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.


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.


Yellow Power Issues

June 19, 2013

The generally accepted chakra system of energy centers associates a color with each of the seven centers as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (ROYGBIB). Thus, the third chakra at the solar plexus is associated with the color yellow. Other characteristics associated with this energy center are being in one’s power, creativity and prosperity when working properly. If the third chakra isn’t functioning properly, the opposite values of these characteristics would prevail – such as not being in one’s power, being stagnant and being in scarcity.

So what does all this mean to us in the everyday world?  Quite often, people are drawn to the color of the energy that they lack or need in order to balance their energy. So, if an individual is lacking in power, or otherwise feel less than or powerless, they could be drawn to wearing yellow. Does it mean that every person we see that’s wearing yellow on a specific day is not in their power? Not necessarily, but it does mean that the color that someone is wearing could possibly be a point of consideration depending on the circumstances.

What is an example of someone wearing yellow indicating a power issue? I recently attended a class and the woman that sat next to me walked in wearing yellow from head to toe. She had on yellow pants, shirt, socks and even her purse was a yellow leather. Wow! I think this woman had more yellow-colored wear on than anyone I had ever seen. Now, like I said before, I didn’t think anything of it just based on this one description, but the plot thickened as the expression goes. When we gave our introductions, she made a very specific point of emphasizing how important her job, her position, her travels, her situation and yes, her life was to the world. I guess I’m exaggerating, but this is how it sure sounded to me. I was very impressed with just our totally impressed she was with herself by the sound of her introduction. It was quite clear how she viewed herself. So why was she wearing yellow? Was it just a happenstance; a coincidence of chosen wardrobe for the day? Let’s take a closer look.

As the day progressed, we had to make decisions about how we would move forward with our learning that we were expected to gain over the two-day training. To my total surprise, when this woman was put to the question, she refused to indicate a willingness to commit to totally moving forward. She disavowed one issue after the next in her life as reasons for why she wasn’t ready to move forward. Really?  I began to realize that when one is truly in their power, they don’t let issues dissuade them from moving forward, at least not conceptually. One stays in a positive space and just deals with issues as the normal challenges of life. She was showing her true state – she wasn’t in her power at all.

The underlying cause of the situation

My theory about wearing yellow when one needs the energy of the color was dead on – she needed the energy of power in any way she could get it. Feeling my energy and that I am in my power, seemed to be a threat to her. Since I read energy on a regular basis, I was quite aware of her reaction. My suspicions were confirmed when she tried to get others to join her creating a clique and dividing the group while getting others to join her energy. This is behavior of someone that is totally not in their power and needs the energy of others to feel secure. I really felt bad for her since she was clueless of how juvenile her behavior appeared to me (I’m not sure about the others involved as I can’t speak for them).

In the end, wearing yellow was most assuredly a sign of a power issue and of not actually being in power.


May it be written

October 2, 2012

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, are called the days of atonement since we are to ask for forgiveness not only for our own misgivings, but for the rest of the world as well. We do this even for those we don’t like, even our enemies, since we are all children of God. Thus, it is a time to assess our lives, be grateful for our blessings and to ask for a sweet year – one represented by health and happiness.

While sitting in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, happily listening to the sound of the shofar during the morning service, I noticed something in need of attention. The cloth upon which the Torah (the Bible in Hebrew) scrolls were being read was old and faded. It just didn’t seem appropriate for such a revered setting. The curtain covering the box or Ark of the Covenant which contained the other Torah scrolls was beautiful, deep blood- red velvet, with deeply embroidered design. In comparison, this table covering didn’t match up and was sorely in need of replacing, in my estimation.

My mind began working. As the words of the service passed by me, “We ask for forgiveness for…” my thoughts went, “I wonder how much fabric and trim would be to make the Rabbi a new table cloth for the Torah scrolls?” And then I continued, “But should I even think of such a thing? Maybe the fabric will be too expensive for me. Or, perhaps I won’t buy the right kind of fabric for such an important undertaking. “And, “Who am I to think that I could make such a cloth worthy of the Rabbi and the synagogue?” Then, I came back to more positive thinking and decided to wait until the end of the service and ask the Rabbi for his opinion.

“Rabbi, am I allowed to make you a new cover for the table where you read the Torahs?” I asked. His face brightened at the thought, since he recognized the state of his current cover and although he was a modest person, he seemed happy at the prospect of a new one for his simple synagogue. He responded that yes it was fine. I qualified my offer with being able to find fabric that I could afford and that was appropriate. Before I left, he came over to me and again mentioned the cloth. I knew he approved of my offer which made me smile inwardly. Since it was a religious holiday, I couldn’t do any serious measuring. Thus, I merely used the length from my wrist to my elbow knowing that it was approximately one foot. This is how I figured out the size of the cloth to be about six feet by six feet.

As I left the synagogue I said a little prayer, “God, if this is something that I’m supposed to do, help me find fabric that is suitable that I can afford.” I fixed a price in my head. When I went to the shop to actually look for fabric, I told the shopkeeper of my creative project and he began to help me. I couldn’t find velvet in the right color so I had to find another alternative. The shopkeeper went into this work room and came out with a gorgeous tapestry fabric that looked quite regal and contained the deep blood red that would match the synagogue’s Ark curtains. The only problem was that it was on the small side. I then figured out that about 12 inches all around would be a good border in a gold color and would add enough fabric to be the correct size. As luck would have it, he came out with a  bolt of gold dupioni silk. There was exactly 2 yards left on this bolt and when we did the calculations, it was just enough to add the border! Wow, the two fabrics matched together beautifully. Then I needed gold tassel trim. The shopkeeper found some trim and gave me a good price. Since the other fabrics were end of the bolt, he gave me a remnant price. All together the price came to exactly half of the figure I had had in my head for fabric that would have been several hundred dollars retail. Including my work the tablecloth would be valued at close to $400. I was very happy.

Next came the construction of the table cloth. To say it was a labor of love is an understatement. With the added work of the border and the fact that I wanted to line it (I just happened to have lining material at home), it took me close to 30 hours of sewing! In the end, the Torah scroll table cover turned out beautiful, the Rabbi was thrilled when I gave it to him in time for Yom Kippur, and I felt like I had done a mitzvah (good deed) to be sure. In addition, I wrote a dedication to my father’s memory on the lining which the Rabbi said was very special.

My creative project turned out to be divinely inspired, guided and blessed. Hopefully, I’m forgiven for any transgressions over this past year. But, rest assured, I didn’t do it for that reason. I did it because I felt the urge and decided it was the right thing to do.


It’s Either Fear or Love

September 21, 2012

If you’ve been following my writings perhaps you remember me saying that “fear and love” cannot be active at the same time. But this is a topic that deserves repeating. Let’s start off with a definition:

What does it mean, “It’s either fear or love?”

Fear is active from our second energy center which is also where our drivers of sex, power, and money originate. It is also where anxiety as well as illness begins. Love, on the other hand, comes from the heart, the fourth energy center. Only when the heart is open can we be in a loving, caring, nurturing state. When fear is operating, the heart is closed and so not open to the positive energy that is possible.

 Why are we in fear?

When we are afraid that we’re not good enough, we shut out possibility. Being afraid only causes the energy of fear to multiply and come back in the way of chaos to harm us. How can this be the case?

Let’s say that you decide to start a business but are afraid you won’t be successful. The next thing you know events start happening that take up your time, while preventing you from moving forward with your vision. Thus, your fear has a self-fulfilling prophetic impact on your life.

Now let’s change the attitude to one of belief in yourself. By sending out positive thoughts such as I can do this or I deserve this because I’m a good person; I know my field and I am capable (all essentially coming from a love perspective, you set up the energy of positive events to come back to you. The next thing you know, opportunities are presented that allow you to fulfill your vision and you are successful.

Another example is with relationships: We may not be going out thinking, “Why bother, I won’t meet anyone anyway?” This is fear taking over when really the attitude is one of I’m not good enough.  The playing out is much like the above scenario. We don’t go out, there’s no opportunity to meet any new people, and thus the self-fulfilling prophesy takes over. If we change the attitude to, “I’ll go out and just have fun; while I’m out perhaps I’ll meet someone”, this positive outlook is inviting and will most likely attract new opportunities. And so it goes.

Why not try recognizing the fear for what it is, the shadow self, attempting to hold us back from moving forward with new opportunity. Let go of the fear and open space for love to enter your life.


How to Drive Customers Away

May 30, 2012

Anyone who has ever been in a sales, service business or even had client customers knows the importance of “customer service”. So why is it so hard to find quality service when interacting with people representing a company these days? Here are some possible reasons:

People are underpaid. They don’t get paid enough to deal with the issues at hand, so when they get irritated by the already irate customer, this individual hangs up. Nice way to handle the problem, right? Of course, wrong. But it’s happened a lot to me lately. This type of behavior only infuriates me more since I have to call in again only to wait in queue.

People just don’t care. They are underutilized in the job they are in. Perhaps their real profession was a higher skilled one and they are doing customer service merely to pay the bills. Their heart isn’t into it. Another version of this comes from improperly trained people. The result is that the customer gets treated poorly.

People aren’t skilled enough for the job. When I recently bought a new computer, I had to deal with a myriad of technicians who were supposed to know more than I did (should have been really easy with my level of computer savvy) only to find that they couldn’t help me solve the issues at hand. Mind you, it was a brand new computer so it should not have had so many issues. That’s another side of the problem. For now we are looking at the issue of trying to get service. I called and called only to find the person I was talking to had no clue about the particular software problem that the company I had bought it from (third party sale) sent me. I finally had to send the software back and use manual transfer of my data from my old system to the new one after I got hold of one technician who knew what he was doing. I was on-line with this guy from 9:30 pm until 3AM. It took that long to set up a new computer that I was told wouldn’t be a problem. Again, not the real issue here, but a tag along one. Sales over sells and service has to take the ball from there. I guess service is thrown some curve balls, but people should be properly trained. I also want to add that I had paid for upgraded priority service for three years on both hardware and software.

The company’s operational rules and policies are broken. I’ve just completed a 10-year line of credit with one of the huge banking/mortgage firms. After 8 of the 10 years on the program, I decided to actually use it to buy a heating and a/c system rather than take money from my investments due to the large sticker price. After all, the whole idea of the line of credit is so that the payments can be made over time, the interest rate is very low (3.25%) and the interest is tax- deductible as part of my mortgage. That’s the concept anyway. I barely got started with the loan only to find out that I had to pay the full money back within two years since the LOC was ending. Ok, so I had to make large payments which I figured I could do over my bank’s bill pay system. I was surprised to find that these ACH payments were converted to physical checks (part of this company’s policy requirements) and went into the mail. By the time the company actually got my $14,000 payment now in the form of a check, 6 weeks had gone by, I was nearly crazy making phone calls trying to track it down and I learned a lot about where the money could go along the way. I learned much more than I should have ever had to deal with. Every person I worked with gave me a run around until I finally drove over to a local branch and spoke to the branch manager who promptly helped me. After that, I physically went to the branch and made transactions. In this age of automation how bad can a system be that I can’t go online and make payments with full confidence. Just today I tried to resolve an issue with the final balance on this line of credit and again they drove me crazy until after the fourth try I got a woman who resolved my issue right away.

So in the end, if the first person doesn’t help you, hang up and call back. Eventually, you’ll get someone who knows what they are doing, is responsible, and actually cares. There are some good customer service people around. But you have to look hard to find them. Make a list and share it when you do.

 


A Tough Lesson to Learn

March 16, 2012

Someone close to me is enduring a very difficult life lesson, the spiritual context of which he’s not yet aware. From where I’m sitting, I see that his wife and daughter don’t pay much attention to him when he tries to communicate with them. I’m not sure if this is in response to his neglectful behavior or whether it was they who first neglected him. These situations tend to have long, winding and complicated histories with only the tentacles visible to those around the individuals of concern. The result is a very unhappy person who does his best to work hard to provide for all the luxuries that his very materialistic family has come to expect. Yes, this is a definite example of entitlement to the nth degree. So what’s the lesson?

Once a year I go for a visit and I was told that he would not be available during my stay of six days. At first I was rather irritated since I’d provided my itinerary over six months in advance. Then I realized that there must be something more serious going on since he told me when we spoke that, “I’ll be ok and not to worry”. When someone makes such statements one immediately begins to wonder what they shouldn’t be worried about. Just what is the problem? How serious is it that it can’t be simply stated? I really dislike secrecy since I think it causes more harm than good.

Here’s a bit more background. Let’s call this person Bob, which is a name change for privacy sake. Bob is a very highly-educated professional, running a business with multiple employees and has provided a high standard of living for his family. His wife and daughter have anything they could possibly want. I gave up worrying about what to buy them as gifts years ago since my offerings could never meet the standards of which they had come accustomed to so I just bought what I could afford and left it at that. It’s also important to note that I’ve never been jealous of what they had either, since I could never afford to buy the kind of clothes, cars, jewelry or other luxuries that they had, nor did I care about it. I’m happy with what’s within my reach and was also happy for them if it truly made them happy to have these things.

After actually leaving on my trip and arriving at my destination, I was surprised to find that Bob hadn’t gone wherever he was going…yet. We were able to share a couple meals together but without the mention of what was wrong or where he was going. I did notice, however, that during the lunch that his wife and daughter seemed a lot nicer to him. So what happened? Bob is aging and has come down with an illness. The old adage is that money can’t buy love, but the fear of dying can certainly change perspectives. Bob was ignored before and disrespected, but from where I was sitting, it sure looked like reality (as in he might not be around forever) set in.

So how does the life lesson work? Bob wasn’t getting his needs met. He was being nice to everyone around him. He has a wonderful nature, is of service to his community, yet, went home to an emotional shell. When he got sick, it was a wakeup call to his family. I certainly hope that he gets well and that everyone realizes that money does buy things, but that’s all they are, just things. People and what they bring to our lives are much more important. We all should value what we have before it’s too late.

I hope both Bob and his family learn the lesson of being less material and more spiritual. The universe has a way of pulling us back into balance… sometimes kicking and screaming. Sometimes it’s a tough lesson but one that we all need to learn at some point in our lives.


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