How Giving Back Helped Me Pay it Forward

August 23, 2016

Little did I know when I started interacting with a new friend last winter that it would lead to my fulfilling one of my life goals; which is to give back to the community after a very rewarding professional career in IT project management.  I decided that I needed to share some of what I had learned throughout my many years in the corporate world to foster workplace performance. Not only had I never lost a project due to my well-developed PM skills, I had loyal and dedicated teams. Sure, this may sound boastful, but it’s true. Being grateful for the experience, I wanted to offer tools and techniques that I had gleaned to others as my legacy to contribute to the improvement of corporate culture.

kids

Volunteering my skills and offering workshops turned out not to be so easy. After several lengthy failed attempts involving writing proposals, offering startup funds to get my “Enlightened Leadership” concepts into my university curriculum, and then to my spiritual organization’s mindful leadership program to no avail, the successful situation actually came to me. When my friend wasn’t able to take an assignment, he suggested that I coach summer school for kids. I had co-coached with him for several months providing me with a basic understanding of how to work with the kids, but teaching multiple times per week for eight weeks was a totally different situation. After a very brief negotiation with the head mistress of the learning center, I had to design 18 classes with only 10 days’ notice. It was at this point that I decided to use the backdrop of what I had wanted to present to the older group, just on a more modified scale.

My philosophy was to start with the youth teaching the basics of interpersonal skills, time management and planning projects as a foundation for being a more informed participant in the workplace. Hopefully, these skills learned at a young age would help these students grow into adults with better emotional intelligence as well as analytical understanding of the requirements they might face later. This material was ground breaking for 6th and 7th graders. And my interactive, problem solving and team-oriented style was new to them. That said, eventually we all got used to the program; I adjusted to them and in turn, they got used to speaking to each other and thinking more analytically. By the end of the eight weeks, the kids were all writing and presenting on the elements of a project plan using a model familiar to them – the five questions: Why? Where? Who? What? When? One of my life goals is now accomplished. I did it and they did it!

As I finished the summer session, I wondered what would come next only to see a brief article in the local paper advertising for STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) volunteers to help local teachers in the school system. I applied and was quickly accepted. My training is in a few weeks. So on to the next chapter of paying it forward to give back. My experience has been both exhilarating and exhausting. I expect the next experience with coaching kids to be equally rewarding.


Reaping What You Sow

August 9, 2016

A very long time ago a great man once said, that as you sow seeds, you reap what you’ve sown! There are many ways one can interpret this expression. The first is, of course, literally. Whatever seeds you put in the ground, you can pretty much expect that plant or vegetable to grow. But as most such sayings go, they are meant to be allegorical; that is, represent more to us than the literal meaning. So here’s where it starts to get interesting.

seedsFrom the esoteric perspective, reaping what you sow also means that as we treat others, we can expect to be treated ourselves. I look at this expression in a more karmic way; that is, if we are positive in our interactions then we bring positive energy to us; whereas, if we act in a careless fashion we could very well bring negative energy our way. This is also called the Law of Cause and Effect and is applicable to our three dimensional world whether we believe in it or not. This is a really important point. Just because you don’t believe in gravity doesn’t negate the effects of gravity! The same holds true for the Law of Karma (Cause and Effect). So how does Karma impact our lives?

It’s pretty simple really, as you want others to treat you, treat them. If you want to be respected, loved, nurtured, trusted, etc. then you need to be and act that way with others. Or, if you are harsh, mean, hateful, aggressively antagonistic, etc. then at some point in this life or the next, the Law of Karma will catch up with you. As Einstein figured out, energy is neither created nor destroyed. So the negative energy we create stays in the universe until it comes back to us somehow and some way. Sometimes we wonder why there’s a person in our lives that just doesn’t seem to fit – perhaps it’s because they are here to finish a karmic debt from another place and time. Or, if it’s you that’s dishing out the junk, then maybe in the future, you can have a person come into your life to do the same to you. In any case, it’s a lot better to just be nice, considerate and caring as if everything we do really matter. Since, in the long run, it does!

 


How we get programmed by simple actions

July 10, 2016

Ever give your dog or cat a treat? Do it once and they will demand it forever! So in the end, who is training who? I have a friend who taught his cat Sherman to sit up and give the paw before providing milk as a treat. Before too long Sherman was prancing into the kitchen, sitting himself down and offering the paw as if to say, “ok, big guy, where’s the milk?” If my friend ignored him, Sherman would resort to pawing the dishwasher and meowing loudly until he got what he wanted – the milk! It’s pretty funny, but that’s how it went.

Sherman with the paw for milk

Sherman with the paw for milk

Now I have a similar story relating to my own cat Skylar who, after getting crunches on top of his soft food only once as an incentive to eat would then refuse to eat without the added bonus. The cat could be starving, but would just sit and look at me like, “Are you kidding? You want me to eat that?” of course, not wanting him to go too long without food I’d give him what he wanted. Now the crunches are a stable and no longer a treat.

But isn’t this how life is? If we’re given a bonus at work too often, we come to expect it. Or, more likely, certain behaviors from friends and family say a significant other takes us out regularly or perhaps a child gets good grades in school. So much for that new behavior being special, since if rewarded too often, it’s expected and no longer appreciated. Thus we move into the taken for granted mode.

It’s easy to fall into this trap. Take a look around your life and see where you’ve been programmed or perhaps where you’ve programmed those around you. Do your kids expect multiple vacations, gifts and treats per year because you did it once and now they think it’s normal and so expected? Think about whether you should re-program certain areas of your life for the better to bring things back into proper balance. Is all that behavior, whatever “that is” really necessary?

Only then can we have true gratitude and appreciation for what’s truly special in our lives. That’s how it’s supposed to be! Let me know how it goes..


Doing the Right Thing

March 8, 2016

Life can be complicated. Heck, it’s most often complicated. And on top of it there is usually more than one way to get things done. When we look at all the variables and the options to attack our problems, sometimes there are short cuts, ways around the issues, or even methods that may be a bit nefarious. Ah oh! What happens when we choose to cut corners, snip a bit off the end of something to save time or take the low road rather than the high road? This is called taking the easy way out and is not the spiritual way; that is, thinking or doing in this manner will not serve us in the long run. Anything that doesn’t serve us, certainly doesn’t serve our soul growth, so why do it?

This leads us to a better understanding of doing the right thing. It’s obviously not easy to do the right thing when there are other options. If there were only one option, it would be easy. But this isn’t the way the world was built. We are usually given challenges so that we come out of the situation stronger than when we went in. As souls in a body, we’re given a choice – we can move towards the higher path towards the light or take the low road towards the darkness. Without a choice, there would be no challenges and therefore no way to ever overcome difficulties; thus, we would be in a world where we wouldn’t know the difference between the light or the darkness. So when we have issues, understand that these problems are not thorns in your side, but opportunities to grow and become stronger. Without hills to climb our legs would never have a chance to know their limits for example. The same is true of our spiritual and moral bodies. Only by stretching our limits can we grow, become better people and move forward on our spiritual path.

lightdarkIn the end, doing the right thing may be harder, but it is usually more rewarding. This has been my experience. I’ve found that with challenges in my life, moving through the tunnel of difficulty eventually brings me to the light; how wonderful it feels to get there. And, often there are unexpected rewards. It’s also my experience that when we follow the light and do the right thing, goodness follows us also.


Creating our Own Hell

September 23, 2015

morgath_blaze_hell_ifrit_form_by_suppliciumdeatheater-d5cwjog[1]Many of the world’s spiritual traditions have a concept of an afterlife where souls depart after life; not all include both a “good place” as well as a “dark place” based on the type of life one has lived. Assuming one has lived according to the ideals of the stated precepts that each of these traditions lays out, the believers may ascend to a beautiful world or heavenly type place where there is no hurt, pain, or sorrow but only joy and love. Following this line, these traditions then hold if one has not been a good follower of the “Way”, then the soul is lost to a kind of damnation with hell fire and brimstone of various sorts. This dichotomy of good and bad is based on souls having choice or free will to choose a lifestyle that is either according to, or against the various laws of the chosen tradition.

As humans, we naturally move toward what is comfortable and serves us well. If this is true, and seems to be so in my estimation, then why would anyone intentionally want to go to the bad place? Of course they wouldn’t; yet it is also true that people are human in the purest sense and just don’t always behave in their own best interest. This means that although they may know that mean behavior begets a life of trials and tribulation as well as an afterlife of more of the same… oh well… bring it on.

I have to say that the Jewish religion takes a different view of this dichotomy of worldly afterlives. If there’s a “good place” then everyone gets to go there once the prophecy of the Old Testament comes to pass – but we won’t go there right now. For this discussion, it’s what happens to those souls that don’t follow the program so to speak according to what’s really right and wrong – as in really wrong. Even within Judaism there is some disagreement, but according to those believing in Kabbalah or Kabbalists, we create our own hell – our own bad place upon death. Wow, how does this occur? The Kabbalists will tell you that upon death there is a life review; and, when the soul sees the deeds that he or she has committed with missed opportunities to help others/be of service, this is their own personal hell that’s created. So hell is not a place but more of a situation. Don’t create your own hell; do unto others as you’d wish them to do to you! hopefully, then when you have your life review their will be fewer regrets.


Timing is Everything

September 23, 2015

It’s an old adage that we can be successful sometimes and at other times we might do the same thing and we could fail. Translated, this saying is “timing is everything! ” I believe when things fall into place as if it were a script already written, the situation indicates a divine hand at play. I recently had an experience where things fell into place just the way they were meant to so perhaps there was a divine hand helping out as well.

Time1
I was on the fence about travelling and after considerable deliberation, made a final decision against going on this particular trip. No sooner was the plan not to leave the area made but a dear friend became ill. I got a call from her sister informing me that my friend Jessie was in the ICU and that I should visit while there was still time. Getting this call was upsetting to be sure, although some one in her condition could be expected to expire way before this point. In other words, she had lived in a semi-paralyzed state after a stroke for many more years than the doctors had predicted. Still I was disheartened to hear the news. I knew that I would attend to her as best I could during her final time with the living.

The days passed quickly that week as I visited my dear friend in the hospital ICU, taking turns with family members in her room. Fortunately, the timing worked out for me to have blocks of time alone with Jessie to speak to her not just about the everyday common exchanges, but what might be still on her mind. My goal was to be a friend as well as a spiritual counselor during what was known by those close to her as most probably her last hours and days.

On Monday, during my first visit, I asked her if she had any regrets; any business left undone. We talked through a couple of things to the point where I felt she was satisfied that all that was possible to do was done. on Wednesday, I held her hand as she was too weak to speak and only occasionally opened her eyes as I guided her in a meditation through a beautiful meadow where her deceased family would be present to greet her. She seemed to relax during this time as judged by the attached monitors and the flicker of her eyes. I could only hope that she was able to let go of any attachments to this earthly realm and go in peace. I said, “Jessie, if it gets too hard it’s OK to let go” to which she nodded in agreement.

Thursday I got the call that Jessie had gone peacefully, surrounded by her family. I had just been about to leave the house and felt bad that I had missed her passing. Then I realized that I had done my part and wasn’t needed for the rest. Everything has a timing of its own. In this case, the timing was perfect. I was asked to conduct the service by the family and did so on Saturday. While preparing, I thought of Jessie and wondered how she was doing on Friday, when a photo fell off the wall. It was my Reiki plaque that said, “Just for today do not worry”… so I knew it was Jessie telling me not to worry. All was happening according to the divine plan. After all, timing is everything.


What goes around doesn’t always come around

June 24, 2015

terrierEvery once in a while although we try to be nice to those around us, still someone just doesn’t return the kind feelings. And so it went with one of my neighbors. Sadly this negative state of affairs went on for many years. Thinking back, the only instance of interaction that I can even remember is when I chatted with him, more me than him, as two new neighbors having just moved into a neighborhood. At that time, he was washing his car and I was about to head into the park to take a walk. His house is just at the end of the cul-de-sac before the steps to the walkway. Although I interpreted the brief interchange as pretty normal, he must have thought otherwise; since, from that moment onward he never spoke to me again. In fact, when I would pass him going on my walks with his little terrier, he would turn away as if I had developed the plaque. And the same would be true if he was walking with his wife. At first I wondered why he would be so abhorrent towards me and then I just figured he must have thought I had some ulterior motive in speaking to him. Isn’t it a shame that a single woman can’t approach a married man in her neighborhood without being branded a hussy? Well, of course, I’m being sarcastic, but the end result is the same – he just wouldn’t speak to me. Eventually, I accepted the situation and passed it off. Everyone is not meant to be one’s friend.

Now my philosophy is that we are constantly presented with situations that test our moral fiber, as well as opportunities to learn lessons. One of these situations came to pass during Memorial Weekend, when I went for my usual walk in the park. As I approached the bridge just before the plaza, I saw my neighbor’s dog surrounded by people – with his collar but no neighbor at the end of the leash! To confirm my suspicion I asked the lady hovering over the little dog to check his tag and sure enough, the address was my street. “That’s my street and that’s my neighbor’s dog”, I said. “I’ll walk him home”, I continued without giving it another thought or considering that I had a plan to go to an event that would have to be by-passed to complete this new mission. After all, if my pet were lost, I’d want someone to get him home too. But when I tried to take the dog back into the plaza to first look for the owner, the little guy wouldn’t budge. He seemed afraid. So I headed for home and he willingly trotted along. I asked the concerned pet lady to come too since I really wasn’t sure how my having the neighbor’s dog would be received even with my best of intentions.

Once back at the neighbor’s home, his wife was at the garage door, so I called inside, “I have your dog!” She came outside, took the leash out of my hands, barely saying any thank-you with a very surprised look on her face. I felt that I had done my neighborly duty, spiritual responsibility and just plain obligation according to my karmic belief system. I even expressed concern over the owner’s possible safety if he’d allowed the dog to get loose. Was he in poor health himself or possibly had an accident?

I decided I really wanted to finish my walk, so back I went into the park and headed down to the bridge and the plaza. At the same spot where I intercepted the dog, I walked right into the owner – now about 25 minutes later. He too had a very surprised look on his face when I said, “I walked your dog home, and your wife has him”. The neighbor, obviously frustrated from searching for the little dog, was now relieved and gave me a warm-hearted thank-you. And I walked on completing my walk not thinking more about it.

The next day, there was a knock at my door. It was the neighbor with his terrier in toe, and this time he really thanked me with great emotion in his eyes. I doubt that I will ever have an issue with this neighbor again. Even though he had directed negative energy towards me for many years, I chose to do the right thing by him. I took the high road as one would say. Now this could just be a case of coming full circle and feeling good about it. But the story doesn’t end here.

The following weekend I went on a retreat and lots of unexpected good things came my way. So not only did I create positive karma, I also was in abundance and began to reap rewards very quickly! And in the few weeks since then, other good things have come my way. Holding one’s self up to a higher standard may be difficult at times, but in the end, I certainly feel it pays off. Being a good soul has its rewards now as well as later. What goes around doesn’t always come around – sometimes it’s better.


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