Life Itself

I just finished watching “Life Itself”, a documentary about the life of Roger Ebert.  There was probably a time when I wouldn’t have been able to remember NOT watching him on TV – he and Gene Siskel just seemed always to have been there.

Ebert - Life ItselfI always related more to him than to Gene Siskel.  Roger seemed far more able to enjoy a movie for what it was, when Gene always seemed to be expecting them to hit some high standard worthy of being called “cinema”.  But there’s a place in the world for stupid, silly, sex-obsessed or drug-induced movies.  Not every film can be Citizen Kane; nor should they try to be.  In any case, if Roger gave it a thumbs up, I was more likely to see it.

I love movies, but I’ve never been a movie geek.  I can’t tell you who produced what, or when.  And half the time, I couldn’t tell you the plot of a movie I saw last year.  So, as I got older, watching Siskel & Ebert became less and less important, and eventually, non-existent.  But, as a Chicagoan, Roger Ebert has always been somehow important to me.  He wasn’t born there, but he made Chicago his home, and passed up many offers to make much more money in other cities, so to many of us, he’s a native.

I remember being shocked the first time I saw a picture of Roger after his surgery for jaw cancer.  And feeling sorry for a man who would no longer be able to speak, after spending decades talking to Chicago, and all of America, about film.  But, in “Life Itself”, we see that Roger’s voice was never silenced (and in many ways never will be), only changed.  He was forced to put more emphasis on the written word, and he became even more prolific as a result.

As it relates to the theme of this blog, the movie reveals Roger’s attitude about death.  He believed it to be a part of life, and wasn’t afraid of it.  Even to the end.  There’s not much more I can say about it.  I hope I will have the same perspective when it’s my time.

I don’t cry a lot when I watch movies, but I cried at the end of this one.  Because Roger Ebert was able to walk a path that gave him fulfillment in life.  Many (most?) of us do not.  It was his wife’s description of his passing that finally got me.  Even at his death, he gave her strength, as she gave him during life.

If you ever enjoyed Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, or if you’re just a movie buff, watch “Life Itself”.  But have a tissue handy.


How much is enough?

“Those who do not move do not feel their chains.”

—Rosa Luxemburg


Saw this quote on Facebook today and thought, “That’s an interesting idea.”  And how true.  Another way of saying it could be, “Those who do not aspire for more in their lives do not face limitations.”

This idea brings up a question:  Is this such a bad thing?

If you are happy in your place in the universe, are you breaking some kind of social contract by wanting to stay right there?  Are we all somehow committed to aspiring for more?  And if we don’t, are we going against the desires of the Universe (God, Allah, Source, etc.)?

You can make the case that the answer is, Yes.  Abraham teaches that we have come to the physical plane to experience contrast (negative experience) in order to feel desire for change; desire for “more”.  Therefore, if you are perfectly comfortable as a minor cog in the wheel, you aren’t living up to your responsibility.

On the other hand, the more I ponder the question of just what it is that we as human beings are here for, the more I am convinced that our ultimate goal is to achieve profound happiness in our lives, regardless of what may come along.  If that’s the case, isn’t the guy who finds himself in love with being a simple shoe salesman in a store in a small town in the middle of nowhere closer to the goal than those of us who dream and struggle and work and achieve?  Maybe THAT is what that guy was put here to accomplish; finding happiness in one single, solitary area of life.

And maybe that’s enough.


Are you becoming what you want to attract?

“I will attract into my life what I am, not what I want.”

—Dr. Wayne Dyer


This is a deeper statement than the usual Law of Attraction mantra, which sounds more like, “I will attract into my life what I think about most.”  As I think about it, I’m beginning to feel like it’s a chicken/egg kind of situation, though.

Your thoughts determine your actions.

Those actions reveal the kind of person you are.

The kind of person you are influences the kinds of thoughts you think.

I suppose if I had to choose, I’d go with the thoughts coming first.  Thought is the beginning of everything in the Universe.  As the individual grows as a person, they are going to think differently, which spurs more growth, etc.  But, without first deciding (thought) to do something in a different way, there is no change.

My interpretation of Dr. Dyer’s quote is that the vibration we emanate from the core of our being is stronger than the one we send out from the level of simple desire.  It’s why we don’t just “get” what we want in life.  Abraham would say we need to be in alignment with our desires.  Others would say, “Become the change you want to see.”  It’s the same message in different words.

So…  Are you becoming what you want to attract?


Move toward what makes you happy

“I have spent my life seeking higher guidance. My favorite joke used to be, “Why doesn’t God work in neon?”

I finally learned that God or the universe or whatever name you want to call the Divine Buzz does indeed work in neon. It’s call joy. Or as Joseph Campbell instructed, ‘Follow your bliss.’

If you want higher guidance, start moving towards what makes you happy. Kids know this. They automatically seek out things that bring joy.”

—Pam Grout

This is excerpted from a terrific blog post by one of my heroes.  Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared, a book I can’t recommend too highly, and its soon-to-be-released sequel, E-Cubed.

I think that she’s ‘verbalizing’ something that all of us often feel; we want to know what to do next, and we feel as though it has to come from “out there” somewhere.  We’re looking for something to clear the fog for us; to show us the how to reach a higher plane.  But, spend a little time studying the ideas around spiritual enlightenment and you’ll quickly see that ALL of the teachers will tell you that your guidance comes from within.  Access to it comes by way of introspection, meditation and other methods of quieting the chatter of the conscious mind.

I’ve written before that I believe our ultimate goal as human beings is to achieve a state of waking bliss, where we don’t care about anything.  We just spend our days with a tremendous smile on our faces.  This is what I think Pam is referring to in the first sentence above.  No, I don’t believe it’s a goal that many can achieve.  The closest we have today (outside of those we label as being somehow mentally handicapped) are probably the Eastern mystics, who have no possessions, yet are eternally happy.  Ironically, many of us in the materialistic West, often seek these people out in an effort to achieve that same kind of perpetual happiness.

In reference to the quote above, here is the issue: we want to be shown how to be happy.  Instead, we need to take action toward that end (the means is irrelevant), and the Universe – higher guidance – will take the hint.  It will bring us more of the same.  This is how the Law of Attraction works.

If you’re not sure of the best route for you, don’t worry.  You’re not committing to any particular method.  In fact, you can’t.  It’s a guarantee that your path is going to meander, no matter how strongly you think you have it planned out.  So, just take a few baby steps toward things that make you smile.  There’s no requirement to fling yourself headlong into it, unless that approach is going to work for you (it wouldn’t, for me).

You’ll have to excuse me now.  It’s time to go for a stroll.


What if…


…the Law of Attraction doesn’t work the way we believe it works?

…there is a supreme being, and he/she/it uses us for entertainment?

…the Universe doesn’t wait for us to decide we want something, but instead creates the something and then causes the desire within us?

…you and I are nothing but puppets in some colossal game?

Would you live your life differently?


Forward or back

“In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”

 — Abraham Maslow

This quote comes to me at a time when I’m very involved with creating a course about anticipating and influencing change and transition in a person’s personal or professional life.  The relevance is that what Maslow is saying is exactly the thing I’ve been writing and talking about.  It’s the Law of Attraction in action.

The Universe is constantly bringing us opportunities to effect change in our lives.  In fact, change is one of the few Truths we all have in common.  Everything in your personal and professional life is going to change at some point.  One of the prime variables is whether you are proactive about it, or just wait for it to happen to you.

Maslow is considered to have been a pretty sharp guy.  I wonder if he’d have liked my program…


Justin Bieber can relate

In the news today is the story that North Korea’s current carnival geek, Kim Jong-un (I apologize if any of OUR carnival geeks are offended by my including this guy in their ranks), is so bored with his life that he has issued an edict: the only haircut that men in North Korea are allowed to have is the same style he wears.  I can’t wait to see the pictures of all these guys running around looking like a cross between the Three Stooges’ Moe and Shemp.





Kim Jong Un

OK.  Now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk about why he’s doing this.  Whatever thoughts are rolling around in his mind are, of course, inaccessible to the rest of us, so I’m going to speculate.  Actually, I gave it away in the first sentence of this post: boredom.

Think about it…  Almost every day we see pictures and hear stories of celebrities or politicians or top-level businessmen who are doing things the majority of us would never consider.  As a consequence, their careers often implode.

Sexual misconduct.

Abuse of drugs/alcohol/food/plastic surgery.

Illegal possession of guns or drugs, sometimes with intent to distribute.

Physical abuse of their partners.

Verbal abuse of loved ones, employers, fans, reporters, etc.

I’m sure there’s plenty more to add to the list, but you get the idea.  What’s going on?  These people have tremendous amounts of money and opportunity, and sometimes they get bored.  Dinner at the current hot restaurant, partying at the most exclusive club, or even golfing at the most expensive courses can get old, just the same as going to the movies on Thursday nights can get old for the rest of us.

The human spirit needs variety.  It craves entertainment that pushes the boundaries.  Sure, you can be satisfied with riding your bike around the local lake.  For a while…  But, every once in a while, dreams of riding cross country, or competing in a Tour de Something race pop into your head.  Whether or not you’re physically capable of it is irrelevant.  The spirit wants to try.

When you are the dictator of a country, with absolute control, there are few limitations, at least within your national borders.  But, you can only tour so many factories and other infrastructure facilities dressed up to look productive for you, order the murders or arrests of so many family members and opposition leaders (real or imaginary), or wave at so many toy army men parades in your honor.  Sooner or later it HAS to get boring.  It’s only natural.

I’m sure Justin understands.




Tomorrow is promised to no one

This past Sunday, we attended a small BBQ at the house of some friends – another couple.  On Monday night, the husband flew to Peru, arriving in Lima some time on Tuesday.  Yesterday, he traveled to a small town to meet with friends and do some swimming.  In the afternoon, after a swim, he had a heart attack and died.

I’ll be honest; he and I were not the closest of friends, but we were certainly at the level that we could have gone for a beer together, and my wife and I were welcome at their house.  It’s a very strange feeling to have someone you know removed from the world without warning.

This man seemed to be in perfect health, and as far as I know, had no heart issues prior to this.  He obviously enjoyed taking me and the other male friend in attendance on Sunday to the garage to show off his new Harley Davidson, and telling us about all of the cycle trips he had planned for the coming months.

He was an avid writer, among many other things, and told us about the books he was either finishing or about to begin.

He marinated some chicken in a special recipe of his own, then put it on the grill.  We ate, drank a few bottles of wine, told stories, and talked philosophy.  It was a full evening for all.  In short, this was a guy who, at 60 or so years of age, was living life.  I feel like quite the underachiever in comparison.

There is sadness in his passing, but it is an emotion we feel for ourselves.  Those of us still living feel loss.  I have already shared my opinion on this with one friend who was in attendance this weekend.  She is feeling tremendous shock.  I reminded her that he didn’t suffer, and that he’s not hurting now.  There’s no need to feel sorry for him, except in as much as he didn’t get to do any more of the things he had planned for his life.  It’s the rest of us – his wife, in particular – who will have to carry on the day-to-day processes of life.

I’m not sure there’s much more of a point to this post, other than to tell you what you already know…  Get busy doing the things you enjoy doing.  And, when you have the opportunity to do it, tell those who you care for that you do care for them.  It will make YOU feel better.



Stop playing the blame game

I’m getting to the point where I don’t feel all that motivated by the Abraham quotes to write about them.  If you follow their work, you know that the message is the same.  Always.  And, if your message is always the same, you have no choice but to repeat yourself, no matter how hard you might try to rephrase things.  It’s inevitable.

What’s NOT inevitable is my motivation to keep commenting on the same message.  Somewhere along the line, it just begins to seem redundant (it is) and unnecessary (it should be), but…

A friend of mine has attended a number of Abraham-Hicks workshops, and he’s commented to me that a lot (most!) of the attendees really just don’t get the message.  In conversation with them over lunch, for example, they willingly share how much they still struggle with issues in their lives, even though those issues could be corrected fairly easily if they were addressed using the Law of Attraction principles taught by Esther and Abraham, and even though they may have been “studying” those principles for years.

I see this as a lack of critical thinking skills (possibly combined with an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for where they are in life and where they want to go – it’s all on YOU!).  This is core to the message I want to get out.  If you don’t know how to take an objective look at your problems, or how to ask the kinds of questions that will allow you to uncover the answers, you don’t stand a snowball’s chance of moving forward in life.

I’m toying with the idea that another factor in this equation is guilt.  SO many people just can’t/won’t accept that they are where they are, regardless of how or why, and shift their focal energies toward progressing in their lives.  They seem determined to blame someone.  This is a natural tendency.

Here’s the problem with that tendency: the word “blame” comes with baggage.  If someone is to blame, then someone is supposed to be punished.  Society is set up that way.

Now, along comes a teacher who says that you can change your life; you can be happier.  GREAT!  I like that.  But, wait…  If there’s room to improve my happiness quotient, then I’m not as happy as I could be, and there’s a reason for that.  SOMEONE is responsible for my lack of complete happiness.  SOMEONE is to blame for my state of lack.  SOMEONE needs to be punished.

What happens when that teacher says that the person responsible for your situation is you?  By your logic, you have to hold yourself responsible.  You have to be punished.

This is where the train of thought becomes faulty.  You are where you are because of the actions you took (or didn’t take), based on the decisions you made, based on the life programming you had received to that point.  There is no blame to be placed.  Your programming determined what you would do.  You had no choice in the matter.  There is nothing you need to punish yourself for (societal rules are part of another discussion; if you are convicted of murder, you should rightfully expect to be punished by society).

So, throw out that tendency to blame, because as long as you hold onto it, you’ll never move forward.  Instead, just focus on your future; on your desires; on who or what or where you want to be.  Because, guess what?  You’re responsible for that, too!  Why not just give yourself something to look forward to?


With clarity of purpose (desire) comes results

I’m working to create a new career for myself.  The toughest part of the whole process has been getting clear on what I want to do (be when I grow up?).  It’s been more of an exercise of elimination than declaration; throwing out various possibilities as I realize they don’t interest me, rather than knowing what direction I want to take.  Without spending too much time on the details, I’ll tell you that public speaking is a core component of what I want to do.  The last few weeks have been productive in this regard, and I’m seeing progress.

If you’ve ever tried to start a business on your own, you know how many things there are to attend to; writing content for websites, emails, business cards, flyers (any and all types of marketing); website design and creation (very different from creating content), graphics for your materials, product ideas, outlines, creation, packaging, sales and fulfilment; networking; crafting and practicing your elevator speech; getting educated in all of these areas; attending workshops; etc., etc., etc.  The list goes on forever.  Literally!

So, here’s the story…  A few weeks ago, I attended a 4 day seminar for speakers.  I was still very much in a haze about the message I want to present to the world, and struggled to explain it with every new person I met.  In the end, I couldn’t make the final day of the event, but late on day 3, I met a young woman who runs a success strategy program here in San Diego for CEO-and-above-level professionals.  In my head, I immediately wrote myself off as a possible contributor to her program, but then it was my turn to explain what I do.

As usual, I stumbled a bit, but once I got going, she began to smile and nod her head in agreement.  The ideas I was presenting were striking a chord with her – she seemed to think the message was appropriate for her audience.  Our time was extremely limited, but she expressed an interest in talking more.  We exchanged cards, and I was soon headed home.  I was jazzed by the feeling that things were starting to take shape in my head a little, and that what I’d had to say had apparently had an impact on one or two people.

Later that night, I sent a connect request to a couple of people on LinkedIn, including the woman I just described.  A couple of weeks pass without response.  I’m disappointed, of course, but that’s life.  Somewhere along the line, I found her on Facebook, and she accepted my friend request.  No other communication occurs.

Last week, I decided to try one more time to organize my days to become more productive.  I used my Google calendar to designate certain tasks for certain days, but I kept most of them vague.  For instance, this is what I specified for Writing Day: “Spend at least one hour putting words on paper for blog, book, email or other marketing, etc.”  The only real specific there is the amount of time I have to invest in the activity.

THAT is doable for me.  Had I set a requirement to write a chapter for a new book, it would likely have failed on the first day, because my writing just doesn’t conform to rules very well.  If it’s not flowing on that day, it’s not flowing.  Period.  But, spend an hour?  That I can manage.

Today, on day 3 of my new regime, I get a message on Facebook from the very woman I’m talking about.  She’s seen that we’re both going to be attending a meeting tomorrow night, and wants to meet an hour before to chat.  Coincidence?  Chance?  I think not.

With clarity of purpose (desire) comes results.  The Universe just delivered, via Law of Attraction, an opportunity.  Now it’s up to me to do something with it.  Wish me alignment!




Changing the world

In my experience, if you listen to virtually any motivational speaker, somewhere in their message is the implicit – if not EXplicit – suggestion that each and every one of us can and should go out and change the world.  I agree: we can and we should.

Here’s the rub…  The concept of changing the world is taught to us in a way that translates as making BIG changes.  Feeding millions of starving children in Africa; building wells and hospitals and schools for people in Asia or South America, etc.  These are BIG projects that require BIG commitments of time, money and materials.

Not everybody can make commitments like that.  In fact, the percentage of people who can do that without completely overhauling their lives is incredibly small.

So, Joe Lunchbucket watches the 60 Minutes report about some guy who starts a shoe company & sends a pair of shoes to Africa whenever he sells a pair to people here.  Cool concept, but it’s a huge undertaking.  Most people struggle just to keep their financial heads above water.  The warehouse worker with 4 kids doesn’t have much opportunity to give his attention to big picture issues.  He’s got enough to do with trying to pay for Joe Jr.’s braces and little Suzy’s eyeglasses.

The end result is that regular people don’t see themselves as being able to change the world.  And they’re right, if it has to mean making a huge impact.

But it doesn’t.

I think most people by now will go along with the idea that we’re all connected in some way.  And if that’s true, then it’s also true that if you do something that improves the life of another individual – even if only in a temporary way – you improve the world as a whole.  You change the world as a whole.

One of the most-often used images of the Boy Scouts of America organization used to be that of a scout helping a little old lady to cross the street.  Something like that is a simple act that costs nothing more than a minute of someone’s time, but it can have a profound effect on that other person’s life.

What if you offered a ride to a teenager who looked like she was having a bad day?  You have no idea what that might do.  She might be feeling as if no one in the world cares about her in that moment.  Offering a ride, even if she refuses, might mean that she doesn’t kill herself in her bedroom when she gets home.  Extreme?  Maybe.  But, do teenagers do stupid, extreme things based on crazy ideas of their place in the world?  Every day.

Plus, you can’t predict – and most likely will never know – if and when some small gesture you make today will cause someone else to turn their life around, or even just pay it forward, extending a helping hand to someone else.  Every act, no matter what kind, causes ripples in the seas of our lives.

If you attend any kind of events where there are speakers, somewhere along the line you will hear about the radio station that we all listen to: WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?  Without starting a debate about selfishness, I’ll just say that we all ARE selfish to some degree.  Why do I bring this up?

Because it’s part of why we do things for others.  It makes us feel good to help someone in need, even if we can’t verbalize a reason why.  It also makes better individuals of US.  The primary purpose of the Boy Scouts is to develop better world citizens.  Don’t believe that helping others is part of their oath by chance:

On my honor, I will do my best 
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; 
To help other people at all times; 
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

In summary, what I’m saying here is that you can change the world.  In little ways.  In little moments.  And those little efforts could blossom through someone else into bigger and better things.  But, even if they don’t or if you never know about it, you can – and should – still feel good about playing your part in making the planet a better place.

Now, get out there and cause a ripple or two!


You’re no good to the world poor

I’m working on my next book.  It’s going to be a collection of posts from the first two years of this blog, so I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading of my own work.

One of those posts – “Because self is not a four letter word” – starts with the following:

I recently attended a “bust-thru-your-self-imposed-limits” type seminar.  One nugget I came away with – not news, but the phrasing worked for me – was, “You’re no good to the world poor.”  This is a perspective I’ve held for a long time.

In reading through it, I had a light bulb moment, which I’d like to share with you.  This question came to me:  Do poor (or broke) people have trouble getting out of that condition because they (we) feel that we’re no good to the world?

If so, it’s a Catch 22.  If I’m poor, I’m no good to the world.  And if I’m no good to the world, I must (should) be poor.

There’s no escape hatch from that.  No exit ramp.  No clause that moves you toward changing the situation.  The mindset of the phrase isn’t, “If I’m poor, I’m no good to the world, so I’m doing something about it.”  Instead, it’s a closed, dead-end, no options perspective of one’s place in the world.

There are many reasons why the ranks of the world’s poor keep growing.  I believe this is one of the major causes.  Self image is far easier to maintain and reinforce than to change.



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