Monday, December 31, 2012

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Starwalkers"

2002, "Starwalkers"
"Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you."
- Jim Rohn

Musical Interlude: Ottmar Liebert, "Heart Still Beating"

Ottmar Liebert, "Heart Still Beating"

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, folks! 
I wish you all the very best for 2013, and good luck to us all.
- CP

"Thoughts For The New Year"

“What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.”
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
- T. S. Eliot

“New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions. New Year's Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
- Mark Twain

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”
- John Wayne

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”
- Oprah Winfrey

"Why We're Addicted to New Year's Hope...and How to Make the Most of It"

 "Why We're Addicted to New Year's Hope...
and How to Make the Most of It"
by Kelly McGonigal, PhD
“Do you think you are smarter, nicer, or funnier than most people you know? Most people answer yes, a quirk psychologists call the "better-than-average" effect. Although it's statistically impossible, everyone likes to think of themselves as at least one standard deviation above the norm.

Our positive illusions aren't totally self-centered, though. We have the same faith in our sports teams. A recent study from Yale found that football fans always expect their favorite team to win more than 50% of games (a statistic as impossible as the above-average effect). Experience makes no difference. When people's predictions didn't pan out, there was a temporary drop in expectations - followed by an increase in unrealistic optimism. Even when the researchers paid for accuracy, and gave feedback to help the fans make more accurate predictions, people held on to their positive biases. It turns out that hope is worth more than the $50 a week the researchers were offering. The emotional cost of realism was too steep. We'd rather be wrong tomorrow but happy today.

That's where New Year's resolutions come in. Most resolutions fail, but 60% of people make the same resolution the following year. Why are we addicted to resolutions we should know are unlikely to succeed? In my experience helping people make difficult changes, I've come to realize that New Year's Resolutions are an expression of hope. They aren't an action plan for the future; they're an emotional strategy for today. Research shows that setting a resolution immediately puts people in a better mood. They feel more confident, in control, and hopeful. They even feel stronger and taller.

True to the above-average effect, most resolutions are unrealistically optimistic. People expect change to come easier and faster for them than for other people. We also expect to improve more in the future than we have improved in the past. So the last diet didn't work? No matter. Tomorrow is another day. This is another quirk of the human mind: people reliably expect their future selves to have more willpower, motivation, and energy than their present selves. And while this thinking may not be realistic, it isn't entirely foolish. The more optimistic we are about our future selves, the happier we are today.

In fact, the science of happiness shows that anticipating good things - whether it's your team winning the Super Bowl or your New Year's resolution succeeding - is the most reliable source of day-to-day happiness. Not only that, but the more positive we feel about our future selves, the more likely we are to do things to support our future selves' happiness - like save for retirement, exercise regularly, or cut back on salt.

So go ahead and make your resolution, and make it big. Research shows that the average person makes a resolution five or six times before they succeed. Even if you're above average, you'll probably need a few attempts. So savor the joy of resolving to change. It's the best part of a New Year's resolution - and you'll need that hope to try again in 2013.”
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a psychologist at Stanford University and the author of "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Musical Interlude: Yanni, "The Storm"

Yanni, “The Storm”, with Samvel Yervinyan, Victor Espinola, and Sayaka Katsui

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “Nostalgia”

Yanni, “Nostalgia”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“It's the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive central star BD+602522. Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the right. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way. 
Click image for larger size.
The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble's central star. The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud causing it to glow. The Bubble Nebula, pictured above in scientifically mapped colors to bring up contrast, is about 10 light-years across and part of a much larger complex of stars and shells. The Bubble Nebula can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia).”

The Daily "Near You?"

Fairfax, Iowa, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Only One Rule..."

“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- 
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
- Kurt Vonnegut

“Man shows inhumanity to Man. It’s axiomatic of our existence. It’s the story of our past, it’s the story of our present, and it will very likely be the story of our future. Indeed, it’s a story that’s reinforced every day, whether we’re watching the evening news or the latest entry in the “Saw” series. However, our history is also littered with awe-inspiring examples of men and women showing incredible compassion in the face of unspeakable evil and insurmountable odds. Every story of tragedy has a story of heroism to go with it. For every Holocaust there’s a Schindler. Vonnegut’s words, spoken so simply, are nonetheless laced with considerable profundity. The imperative to be kind to one another may seem obvious, but part of being human means that both the right thing and the wrong thing are forever at arms reach. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded every now and then which one we should choose.”

- Stephen H. Segal, “Geek Wisdom”

Life Skills: "How to Protect Your Energy"

"How to Protect Your Energy"
By Judith Orloff MD

“As you go through the intuitive healing process you need to know: each of us has our own special power. We carry it within; it waits to be awakened. Call it your inner self, your spirit, or light–however conceived, you must meet and come to know your core-essence. The source of all intuition, it is your fiercest ally and advocate against danger. By connecting with this part of yourself you’ll mount confidence, feel safer in the world. Then whatever or whoever crosses your path–even the devil incarnate–will be no match for your resilience.

I want you to flush out beliefs that divert you from your intuitive healing power. Begin by asking yourself, “What in my life throws me off center and why?” I’m referring to everything from a stranger flashing you a dirty look, to fear of rejection, to dealing with someone in pain. Interactions where your energy dims. Weak spots, points that need securing. And what about negativity? How do you deal with yours, or another’s? If a supervisor says, “You’ll never be successful,” or an ex-lover announces, “You’re incapable of a healthy relationship,” do you buy into it? We each have our triggers. The basis for centering and protection is grasping where we get caught, and then disengaging the trigger.
Four common beliefs that drain your intuitive healing power:

1. I’m not strong enough to protect myself. As children, many of us aren’t taught to believe in the full power we contain. Yes, our parents may support our intelligence, talents, physical attractiveness–even teach us sound ethical values, the difference between right and wrong. But what happens to our inner self? Might even devoutly religious parents fail to realize it is there? Our starting point is to recognize we possess a very real internal source which enables us to deeply see and know. Yet when something goes wrong, frequently our first impulse is to look outside ourselves for someone to “fix” us. We get sick; we rush to the doctor. We become depressed; we call a therapist. We’re in pain; we take a pill. It’s fine to seek expertise–but we have it backwards. Look inside first. Really, it’s not a big blank in there. Then act on what your wisdom tells you. What stops us? A likely culprit is the vulnerable child we each carry within. Mogul or mailman, mother or monk, this aspect of our psyche yearns to be taken care of, protected, and is unequipped to do it alone. He pops up in the darndest circumstances, reducing us to a helpless tiny tot. Of course we must tenderly acknowledge her needs–but know where to draw the line. Would you want a baby running your boardroom? Your life? Remember: Your inner self is more than your inner child. Far grander–capable of ministering to all your needs–is the radiance of your spirit. Feeling this, knowing this, is the best protection of all. You must become your own champion before anyone else can. When you believe in yourself, no one else can diminish you.

2. Other people’s negative thoughts can harm me. In my workshops, I’m struck by how worried participants are about being thwarted by other people’s negative thoughts. Such concerns need to be addressed. On an intuitive healing level, ill intentions or feelings can affect us, creating anxiety or physical dis-ease. We must train ourselves to deflect them. What is negative energy? Any force antithetical to your well-being. How does it turn up in everyday life? Let’s start at the lower end of the spectrum. Your neighbor doesn’t approve of you. A friend puts down your plan to start college at forty. Your ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend is sending you bad vibes. What do you do?
Strategies to develop intuitive healing:

• Don’t lead a lifestyle based on assuming others are out to get you. This perpetuates fear.
• If someone is sending you negative thoughts, avoid dwelling on them. The more attention you pay to negativity, the more influence you give it.
• Focusing on the strength of your inner self is the best defense against negativity, no matter how dramatic its manifestation. If you are solidly connected to yourself, nothing can get you.

3. I’m too sensitive for my own good. The arch-enemy of intuition is lack of sensitivity. Know this: There is no such thing as being overly sensitive. To grasp the concept, you may have to reconfigure old ideas that have been drummed into your head. When parents or teachers said, “You have to toughen up,” or especially with boys, “only sissies cry,” unknowingly they were undermining the very crux of your intuitive tie with the world. Male sensibility, in particular, has been bludgeoned by such rigid conditioning. But, for both sexes, to break down childhood armoring requires extraordinary commitment, trust, and resolve.

What I’m speaking of isn’t simply expressing your emotions. It’s slowly learning, in your own time frame, to remain wide open to an intuitive realm–being one with the wind, the moon, other people’s joys, sorrows, the continuum of life and death. From this comes an intimate ecstatic bond with all of existence, exactly what you don’t want to protect yourself from. Sensitivity only turns against you when you feel overwhelmed. But how do you stay receptive and not get obliterated by the intensity of such input? It is possible to remain vulnerable and feel safe. The answer is never to shut your sensitivity off but to develop it as a creative resource.

4. It’s my job to take on the pain of others. We’re trained that as big-hearted people it’s laudable to try to relieve the pain of others. A homeless person holding a cardboard sign, “I’m hungry. Will work for food” at a busy intersection; a hurt child; a distraught friend. It’s natural to want to reach out to them, ease their angst. But many of us don’t stop there. Inadvertently, we take it on. Suddenly we’re the one feeling desolate, off kilter, bereft, when we felt fine before. This loss of center is what I want to address. It does not serve us. I am adamant: the most compassionate, effective route to healing people is to be a supportive presence, not attempt to live their pain for them. Moreover, sometimes suffering has its own cycle that has to be respected, hard as that may be to witness.

We must lie to rest the old metaphysical prototype of the empathic healer. Typically grossly obese women (extra weight, they mistakenly argued, was the only way to stay grounded), who cured patients by absorbing symptoms with the technique of laying on of hands. The result? Patients would leave feeling better; the healers would be a sickly wreck. These women were convinced such a sacrifice was necessary to lessen the suffering of others. As a young physician, I almost got snagged in the same trap. During the first months of private practice, I used to drag myself home, flop into bed half-dead from everything I’d absorb: a sure path to burn-out. This tack wasn’t good for me or my patients.

I’ve learned the value of being a catalyst for people’s growth without compromising my well-being. Patients themselves have taught me I can’t do the work for them. That is not my job. Nor is it yours. Keep this in mind: it is none of our business to deprive anyone else of their life experiences. I understand the impulse to want to make things better. Compassion and the desire to console are human. But there’s a fine line between supporting someone and trying to do it for them. No matter how well-meaning or heartfelt your intention, doing too much is not an act of love but of sabotage. You can be caring and honest with someone, yet still let them be. Don’t equate honoring their growth process with abandoning them. A practical philosophy of intuitive healing must include preserving your energy as well as serving others. Striking a balance is essential."
Dr. Judith Orloff, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, has helped patients find emotional freedom for over 20 years. She passionately asserts that we have the power to transform negative emotions and achieve inner peace.

"How It Really Is"

"Ode 2 2012"

"Ode 2 2012"
by Will Durst

"And so we bid a not-so-fond farewell to the bow of another large unwieldy year as it sinks slowly over the horizon wobbling unsteadily towards the graveyard of memory. And cheers erupt from we folks on shore waving the double-handed “L for loser” sign above our heads. “So long. See ya. Don’t let the door slam you in the butt on the way out. And if you got any brothers or sisters, don’t give them this address.”

Normally there’s some small sense of nostalgia for a departing annum. An iota of regret for the calendar discarded. Not this one. Getting through the past 12 months was like navigating a Black Diamond ski run in roller skates with the wheels rusted shut. While wearing a crib. It was an oil-soaked pelican of years. The Year of Living Stupidly. Had the same connection to constructive change that Vladimir Putin has to the editorial board of Crochet Monthly. The Chinese need a new Zodiac sign: Year of the Flatulent Weasel.

But in the interest of keeping this particular piece of puffery positive it might be best if we confine our remarks to reflecting on the good that emerged from 2012.

Okay. Well, that was quick. Wait — got one: at least the presidential election is over. Of course, people are already running for 2016, so we got that to look forward to. Which is real similar to looking forward to having five-year twins playing in the back seat of a cross-country drive with a new set of drums and an unlimited supply of metallic sticks. And tambourines. Tons of tambourines. For four years.

You’d think even your average run-of-the-mill politician would possess the simple common human decency to wait till the current president was re-inaugurated, but nooo. These early birds are intent on stockpiling worms. You know what they say: Early money is like yeast. And very early money is like baking soda. And extremely early money is an egg wash brushed delicately across a pan full of hot cross buns.

When you think about it, the only thing that really went right with 2012 was we misread the Mayan Calendar. Everything else is either worse than we found it or the same. Middle East a mess? Check. Crazy people with guns? Check. Weather getting weird? Check. Congress unable to accomplish any sort of worthwhile task, including differentiating between their gluteus maximus and yellow paint? Double check.

Face it. These days, simple survival has become the goal. Continuing existence is the new victory dance. And then for a half a second you ruminate on how good we got it here. What kind of state the rest of the world is in. And most of our problems just kind of fade away, don’t they?

Sure, with great potential comes great responsibility. But it’s an exciting time. Fifteen years ago, the only people with GPS units were NASA. Now we got them in our cars and phones. We’re also in the middle of a cheeseburger renaissance and pretty good coffee is available almost everywhere. Not half bad perks. So, what do you say? Shall we give another a year a shot? But just 365 this time around. Don’t know about you but that extra day this year kicked my butt.”

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 12.28.12"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 12.28.12"
By Greg Hunter’s

"There are just two stories that should be on everybody’s radar this week. The first is the “Fiscal Cliff” or, as I like to call, it the “Blame Game Theater. The other big story is the Middle East. Both of these stories are multi-faceted. The “Fiscal Cliff” should be of great interest to all Americans. This is simply a disgrace, and both sides should be taken to the wood shed for letting this get out of control. The deal they have been talking about is less than half of what the Erskine Bowles commission was asking for (around $4 trillion), and that only slows the growth of government. Many say the best thing we could do is go over the “Fiscal Cliff." At least we would get some real spending cuts. I have taken some heat for suggesting tax increases. I DO NOT think taxing more so we can spend more is the answer, but blowing another bubble and putting it off only makes things worse.

In 2001, we should have gone into recession, but instead, we got a housing bubble. In 2008, we should have taken the big banks to receivership; instead, we bailed them out and continue to bail them out as they are technically insolvent. If they were solvent, we would not need phony accounting and a $40 billion a month bailout provided by the Fed to infinity. If we do go over the Fiscal Cliff, John Williams at says that “Would Trigger Confidence Problems That Never Could Be Recovered Fully.” This is not only a debt crisis, but a real crisis in leadership by both parties. 

The other big story is the Middle East. They are trying to come to some solution in Syria, but both sides are still fighting it hot and heavy. 44,000 Syrians have died in the nearly two year old civil war, and there is really no end in sight. The fighting has already spilled over into surrounding countries and the possibility of a wider war is what makes this very dangerous.  

On the Eastern side of the Middle East, Iran is conducting war games from the Persian Gulf to the Northern Indian Ocean. The U.S. and its allies have heavy presences there to stop Iran from blocking the Strait if war breaks out. 40% of the world’s sea-borne oil exports pass through the Strait of Hormuz. It makes me nervous when any country conducts war games in close proximity to potential adversaries. War can start by accident. It can also be started by either side on purpose. Either way, war in the Middle East would be a global disaster, especially with such a fragile global economy. By the way, nothing is settled between Israel, Iran and Hamas. I look for renewed fighting to break out in 2013. 

Join Greg Hunter for the Weekly News Wrap-Up for his analysis of these stories and more."

Satire: "Senate Outraged at Having to Work Weekend to Save Nation"

"Senate Outraged at Having to Work Weekend to Save Nation"
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— "Howls of protest filled the halls of the U.S. Senate today as dozens of Senators expressed their outrage at having to work through the weekend to save the United States from financial Armageddon. “We’re hearing a lot about the country plunging back into recession and millions of people being thrown out of work,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). “What we’re not hearing much about is how our Sunday is being completely and irrevocably ruined.”

Senator McConnell said that when President Obama called the Senate back to work on a budget deal this weekend, “At first I thought he was kidding. Not only have I never worked on a weekend, I’ve never met anyone who’s done such a damn fool thing.” The Senate Minority Leader added that “if saving this country means working Saturday and Sunday, then I’m not sure this is a country worth saving. Yes, I know that the fiscal cliff is a ticking time bomb that could destroy the U.S. economy for years to come and take the rest of the world with it,” he said. “I also know that Sunday is Week seventeen of the N.F.L. season and now I’m missing all my games.”

Mr. McConnell said that while “saving the nation may be important to be some people,” he worries that forcing the Senate to work on a weekend is setting a dangerous precedent. “For years, people have run for Congress because they knew that serving here was synonymous with not working,” he said. “If that’s going to change all of a sudden, a lot of us are going to feel very betrayed.”

Saturday, December 29, 2012


  "Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity.
 We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand- 
and melting like a snowflake."

- Francis Bacon Sr.

Musical Interlude: Loreena McKennitt, “Dante's Prayer”

Loreena McKennitt, “Dante's Prayer”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Recognized since antiquity and depicted on the shield of Achilles according to Homer, stars of the Hyades cluster form the head of the constellation Taurus the Bull. Their general V-shape is anchored by Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull and by far the constellation's brightest star. 
Click image for larger size.
Yellowish in appearance, red giant Aldebaran is not a Hyades cluster member, though. Modern astronomy puts the Hyades cluster 151 light-years away making it the nearest established open star cluster, while Aldebaran lies at less than half that distance, along the same line-of-sight. Along with colorful Hyades stars, this stellar holiday portrait locates Aldebaran just below center, as well as another open star cluster in Taurus, NGC 1647 at the left, some 2,000 light-years or more in the background. Just slide your cursor over the image to identify the stars. The central Hyades stars are spread out over about 15 light-years. Formed some 800 million years ago, the Hyades star cluster may share a common origin with M44 (Praesepe), a naked-eye open star cluster in Cancer, based on M44's motion through space and remarkably similar age.”

The Poet: John O’Donohue, "For The Time Of Necessary Decision"

"For The Time Of Necessary Decision"

"The mind of time is hard to read.
We can never predict what it will bring,
Nor even from all that is already gone
Can we say what form it finally takes;
For time gathers its moments secretly.
Often we only know it’s time to change
When a force has built inside the heart
That leaves us uneasy as we are.

Perhaps the work we do has lost its soul,
Or the love where we once belonged
Calls nothing alive in us anymore.

We drift through this gray, increasing nowhere
Until we stand before a threshold we know
We have to cross to come alive once more.

May we have the courage to take the step
Into the unknown that beckons us;
Trust that a richer life awaits us there,
That we will lose nothing
But what has already died;
Feel the deeper knowing in us sure
Of all that is about to be born beyond
The pale frames where we stayed confined,
Not realizing how such vacant endurance
Was bleaching our soul’s desire."

~ John O’Donohue

Chet Raymo, "Humility In The Face of Complexity"

"Humility In The Face of Complexity"
by Chet Raymo

"In the September, 2009 issue of "Harper's Magazine," contributing editor Mark Slouka has an essay titled "Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School." The title and subtitle say it all. Education in America today is all about preparing Americans to compete in the global marketplace, says Slouka, all about inflating the nation's GNP. Math and science are key to making our kids competitive. He quotes everyone from Bill Gates to Thomas Friedman on the need for job related skills. What is taught in the schools at any given time, in any culture, is an expression of what that culture considers important, says Slouka, and in our time, in our place, the reigning orthodoxy is economic. The humanities are shunted aside.

Slouka is wrong on two counts, but before I get to that, let me quote his ringing defense of the humanities, which strikes me as right on the mark: "The humanities teach us, incrementally, endlessly, not what to do but how to be. Their method is confrontational, their domain unlimited, their "product" not truth but the reasoned search for truth... They complicate our vision, pull our most cherished notions out by the roots, flay our priorities. Because they grow uncertainty. Because they expand the reach of our understanding (and therefore our compassion), even as they force us to draw and redraw the borders of tolerance. Because out of all this work of self-building might emerge an individual capable of humility in the face of complexity; an individual formed through questioning and therefore unlikely to cede that right; an individual resistant to coercion, to manipulation and demagoguery in all their forms. The humanities, in short, are a superb mechanism for what we might call democratic values."

To which I say "Amen."

So where does Slouka go wrong? First, in suggesting that the humanities are being displaced by math and science. Not in the world I live in. The students I see coming out of the schools are no better educated in math and science than in my own generation. The curriculum may indeed shortchange the humanities in favor of pragmatic "get ahead" values, but it's not math and science that are taking up the slack.

Second, in my book, math and science are a necessary part of a liberal education, and can contribute mightily to achieving the kind of humane, democratic values Slouka outlines above. I always taught math and science as "humanities," as part of the necessary intellectual equipment any educated person can profitably use to navigate the world- because they grow uncertainty, because they expand the reach of our understanding. Let's not forget that arithmetic, geometry and astronomy were among the seven liberal arts of the medieval European university.

By all means, let's have grammar, rhetoric, logic and music (the other four "liberal arts"). And art, literature, and history. But know, too, that math and science teach the values of axiomatic reasoning and institutionalized skepticism, of consensus building and civil discourse, and of the open-ended search for truth.

Slouka says: "To put it simply, science addresses the outer world; the humanities, the inner one. Science explains how the material world is now for all men; the humanities, in their indirect, slippery way, offer raw materials from which the individual constructs a self- a self distinct from others." Well, yes. And the point of a liberal education, I would maintain, is to find a balance between the subjective inner world of the individual and the objective outer world we all share. Too often there is a disconnect that leads to nothing but mischief.”

"How It Really Is"

"The Object Of Life..."

"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority,
 but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
- Marcus Aurelius

"16 Things About 2013 That Are Really Going To Stink"

"16 Things About 2013 That Are Really Going To Stink"
By Michael Snyder

"The beginning of the year has traditionally been a time of optimism when we all look forward to the exciting things that are going to happen over the next 12 months.  Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of things about 2013 that we already know are going to stink.  Taxes are going to go up, good paying jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be destroyed, the number of Americans living in poverty will continue to soar, our infrastructure will continue to decay, global food supplies will likely continue to dwindle and the U.S. national debt will continue to explode.  Our politicians continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess, and yet they continue to expect things to magically turn around.  But that is not the way that things work in the real world.  Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes.  Instead of realizing that what we are doing is not working, our "leaders" continue to give us more of the same.  As a result, there are going to be a lot of things about 2013 that will not be great.  Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything will be "okay" somehow is not going to help anyone.  We've got to make people understand exactly what is happening and why it is happening if we ever hope to see real changes.

The following are 16 things about 2013 that are really going to stink...

#1 Taxes Are Going To Go Up: Even if a fiscal cliff deal is reached, some taxes will still go up next year.  And if no deal is reached, there will be a whole bunch of different tax increases in 2013. According to CBS News, these tax increases would be very painful for the middle class: "If lawmakers fail to work out any sort of deal, there will be severe long-term consequences for the economy: According to the Tax Policy Center, going off the "cliff" would affect 88 percent of U.S. taxpayers, with their taxes rising by an average of $3,500 a year; taxes would jump $2,400 on average for families with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000. Because consumers would get less of their paychecks to spend, businesses and jobs would suffer."

#2 The Middle Class Is About To Be Scorched By The Alternative Minimum Tax: Of more immediate concern for the middle class is the Alternative Minimum Tax.  Many Americans have never heard of the AMT, but it is truly one of the worst things about our tax code. If Congress does not act, and right now it does not look promising, millions of middle class households will see a massive increase in their tax bills for 2012.

According to one analysis, households that are forced to pay the AMT will end up paying an extra $3,700 in taxes: "Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, more than 26 million households will for the first time face the AMT, which threatens to tack $3,700, on average, onto taxpayers’ bills for the current tax year. Because those people have never paid the AMT, they have no idea they are in its crosshairs — put there by a broader stalemate over tax policy that has kept Congress from limiting the AMT’s reach."

Do you have an extra $3,700 sitting around to send to Uncle Sam? If not, you had better contact your representatives in Congress and scream like crazy about passing a fix for the AMT.  They have always gotten it done before, but this year there is so much animosity between the Republicans and the Democrats that nothing may end up getting done.

#3 The Economy Will Continue To Get Worse: Despite all of the talk in the mainstream media and from our politicians that our economy is getting better, the truth is that the U.S. economy continued to decline in 2012.  If you doubt this, just read the 75 statistics in this article. And there are a whole host of signs that the economy is starting to slow down even more as we enter 2013.  For example, consumer confidence in the United States has experienced its largest two-month drop in over a year, and retail sales during the holiday season turned out to be quite disappointing.

#4 Good Paying Jobs Will Continue To Be Shipped Out Of The United States: Thanks to decades of "free trade agreements", workers in the United States must directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. We continue to see millions of jobs being shipped out of the country and our politicians stand by and do nothing. Most Americans have no idea how this emerging one world economic system works.  The beautiful product that you buy at the big retail store may have been made by someone working in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable.

A 42-year-old woman named Julie Keith recently found this letter inside a box of Halloween decorations that had been made in China... "If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever. People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month). People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others."

But both political parties continue to tell us how wonderful it is that we are trading with communist China.  They see no problem with the fact that good paying jobs that used to be performed in America are now being performed by slave laborers on the other side of the planet.  And most Americans continue to support this system by filling their shopping carts with lots of stuff that has "made in China" stamped on it.

#5 Small Businesses Will Continue To Be Destroyed: At the same time, small businesses all over America are being strangled to death by taxes and regulations.  Just consider the following numbers: "We are told that the economy is supposed to be "recovering", but the number of "startup jobs" at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row.  According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006.  By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans." How is our economy ever going to thrive if we keep killing off our small businesses?

#6 Hunger And Poverty Will Continue To Explode To Unprecedented Levels: As the U.S. economy bleeds jobs and loses small businesses, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to explode. Here are some numbers to show to people who still don't understand how desperate the situation is...

-Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

-According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be "poor" or "low income".

-For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#7 The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Will Continue To Increase: If the economy is recovering, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps continue to soar? As I wrote previously, about 17 million Americans were on food stamps back in the year 2000. Today, more than 47 million Americans are on food stamps. Does anyone want to explain to me how that is a sign that things are getting better? Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps. How much worse do things have to get before people realize that what we are doing is not working?

#8 Millions Of Americans Are About To Lose Their Unemployment Benefits: During this economic crisis, an unprecedented number of American families have been relying on unemployment benefits in order to stay afloat. Well, if no agreement is reached in Washington D.C., millions of Americans will shortly lose those benefits: "Three million Americans may become unwitting casualties of the political war in Washington over the fiscal cliff. Since 2008, the federal government has funded extensions of the unemployment insurance offered by states, more than tripling the amount of aid available to the unemployed in some areas. But the program is expensive, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating it would cost $30 billion to extend it through 2013. President Barack Obama wants to extend the benefits for another year, but Congress has already pared back the program, and Republicans insist it represents the kind of largesse Washington can no longer afford."

#9 Our Infrastructure Will Continue To Rot And Decay: The United States once had the most beautiful infrastructure in the entire world.  Our highways, bridges, airports, railroads, sewer systems and electrical grids were the envy of the entire planet. Well, now we don't even have enough money to repair what we already have, so our infrastructure will continue to rot and decay in 2013: "Highways and bridges will need $2.5 trillion in upgrades if they are to survive for another 50 years- a must-do to keep commerce thriving. And that figure doesn't even take into account the airports, railroads, subways, sewage-treatment plants, waterworks, levees, electric grids, pipelines, and all of those other expensive systems that people ignore until they break down." [All this, but they came up with $22 TRILLION to bail out the banksters... I don't dare comment on this obscenity. - CP]

#10 Many Of Our Major Cities Will Continue To Be Transformed Into Festering Hellholes: A lot of our major cities are also rapidly degenerating.  Detroit is one of my favorite examples, but the same kinds of things could be said about dozens of other major cities all over the country.  The following is a brief excerpt from one of my recent articles: "If you can believe it, more than 50 percent of all children in Detroit are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults living in the city are functionally illiterate.  The high school graduation rate in Detroit is down to about 25 percent, and the city has become a breeding ground for gangs and violence.  The number of murders in Detroit is already higher than last year, and recently groups of young men toting AK-47s have been running around robbing gas stations.  How much worse can things possibly get for Detroit?"

#11 State And Local Governments Will Find Ways To Squeeze Even More Money Out Of Us: In case you haven't noticed, state and local governments all over the country are bleeding cash and are desperate for money.  In 2013 you can expect them to continue to find more ways to squeeze even more money out of all of us.  Here is one example: "Over the course of 2013, the District government will add 134 traffic cameras to its network, more than doubling the size of a system that generated $85 million in revenues for the city in its last fiscal year. Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump told The Washington Examiner that the city will intensify its camera-based efforts to cite motorists for speeding and stoplight violations while also adding cameras to detect other moving violations."

#12 Drug Cartels Will Continue To Easily Cross Our Borders And Terrorize Our Citizens: The federal government continues to refuse to protect our borders, and that means that drug runners and gang members will continue to pour into the United States. Down in the Southwest, many ranchers are being absolutely terrorized by these criminals.  The following is from a recent NBC News article: "Just before nightfall, 73-year-old rancher Jim Chilton hikes quickly up and down the hills on his rugged cattle-grazing land south of Tucson, escorting two U.S. Border Patrol agents. He wants to show them the disturbing discovery he made earlier in the day: a drug-smugglers' camp on his private property.  Stacked together under a stand of trees are blankets, jackets, food, water, binoculars and bales of marijuana from Mexico wrapped in burlap. The smugglers, themselves, are nowhere in sight and are believed to have fled the area, which is about 10 miles north of the Mexican border.

Chilton has had his house burglarized a couple of times and his family regularly encounters groups of armed drug smugglers coming across from Mexico. "Their cattle fences are frequently cut and paths heading north from Mexico cross their property.  Beckham says a smuggler even fired shots at him while he walked his land with a U.S. Border Patrol agent.  Several illegal border crossers have also approached his house at night- one even reaching his hand into their bathroom window. "Several years ago, one of my children was taking a shower and had a gentleman reach into the shower while he was in there, and he came out screaming, absolutely refusing to take a shower for the next couple months."

But even if you don't live along the border, all of this still affects you.  According to government figures, Mexican drug cartels are actively operating in more than 1,200 U.S. cities right now. They are probably hard at work in the community where you live. So what is the Obama administration doing to fix the problem? Not much. In fact, the Obama administration is actually encouraging people to come to the U.S. and become dependent on the system.  If you can believe it, there is actually a website run by the Department of Homeland Security that teaches immigrants how to apply for welfare benefits once they get into the United States.

#13 Social Decay Will Continue To Accelerate: All over America we are seeing signs of social breakdown.  Here is yet another example: "A woman sleeping on a street bench outside a drug store was doused with an accelerant and set on fire early Thursday morning in Van Nuys. Witnesses told police that a man poured liquid- possibly a beverage containing alcohol- on the sleeping woman at about 1 a.m. outside a Walgreens store near Van Nuys Boulevard and Sherman Way. He lit a match and ran from the location, witnesses told police."

Who would just run up and set a woman on fire? Sadly, this is not an isolated incident.  For many more examples like this, please see this article: "20 Shocking Examples Of How Sadistic And Cruel People Have Become". We need to admit that we have a major problem on our hands.  Violent crime in the United States increased by 18 percent in 2011, and another huge increase is expected when the numbers for 2012 come out. America is changing, and not for the better.

#14 Global Food Supplies Will Continue To Dwindle: Did you know that for six of the last eleven years the world has consumed more food than it has produced? As a result, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years. So what is going to happen if the world continues to eat more food than it makes? Let us hope that there is not another major drought in 2013.  If there is, we could be looking at a very serious food crunch.

#15 Wall Street Will Continue To Resemble A Giant Casino: Our financial system seems to have not learned any lessons from the financial crash of 2008. Instead of admitting their mistakes, they just continue to engage in even more reckless behavior. Today, there are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives. At some point that house of cards is going to collapse and we will be facing a derivatives crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Will it be in 2013?

#16 The U.S. National Debt Will Cross The 17 Trillion Dollar Mark: In 2013, our national debt will blow past the 17 trillion dollar mark and start heading toward 18 trillion dollars. How stupid can we possibly be? During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. national debt has grown by about as much as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office. It really takes something to match more than 200 years of debt accumulation in less than four years. But our politicians don't seem to care about all of this debt.  They will continue to steal more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.  That is beyond criminal, and yet the American people don't seem to care.

What in the world has happened to this country?

Of course not everything about 2013 will be bad.  Personally, I am looking forward to an exciting year.  I have a new book that will be coming out, and my family is blessed and healthy.  I would like to wish all of you a very blessed 2013.  Things may be falling apart all around us, but that doesn't mean that we can't have a great year even in the midst of all the chaos.”

REM, “It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

"A Longer Shelf Life..."

"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, 
and it has a longer shelf life."
- Frank Zappa

"75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe"

"75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That 
Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe"
By Michael Snyder

"Despite the goings-on in Congress, I don't think the U.S. is bordering on madness.
  I think Canada and Mexico are." - Robert Brault

"What a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a "great job" the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class.  It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening.  If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode.  Just "tweaking" things slightly is not going to fix our economy.  We need a fundamental change in direction.  Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic "adjustment" that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones.  Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion.  So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be "just fine", just show them these numbers.  They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.

The following are 75 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe...

#1 In December 2008, 31.6 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, a new all-time record of 47.7 million Americans are on food stamps.  That number has increased by more than 50 percent over the past four years, and yet the mainstream media still has the gall to insist that "things are getting better".

#2 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#3 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of "Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming."

#4 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.

#5 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

#6 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#7 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been under 59 percent for 39 months in a row.

#9 In September 2009, during the depths of the last economic crisis, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  In November 2012, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  It is more then 3 years later, and we are in the exact same place.

#10 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.

#11 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all small business owners in America "say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment."

#12 The number of jobs at new small businesses continues to decline.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration...

Bush Sr.: 11.3
Clinton: 11.2
Bush Jr.: 10.8
Obama: 7.8

#13 The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#14 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#15 There are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.

#16 In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

#17 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were "middle income" back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.

#18 The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of all middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

#19 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

#20 Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be "low income" or are living in poverty.

#21 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either "low income" or impoverished.

#22 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#23 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#24 The average amount of time that an unemployed worker stays out of work in the United States is 40 weeks.

#25 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#26 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

#27 Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.  Overall, there are almost 80 different "means-tested welfare programs" that the federal government is currently running.

#28 When you account for all government transfer payments and all forms of government employment, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.

#29 Barack Obama has been president for less than four years, and during that time the number of Americans "not in the labor force" has increased by nearly 8.5 million.  Something seems really "off" about that number, because during the entire decade of the 1980s the number of Americans "not in the labor force" only rose by about 2.5 million.

#30 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

#32 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#33 Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

#34 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#35 At this point, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.

#36 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#37 Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

#38 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#39 One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.

#40 In the city of Detroit today, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults are functionally illiterate.

#41 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#42 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#43 If you can believe it, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor's degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

#44 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#45 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

#46 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

#47 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#48 The U.S. tax code is now more than 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare's works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

#49 According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.

#50 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#51 2012 was the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.

#52 Experts are telling us that global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.

#53 One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#54 If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

#55 Medical costs related to obesity in the United States are estimated to be approximately $147 billion a year.

#56 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#57 Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.

#58 The wealthiest 400 families in the United States have about as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined.

#59 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#60 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#61 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#62 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#63 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#64 Nearly 15,000 retired federal workers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  The list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#65 U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.

#66 Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

#67 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#68 During fiscal year 2012, 62 percent of the federal budget was spent on entitlements.

#69 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#70 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#71 Medicare is also growing by leaps and bounds.  As I wrote about recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#72 Thanks to our foolish politicians (including Obama), Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#73 Amazingly, the U.S. national debt is now up to 16.3 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

#74 During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

#75 Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was originally created back in 1913.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Time is running out, and we need to wake up as many people as possible."

Original article, with reference links, is here:

"It'll Do..."

Deputy Wendell: “It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?”
Sherrif Bell: “If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.”

- “No Country For Old Men”

“6 Steps to Release Your Fear and Feel Peaceful”

“6 Steps to Release Your Fear and Feel Peaceful”
by Nicolas Perrin

“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.”
 ~ Mary Catherine Bateson

“It was a balmy spring morning and I started my day as per usual, but I soon realized that my mind was entertaining fearful thoughts about my financial insecurity. With many new ventures within the seedling stage, my income flow was erratic and unpredictable, while my financial responsibilities were consistent and guaranteed. At the time I ignored these thoughts as “petty,” like a parent dismissing a crying child after a mild fall on the pavement.

What I didn’t realize was that my mind wanted to entertain these fear-based thoughts like a Hollywood blockbuster, and as you may know, what you focus on expands. Before I knew it, my body was in a state of complete anxiety and fear. I literally felt my cognitive and creative centers shutting down. I felt completely powerless, a hostage to my own mind. My body felt paralyzed, and I felt disconnected from my talents and gifts. I felt separate, isolated, and vulnerable. I became a victim of the fear. In this moment I realized the powerful impact thoughts can have on how we feel, mentally and physically. Here is what unfolded through me, and the lessons I treasured from this experience.

Fear is a closed energy, referred to as inverted faith. Fear exists when we do not trust our connection to the infinite part of who we are and buy into a story about what’s unfolding in our life. The emotions we feel are created from the thoughts that we choose to focus on, consciously or unconsciously. The emotions act as markers to let us know if we are focusing on expansive, empowering thoughts or fearful, limiting thoughts.

If I were to relate this in a story, it may be like a pilot believing he no longer had any guidance or support from the airport control tower in a large storm, and no instruments on board to detect if he was on a collision course with another airplane. If the control tower represents the infinite part of who we are, which always knows what’s best for us, it can be understandable why the pilot with no other guidance except for his own eye sight would be fearful of the situation at hand. An alarm on the plane beeping at the pilot would represent the emotions. The alarm’s purpose is to get the attention of the pilot so he can focus and realize he is off the path. Once our emotions start to take a grip of our physical body, what can we do to move from a state of limitation and fear into an open, tranquil, peaceful state?
1. Come back to the present moment. The first step is to bring your awareness to the present moment. To do this, take three deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. After the air has filled your lungs and you’ve felt your stomach rise, exhale through your mouth by forcing the air through your teeth, as if you were hissing out loud. This detoxifies your body from the heavy emotions you’re experiencing and brings you back into the present moment. When I do this, I place my awareness into my feet so I am in a feeling space within my body, rather than being in my mind, entertaining the stories that swirl around with vigor, like a dangerous hurricane. Imagine that all your emotions are in a large sludge bucket. This breathing technique will empty the bucket out so you are empty and free.
2. Put things in perspective. Now that you are present, acknowledge the experience and ask yourself this question: “What is the worst case scenario that can happen to me?” Once we can accept this and realize we will be okay if that happens, we are free from the fear. When I realized I’d blown things out of proportion with my fears, I was able to detach from the story and put things into perspective. I like to imagine that in every moment I have two wolves I can feed (per the Native American myth): the fear wolf or the love wolf. The one that gets stronger and wins is the one I feed.
3. Become an observer of your thoughts.  What has served me well in moments like this is to say, “I’m not these thoughts. I’m not these emotions. I’m not this body. I’m an infinite being having a human experience.” In saying this, we immediately detach from the story and allow ourselves the choice of suffering or to become the observer. Imagine that your life is represented in a book, and the story you are living out comes from the words on the page. We can change the words of the story at any point in time.
4. Change your experience. The fourth step is to place your awareness and your right hand on the heart center, which is located near the sternum. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and make the following command: “I am now connected to the infinite part of who I am, which already knows how to be whole and complete. I take full responsibility and accountability for this creation, I recognize how it has served me, and I am now ready to let it go. I command that the fear energy be transmuted into unconditional love now. Thank you. It is now done.” This process is incredibly empowering. We allow ourselves the opportunity to experience being our own inner master and a co-creator of our reality.

5. Prevent your mind from sabotaging you. Visualize a stone being thrown into a pond. Observe the ripples it creates when it enters the water. This is to simply distract your mind and allow the process to unfold without doubt or self-sabotage. It is only our mind that can interfere with our own healing.
6. Be grateful. Express gratitude and appreciation for the integration and healing you have received.

The key to happiness is awareness. When we become aware that our mind is wandering, we can gently bring it back to the present moment. It’s only in the present moment that we are empowered and can consciously choose the thoughts we engage with. The thoughts we focus on will determine where our energy flows, and thus what is created in our life. Each thought has a vibration, which is reflected by the feeling we experience in our body. To be able to move from a fear-based experience to an open, peaceful experience we must first take full responsibility and accountability that on some level we created the experience, and nobody else is to blame.

The choice is truly ours. Do we choose to experience a fearful, limited life or do we choose a happy joyful life?


 "If it isn’t good, let it die. If it doesn’t die, make it good."
- Ajahn Chah

by Rudyard Kipling, read by Michael Caine

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build them up again with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will that says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"

"US Budget For Dummies"

"US Budget For Dummies"
by War News Updates
"From my inbox, submitted without comment:

● U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
● Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
● New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
● National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
● Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

● Annual family income: $21,700
● Money the family spent: $38,200
● New debt on the credit card: $16,500
● Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
● Total budget cuts so far: $38.50"

"Any questions?"


Friday, December 28, 2012

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Spirit Moves”

2002, “Spirit Moves”

Musical Interlude: Moody Blues, “Question”

Moody Blues, “Question”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“In this evocative night skyscape a starry band of the Milky Way climbs over Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada Range, planet Earth.
Click image for larger size.   
Jupiter is the brightest celestial beacon on the wintry scene, though. Standing nearly opposite the Sun in the constellation Taurus, the wandering planet joins yellowish Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. Below, Orion always comes up sideways over a fence of mountains. And from there the twin stars of Gemini rise just across the Milky Way. As this peaceful winter night began, they followed Auriga the charioteer, its alpha star Capella near the top of the frame.”

Chet Raymo, “Thinking Fast And Thinking Slow”

“Thinking Fast And Thinking Slow”
by Chet Raymo

“Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writing in the New York Times on the evolutionary origins of religion: "To put it at its simplest, we hand on our genes as individuals but we survive as members of groups, and groups can exist only when individuals act not solely for their own advantage but for the sake of the group as a whole. Our unique advantage is that we form larger and more complex groups than any other life-form. A result is that we have two patterns of reaction in the brain, one focusing on potential danger to us as individuals, the other, located in the prefrontal cortex, taking a more considered view of the consequences of our actions for us and others. The first is immediate, instinctive and emotive. The second is reflective and rational. We are caught, in the psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s phrase, between thinking fast and slow. The fast track helps us survive, but it can also lead us to acts that are impulsive and destructive. The slow track leads us to more considered behavior, but it is often overridden in the heat of the moment. We are sinners and saints, egotists and altruists, exactly as the prophets and philosophers have long maintained."

I was thinking along these lines last week when I was reading Cheryl Strayed's "Lost", a first-person account of an attractive young woman's three-month solo hike along California and Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail. It is a woman's book. Not in the sense that it is romantic or soft or sentimental. It is, in fact, tough, brave and unsentimental, tougher and braver than I could ever be. It's a woman's book because only a woman could have written it. And, I suspect, only a woman can appreciate it fully. But any man who reads the book will profit, by being forced to reflect upon his maleness.

As you might expect, it is mostly males that Strayed encountered along the trail. A few were harmless horndogs. Two were sexually-aggressive louts. Most related to Strayed with helpful kindliness and respect. Sinners and saints. Egotists and altruists. There is probably some of both in all of us, to one degree or another. Strayed encountered guys who think fast and guys who think slow, and by and large it was slow-thinking men who made it possible for this young woman to safely complete her journey. Of course, it is slow-thinkers who are most likely to put themselves through the ordeal of long-distance hiking. The two potential rapists Strayed met on the trail were hunters, not hikers.”

"Useful Transformation: Make Change Work for You"

"Useful Transformation: Make Change Work for You"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When we experience change in our life we can control our response and reaction to the changes that are happening. Transformation is a universal constant that affects our lives from the moment we are born until we leave earthly existence behind. At the root of all growth, we find change. Occasionally, change and the circumstances leading up to it are a source of extraordinary joy, but more often than not they provoke feelings of discomfort, fear, or pain. Though many changes are unavoidable, we should not believe that we are subject to the whims of an unpredictable universe. It is our response to those circumstances that will dictate the nature of our experiences. At the heart of every transformation, no matter how chaotic, there is substance. When we no longer resist change and instead regard it as an opportunity to grow, we find that we are far from helpless in the face of it.

Our role as masters of our own destinies is cemented when we choose to make change work in our favor. Yet before we can truly internalize this power, we must accept that we cannot hide from the changes taking place all around us. Existence as we know it will come to an end at one or more points in our lives, making way for some new and perhaps unexpected mode of being. This transformation will take place whether or not we want it to, and so it is up to us to decide whether we will open our eyes to the blessings hidden amidst disorder or close ourselves off from opportunities hiding behind obstacles.

To make change work for you, look constructively at your situation and ask yourself how you can benefit from the transformation that has taken place. As threatening as change can seem, it is often a sign that a new era of your life has begun. If you reevaluate your plans and goals in the days or weeks following a major change, you will discover that you can adapt your ambition to the circumstances before you and even capitalize on these changes. Optimism, enthusiasm, and flexibility will aid you greatly here, as there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what might have been. Change can hurt in the short term but, if you are willing to embrace it proactively, its lasting impact will nearly always be physically, spiritually, and intellectually transformative."