Category Archives: years

2014: My Year of Good Cheer

2014 marks the sixth year I have named my years. It provides an interesting focus for me throughout the year as I remind myself (via a post it note on my desktop) my name for the year and gives me something to live up to. To strive for.

2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness)

2010: The Year of the Tao

2011: The Year of Living Simply

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

2013: The Year of Living Sustainably

2014: The Year of Good Cheer

Have I achieved any goals with these years? I don’t set out any goals, per se, it is just a reminder of ways in which I can adjust my thinking.

In The Urantia Book (a spiritual endeavor that I have studied since the early 1970s), whenever Jesus encountered one of his disciples, the first words out of his mouth were: “Be of good cheer!” This is in the Bible, too, John 16:33.

Words to live by, those. What good does it do us to be critical, to add negative thought-energy into the world, to hate, hold resentments, argue, and live our lives in cynicism?

Why not be happy? Happiness is a choice. Only we can choose whether or not to be happy. No one on earth can make us happy if we do not want to be. Conversely, nobody can make us feel bad if happiness is our chosen state of being.

Only we can choose to put cynicism aside. Only we can choose to focus on the right side, the light side, the good side of things instead of the ugly. Only we can choose to see the successes in apparent failures, to view the future with excitement instead of dread, to banish depression and decide to be of good cheer.

I was privileged to deliver a sermon last summer, the topic of which was how we can change the world with our thoughts.

It starts with a single decision to lighten the world with positive thoughts, thoughts of happiness and gratitude and love and light. There are enough people who add the darkness to fabric of planetary thought with their thoughts of greed and anger and me-first-ness.

It is a mighty challenge to change the balance from dark to light, but we can do it, one day at a time, one person at a time, just by being of good cheer.

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Filed under Discipline, goals, Goodness, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, The Urantia Book, Uncategorized, years

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

I’ve been naming my years for a while now. 2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness).2010 was The Year of the Tao. 2011 was The Year of Living Simply, and for 2012, I’ve chosen The Year of Forgiveness.

I’ve heard that to forgive someone means to merely allow them their path. Very simple, and my experience says that what is simple is best.

Many years ago, I hurt a lot of people who got caught up in my tsunami of self-destruction. I am soul-sorry about that, and everyone that I’m aware of has forgiven me for my actions during those dark times, for which I will be eternally grateful. I needed those times; they were a part of my path to today. Surely I can allow someone else their path.

I find that it’s easier to forgive someone the big transgressions, but what about the guy who cuts me off in traffic? I am usually outwardly calm, but in my head, I’m screaming: “You idiot!” I really don’t want to do that any more, so I’m going to stop it in 2012. I’m going to let the little things flow over me, making “allow them their path” my mantra for the year.

And I’m going to forgive myself, too, on a daily basis, for being imperfect and doing all the stupid things I do. I say the wrong thing all the time, I eat the wrong things, I still am tempted to slide into old behavior patterns. I no longer burn with resentment, but I can chew on a good one for a while before letting it go. I don’t want to do that any more, either, and so I won’t in 2012. Forgiveness is sustainable; resentment is not.

Living consciously is a decision. Each of us is faced with a million tiny decisions every day as to how to react to a million tiny situations. So in 2012, I will react with love in my heart and the perspective that while we all might be on different paths, the goal is the same.

I have a good feeling about what 2012 has to bring.

Happy New Year!

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Filed under Discipline, Learning, peace, Possibilities, relationships, Resentment, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability, years

We Choose Our Lives

Those of you who are parents have undoubtedly said to your pre-teen or teen, “You’ll remember these times as the best times of your life.” We worry that they want to grow up too fast, cutting short many childhood experiences, in quest for the more alluring adult activities. I was one of those kids; perhaps we all were. Eager to get out of high school and get a job, get out of the house, get on with life.

Well, the same holds true for today. Now that I’m “of an age” I’m in no hurry to get older, but am I taking advantage of who and where I am right now? Am I enjoying my life today to the degree that some day I’ll look back and say, “Man, those were some good times.”? Or am I too busy worrying about this and that and making appointments and meeting deadlines and paying the bills to stop and think: “I’ll never be a human again. I’ll never be in this type of material body with its strengths and its difficulties. I’ll never live on such a magnificently beautiful planet like this again. I better literally stop and smell the flowers.” It’s true that I don’t know what lies on the other side of the veil any more than anybody else, but I have my idea about that, just as you have your idea about it. My point is, from every place I find myself in the future–whether it’s next week or a thousand years in the future–I want to be able to look back and say, “I took advantage of everything that was offered to me back then.”

We’ve also probably counseled our children not to burn bridges or close doors on our options, because they don’t know what the future holds. The same holds true for us. We don’t know what doors we’re closing on our future when we act irresponsibly.

There are long ugly stretches of my history that I would just as soon forget, but those are long behind me and that is not the way I choose to live today, or tomorrow, or for the rest of my days. I want to be conscious, aware, engaged, happy with who I am and what I’m doing. I want to be able to look back and know that I was present, not pining for what was, nor spending my days daydreaming about what could be in the future. There’s value in some of that, certainly, but I believe that we will some day have the benefit of perspective on our lives that we currently have on our childrens’ lives.

We’re only here once. Let’s do good works, be kind to one another, and be proud of who we are today.

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Filed under Aging, Death, dreams, Dying, Fun, Goodness, Possibilities, regrets, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, time, years

A New Year, A New Goal

I’m a pretty average American. I grew up in the Midwest with all the insults and prejudices that everybody else did. Fewer than some, more than others. Pretty average.

Those of you who have followed this blog, know that as a result of an inspirational conversation with my friend Terry Barrett, I’ve adopted her ritual of naming each year as it dawns. 2008 was the year of Hesed, or lovingkindness. 2009 was the year of Tao. All year long, I contemplate those concepts and try to work them into my life.

2010 is my year of Namaste. That isn’t really the correct word, as “Namaste” is more of a greeting, or a salute, but my intention is to see the God that indwells every single person I meet. I no longer want to feel threatened or afraid of those who are different from me, who dress differently, are a different color, who speak a different language or who have a religion with which I’m unfamiliar. I want to get directly to the heart of the matter and see who people are at their core.

Most of us are like scared little children, stepping into a new day every day, a scary day, doing things we’ve never done before. Even if 99% of our day is the same as the day before, there’s still an element of the unknown. And that little itch of fear makes us act out in anger, resentment, impatience, unkindness… you get my drift.

I want to see past all that smokescreen in myself and everyone else this year. I want to encourage the god within me to commune with the god within you. I want our angels to go out to lunch together and share a couple of laughs at our expense. I want to be a better person every day, every day, every day.

And so I name the new year Namaste: I honor the God within you, and I welcome the gifts 2010 will surely bring.

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Filed under Beauty, connections, Goodness, peace, Personalities, Possibilities, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Truth, Writing, years

Is Anything Better than Hanging with Writers?

Another Ghost Story Weekend has come and gone. Fifteen of us this time (two over the limit) showed up at Siltcoos Station on a brilliantly beautiful weekend to write the dark and horrific, and we all did an excellent job.

The Surviving Members of Ghost Story Weekend 2009
The Surviving Members of Ghost Story Weekend 2009

As usual, there were stories of vampires, of haunted places, of mysterious ghosts, of friendly ghosts, of helpful ghosts, of harmful ghosts. All ghosts were welcome, and they came in well-considered abundance.

But what could be better than hanging out with other writers for a weekend? We ate together, laughed together, camped out in cabins like the adventurous souls we are, and tried to scare each other silly. And in so doing, we became better friends.
This was the 19th annual Ghost Story Weekend, and one attendee, Christina Lay, has only missed one of these annual fests. This year she brought finger food (literally). I wonder what she would have brought to that missing weekend. Maybe we’ll find out next year.
Meantime, I can’t wait for another spring to roll around and I put out the call for all ghost story writers to converge on a hopefully-haunted boathouse on the spooky Oregon Coast.
It’ll be another great weekend, I’m sure.
Join us?

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Filed under Friends, Fun, Ghost Story Weekend, Possibilities, relationships, Short Stories, Writing, years

The Year of Tao

Last year I named my year “Hesed,” the Hebrew word for lovingkindness. Upon reflection, I believe I made good progress in that area. I want to be less cynical, more forgiving, and I think I am, at least a touch.

This year I’ve dubbed “The Year of Tao.” I’m studying Taoism in school, and am amazed, amused and delighted by it, especially the part where the books tell you that this is one “religion” (I don’t think of it as a religion) which you cannot study by observing it. You have to be Taoist. You have to do Taoism. Only then can you understand it.

So I’ve got a translation of the Tao Te Ching on my nightstand, and am reading every night. Some of it makes no sense, and I’m not sure if that is the product of this translation, the aggregate of 2500 years of translations, or concepts too advanced for my poor brain.

Several years ago, I wrote an essay called “Living in the Slipstream,” and it was all about cruising with life rather than trying to swim across the current and banging on the rocks. Little did I know then that I was talking about Taoism.

So 2009 is the Year of the Tao.

This is a good thing, naming the year. It gives life a modicum of generalized focus, if you know what I mean.

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The Year in Review

Happy New Year, everybody.

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