THE TRADE

THE TRADE

 

The inward battle—against our mind, our

wounds, and the residues of the past—is more

terrible than the outward battle.

—Swami S

 

If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life. 

Tony Robbins

We’re in a Game of Thrones society now. We’re tethered to a remarkably short and fraying fuse, ready for combat at the slightest disrespect or perceived injury. Everything is always winner take all, and there’s a trail of bodies in our wake, because losing an argument now is cause for public shaming. We’re all so very war- weary, and it feels like we’re under an existential threat. As Father Thomas Keating said, we’re in a cultural straightjacket.

Most of us are getting progressively more desperate for less Game of Thrones and more I love Lucy in our daily lives– a little humor, a little perspective, a little lightheartedness.

I think I know how we got here.

We traded communion for connection, after

We traded wisdom for information, after

We traded eye contact for feedback, after

We traded contemplation for activity, after

We traded authenticity for truthiness, after

We traded mastering ourselves for managing our image, after

We traded understanding and community for tribal identity, after

 We traded accuracy for speed, after

We traded self- knowledge for goals.

Not coincidentally, we’re immersed in the trivia of each other’s lives to the exclusion of our own. We’re more attuned to whether others are succeeding at their goals or agree with us, than knowing what we truly want. Its a world of spiritual poverty and perceived dire scarcity, and yet we run from the fact that we’re all connected, because we’re all connected.

Everything that’s happening in the world is actually happening to us.

Charles Eisenstein

As one Hurricane Harvey survivor put it,

Everybody needs everybody.

It hurts and makes us feel even more helpless and tiny than we do already, unless we can get in there immediately and help. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought us together as we all jumped in and helped, donated, or both. But, other things, farther away, like the Congo make us feel somewhat impotent. What’s the point of seeing all of this suffering if we personally can’t get in there quick and do something about it? Of course, there is a point, and yet we run from it like Ebola. We voluntarily make the trades mentioned above rather than face it. It might as well be written on a tablet in Greek, locked in a cave with the Dead Sea Scrolls, because that’s how far away we want it to be.

We’re afraid we’re going to have to sit in a prayer closet in the lotus position, breathing like a lifelong Yogi, waiting for God to show us what our purpose is, and there will be only silence. Or, even worse, we’ll do it wrong, we’ll have spent the money for the prayer pillows and the God box, and somehow, we’ll piss him off. Or that in the silence in the middle of the night, after we turn off the reruns and the infomercials, we’ll realize we aren’t anywhere close to our path, or that the grief we feel will break loose in a torrent and we’ll lose ourselves in it forever.

But, it’s simple. It’s how we think of it that’s terrifying. TV taketh away, but sometimes it givith, by showing how something scary and complicated isn’t either of those things. I’m going to get us there via a TV show called The Leftovers about running away from loss and pain, individual and global, about existential crisis. But that has nothing to do with us, right?

Each character devises a story to explain his or her pain, in the hopes of minimizing it. There are clues to the greater meaning, as we and they attempt to decipher it all. Some characters even attempt to escape the suffering and ambiguity by dying.  But they can’t, and no answers ever come. Their elaborate explanations of why are false, and each is operating as an imposter because of them. Each character finally hurls themselves into what is, facing the darkness and their own imminent mortality, only to find they get to start again.

The brilliance of the show is that we go along for the ride, only to discover the clues were just red herrings, pointing to the now obvious: there’s no escape.   The situation was horrible, but they were inflicting the torture upon themselves.

The only way out is through, hurling ourselves into loss, grief, and  uncertainty, and the fact that none of us have enough time, by learning to listen to the silence, so we can hear our true natures, for how can we face the world and all of its tragedy as imposters? 

 But, its not about hours logged in the prayer closet like its punishment or atonement, its our reward. We fear, because we misunderstand what silence is and what’s required to listen. Silence is playing with the dog for 10 minutes in the back yard and noticing that he smiles, and then noticing the trees are whispering as they dance in the wind. Something magnificent is happening at this moment, and we’re here in it. Something turns and softens in us and we aren’t scared or resentful or mad as hell anymore.

Listening is simply listening in the moments when life is trying to tell us something, letting ourselves know that life is paradox, love, and loss, and letting the silence, the truth, and the tears cleanse us like rain, so we’re no longer haunted by the past. We can pay attention to what is happening now, all the wacky, crazy, tragic, comic beauty of it. Silence cleanses us of what blocks us from bravely facing the world as ourselves.

It’s that simple: it’s a trade. We escape running and distraction for embracing the loss, the pain, the grief and helplessness and letting it wake us up, yet again, to our own lives, our own heartbeats, and tears. If we do this, then even the most mundane things can become our sanctuary, sprinkled in the sacred.

Lauren

http://www.lekinzie.com

 

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

WHAT & WHO THE “NEW” CHRISTIANITY LEAVES BEHIND–ME?

 

 

I thought we Christians agreed on the things that Jesus said and did, and the attributes he embodied and wanted us to strive to achieve.

I ‘m going through a second puberty, much uglier and scarier than the first. At times, my faith’s new terrain is unnavigable and unrecognizable, because of the fusion of politics and religion by some.

Where is my Jesus?   

This is important for so many reasons.

When was the last time you heard any Christian politician talk about Jesus, or these very simple cornerstones of our faith?

 

Whenever you help the least of these, you help me.

 

They will know you by the way you love one another.

 

 Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and don’t hide from relatives who need help. Then, your salvation will come like the dawn, and . . . when you call, I will answer. (This particular quote is from Isaiah, not the New York Times).

 

Don’t steal.

Don’t lie.

Don’t want to take what belongs to your neighbor.

Don’t commit adultery.

Don’t kill.

Honor your father and mother.

Judge not, or you will be judged

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 All of us, Christian or not, are losing when Jesus and the things he stands for are dropped from the equation.

 

 We lose peace and solace. Our faith is where we turn to get away from the ugliness and endless blame game of this world—our sanctuary.

In terms of Christianity, Jesus was supposed to be what Christians agreed on. It was the beginning of all further conversations. In terms of other faiths, see the point immediately below.

We lose identity and our voice. The Christian Evangelical political movement has become so powerful that non- Christians equate” Evangelical” with all of Christianity, and we non- Evangelical Christians feel like an endangered species.  No one is listening to us at the moment. But, maybe they should. We’ve been walking in our faith since no one knew what Evangelical was.  We’ve seen and learned there is a vast difference between attempting to vote ones

Christian conscience as a factor in politics, and allowing politics to dictate the very tenets of our faith, or what we are allowed to believe.

We lose leadership. If we’re the peacekeepers, and we don’t love, agree, or even tolerate each other, why on earth would anyone listen to us?

Ask yourself, who wins and profits if the Body of Christ is at each other’s throats?

As long as the politically powerful control the narrative and tell us what Christians are and aren’t, they retain power.

Power always acts the same.

Who decided Christianity was a “winner- take -all” full contact team sport?

The discord, “the all or nothing”, “you’re with us or against us ideology” is false, perpetrated by those who know better. If we buy into it, we lose the ability to be effective or solve problems. We lose compassion and grace for those who threaten or challenge us, and thereby lose Jesus himself. We lose our moral standard. We no longer know what’s over the line, because there is no line.

 

 

But, if we can agree on just these few things, we can solve a great many insurmountable” problems within and without our faith:

 

 Jesus isn’t for sale

Hes not a political prop.

He stands for certain things, none of which is being in the elite 1 percent.

He is the standard.

He isnt ego or economically driven.

As the body of Christ, it isnt helpful or effective to cut off limbs.

 

If we dont allow others to dictate membership in our faith, drown different voices out, or dictate what we believe and what is possible, we can’t lose, because we realize it isnt winner take all. We can all rise to the greater world vision Jesus called us to have. We can see that the narrative saying its impossible to have compassion and care for the powerless is just thata narrative.  We know who we are and who we stand for.

 

Im not abdicating fiscal responsibility for the nation, but we must hold true to the example and teachings that underpin our faith, as we make the difficult decisions.

The entire world is watching us after our crazy election.

The oppressed still need justice. The starving still need food.  The lost, marginalized, and hopeless still need a beacon. We can stay humble and caring, or we can devolve into us vs. them, all adrift on individual life preservers, with no shore in sight.

Isn’t it ultimately what’s in our hearts that counts? Are they still open and hopeful, or are they closed tight? Can we expect our prayers to God for mercy, forgiveness, and justice to be answered, if we dont allow others to receive those things? The answer determines the fate of the soul of a nation.

L E Kinzie

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.” 

 

ARE WE THERE YET?

 

The destination we have craved with desperation for over 2 years has arrived, and yet we are nowhere near “there” yet. There was a collective expectation that when 2017 finally came, decency, courtesy, civility, and normalcy, would return to us.  But, it dawns on all of us political trauma victims that was a fantasy we created to cope. Normalcy cannot return, because normal has been redefined. I have been silent, because I didn’t want to write anything that wasn’t unifying and solution -oriented, thereby contributing to the divisive, somewhat unhinged state of things.

 But, I’m Baaaack! — rested, with a new perspective and new hope.

Strangely, the worse things seem to get, the more there is to unite us, because it pushes us to return to our core values—not talking points, but values. When we get down to our values, we agree on solutions. Here are some examples.

  • We all agree that we don’t want our own behavior, biases, and beliefs to make our children ashamed of themselves or of us– ever. We can’t encourage our children to participate in a political system, if we believe that system is a cosmic joke. Most of us can agree that it is a cosmic joke at this point. But,

 

  • the problems aren’t insurmountable despite all being said to the contrary. To say so is an insult to us and our children. We deserve more than a group of politicians who create division and promise solutions only to throw up their hands and punt. It’s lazy, craven, and cynical, and isn’t us—even now.

 

  • If we look to the motivation for saying things are so forgone they can’t be solved, we see how false those claims really are, because we can see the motivation behind the words. Political platforms need problems to solve. So do re- election campaigns. If we believe there are no solutions, we get compliant, we stop making demands. We turn our lives over to our leaders. That doesn’t benefit us, it benefits them. FDR solved problems. Was he an alien from Mars or a special one -of -a -kind breed of human? Was Reagan? They listened to the people. We can still do that.

 

  • We can agree that our leaders to a large extent just don’t seem to care about us anymore. It’s like they have terminal narcolepsy: they’re not waking up anytime soon. They are focused somewhere else on something shiny.

 

  • We can all agree that there is a real resurgence of activism and involvement, and we need to keep it going. It is very, very early in the game.
  • We all agree that it is more important than ever.
  • We can all agree that  the preceding 6 points  lead to the inevitable conclusion that the solutions are up to us, the reasonable people left when you subtract the professionally angry and ideologue politicians.

 

 There is a hairpin turn in this plot: All of these problems effectively are one problem, which points to its own solution.

Our political discourse has been stripped of any and all language relating to possibility, tactical solutions, timelines, goals, and mission. It is a hopeless, barren landscape populated by people spouting ideologies without actual values. Our politics doesn’t know who or what it is, or who it’s for. It has been stripped of its very identity. Our political system, the system that finances that system, and the parties themselves are now biased against solutions and problem solvers. Language for policy drafting isn’t making it into our political campaigns, and that language is the beginning of the negotiation process necessary for lawmakers to propose and adopt solutions. How can anyone meet in the middle, if there is no middle?  So, people who know how to solve problems and want to, look strangely out of place, and are run out of the race.

Look at what happened to Bernie Sanders. Agree or not, this guy had solutions. He had thought seriously about the problems and had policies to solve them.  He was earnest. He was beloved by the populace. They had no idea what to do with him. The democratic party viewed him as a threat to its viability, because he pointed to its shortcomings. He transcended party politics, because that is what is required to solve problems, and that transcendence was viewed as a threat.

 Well, if one person can transcend party politics, what kind of effect would millions of us transcending party politics have? Significant. Maybe we should all re- register as Independents. Suddenly, the party hacks are automatically out of the loop.

  A problem this huge can only begin with a spiritual solution. Spirituality is about what is possible, and language follows that sense of possibility. Until we shift and lift our focus above the differences and the problems, unity and therefor solutions, will be impossible. The very language necessary to devise solutions will be impossible.  

Focusing on the problems effectively shuts down the higher consciousness that creates solutions, finds points of unity, and forges alliances, agreements, and treaties. There is a reason why the politicians, most of them, keep harping on our differences: as long as we perceive them as insurmountable, they don’t have to lift a finger to solve anything. It is up to us to drive it from the grass roots up. Let it begin with us.

Spirituality points to our common humanity, and embraces solutions and people. There aren’t two different Americas: there is one united America with a multitude of different perspectives and experience.  THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM. IT’S THE SOLUTION. This is where creative solutions come from: Outside.

The key to happiness is said to be a sense of purpose. Well, now we all have one!

So, whoever you are, whatever you believe, wherever you get your news and info, you alone have the power. You have the power of the pen, the phone, your feet, your friends, your constitution, your memory (remember the names of the politicians who broke their promises or betrayed you) and your vote. We have the power of infinite creativity and possibility, and we don’t have to concern ourselves with re- election. It’s a swamp, but we aren’t in it. We are standing with clear eyes on dry land.

 

*****

 

 

MY CHRISTMAS WISH FOR CHRISTIANITY

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It’s been a heck of a year.

At many times, I was afraid for the state of Christianity.

2016 was the year of shouting, and softer voices temporarily got drowned out. This was also the year of labels. The candidates had labels and so did Christians. The media spoke of “the Evangelicals” as synonymous with “the Christians”, which was simplistic and false.  It had its place in election reporting, but it was a form of shorthand that was deceptive, leading people to believe that there is only 1 kind of Christian and there is a checklist to be followed. Call me Pollyanna, but I think there is as much diversity in Christianity as there is in any other area, and I think that is a fantastic and necessary thing for actual unity to occur. I think that what we non- Evangelicals bring to the party is also valuable.

I have been a Christian my whole life, but not an Evangelical, because my personal belief it that religion and politics is a bad pairing. Politics is a tribal blood sport! It’s “our team” vs. “their team.” It, of necessity, relies on soundbites, shorthand, and over- simplification and generalization of issues and the categorization and labeling of people. I think we can all agree that we have had enough of that.

My first  Christmas wish  for Christianity it that we drop the labels and checklists! Stop the madnessJ It is what is in our hearts, that only God himself knows that is what matters. We can’t attribute intent to someone because of how they voted.

Allow me to use a little humor to make my point. Is God a Republican? Is he an Evangelical? Did he have a favorite in the election? Was he rooting for Hillary or Bernie? Or Russia?

Though a registered Republican, I have voted Democrat or Independent in the past 3 elections, because I don’t want people in Washington that I have never met telling me how to be a Christian. Am I still a good Christian if I really don’t like Congress or the President telling me how to live my life?

What if I believe in separation of church and state despite the fact that I’m a Christian?  Do I forfeit my faith card?

Yes, these scenarios are ridiculous.  Can we stop pretending that they aren’t?

There are as many shades and flavors of faith as there are people professing it. There is not only room for all of us, but all of us are needed to raise our voices during this Christmas season and be reminders of what we actually agree upon, and it is a lot, despite what we see on the news and our Twitter and Facebook feeds. So, my second Christmas wish is that we ,put those sources of division away for at least some of each day during the holidays and focus on what draws us together.

The following are the things that we agree upon: We believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and at least attempting to see them with understanding. We believe in peace and compassion, good will toward men, assuming the best until proven otherwise. Each of us, not matter what our faith, believe it is sacred and not something to be exploited by anyone –ever. We believe in extending grace, because we have received it. We believe in opportunity and optimism.

We are still the most compassionate, generous, open minded and open hearted nation on earth. The labels don’t matter. We know who we are. And I think God’s still rooting for us.

Pollyanna.

 

A SURPRISING REMEDY TO HELLSCAPE 2016

 

background-1As Jon Oliver said recently, “ Look way up there in the sky. You see that? That’s rock bottom!”

Dear God, we need joy, laugher, beauty, and truth that cannot be tarnished or destroyed with “future revelations”. We need to stop for just a moment and agree on the myriad of things we actually agree on. We need to channel the intense emotions and angst we justifiably feel in this year that is nothing put a parade of horribles into something that isn’t tearing ourselves or others down. We need to see and be inspired by beauty, humor, and truth and let it heal us and change us and let it be enough. Because it has to be. Because that is the only remedy, the only antidote to this war of words.

We have seen how words can divide, destroy, corrode, and manufacture fear, anger, and despair. We have watched the experts at spin and distortion, and had to take note of their power. What we write, what we speak, has the power to damn us or save us. Fewer and fewer people read for enjoyment, as if it is pointless, but that precisely is the point. We need to see truth and beauty somewhere, so we remember what it looks like.

  1. Writers and other artists, tell the truth. We have no choice. Special interests and money can’t corrupt most of us, because we have nothing to do with either. We reflect the truth of what is going on in our times. It may be our own personal truth, but it is authentic truth, all the same. It is an effective counter-balance to the land of lies that has become our political landscape. It grounds us to reality without shouting in our faces. It stands on its own, and really can’t be tilted or spun.

I am frequently asked why I write in the same tone of voice as someone would ask, “ Hey! Why are you strolling naked down the street?” The implication is, of course, the odds against monetary success are so low, why bother? The answer to me is, the times we live in require it. I have to do it and can’t back away from it.

2) Beautiful writing, like any thing of beauty, restores our faith in the universe, if only for a little while. It’s like a little meditation on hope.

Words are powerful, as are joy, beauty and hope, inspiration and finally, perspective, and words can create all of these good things. There is already enough invective, finger pointing, and anger. Almost everyone has had enough of it and is looking for the opposite, an oasis.

3) Writers can reflect the times in a non horrifying way, through crafting a work that is beautiful in its own right, shifting the focus from what is hopeless to what is possible, even if just for today. And that matters.

4) We will remind you of our shared humanity and the very good things about it. We will make you laugh and make you cry about something other than the state of our country. We will create something beautiful that cannot be destroyed in the next new cycle. Things that will endure no matter what happens on November 8th.

 

 

So, keep writing, even if it’s in a journal. That’s where many a poem, a novel, an opus began. Keep reading— we all need you.

I’m going to keep doing both. I’m going to keep trying to ignite the sparks that alight the beauty, sacredness, and commonality of our daily lives, and celebrate the beauty of our humanity.

L.E. Kinzie lives in Austin, Texas, with a ridiculous and ever-changing menagerie of pets and her family. A recovering ex-lawyer, she is a passionate observer of humanity and the common threads that bind us all together—beauty, creation, and creating art.

book-1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=poetry+books+L+E+Kinzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHARD

TOP-LEK-Logo_Concept(b)-shadowSHARD

Although the body is shattered

into jagged remnants,

a glistening ghost 

of its resplendent glory,

the unified, grounding base

flung in the wind

and raining sharp drops upon us,

redlogoa warm, smooth- edged shard sits

barely visible and glowing on a distant hill:

It still matters, and we still care

desperately, each of us,

our hearts still are not yet closed.

There is a shard- shaped opening.

L E Kinzie

 

Making Your Getaway

path_love_friendshipUnder the pavement, the dirt dreams of grass.    Wendell Berry

Like even the dirt under the pavement, we all aspire to greater things. Ah, but the universe is so uncooperative with what we know is the absolute best for us and everyone else. It is rigidly operating by itself with no assistance from us. It seems oblivious to our pleading and ministrations, as we hurl ourselves at it with more and more force trying to have an impact that doesn’t break us in the process.

Everyone talks about surrender as a solution. But sometimes (I know I speak blasphemy here) surrender doesn’t work and, when it doesn’t, there is a very concrete reason. Surrender doesn’t work without it’s essential precursor.

Failure.

What??????

Failure is actually the gateway to almost everything good. Specifically, the key to getting our hearts’ desire is admitting total defeat and giving up! Sometimes our best efforts and best intent lead us the wrong way, especially when we are married to a particular outcome and can’t see ourselves being peaceful without it. Without this acknowledgment, how can true surrender possibly occur?

Those people who truly are successful and content have become adaptable to the fact that everything can change on a dime. They face life on life’s terms with integrity.

One of the definitions of integrity is undiminished.

The truth can be a real bitch. We get where we want to be by seeing that what we have done hasn’t really worked this time, embracing it, and not letting it diminish us one little bit– not our joy, our dreams, our faith, our belief in and love for ourselves, or the recognition that we have value—always, no matter what is happening.

Someone very wise gave me some great advice in one of my first corporate jobs, which I didn’t heed until much later:

The key to being successful in any career is being willing and ready to walk away at any time. You have to know when to make a timely exit.

I now understand it applies to my thinking as well as my career.

If I am obsessing about how I think something should work out for me or for others, I’m not going to get any smarter listening to my own circular thoughts. Time to heed the exit sign.

So, can we accept that out story is our perception, but maybe not the absolute truth, that what we think is bad for us, actually turns out to be good sometimes, that what we think is good for us, can turn out to be anything but? Can we accept that we aren’t ever in control of anything, but that’s actually a great thing, because someone or something of infinitely greater wisdom, love, compassion and insight is in charge? Can we accept these eventual truths with enthusiasm, love, and personality undiminished? 

If we can, life is an adventure, full of miracles, like a never-ending road trip.

Exit sign

Is a long green line

to freedom.

Taste of release,

sweet feeling of peace,

sound of heavenly music and praise,

I can feel my hands raise

in exultation,

cool tingle of expectation,

smell of fresh- cut grass

and spring,

as I look at the horizon and sing:

Amen. An end is always a beginning.

.

CREATIVITY AND COMMERCE

 

Miss me? I fell into the abyss. Hate it when that happens. I started out creating something amazing! But somehow I ended up in . . . . commerce

An artist’s life can be marked in distinct periods of BC and AD (Before Commerce and After Development). In the middle is purgatory.

This is much the same life cycle of an entrepreneur as they create a product, company, or app and then engage in the process of attempting to fund it and bring it to the marketplace.

Creation and commerce couldn’t be more different, and yet, one can deceptively and suddenly become the other. It starts with a crazy dream, becomes real and tangible, and then can become an existential crisis.

At the heart of me, I love to create beauty and move people in some way. That’s what drives me in whatever setting I’m in—contributing something that wasn’t there before. It’s where I find the happiest, fullest, truest version of myself. It’s where I am surest of who I am and that God is here with me. This is because at this phase my ego has disappeared, and I am merged with the thing I am creating. The soul is 100% naked and beautiful.

But, the biggest trick of the ego is to make us think it isn’t there, and that’s when things get capsized.

For example, I just finished my Dream Creation. All of us have one of those in us, I think. I couldn’t leave this earth without doing a collection of the best of my poetry, and the creation of this baby was sheer ecstasy, like nothing else. This, to me is the essence of creating– total freedom to take it wherever the spirit leads me, all while linked to my Creator.

But, after I finished creating this gorgeous, vibrant, personally transformative baby, I entered the production zone. I stopped feeling and doing, and started trying and forcing solutions, timeframes, and deadlines. I necessarily engaged others’ help to assist me into turning it into a beautiful package for others to consume and hopefully enjoy. This is exactly when ego took over and I found myself on the sadistic hamster wheel of others’ choices, others’ deadlines, others’ priorities and schedules—all completely necessary. But the second it became a product, God’s timing went out the window, as I tried to manage and exceed other’s expectations and even my own. When ego entered, so did the idea of competition, which I’d never even considered, and then fear. What if I’m not enough? What if my baby is really ugly, and I just don’t know it?

Coincidentally, I felt progressively tired, overwhelmed, irritated, angry and hopeless, equally in turns. Because commerce is completely outwardly driven, it’s about everyone else and whether they like you or are even paying attention. Paradoxically, my ego had stepped in trying to manage everything and excel, but the rest of me shrunk.

What happened? I had let the spirit ebb out of the work– the very essence and soul of it, in my hurry to for it to be born.

I now realize process is a metaphor that should stay on the assembly line. Creativity isn’t a process used in a factory: it’s a birth.

To be mired in process and mechanics forces the ego to take over and manage, like it’s an assembly line. Ego will always be tied to fear, and fear will always block God. But when I focus on fear I’m focusing on limitations: anathema to the creative spirit, which wants to run like a herd of mustangs.

The answer, at least for me, is to approach the commerce side of the equation with the same creative spirit of adventure I approach the creative phase, and to only allow limitations when it applies to time spent in commerce.

I can’t control who sees my art, who likes it, who buys it. I can reach people; if I do the best I can, while respecting that this new commercial landscape is the Wild, Wild West. I have to do my part, but not all of it is up to me. My creator is bigger than the Wild, Wild West, and he can change the topography as needed.

Maybe that’s why I miss Prince so much. He could deliver a production but he was never a product; he wouldn’t stand for it. His identity was his art, take him or leave him. He never submitted to the process.

I can’t ignore commerce, or it will ignore me. But maybe I can try to keep it in its rightful place, and limit the amount of time I spend in and on it so it doesn’t creep into my creative space, like the blob, crowding out creation itself, and the joy that goes with it.

 

THE LIES OF SUPER-TUESDAY

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We all know what “ American Values” are, right? In this election year I’m not so sure.

As a nation, we seem to have lost our own identity, and found nothing but a deep, blinding rage. I must confess to having the same anger. The only people who truly don’t entertain the possibility that this whole system is rigged are the 1 percent benefiting from that same system and the politicians, of course, breaking America, so they can promise to fix it. Each candidate seems to espouse values that are different from the candidate next to them, and many are advocating positions that fly in the face of our constitution, our treasured right of freedom of speech, the rule of law and one of the founding premises of our whole way of life- -separation of church and state. We have one candidate who has all but told us outright that he wants to be a dictator, who has refused to disassociate himself from two white supremacist groups . . . and we love him. But our anger may be blinding us to reality and placing us in the alternate universe of reality TV –only we won’t get to turn it off.

For instance, I am a Christian, but I don’t want a theocracy, and I’m really wondering if that is where we are headed. I think part of the reason there is so much support for Trump is that he seems to be the only Republican candidate that is not intent on building a theocracy, and many of us are frightened of such an occurrence.

America was founded based upon freedom from religious dictates and religious persecution coming from the State. America was originally populated and governed by devout persons fleeing state established religion, and was created with a very important safeguard of our liberty- separation of Church and State. My being a Christian does not free me from that history.

We poke fun of and decry Sharia law, which is the product of melding religion with the government. In fact, we regularly send our soldiers in harm’s ways to fight the injustices and carnage brought about by such regimes. But, if you listen to some of the campaign rhetoric, this is exactly what we want to become. When we don’t agree with the Supreme Court and the law, we will simply ignore them, because “ God’s law is a higher law.” If we suspend the rule of law and the very structure of our government because some don’t agree, what happens to a land by and for the people?

More importantly, do you want the President or any government official interpreting the word of God for you and your life? What if you are an atheist? What if you are Jewish? Do you want a government with the attitude, “ It’s Christianity or the highway?” Ted Cruz being the arbiter of what is right and fair according to God… No, thank you. I’m sure he is a great guy, but no. Not even Rubio, thanks.

The one word all of us can still agree on as an American value is freedom. Freedom to say and do as we please. Freedom to associate with whomever we want. Freedom to gather in protest…unless at a political rally? All of us remember and want to keep the freedom to practice our religion, but with that same freedom, goes the equal freedom from religion, meaning government cramming certain religious beliefs or practices down our throats. Here, the definition of “freedom” gets murky.

In this very scary campaign “ freedom” has come to mean freedom from all laws we don’t like. Freedom from Supreme Court decisions we don’t like. Freedom from the duty of our elected officials to work with and compromise with each other for the greater good of their constituents—us. Freedom from standards or statesmanship. Freedom from facts or scientific bad news. Freedom for scientists themselves, their research, and their curriculum in our schools. Freedom from having to be concerned about our fellow man. Haven’t we had enough of this? We all have to work with people we don’t like. We all work with and live with people who have different ideas and values than we do. Why can’t Congress and the President do what all of us do every day?

Healthy skepticism of science is a good thing. Remember the nutritional pyramid, that’s been turned upside down three times? Statistically, one can prove anything.

But, that’s different than ignoring what our own eyes can see all around us. How can our children grow up to make the world a better place, if we tell them not to believe their own eyes?

We are all angry to the point of rage at what our Congress and government is doing to us and instead of what it should be doing for us, but if we let our anger blind us, we could get anarchy… or even worse—a dictatorship, in the bargain.

I’ve heard a lot about the American value of respect in this campaign- getting it, not giving it. “No one abroad respects us anymore.” America isn’t “ great” anymore?

I went to the latest Michael Moore film recently, Where To Invade Next. I prepared myself for an anti- American piece of propaganda. It was exactly the opposite. It was a love letter to America and a reminder that we can solve problems- we’ve been solving other people’s for centuries, and a suggestion that we take that wonderful American can-do value, and apply it to our own country. He pointed out that the countries that are “ beating us”, in education, standard of living, health care, and putting financial criminals in jail, never set out to “ beat us”. They set out to borrow our values and applied them to their own people, usually with our help. The most poignant scene in the film comes when a group of Italians are asked what they think of America. The answer was quite a jolt: “ You couldn’t pay me enough to live there. You act like you hate each other. I wouldn’t want to be treated like you treat each other.”

This is what makes America great: we still rush to aid virtually anyone in need or who is being oppressed… somewhere else. Can we at least focus for a minute on ourselves with clear eyes and see the millions of people who don’t have enough to eat, our crumbling bridges, our poisonous water and the college graduates who can’t find work at a living wage? I believe we still have the will to dig in and fix our problems and to hold our “ leaders” accountable if they will not help us do this, because America never stopped being great.

It is still great because the average American is a pretty great person. Though facing unprecedented challenges, the average American cares about the poor, the oppressed, racial and criminal justice, his neighbor across the street and last, but not least, peace. We’ve exported the best parts of America: fairness, justice, hope, the ability to look at ourselves and change for the better and the American Dream itself. Let’s re-patriate them!

 

HOW TO ZAP FEAR IN 4 STEPS

good fireworks

 

1) Remember thoughts are real, life altering things, but feelings are NOT facts.

We all know the saying by Napoleon Hill: Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

That saying is true for better or worse. We can create an atmosphere of optimism and possibilities in our minds, which then outpours from us to the outer world, or we can create forbidding obstacle courses in our own minds by imagining the worst-case scenario of everything, and the world outside becomes a menacing landscape.

I have been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown lately, and she writes that most fear is about scarcity of some kind.

One tiny thought of scarcity leads to another, and then another. I think, There isn’t enough money or success to go around. The economy is so bad; I’m never going to get a good job. Why even try for my dream job? I don’t have enough then translates to I am not enough. That is a feeling, and it is a mirage.

2) Never judge your insides by others’ outsides. Don’t assume anyone has more of anything than you, or let that assumption defeat you. That is another mirage.

I have walked into friends’ ” mansions” many times to find no furniture and bare mattresses strewn on the floor. ” The art of appearance” is just that– an art. All of us have, and to a certain extent, need a carefully constructed persona we present to the world. To live my life and label myself as less based on someone else’s persona is going to keep me in fear and shame.

3) Cultivate a Belief in Abundance. The only remedy there can possibly ever be to this mirage of scarcity is the belief that abundance is possible for even us. Every trite expression I ever hated applies here: Anthony Robbins called it an attitude of gratitude. Others say count your blessings, or use a gratitude list. The sayings are trite, because they are true.

I prefer to call it mindfulness. If I get out of the impending apocalypse in my head long enough to focus around me for just a few moments, I see how much I already have, and that gives me a sense of the possibilities for the future.

Notice I said belief in abundance. There is still commitment and work involved. Bill Gates was not born a billionaire. He had years of honing his craft, but he believed it could happen and it did.

4) Have an Affinity for Infinity.

Embrace the idea that our Source is infinite, and loves us all equally and perfectly. Perfect love casts out fear. God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t play favorites. We are all candidates for that boundless love and supply.

But, if I believe my source is money, fame, or currying the favor of influential people, I may chase after and even get those things, but I will gain the fear of losing them, and lose the source of true power for fighting all fear in the process.

What you want is always available to you, depending on what you want: if you want wisdom, discernment, provision, protection, favor– the things God can provide, they are yours merely by spending time with him and asking. You are enough, because time spent with him transforms both you and your circumstances.

God is simplicity itself.

Emmet Fox