bottom feeders

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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When was the last time you exclaimed, “Eureka, I have lost everything, all that has given me a sense of security and happiness is now gone?”

I remember a few of those profound moments of self-realization – when I finally divested of a toxic relationship which included the entirety of my possessions and my house, when I walked away from my own life-time dream to chase after and share the dream of  another person, when I closed the door on a promising corporate position to reorganize my life and follow the path of sober-living.  And honestly, I don’t remember screaming, “Eureka.”

I repeatedly found myself on the bottom rung of the ladder which had promised to lead upward to wealth, happiness and security.  The bottom was so near and the top seemed so far away once more.  This was not where I intended to be at ages thirty-five, forty-four and sixty-two.  However, following the most recent self reckoning ten years ago, I did not look again to the top hoping to some day be the man whom I felt others wanted me to be.  Miraculously, money, prestige, social standing, worldly success did not matter.  I became blissfully content to feed at the bottom.  There, where most of the world’s population dwells, egos are reduced to  a manageable condition, wants finally become distinguished from needs, and smelling the roses becomes more desirable than beating the crowd to the top.  Poor materially, but enjoying immeasurable inner wealth.

Dorothy Day (1897–1980) said much the same: “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.” [1]

Richard Rohr at CAC. ORG continues with this comment:

“From that place, where few would expect or choose to be, we can be used as instruments of transformation and liberation for the rest of the world.”

When we stop climbing those ladders set in place for us by others who have been part of life’s journey, we finally see the truth and reality of our life and the tremendous need for us to feed with the rest of humanity, not from lofty perches atop mountains, but at the bottom where we meet the poor and destitute, the homeless and persecuted, the sick and defenseless.  Centuries ago a man of great wisdom called them “the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) and promised them the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Imagine that.  Heaven is not a few steps above the top of the ladder high in the clouds; rather, it is upon the ground of humanity where our ladders have been standing all this time waiting for us to step off…or fall off.

Reference:
[1] Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement (Orbis Books: 1997), 86.

CAC.ORG

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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it’s OK for me to love me

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

BREAKING THE SHACKLES –

You never do anything right, you are a failure.

No, this is a fallacy straight from hell used most often by parents, sometimes spouses and (surprisingly) adult children to mold us into the type of people who fit their ideal of successful.  If you or I are living life to fit the expectations of other people, we will never be complete and fulfilled.  We will always be people-pleasers.

God did not make a mistake in creating the uniqueness that is you or me.  Everything about us is exactly as designed, perfect in every way.  Abilities, creative energies,  passions were not handed out randomly or haphazardly.  Life’s great challenge is to recognize those gifts and use them unselfishly.

Instead of lamenting our alleged deficiencies, instead of listening to a nagging spouse or complaining child, every morning let’s gaze at the reflection in the mirror and whisper words of admiration and love to the image we see, “You are wonderful, I love you.”cropped-c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d1.jpg

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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INTEGRITY

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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last chance saloon

old codgerAha!  Got your attention, didn’t I?  You thought we were going to talk about honky-tonks, bar rooms, whiskey swigging and loose living, didn’t you?  Well, sorry to disappoint.

Today, we will talk about last chances.  Life has no guarantees.  That new hobby you have been wanting to pursue?  That lunch with a dear friend whom you have not seen in months?  Or taking the grandkids to Disney World, but delaying it until tomorrow because of “pressing responsibilities” at home or at work?  My friends, do it now.  You may not have a tomorrow.

DO IT NOW!  Grab that paint brush and create your masterpiece on the blank canvas waiting on the easel.  Make a phone call and a lunch date.  Do something that will become a great memory with family or friends.  All we have is now, this moment.  Make the most of it and decide what in this life is truly important.  A quiet time in your rose garden or washing the windows?  A walk in the woods or attending that dreaded county commissioners’ meeting?  Writing a beautiful poem or writing your legislators?

As much as you and I would like to believe the world needs us for its survival, it does not.  The world around us will continue.  It will continue in its madness and it will be unconcerned as to whether we missed the last chance to create beauty and joy in our lives and the lives of others.

Last chances untaken become missed opportunities.  The past is littered with regret over the things we should have done but “didn’t have the time” or “waited until tomorrow”  to do.  Smell a rose, paint a picture, write that poem.  The world may not care but you and I  will be richly blessed.

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why am I here?

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I came into this world not chiefly to make a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.  

HENRY DAVID THOREAU from Walden

We must have bad in order to have good.  We must have darkness to have light, ugliness to have beauty, injustice to have justice, sadness to have joy, despair to have hope, hatred to have love, injury to have forgiveness.  Choose to live life in acceptance of all of it – good and bad.  Making this world a better place to live happens when we serenely accept life on life’s terms.

Grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change, courage to change that which I should change and the wisdom to know the difference.

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DC shenanigans

ratLiving on planet earth makes it difficult to avoid the continual stream of bull crap coming out of that humming nest of discontent called Washington, D.C.  It stinks up our air waves, phone screens, civic meetings, and neighborhood chit-chats.  It presents itself as material of utmost importance even though most of it is nothing more than glorified, recycled, regurgitated, repurposed manure fit only for its final repose on the compost pile.  Unfortunately, even the worms and maggots (read between the lines and use whichever news services you find offensive) find difficulty digesting what is being presented as newsworthy and consequential.  And yet, we gorge on it like pigs at a feeding trough.  Yeah, me too.  Guilty as charged.

We, you and I, need to grow a pair.  You heard me right.  We (women included) need to show our cojones and refuse to allow this chapter of historical malcontent so much space in our brains.  It is, after all, just a brief blip on the radar screen in the history of mankind, just a grain of sand on the beach of humanity, just a fleeting moment in the nefarious schemes of world governments.  Is it worth the sleepless nights, the headaches, the heartburn, the ulcers, the broken relationships and the emotional anguish?  Is it?

I don’t know about you, but my time is more valuable.  I know what my political philosophy is, I know my priorities in relation to fellow man, I know whom I will vote for in our upcoming primary election and I definitely know whom I will not vote for in the 2020 general election in November.  It’s a settled, done deal.  Can’t get any easier than that.  There is no need to spend endless hours analyzing the talking heads on TV or wasting precious moments arguing with neighbors and friends who think my brand of politics is lunacy.

For me it’s all about time and how I choose to use it.  It’s about mental space and whether I choose to abuse it.  Tomorrow is never guaranteed and I will be seriously pissed off if I have spent my last day on earth fussing and fuming about a bunch of nincompoops sitting in the halls of government with their heads up their nether regions.  I am worthy of a more substantial, fulfilling day than that.  How about you?

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winning – what’s the cost?

I can no longer walk a 5 mile circuit in the woods as I did just 2 years ago; however, I do my best to get out every day for a few laps at a county park which hosts little league soccer on its beautifully manicured fields.  The fields are a gorgeous green in mid-January (it is Florida, you know), the tall pines frame a bright blue sky and today is was a pleasant 70 degrees with a balmy breeze.

A sign posted on one of the fields reads as follows:

A MESSAGE FROM THE KIDS

we are kids
it’s just a game
our coaches are volunteers
the referees are human
no one playing today will win a college scholarship
no smoking
no dogs on the field

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Who posted this sign and what was the need?  The kids are gathering for fresh air, exercise and a friendly game of soccer with other same-aged kids.  Has someone standing on the sidelines forgotten that they have come to watch kids kick a ball around a soccer field?  Parents, maybe?  Are over-zealous moms and dads projecting onto their children the same set of priorities with which they structure their lives?

This is America, the land where the boys with the biggest, most expensive toys win.  This is the home of NYC’s Madison Avenue which dictates via personal communicators (they used to be called phones) what successful men and women will wear, drive, and buy for their homes.  This is America, the home of tremendous wealth in gated communities and unimaginable poverty in city ghettoes.  We are the land of the free and brave forever struggling to keep up with the Joneses who always seem to have a better income, a bigger car, a more luxurious house, and kids who outperform our kids at school and at play.  This is where “you ain’t nobody unless you’re the winner.”

Moms and dads standing on the sidelines – grow up.  The kids don’t buy into your bullcrap perspectives.  And kids, kudos to those of you who crafted the sign at the corner of soccer field 5.  Put on those sneakers, get out there and win big remembering that life is like a soccer game.  It’s not how many points you score or which team has the official victory on the scoreboard; rather, it’s all about the integrity with which you have played the game and what you have done to earn your trophies and medals.

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it’s been 39 years

sober emojiIf you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.

Talk the walk, then walk the talk

After 39 years of continued sobriety celebrated today, I reflect on the secrets of sober-livng.  There are no secrets.  It is hard work, commitment to a better way of living and the support of sober friends.  However, talking the walk at the tables of Alcoholics Anonymous and then walking that talk in everyday life will guarantee a fighting chance to overcome those addictions that have become personal demons.

The fellowship of AA is ancient wisdom set to contemporary times.  Even before the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as set forth in “The Way”, Lao Tzu and the Buddha realized a life dedicated to victorious living through abandonment of self.  The writings of Bill W. and Dr. Bob describe this dedication to selfishness and self-centeredness as “self-will run riot.”  AA BIG BOOK  The I, I, I and me, me, me  controlled all aspects of our lives, did it not?

Within my sobriety today, I cannot judge nor control other people’s talk or walk.  They obviously live with perceptions of life that differ from mine.  Therefore, when elected leaders of our government speak justice and fairness yet legislate in opposition to those pronouncements, and when preachers from the pulpit preach righteousness and morality yet conduct their personal lives in opposition to what is right and moral, I can only wonder what experiences have formed their perceptions.  Must one of us be wrong in order for the other to be right, or do we simply operate from different realms?  Returning the focus to my talk and my walk enthusiastically,  I become ever more grateful for the teachers who save us from the hells of addiction.

Abba Isidore of Pelusia
“To live without speaking is better than to speak without living.  For the former who lives rightly does good by his silence but the latter does no good even when he speaks. When words and life correspond to one another they are together the whole of philosophy.” CAC.ORG

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MLK, JR – an impossible dream?

Martin Luther King, Jr. – an impossible and unrealistic dream or a legacy squandered by hatred and division?  Or might you be one who believes great strides have been made in equal justice and opportunity for not only our black and brown brothers and sisters, but also for those of different creeds, lifestyle and nationality – the Puerto Rican, the Muslim, the gay and lesbian?

Yes, laws have been passed and legislation protects, but has the heart of white, privileged America miraculously filled with compassion since the era of MLK, Jr.?  What leads you to believe so?  Equal job opportunities?  Fair housing practices?  Safe city neighborhoods?  Justice in the court systems?  Protected voting rights?  Or maybe state and federal governments represented proportionately by members of all minority groups?  Really?  You truly believe this is so?  Can you unequivocally state that a gay man, a black man, a Muslim woman, a white woman walks as securely through life as a white man?

Well golly gee, I would love to share some of that whacky weed you are smoking followed by a swig of the Kool-Aid you’re drinking.  America, wake up!  We are at a crossroads in our country’s destiny.  We have been rent asunder by today’s world and national political powers who want to see us even further divided because it will be then that their vile plans can be instituted – race against race, black against white, straight against gay, Christian against Muslim, Democrat against Republican.  Dr. King spoke often of the brotherhood of mankind as the only way to keep this ship (the earth) from sinking and the necessity of non-violence in solving our problems.  So, is his dream dead or merely shifting gears?  It’s up to us, isn’t it?

one nation, indivisible, with liberty & justice for all

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“the time is always ripe to do right”

“morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated”

https://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/mlk-gp-speech.pdf

boys, men, toys

Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy – LAO TZU

The old cliché, “the only difference between men and boys is the size (and cost) of their toys,” rings soundly as I sit on my front porch watching traffic heading to the marina to launch into the Homosassa River and the Gulf the boats being pulled.  A few are modest older model pickup trucks pulling equally modest boats, but most are sleek, brand new powerful Fords and Chevys towing a mini-yacht that could house a small family in comfort.  Certainly they are a far cry from the sandbox trucks and bathtub boats we little boys enjoyed years ago while growing up.

And I sincerely do not begrudge their showy big-boy toys.  But, I also do not understand how some of us grew up to be content with the small toys in life while others were driven to bigger, better, shinier and more powerful.  Driving 18-wheeler coast to coast and north to south during the 1990s into 2009, we encountered frequently a fellow trucker keying up on his CB radio with a harsh crackle and a booming “Breaker, breaker 19.  Anybody got a copy on this here radio-o-o-o-o.  C’mon back-k-k-k”

Undoubtedly, folks two states away had a copy on this driver’s echoing master-blaster CB radio.  It was annoying and totally worthless for anything other than a showy display of strength and power.  My driving partner, a man not known to mince words, would reply, “yeah hand, we have a copy on your radio and we’re so glad you’ve finally found a big toy to compensate for your other small equipment.”

Worked every time.  Spitting and fuming just momentarily that radio then went silent.  That usually happened; however there were times when a profanity laced, violence threatening discussion ensued about equipment size as boys and men will often do.

It’s all about ego, isn’t it?  If the poor man with a shabby little rowboat feels less worthy than the man towing his $250,000 yacht with an $80,000 pickup truck, then that poor man has an ego problem.  If the rich man with the big toys feels better than the man with a little rowboat, then he also has an ego problem, doesn’t he?

A healthy ego along with balanced self-esteem teach us that blessings are not dependent upon wealth or possessions.  Your toys, no matter how large or expensive, are no better than my little dinghy with oars.  What is important is the level of self-worth your toys give to you or detract from me.  Simplicity is all about mind-set and priorities.  Even more, it is about living joyously day-to-day this mystery called life and disallowing the external forces of consumerism and consumption to call the shots. 🙏

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