On Humility

21 07 2010

Rabbi Rafael of Barshad (19th century Europe) summed it up as follows:

“When I get to heaven, they’ll ask me, why didn’t you learn more Torah? And I’ll tell them that I’m slow-witted.

Then they’ll ask me, why didn’t you do more kindness for others? And I’ll tell them that I’m physically weak.

Then they’ll ask me, why didn’t you give more Tzedakah? And I’ll tell them that I didn’t have enough money.

But then they’ll ask me: If you were so stupid, weak and poor, why were you so arrogant? And for that I won’t have an answer.”

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A Creed for Humanity

23 06 2010

I value the act of unconditionally accepting EVERY person I  encounter in this world.. friend or stranger, similar or different.. Regardless of age, personality, flaws, faults or even bad choices they may have made. While I may be aware of their failings, I recognize that the failings I see so easily in others are, more often than not, far smaller than those present  in myself.

While I love my family and friends in a special way – a different way – I  affirm the inherent worth and value of strangers just as much as that of those I hold dear.. I refuse to demean, to gossip or put another human being down.. in their presence, or in their absence. The only criticism I utter will be constructive words that encourage change, spoken to their face. I will give them the dignity of seeing the best in them, overlooking the negatives, emphasizing the positives.. and remembering that they too have people they love and would die for, secret hopes, dreams and memories, joy, pain and fears, things they dislike about themselves and long to change, things they wish they could be – and things they could be, if only they were encouraged enough.

And I realise that I never know how much I may find myself in need of that very same stranger’s goodwill one day.

I see every person I meet as a soul created unique, with infinite value and destined to live with purpose.. If they have lost sight of this or lost their way, I will not judge them or leave them on the road of life as I pass by; I will rather be a light illuminating their darkness, a sign of hope pointing the way to a future of transformation, discovery, realization and freedom.

I REFUSE TO UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPACT THAT MY LIFE HAS ON OTHERS AND ON THIS WORLD.

There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.  ~Mother Teresa

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. But I say, love your enemies! …That way, you’ll be acting as true children of God. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you only love those who love you, what value is there in that? Even corrupt criminals do that. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the most immoral and heartless people in society do that.” ~Jesus

Love …believes the best in all things, hopes all things… ~The Bible

If we could all hear one another’s prayers, God might be relieved of some of his burdens.  ~Ashleigh Brilliant

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.  ~Norman B. Rice

God has not called us to see through each other, but to see each other through.  ~Author Unknown

Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.  ~Albert Schweitzer

He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.  ~Abraham Lincoln

He who gives when he is asked has waited too long.  ~ Author Unknown

Charity sees the need, not the cause.  ~German Proverb





5 Stages of a Relationship

11 06 2010

Read an article on “relationship stages” today by Sarah M. Schultz, an American coach and relationships expert, which was very interesting and made me think.

Quinton

**

Before we get started, you should know that most people experience these stages in this order, and will need to resolve the challenges in each stage before they can move successfully on to the next. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule. But for the most part, you can’t get out of experiencing all of these stages if you want a healthy and fulfilling relationship. Every couple will move through these stages at different speeds, and most people will experience each stage more than once – it is common to fluctuate from one stage to another.

Okay, now that I’ve given you the basic info, let’s dig a little deeper….

Stage 1 – The Romance Stage

This is also known as the Courtship Phase or the Fantasy Stage, and can last anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. This is when you and your partner have just met, and everything is absolutely amazing. You can’t get enough of each other. Neither of you can do any wrong in the eyes of the other… mainly because you’re both still on your best behavior. The focus in this stage is on commonalities – you have so many common interests, you could practically be the same person! You show your partner your absolute best self, and you try to please each other as much as possible. Conflict is seen as “bad” in this stage, and is avoided at all costs. You can’t imagine living without this person, so you begin spending as much time together as possible. This is the stage when our defenses are down the most, which allows you to be open to and fall in love. You and your partner are building an important foundation in this stage, so your relationship can grow. There are biological effects as well. When you’re in this stage, your body is producing enormous amounts of endorphins, which makes you feel unusually happy, positive and excited about everything in your life (this is that “head over heels in love” feeling!). This is the stage most often portrayed in movies and romantic novels, for obvious reasons. Bottom line – you are happier than you’ve ever been, and can’t imagine ever feeling any differently.

Stage 2 – The Disillusionment Stage

This stage is also known as the Familiarization Stage, or the Adjusting to Reality Phase. This is where you begin to realize that your partner is actually a human being (horror of horrors!). You get to know each other more and more, and as a result you start recognizing their various flaws and shortcomings. You see your partner in relaxed situations, and you become more relaxed as well. Since your body cannot possibly continue to produce the same levels of endorphins that it was in the beginning, those feelings of being on top of the world start to decline. Your partner’s little habits aren’t quite as cute as they used to be, but there is still enough goodwill from the Romance Stage that you’re willing to overlook them. This stage can start to trickle into your relationship slowly, as you begin to see your partner for who s/he really is. Or sometimes it happens all of a sudden, when there has been some sort of dishonesty or deceit. This phase can be confusing and discouraging, since you’ve just experienced so much openness and connection in the Romance Stage. However, at this stage, your main job is to learn how to communicate and resolve conflict with this person effectively, which is an important skill if you want your relationship to continue.

Stage 3 – The Power Struggle Stage

This stage is also known as the Disappointment Phase or Distress Stage. As the characteristics from the Disillusionment Phase intensify, they become harder and harder to deal with. You will most likely begin to pull away from each other in this stage. At this point, you both still believe that conflict is a “bad” thing, but you are increasingly aware of your many differences. You fight to draw boundaries in the relationship, and as a result even small annoyances become big issues. This is the stage where you define unacceptable behavior, and most couples have occasional or frequent thoughts of leaving the relationship. More and more often, you start to feel like your partner is self-centered or un-caring, or even worse, that they simply can’t be trusted. Deep resentments begin to build if you’re unable to resolve your issues in a respectful and mutually agreeable way. Many couples get stuck in this stage, because this way of interacting becomes normal in their relationship. This is when it is absolutely necessary to learn to manage your differences effectively – to communicate and work together as a team, even though it’s tempting to believe that your partner’s sole purpose on Earth is to make your life difficult. Not surprisingly, this is the stage most couples are in when they decide to break up or file for divorce. However, if they are able to negotiate all of the landmines during this phase, they’ll move on to….

Stage 4 – The Stability Stage

This is a restful and peaceful time, compared to the last stage. This stage is also known as the Friendship Phase or Reconciliation Stage. Some couples never make it to this stage, but the ones who do find that they have deeper feelings of love, connection and trust with their partner. You now have history together, and most people begin to rely on the predictability of the relationship. As you enter this stage, you begin to realize that your partner isn’t perfect, but your personal differences aren’t quite as threatening as they used to be. You’re able to resolve most of your differences, at least to some extent, and you become more confident in the relationship. Some people feel a sense of loss in this stage as they learn to accept their partner for who they truly are, since this means they have to let go of the fantasy that was established early on in the relationship. But for the most part, the deepening sense of friendship and commitment is a good trade-off for those early feelings of butterflies and excitement. This is also when you begin to re-establish your own outside interests and friendships, which were given up in the Romance Phase. There is some danger that you may begin to drift apart from or become bored with your partner in this phase, so you should try to maintain the connection that was created in the Romance Phase. Overall, this is the stage when you finally begin to feel comfortable and happy with your deepening relationship.

Stage 5 – The Commitment Stage

This stage is also known as the Acceptance Phase, the Transformation Stage, or the Real Love Phase. It is estimated that fewer than 5% of couples actually make it to this stage, according to The Relationship Institute. This is the stage when both couples have a clear notion of who their partner is, faults, foibles and weaknesses galore… yet they make a conscious choice to be with this person in spite of all of those things (and in some cases, because of those things). You are no longer with your partner because you need them, but because you’ve chosen them, which means the level of resentment you felt in the Power Struggle Phase has decreased, if not disappeared. If you’ve made it to this stage, you and your partner are a team. You genuinely love your partner, and you look out for their best interests just as much as you look out for your own. Your partner is your best friend. There are few surprises about your partner’s habits or character in this phase. You’ve collaborated to overcome many challenges together, and have grown to accept and support each other without restriction. Your vision for your relationship is in congruence with who you are and what you both truly want. You have discussed your future together – you have similar life goals, and you feel encouraged to define your relationship further. Many couples decide to make a formal or public commitment to each other in this stage (such as marriage) to demonstrate their intention to continue their relationship. This is the stage in which your relationship becomes a true partnership.

About the author: Sarah M. Schultz, MA, CPC is a certified Personal Development Coach in Park City, UT. Sarah coaches quarter lifers (adults in their 20s and 30s) who want to create meaning and passion in their lives by building lasting committed relationships, creating a fulfilling work/life balance, and managing the stress of major life transitions.




Iris – The Goo Goo Dolls

31 05 2010

I put my iPod on shuffle for a change this morning, and it decided to play this song first off. One I haven’t heard in a long time – “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. The song is an old one and very familiar, but for once I stopped and listened to the words. The intensity and raw vulnerability in them blew me away. I want to do something different today and write my thoughts on the meaning of the song – or perhaps more simply, what it communicated to me. See what you think.

And I’d give up forever to touch you

Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be

And I don’t want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment

And all I can breathe is your life

Cause sooner or later it’s over

I just don’t want to miss you tonight

Verses one and two talk about the incredible ecstasy of complete connection with another human being. Not just anyone, but someone who understands you fully. With that comes a complete sense of closeness and security that envelops you in a moment of time – and you would ‘gladly give up forever’ to hold onto that powerful moment of pure intimacy.

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

The chorus takes you back out of that moment into the reality of the world around you, the people you see every day, and the way we live most of our lives inside layered shells of protection, not allowing our deepest selves to be exposed to the outside world… because we “don’t think that they’d understand”. We present a certain face to the world, to protect ourselves and manage the risk of relationship. Rather than being a bad thing, this is more just a necessary fact of the way we live – vulnerability comes with closeness and trust, and the closer we get to someone the more of those protective layers we strip off as more of our deepest self becomes visible. The last line of the chorus struck me the most – “I just want you to know who I am”. This, if anything, is the deepest longing of the human heart – to be known completely – understood – and accepted as who we are. We can know and accept ourselves, but the power and euphoria of receiving this from someone else, is beyond words, and one of the highest points of the human experience.

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming

Or the moment of truth in your lies

When everything seems like the movies

Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive

Verse 3… what happens if you lose that connection? Say you experience a breakup, or your loved one dies. Perhaps it is “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” With the sudden removal of something so deep and close, it seems like the writer has gone into a kind of emotional numbness – “You can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming”. While he is unable to grieve, he still knows that this was the one thing that made his life feel “real” – that deep experience of relationship is “the moment of truth in your lies”... it was so real and deep that everything else in life “seems like the movies”. He finishes the song weighing up the pain against the chance to experience the deepest and most powerful connection that life can offer: “you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

The song ends with one final repeat of the chorus:

And I don’t want the world to see me

Cause I don’t think that they’d understand

When everything’s made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

What do you think?





A short film: Mankind Is No Island

22 02 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrDxe9gK8Gk





Love – Not “Like”

16 02 2010





A Father’s Thoughts

9 02 2010

From the book The Druid Of Shannara By Terry Brooks

The daylight faded into darkness

and still he sat, waiting patiently for her to wake.

He studied the line of her body as she lay sleeping,

the curve of her hip and shoulder,

the soft rounding of her back.

She was such a tiny thing,

just a little bit of flesh and bone beneath the coverings,

the smallest spark of life.

He marveled at the texture of her skin,

at the coloring,

the absence of flaws.

She might have been molded by some great artist

whose reflection and skill

had created a once-and-only masterpiece…..