Leading with Heart

Recently, someone asked me about my leadership principles. Words like vision, integrity, responsibility, and discipline rolled off my lips. Showing up with authenticity and presence, with a strong sense of inner knowing and mutual respect. Acting in a right manner, consistent in thoughts, words, and behaviors.

Of course, the archetype of leadership is the warrior. And last week, I spent 4 days hiking in the White Mountains along the 20-mile Presidential Traverse with 3 other warriors. (We started with 4 other warriors, but one was brave enough to say that the trip wasn’t for him. He became our base support.) Including our base support warrior, three were combat veterans; one was an amputee (and Paralympic alpine skier). I was the organizer and perceived leader.

Only one hiker other than me had mountain hiking experience. One was from the US Virgin Islands; not accustomed to sub-70 weather… They all knew me; only a couple knew each other before this week.

On our second day, after an initial first-day 4-mile steep climb towards the ridge line, four of us set out into the rain and clouds, temperatures around 50 degrees-F, and sustained winds of over 30 mph. Soon, at the ridge, we endured gusts over 55 mph. The way was rocky and wet. 7 miles.

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It soon became very apparent that we were all leaders. We took turns in front. We took turns caring for each other. We easily became a close-knit group. There were no issues with where we were going. There were no issues as we adapted to options we faced. The tenants of leadership organically materialized, strengthened, and flowed naturally from us, individually and as a unit.

We’d later roll into the AMC Lake-of-the-Clouds Hut and people asked us who we were. We seemed so comfortable with one another, like brothers. People noticed; they felt our presence.

Upon reflection, we knew that we were not just warriors, enduring the hardships of our experience with determination and fortitude; we were also healers – we were relating to each other from our hearts, indeed as brothers. We discussed the relationship – the balancing act – between our warrior and healer instincts. We discussed the special relationship we shared with each other and with our natural surroundings. We became immersed in the bond of friendship and our connection with the natural world around us. It seemed like the power of our group was well beyond the power of four individuals.

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In yoga, we become aware that, as individuals,we are on a self-realization journey discovering our own true nature. We utilize teachings from the Patanjali-Sutra that help guide us in our interactions: learning to live lives of non-violence (ahimsa), making ourselves more sensitive to the ways we often do subtle violence with our minds and our bodies to ourselves and to others; and learning to be authentic and truthful (satya), ennobling our own true nature through right action, allowing those around us to not feel deceived. We learn to be compassionate, with an open heart and an open mind. We feel safe being our authentic selves. We exude trust and faith in each other.

On our hike, these practices became our way of being. It was so nice to be in a place of sharing, of mutual support, of safety – even while immersed in a world of adventure and challenge.

Through heartfelt leadership, all of us as warriors and healers, balanced and flowing, we became one powerful unit, feeling successes well beyond the sum of each of our individual contributions.

In yoga, we look towards the ideal of pure awareness (isvara), surrendering to the unknown, letting go of perceived boundaries and past conditioning, having faith, and embracing the wisdom of uncertainty… together as one.

On this trip, I believe we scratched the surface of these feelings, towards this ideal, leading ourselves forward like we were one common soul – with heart. And in peace.

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On these rocks, we became Brothers.

Of course, our next challenge will be bringing these teachings into our daily lives and to the world around us. Maybe as brothers, we can.

 

 

Changing Habitual Emotional Reactions

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(From Terry Fralich: The Five Core Skills of Mindfulness)

Each time you encounter a negative emotion (irritation, impatience, anxiety, anger, etc) that threatens to dominate your awareness, try practicing the following:

STOP – Recognize the warning signs of the emotional reaction as soon as possible, and remind yourself to pay attention to them immediately.

BREATHE – Become sensitive to the natural softening quality of your breathe, and send a mental message to your body to release and let go, allowing the negative emotion to soften.

REFLECT – Appraise the situation: Is your reaction supported by old patterns or stories or past experiences? What resources and options do you have in the present moment? Can you change your perspective about how you see yourself in this situation? What are your best insights from this situation and what do you want to remember?

CHOOSE – Having become more aware of your negative emotion and possible patterned response, settled yourself a bit, and tapped into your insights, consider other possible reactions. Remember that you have the power to choose your reaction; can you shift an old pattern and make a creative choice towards another possible reaction? What might be your best choice under all of the circumstances?

This 4-step mindfulness practice can be a powerful tool.

For me (if the situation allows), listening to my body, and perhaps moving my body or relocating myself to a natural and safe place, can help the breathing process and help make my reflections clearer and more in tune with my natural instincts and my deeper intuition.

I try to remember that I am human – bad things happen and I make mistakes – but I also have the ability (and responsibility) to choose my response. If I practice these steps, and pay attention to my positive intentions in life, cultivating positive states (delight, joy, calm, confident, loving, etc) in mind and body, I will eventually change habitual negative emotional reactions to more positive responses, responses which will also be more in tune with my true nature.

Be Selfish. Practice Yoga.

When teaching yoga to young people, especially when many of them are new to yoga, I remind them that the practice of yoga is really about learning about themselves and perhaps how they each relate to the world. I ask them to be selfish; to take away from their yoga practice the necessary skills and knowledge that might be relevant to their current lives and their personal goals.

At a fundamental level, our basic instinct is to survive. We can’t help anyone else if we aren’t alive and able. Learning how to adapt and be resilient in a changing world is fundamental to our existence, each of us, individually and collectively. This starts with awareness and presence. What’s going on now? Use yoga to learn present-moment awareness. Use mindfulness-based practices to not let your personal intentions get “hijacked” or disrupted by distractions and unimportant mental constructs. Use yoga-based movements to train your body to be balanced, strong yet flexible, hard yet soft, determined yet adaptable, aging yet youthful. Use these skills to be aware of change as it happens and to survive through, or breathe through, or move through, the inevitable hardships and stressful challenges in your life. Use yoga to re-program your body when stressful or traumatic events happen, to re-wire your neurological circuitry and let go of bodily stressors which no longer serve you, and to build resilient whole-bodies.

In a competitive world, our desire is to perform well. To win a game, we practice playing the skills of the game better. To score well on an exam, we study and learn the information being tested. If we don’t perform well, it’s not a reflection on who we are, the fabric of our being; we just didn’t perform well. Use yoga to learn focus and to enhance personal mind-body-spirit performance. By learning to let go of thoughts and behaviors that aren’t serving you well nor enhancing your overall ability to perform well, you are better able to focus, to see clearly, and to perform naturally as you have learned and practiced. By focusing on the performance of your whole being – body, mind and spirit – you bring your whole best-self to the game of life.

In our modern world, our instinct is to strive for happiness. We tend to be happier when we are well. We tend to be happier when we feel engaged and connected to people in our lives and in the natural world around us. Use yoga to discover your strengths, what makes you thrive, and to learn how your body responds to healthful and unhealthful habits. Use yoga to discover the natural and instinctive needs that our bodies desire for supportive personal interactions, community, time in nature, and feelings of acceptance, compassion, gratitude… and love.

Of course, survival and performance and happiness are all connected. We are all connected. Use yoga to explore the wondrous possibilities of mind-body-spirit connections, the miraculous possibilities of our human existence, and the infinite Oneness of our Universe. Feel connected. Accept possibilities. Have faith. Practice.

Infinite Possibilities

Infinite Possibilities

Yoga is not just about seeing how far you can stretch or push yourself into a posture. Yoga is about learning about yourself and how you relate to everything around you; it’s about finding balance between your desire to strive and your natural instinct to just live; it’s about learning how to move through – and breathe through – life’s rough spots and living well when you’re tested; it’s about being aware, paying attention, and letting your whole-self thrive naturally and holistically.

Go ahead. Be selfish.

Survive well and be happy. For yourself.

Practice yoga.

We’ll all benefit from each other’s wholehearted practice!

 

 

 

Connect, Cooperate and Collaborate

I believe it is our natural, indigenous tendency to get along with each other: to connect, to cooperate, and to collaborate. It is at least the way I work best. From my perspective, we are responsible for ourselves and for each other.

It seems that we live in a world of specialization, separation, competition, comparison, and blaming others for things that occur in our lives. Things happen. But we are all in this together, aren’t we?

Who-we-are, in my opinion, is NOT the story of what-happens-to-us. Who-we-are relates to how we practice living in our daily lives, how we do what we do. Are we practicing living our daily lives in a manner consistent with our life’s purpose? Are we paying attention to our intentions, individually and collectively? And, are we missing out on real opportunities for expressing our higher selves and living full lives by separating ourselves and not connecting with others?

It is with these thoughts and feelings that I will try to better focus the work I do, again. I have believed for a long time that my work should be a true expression of who I am. In an economy based on competition and comparison, it seems natural that most workplaces promote attitudes of competition and comparison, specialization and separation, sometimes requiring daily work defined by the needs of others or an employer. It is so easy to be caught up in the race…

One of my skill-sets is problem-solving in the professions of building systems, structural and architectural engineering. I have found challenging and engaging work in these fields. I have accomplished much for which I am very proud. But, it is difficult to express myself fully in this field of work alone, to approach my work in my natural wholehearted manner, when I am defined by someone else’s definition of my scope of work and my job responsibilities. I don’t want the business needs of someone else (an employer, for instance) to define who I am.

It’s time to take charge of my work and my career, again, and to find like-minded, inspired individuals and organizations with whom to connect, cooperate, and collaborate. I am confident that I can find ways to better practice living and working in a manner more consistent with these intentions here in this southern Vermont community.

I am so very fortunate to have a few people in my life who see the bigger me, the real me, and who have consistently believed in me and my work. Thank you Rob and Besty Wadsworth of Vermont Barns and The Wadsworth Company, Jo Kirsch and Andrea Ross of Heart of the Village Yoga Studio, Linda Walsh and Larry Geller of Ability Plus, Eva Belanger of Warriors Live On, and Paul Jensen of Albany Therapeutic Massage and Sports Performance Center. Thank you also to my yoga teachers, especially Beryl Bender Birch, Biff Mithoefer, and Eoin Finn… and Jo Kirsch… and also every skier and snowboarder with whom I’ve ever shared the slopes… for helping me see my light. Thanks also to my parents, Alex and Natalie, Jo (again), and my warrior brothers and sisters, for accepting me and standing with me… even when I walk astray. And thank you even to my engineering peers, who have continually given me the chance to perform valuable and important community-building work, albeit somewhat specialized, even when I randomly walk in and out of their business world!

So, I am announcing that I am re-re-retiring from my work as an employed professional engineer! I will continue to do some project development and design work as a self-employed consultant, working on projects and collaborating with organizations doing timber-framed and sustainable home design/build work, but I will also focus more and more on working with non-profits and educational organizations as a coach, a teacher, a visionary, and a team leader and facilitator, too… connecting, cooperating, and collaborating.

Here we go again. One life to live…. celebrate impermanence!

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Hopi Prophecy

The following was sent to me from Biff Mithoefer –

author of “The Yin Yoga Kit – The Practice of Quiet Power” –

another person I will now call Mentor. 

 

Hopi Prophecy:

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell them that this is the Hour!

And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in the right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.

Be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!

 

There is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.

They will try to hold onto the shore.

They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,

Keep our eyes open and our heads above water.

See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves.

For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The journey of the lone wolf is over.

Gather yourselves.

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Go for a Hike!

Today, I went for a hike. Recently, I “haven’t had the time” to go for a hike. Now I do. So I did. Jo and I…

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When I am in nature, I usually find myself in a state of mind where I want to stop and look at the beauty of the clouds or the light of the sky or the color of the trees. When I do this, I open myself up to awe and wonder. I feel intimately connected to something inconceivably huge… I am a part of my environment, not apart from it.

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When I combine the power of a mindfulness-based or yoga experiences in nature with the heartfelt connection of others, the experience has the ability to open me up to extraordinary feelings of radiance and being alive.

My daily practices of enhancing my own personal wellness are about increasing the amount of time I spend every day cultivating this relationship with nature and with others. It’s what makes me healthier and what helps me manifest my dreams and my daily intentions.

September Hike with Warriors

It’s also the foundation of what I do, whether coaching wellness or sports, managing people or projects, or designing sustainable homes and healthy buildings. Mind-body awareness and presence… feelings of being a part of nature… and heartfelt connection with those around me.

Tomorrow, I will go for another hike.

Which Real World? Seeing the World through Different Eyes

I wrote this article about 16 years ago, long before there was blogging in my world. It is reprinted from The Cracker Barrel (Fall / Winter Issue 1996-97). It is interesting how much the experience in this article guided my life since this time, and how much I find myself using today what I learned then. For me, this is what experiential education is all about.

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How many times have you had someone ask you, “So what do you do in the real world?” In a resort community frequented by visi­tors who are usually trying to get away from a faster paced lifestyle, I bet the question is asked quite often. As an employee of Mount Snow, I’m asked the question every day. I usual­ly reply first with a puzzled look to get some clarification, but then give in and acknowledge that I too have a job in their world.

As the Deerfield Valley has become my primary home, I’ve thought more and more about how to answer the question. Isn’t my world of teaching skiing and biking here at Mount Snow the real world? Isn’t our world of a resort community, nestled within the lush forests of the Green Mountain National Forest, real? Why do we see our world as separate worlds, city and forest, mountain and valley, work and play, mine and yours?

Well, one thing I know is that I’ve only learned as much as I know, so if I don’t know, I’ve got some more learning to do! Recently, I set out on an expedition to do some more learning. In June, I spent a month in the eastern Cascades of Washington state with a group of outdoor educators in the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Not knowing exactly what it was that I wanted to learn, I knew the experience would help me see things differently, hopefully giv­ing me new perspectives that would help me understand more about all of my worlds. I spent a month above snow-line in a group of nine, travel­ing many miles per day in wet spring snow, climbing thousands of feet on rugged pitches sometimes approach­ing 45 degrees, and sharing our lives on a daily basis. I managed to have time to ponder a few thoughts on liv­ing in my multiple worlds, on how what I learn in one world really does apply in the other.

The best leaders are also the best coaches. It is not enough to tell someone you work with or live with just what to do and how to do it, you must give them the tools, show them how, motivate and coach them.

Jeremy was a nineteen year old college student from Michigan studying outdoor recreation. The son of two professional psychologists, he was sort of a free-spirit guy who didn’t pay much attention to details before jumping in and just doing things. He was the guy who stood on the edge of a cliff without being tied off, who would not think twice about the risks before crossing a rushing mountain stream, who would acci­dentally spill the boiling water you had just made from melting snow with a limited supply of stove fuel! Jeremy was also the guy we called The Bonk-in-ator because every after­noon, after a long day of backcountry travel… bonk! No more energy. He’d get quiet, doubt his capabilities, and slow down.

It was interesting to see how Jeremy responded to different leader­ship styles. It wasn’t enough to tell him to eat more food and drink more water. It wasn’t enough to just tell him how to take care of his feet. Every day, bonk! He had no energy to go on or to take care of himself once we reached a suitable overnight camp. Finally, because the success of the group depended on the success of each individual, we started to coach him. We showed him what to eat and when to drink. We even carried snack food for him. We gave him support and encouragement. We made him feel good about himself and his role in the group. And in the end, Jeremy was a vital link in the success of our group.

In business, isn’t it also an essen­tial ingredient of company profitability that staff succeeds and be satisfied, in addition to the customer? Maybe we all need to be better coaches in whatever world we are involved in. Maybe I can even apply some of my ski teaching skills to my engineering career?

Conserve energy. Work on what’s important.

 There has been much written on time management. I like what Dr. Stephen Covey speaks about in “First Things First”‘. Spend your time on what’s important; what is part of your personal value system. In skiing, we try to coach people to mini­mize excess motion which disturbs balance. In mountain biking and other endurance sports, we talk about not wasting energy and about relaxed breathing. In our personal lives, it may be about spending more time with the kids or participating in a community activity.

It was a long day. We climbed 2000 feet after leaving the town of Holden on Lake Chelan. Our packs were filled with our new rations of a week and a half. We picked up additional ropes and climbing gear for the ter­rain ahead. Our packs were heavy. We traversed avalanche slide areas and bushwhacked through alders and slide debris. As we sat on our packs, resting, waiting for the other part of our group at the designated meeting spot, we were silent. On all sides above and around us were the steep pitches of snow, rock, and avalanche debris which covered the slopes of a large, glacial cirque. Our route south to our next ration point, 10 days away, was up and out of the cirque.

We decided, as a group, that the only way we would get all members of our group up, over, and back down the other side in one day, would be to start early when the slope was still frozen. Afternoon slush had a greater likelihood of slid­ing and the slopes we were on were very susceptible. We had decided not to carry our crampons on this ration period because of the weight and the snow conditions. Our strategy meant that a few of us would have to kick steps in the snow, up a 1500 feet high pitch, late in the afternoon, so that they would set up for the rest of the group and allow early morning trav­el. At that moment, it became very clear to me what conserving energy meant! Determine what is impor­tant, and focus on it each and every step of the way!

 If something unexpected happens, deal with it immediately.

On the way down that same range, Jeremy accidentally slipped into another member of our group. Luckily, no one was hurt. However, Joanna, a small, careful, and very detail-oriented professional women, was inwardly very upset with the more casual Bonk-in-ator. Jeremy, constantly under the guiding hands of various group members, was inwardly embarrassed and felt detached from the rest of the group. And we still had to descend the most treacherous terrain on ropes, depending entirely on one another. This was no time for pent-up anger and ill-willed feelings.

How many times in my life had I not been able to deal with a situation effectively because of pent-up feelings which I had not previously dealt with? I try to remember this situa­tion with Jeremy and Joanna con­stantly now when I feel something brewing within.

Our individual worlds are as big or as small as we want them to be, or as encompassing as we see them, but in the end, they’re all connected.

For 15 years, I spent the majority of my life engineering structures for buildings where attention to detail was my world. I became immersed in it. On weekends, however, I was drawn to the grandeur of the moun­tains. There, teaching skiing was my world. There, standing atop the mountain on a clear winter night, everything seemed so distant from my other world.

I think it was our third night together on our expedition. It was another long day. We didn’t find a site near water until near nightfall. We dug small shelters in the snow to protect our tents from the cool winds which blew down over us to the long valley below. After eating, we all sat down to discuss who we were, where we were from, and why we were there. Not just names and places, but who we really were. What events and influences brought us to be who we were at that particular time and place? I sat there and listened to Rick read a Native American story. I looked up to the stars, which looked just like they do from the top of Mount Snow, and down to the dis­tant lights in the valley which also looked so familiar. It occurred to me that everything I had experienced in my life brought me to that moment. Everything.

It was that moment which gave me the focus for this article. For the rest of the trip, for the rest of my vacation to this unfamiliar land, my thoughts became directed on how my experiences on that adventure were connected to my real world. It seemed like the more I learned, the more I could begin to see all of the connections between my other worlds. As I have seen the connec­tions, the more I have wanted to apply them in whatever real world I was in.

Our environment is our world. Our earth, our atmosphere, and all forms of life they support, are connected. We are each a vital link.

One last experience… It was the end of our trip. We were picked up by a van after living for three weeks with the forest as our friend and with each tree as our companion. Tired from a twelve mile hike out of the woods, yet elated at the thought of a shower (Jeremy ran out!), a sudden silence overcame the whole group. Just as the sounds of U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky came on the radio, the chop­pers of a cut and run logging opera­tion flew overhead suspending the trunks of salvaged timbers. The music rang out “Outside is America…” I was a cultural shock; a rude awakening to the real world. We were trying to understand. Suddenly, my perspective changed. I could no longer look at distant lands and forests, and what goes on in them, as being separate from my real world. My world just got bigger. Just like guests who come to our southern Vermont community and take away experiences they will always remem­ber, the forests were telling me, “Don’t forget about us.”

About the author: Bob has been a structural engineer with Ryan-Biggs Associates in Troy, NY, for 13 years. He has also been teaching skiing for over 20 years. Recently, Bob changed his real world and is the Director of Staff Training for Skier Development at Mount Snow, VT. He spends many winter nights snowshoeing on top of the mountain look­ing out at both worlds. 

Creating Routine… Watching with Wise Eyes… Adapting to Change

I think it’s pretty common to want things to be a certain way in our lives… we create ideas of how we think things should be, we become attached to these ideas, we worry about whether things will happen the way we think, and we get all stressed out as we plan our futures. We want some level of control over our futures, especially when we’ve experienced hardship and don’t want more hardship.

Of course, we can’t control the future. We can’t control what happens to us and around us. Life is hard… and hardship happens. All we can do is live each day and be ready for what happens, as it happens… and be aware as it happens… so we can act with intention, take responsibility for our actions, and learn from our actions… so we are better adapted to live through whatever happens next.

For me, I try to be prepared for things that may happen by being in my best possible physical, emotional, and mental state-of-being each day. I try to create some routine in my daily life that enhances my presence-of-mind and feelings of well-being so that I am always moving forward in ways I can control while being prepared for change and chaos that will happen and that I can’t control.

Here are some examples of my daily routine, things that I can control:

I try to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. I make lifestyle choices based on this desire.

I get up every morning and exercise for at least 45 minutes before I begin other daily activities. This way, the unexpected happenings of the day don’t get in the way.

I practice some form of yoga or meditation at the end of my workout to set intention for the day, express gratitude for myself and loved ones, feel connectedness, and just “be” for a few moments.

I practice a fairly strict routine of eating and drinking. I pay attention to when I eat, what I eat, and how I feel afterwards. I try to keep it simple with foods I eat almost everyday. I drink only water and tea and sometimes coconut water. I try to avoid breathing air that isn’t clean. I do not drink coffee or alcohol; I do not smoke or take non-prescribed drugs. In fact, I usually avoid prescribed drugs. I do take food supplements, like fish oils and green super-foods. And I am learning more about avoiding toxins that I might be putting on my skin for sun protection or cleansing…

I try to avoid negativity and people who don’t help me bring out the best in myself.

I try to act with feelings of compassion for all things, and watch with wise eyes as things happen around me. This is difficult, but it helps me deal with the chaos, challenges, and hardships of life… and adapt to whatever happens next.

Wolf Eyes… Wise Eyes…

Twelve-Twenty / Twenty-Twelve

Is this the end? Or, is this just the beginning?

Yes, if our days are like they have been in the past, the sun will start rising sooner and the sun will start setting later, each day bringing more and more light.

Perhaps, though, it is time for a bigger shift. A shift in energy…  A shift in consciousness… A shift in how we treat one another. A shift towards enduring light and feelings of love and compassion… Aren’t we ready for a new era in our towns and cities?

It’s the end of the world as we know it… (and I feel fine…)

Here is how I see the new era, as if it were happening now:

It is commonplace for each of us to see the unique and special qualities inherent in each other. We now scoff at the days when our relationships were based on comparison, competition and judgment.

We relate to one another with a natural attitude of acceptance, presence, dignity, and gratitude. We’ve let go of the need to always win and be better and take advantage of others.

We make one another feel safe and understood just by the way we are. We’ve come to realize that put-downs and bullying were just expressions of personal insecurities… and only bred a society of dis-ease.

We’ve come to live with nature in a way that we can sustain life. Our former habits of irresponsive consumption just vanished one day when we realized we’re all living on a finite Earth together… and everything is connected.

We’ve learned that everyone can thrive when we are each allowed to express our own personal goodness from a place of heartfelt positive feelings and intuitive decision-making. The era during which rational thinking and analytic comparison ruled our actions ended just as easily as it started.

We’ve accepted that miracles and wonderment are normal and limitless when we pay attention in the present moment to what is actually going on around us. It seemed so easy for humans to let go of events of the past and attachments to how the future should be like, once we realized that our lives are only happening in the present moment.

The idea of blaming someone else or something else for one’s own behavior or actions seems so antiquated now. Our good health, how we act, and our common survival is now up to each of us to positively affect and be responsible for… the days of a society that relied to doctors, lawyers, elected officials, and insurance providers to take care of us are long gone.

Young people are now the leaders of the world. One day, after a school shooting in an old town called Newtown, young people rose up in protest against the society their parents created… and began a new world, a new era where human relationships are based on mutual respect, interdependence, and common ground. The old governing leadership that promoted political in-fighting and self-promotion, judgment and divisiveness, and independent thinking was abolished. People realized that individual positive actions each day, each moment, actually do affect the world and everything else that happens. And only the young people of the world, unclouded by the perceptions and attachments of the old world, were able to see clearly that a new reality was indeed happening… in that present moment of twelve-twenty / twenty-twelve.

A Blessing from a Warrior

God has blessed me with countless blessings in my life. Some I take for granted like my ability to talk; I have 10 fingers and toes and good health. The main thing I would never forget is the 3 days I was in Love with this Angel. Some may never understand why I’m thankful but you and I know.

To hold you in my arms on the beach of a tropical island, while the sun was setting was amazing. Gazing in your eyes and both of us wishing to hold back the hand of time so this moment would never end. Crazy huh, having a struggle with time. Facing the fact that the only way I can have this beautiful scenery would be in my mind. I’ll never forget the colors of the horizon and above lit up colors never before seen, a new chemistry of love intoxicated the skies in Heaven. In fact the essence of this new Love created Heaven on Earth. The reflection of the sky on the ocean surface, and rainbow colored clouds intertwine creating breathe taking images. The sand was soft as if I was sinking; in fact yes, indeed i was deeper and deeper in Love. To experience Love was amazing. To keep Love and embrace it will be a blessing. So I want to say Thank You God for that experience of Love.

 Submitted by Joel Ettiene, St. Croix, USVI, 2011