philippines. Standing in line at 4 different international airports, being hassled from the time you arrive at your first to when you get to your destination! Then you realize, "Hey I paid good money for this!"

This was my second trip. When you are beyond tired sometimes I believe you find yourself in a different state of consciousness. The feeling I had after I knew all the security checks were over, baggage collected and customs had cleared us was one of relief and expectation! We were to meet a friend of ours, a first time face to face with a woman we had met online (another story for another day!) Ninoy Aquino, the Philippines largest airport. We were about to make our exit.

We made our toward the doors leading out with luggage in tow. Leaving the comfort of the airport we felt the first blast of our new uniquely Filipino environment!

The smell of the city hit us like an unfortunate fall, the kind that happens so fast by the time that you are on the ground you have to ask yourself "What just happened?". The realization quickened our minds and senses to the reality that we were finally back in the Philippines! We labored down the ramp through the hoping to see the woman that was to meet us. This time when I breathed my first of the Philippine air I knew I was once again home in a strange country that I have learned to love! We gazed for a few moments across the road where all the people gathered to welcome visitors and family members. We searched for the new friend we were about to meet, at once she appeared from the crowd in typical filipina fashion, with a big smile and a welcoming wave! This was the beginning of my second adventure to this strange but fascinating homeland of my wife.

Why did I post this? I'm not even quite sure at the moment. The title suggests a silly premise. The point is not the smell of an emerging nation but memory that it invoked. I guess what I am trying to convey is that all that is known, learned, and experienced by a person is not the sum total of reality. Whoever you are, wherever you are, however your grew up shaped the person you became. Your environment, your parents, your peers, shaped how you view the world and what you consider to be the truth about the world you live in.

My greatest desire is to help people. Truth is one of life's greatest gifts. Look around at your very familiar surroundings. I want to enable folks just like you to uncover the fact that your personal reality, your personal flavor of the truth is not the final authority. There is a vast sea of humanity located in different countries, cities and neighborhoods. They wake up everyday just like you and have hope for a better existence just like you. Beautiful cultures with different points of view and experiences that have the right to not only exist but to thrive just as we do!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I do believe we live in the fog, separted by extreme moments of clarity that shape our lives.

Do you remember a moment that changed your life? It may have been the death of a family member or relative. It could be a divorce or separation. It may have been a time when you excelled at work. It could be anything that was a milestone in your life but you, and only you know what it is!

You realize of course that these moments were put there to teach you something. Don't quickly dismiss these memories but embrace them and learn from them! I believe that life is the greatest teacher if you will listen.

You see people everyday that never change. Do you know someone that is stuck in the decade that they lived in when they graduated high school or college? Funny how pork chop sideburns or an unattractive mullet have a way of sticking around with some people!

You used to be told to keep a journal. I believe that it is a good idea although I never did it for long. I would much rather type on the computer than write something out in longhand. If you don't do anything else but recap your day and see what you could be doing better than the day before, at least you are continuing to learn and grow as a person! Imagine what you could learn if you examined all the great things you did through the day. Recording the mistakes you made would enable you to avoid them the next day!

Did you ever miss an exit on the interstate? If you don't pay attention to the small signs and landmarks along the highway of life you could get lost. Miss a large construction sign and you could be in for danger!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A fortunate turn of events!

I was abruptly awaken by the shrillness of a hotel phone. It was the kind of sleep you get from absolute necessity. I had been up for 36 hours previous on an all night flight to Singapore. The voice on the other end quickly made me realize why I was here.

We have to back up to the beginning. Did you know that your life can change in a moment and set you on a course that you never thought possible? In that moment of change you don't even perceive the tidal wave that will come in your life! My brother and I were hanging out and talking one day in 2001, a day like any other. For some reason he mentioned about a conversation he had had earlier about someone who had married a woman from another country. I had been recently divorced in 1999 and was wondering about the direction of my life and how it would unfold. For some unexplained reason that idea was suddenly very appealing to me but I didn't know how to go about it. I know for some people this is a crazy thought. I have never been the type of person to always go along with what everyone else says. I had always had a seed deep in my heart to travel and experience the world. So when he mentioned this I was immediately attracted to the idea!

This was early in the computer age. 2000 was the year I had bought my first computer for $600.00! I had plenty of time on my hands after work and had found that I could chat with people from all walks of life and interests. The next night I came home I eagerly sat down at my computer and started looking at all the chat rooms available. Different cultures, topics and groups. They have political chats, foreign language chat etc. I stumbled into one "room" that is what they call them to find people chatting in a language I had never heard of. It was called Tagalog. I could see words and phrases that I had never seen before. They were chatting in a language I did not understand however there were English words interspersed amongst the Tagalog words. I learned quickly that this is the official language of the Philippines.

I posted a couple of times in English not knowing if anyone would even pay attention to me. Soon there was this person sending me an instant message and she was bi-lingual. How exciting I thought! She asked if I spoke Tagalog and of course I had to reply that I didn't. She was from Ohio but had moved to the U.S. from Singapore after growing up in the Philippines. I chatted with her for a few nights and looked forward everyday to talking to someone from another country. I have always been fascinated with people from other countries and cultures so this was outstanding for me! I found out that she had gotten married about 2 years before to an American. She asked if I was single and offered to send me an e-mail address of a friend of hers that lived in Singapore.

To be continued....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Your nuts! You just don't know it! Stop it!


I was listening to a man the other day that I know fairly well (12 years). He is much like everyone else. He was complaining about the direction of this country and was to the point of being afraid. His stress level was up, his attitude was down. He had worked himself into a frenzy of negativity.

It is okay to be concerned. It is ok to be involved. It is not ok to be in a state of frustration about events that you have no control over! What is the freaking point?? He was raging about Obama and the evil plot he has for this nation. I am no fan of the current administration either. I do realize I have only a few options when it comes to politics. I can vote, I can persuade others, I can contribute to the political party of my choice.

I find too many like minded people in my camp are so frustrated that they can't see straight!

I ask you, what good does this do?? What are the results of this frustration?

1. You end up walking around with a high stress level

2. You spend your time thinking and venting on things you have no control over.

3. You don't spend time on your life and neglect designing a future for yourself!

I believe it is much more important to strive to take control over your own life and change it for the better than it is to waste precious energy obsessing over something you cannot change.

If we would do a little traveling we would find we live in the greatest country in the world. Having said that I mean all you have to do is experience some other countries to find that we have it pretty good here!

I believe that Americans should stop whining and get out there and do something about their present situation! We still have plenty of opportunity that others would love to have!

That brings me to my last point (yes I will shut up soon). Perspective is an amazing lens. What do I mean? If we could just take a little time and look at things through another's perspective we may see things different. Breathe a little! Most people quit learning when they get out of high school or college. What they have learned is all they know! Be a little more adventurous than that! Most people in the world are just trying to eat everyday! We have that problem solved! Quit being such an ungrateful person! Get on with YOUR life! We have it made!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Saturday Morning!

Oh the bliss that is Saturday Morning! I woke up this morning and thought it was the weekday, man! I was glad it was really Saturday. I approach each weekend with the challenge of taking it moment by moment and really enjoying all the time. I need to rake leaves, put some stuff on e-bay and various other task that have to be done!

I wish every day could be Saturday. What I mean is that everyday I could chose what to do or not to do. I really don't believe we will ever discover our real potential until we mature enough to be out on our own. What a scary prospect! Totally depending on yourself for all income, benefits, and retirement. Guess what we are doing it already! We are just selling a portion of the money we make back to our employers!

I was at work the other day and a girl that works for me was talking passionately about what she was doing the morning before she came into work. She went on and on about this activity she was engaged in and from her voice you could tell that she was in her element when she was doing this work. I asked her why she was not doing this type of work full time? What a joy it would be to be paid for who you are and the things you love to do!

Saturday morning and every morning should be the goal for all of us! We do after all live in America and the opportunities abound everywhere! I spoke to a friend of mine this week who had been laid off due to his company closing a facility. He was doing a part time job for a homeowner, raking leaves and cleaning out a garage. Not too bad of a day for $150.00! This was more than he cleared per day at his (good job) before they let him go!

I will always believe that there is more money out in this economy for those who seek to find it! I also believe that we should do something that we are passionate about so that work is not drudgery! I will not stray off this path that I have set for myself and I will overcome the day to day wage slave existence!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The bicycle. Mirror for Reality

Have you ridden a bike lately? If your like me, a little too much out of shape, you are in for a rude awakening! You see a bicycle can't lie. If it's cold outside, it will not warm you up. If it's raining, it will not keep you dry. If there is a hill to climb, well you just have to put in more effort!

We live in this society which shields us from Reality. We come home to our comfortable houses, we sit on our comfortable couch, eat our comfortable food. We are in constant search to find the path of least resistance! We drive our cool cars with A.C., stereo sound, air bags, G.P.S. , and a cell phone to text with in our hands! When we are in that quiet environment we begin to believe that there are no consequences to our actions. Through our pursuit of creature comfort we have insulated ourselves from our perception of Reality!

In the third world they still live in reality. Most people in the world don't have clean water, steady food, or adequate shelter. If the temperature is hot they know it (and complain less than we do), If they have somewhere to go, they have to walk or pay for some sort of public transportation. That act alone put them in contact with fellow travelers on the road of life. They are not insulated from the rest of their society.

Just try to get that old bicycle out and take it for a ride! You may find that along with the struggles you encounter, you may once again feel the wind in your face reminding you of what it feels like to be a child.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gary Vaynerchuck!

I know I am the last in line on this but here goes! I just watched some video of a guy named Gary Vaynerchuck. You've got to be kidding me! This guy has it going on! For anyone interested in changing thier life or improving themselves he is an inspiration. You can check him out at http://garyvaynerchuk.com/. I am going to learn from this guy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday afternoon Blues!

Everyone who is a wage slave knows what I'm talking about. The feeling that hits you about 11 a.m. on Sunday when you know your free pass is about to expire! The rest of the day is spent trying not to remember that the next day is Monday and it's back to work whether you like it or not!
If I sound ungrateful to have a job you may be right. It's not that I am ungrateful it's just that there seems to be a force that is sucking the life right out of me stealing the joy that could be mine if I had the guts to choose my own desiny. I do have a good job (If by your standards a good job means good pay and benefits). It is that sinking feeling that presses your soul and quenches your passion for life! I thank God for that feeling! It makes me know that because I feel that way that I am not dead on the inside! The flip side of all that negative energy is, I believe, the seed that is planted deep within all of us to succeed and prosper on our own terms.
This blog is one of the many steps this one ordinary man will use to escape the chains of wageslavism, mediocrity and settling for second best! I am and have been embarking on a life long journey that will take me to the place I want to be in life! If you feel like me and have the same desires as me to change my life, let's throw off all the old ideas and methods and reach for something much more deeply satisfying!


Go to facebook and look for Randall Meek! You will find me!

My first Posting!

This is just a rought draft to get my blog up and running. I hope this is great day to be alive!