Archive for June, 2010

When We Are Most Ourselves

June 30, 2010

View your spiritual growth as a work in progress. Take great satisfaction in how far you have come, but recognize that the more you learn, the more work there is yet to do.

You are neither the child you were, nor the old person you will become.

Inevitably, life’s day-to-day demands will distract even the most dedicated of seekers. Not to worry, just try to keep the lapses brief. The longer the detour, the more difficult it will be to steer back on course.

He who interrupts the (more…)

The Pain of Discipline

June 29, 2010

Spiritual growth requires daily recommitment. Great changes will occur when you resolve to be a little more positive, a little more loving, every day. A daily spiritual practice can elevate your consciousness, instill a sense of harmony with life’s rhythms, and promote a subtle but enduring state of joy and gratitude.

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
Albert Camus

The operative word is “daily.” You cannot maintain a higher consciousness by meditating, chanting, praying, or reading inspirational content sporadically. You might as well prepare for a career as a concert pianist by playing ten minutes of Mozart every other day.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or (more…)

The Bronte Family—An Epic Documentary

June 28, 2010


Charlotte Bronte

Years ago, I read Jane Eyre (with dictionary close at hand) and enjoyed it quite a lot. I had heard of the author, Charlotte Bronte, and was dimly aware that she had sisters who were authors as well, but knew next to nothing about the family.

Then I stumbled upon this 2003 BBC-produced documentary of the Bronte family and was completely enthralled. The two-hour production is broken up into twelve ten-minute videos below. The acting, writing, filming and production values are superb, and the Bronte family is brought to life in a way that drew me into their story and had me rooting for them.

Watching these videos humbled and inspired me. I found myself imagining what it would be like to live in the 1840s and I kept coming back to the fact that disease and death seemed to be lurking around every corner. Get a cough and you’re as good as dead. All six of the Bronte children except for Charlotte died of consumption, the terminal stage of tuberculosis. A hundred years later, my own mother was sent to a preventorium at nine years old to prevent a spot on her lung from developing into tuberculosis. It wasn’t long after that that TB was virtually eradicated from the civilized world. The Bronte family’s struggle for survival puts our own challenges in perspective. Yes, our fears, hardships and griefs are every bit as real as theirs, but at least the vast majority of us don’t have to worry about dying by the age of thirty. Living longer allows us to learn more, grow more and become all that we are capable of being. And if we happen to write a novel in longhand that becomes a literary sensation, so much the better!

BONUS: Click here to see a hilarious ninety-second “commercial” for the Bronte Sisters action figures!


Portrait of Patrick Bronte, circa 1860

Tragically, Patrick, the family’s patriarch, outlived his wife, who died of cancer, and all six of his children.

Patrick Brontë (17 March 1777 – 7 June 1861), the father, was born in County Down, in Ireland, of a very poor family of farm workers. He was the Anglican curate of the parish of Haworth, and during his time he had also been a poet, writer, and polemic.

His wife Maria Brontë, née Branwell, (15 April 1783 – 15 September 1821), originated from Penzance, Cornwall, and came from a comfortably well off middle class family. She died at the age of thirty-eight.

Elizabeth Branwell (2 December 1776 – 29 October 1842) arrived from Penzance in 1821, after the death of Maria, her younger sister, to help Patrick look after the children, and was known as ‘Aunt Branwell.’

Patrick and Maria Brontë had six offspring: the first child, Maria, was born (more…)

Richard Bach on Security and Happiness

June 27, 2010

I just finished reading Running from Safety by Richard Bach. It’s a good read about his spiritual approach to life. I especially loved Chapter Twenty-Nine (pages 165-170) in which Bach uses his experience as a technical writer for the Douglas Aircraft Company to expound on what it means to have true security (Hint: It’s not a full-time job working for somebody else).

Shop for security over happiness and you buy it, at that price.
Richard Bach

I agree wholeheartedly with Bach’s conclusions about the illusion of external security. Place your security in the hands of others and your future is anything but secure. The best parts of you will lay dormant, their yearning for expression gradually eroding into fitful dreams of what might have been. Here’s a great quote from Bach in that chapter:

Don’t tell me that my security comes (more…)

The Whole Universe Surrenders

June 26, 2010

Practice being silent and peaceful every day. Early morning, before your mind kicks into high gear, is an ideal time for stillness.

Silence is as full of potential wisdom and wit as the unhewn marble of great sculpture.
Aldous Huxley

Begin by silently expressing love, devotion, and yearning, and allow yourself to be (more…)

Synchronicity of a Song

June 25, 2010

English singer David Gray unknowningly prompted an Irish businessman to contact me

I received a gift of synchronicity on my birthday, June 17, from Eoin Barry, an Irish businessman who came upon my blog by chance. Then the story gets really interesting! Here is Eoin’s e-mail:

I have just read your blog. I was led to it by “accident”…. well I was sitting in the back garden pondering things and the radio was on in the background, in the kitchen. I went in, stood by it for a moment and closed my eyes thinking and connecting. A song by David Gray came on the radio: A Moment Changes Everything. I turned off the radio and retuned to my pc. I typed it, the title, into Google. Not looking up the song – just because I felt “inspired” to. Your YouTube book promotion video came up. I clicked on it and saw the cover of your book. When the cover was presented on the screen it was interesting to note that coincidentally the same image on the cover is the one I chose for (more…)

The Breathtaking Shadow Art of Pilobolus

June 24, 2010

What a creative, talented group of performance artists! The troupe’s name is Pilobolus. They “danced” to Summer in the City on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in July 2008.

Here’s a terrific commercial Pilobolus made for (more…)

Jim Dolan: Childhood Wheeler Dealer!

June 23, 2010

Jim Dolan

Entrepreneurs inspire me. I am so impressed by their willingness—strike that, their need—to risk their all in service to an idea, a calling, a vision of a better life and a better world. While the vast majority of people opt for a safe, secure work life (as if such a thing existed anymore), entrepreneurs know that if they do not risk everything, they risk even more.

It was my pleasure to write profiles of four Twin Cities businessmen who will soon be inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. One of those men is Jim Dolan. His story, from the July issue of Twin Cities Business magazine, is below. But I first wanted to present a few anecdotes Jim told me that I was unable to shoehorn into the final piece. Jim offered these stories when I asked him how he came to appreciate entrepreneurship.

I was in a parks and recreation program in Jackson, Tennessee, when I was seven years old. We made arts-and-craft objects like lanyards and little swords out of gimp and straight pins and beads. At the end of the day, a lot of kids didn’t want theirs so I took them and tried to sell them to people around the neighborhood. I sold some but it took me a while to figure things out. I had two younger sisters who were cute, and I wasn’t, so I made them my sales force. They were going door to door and were selling things at a nice mark-up. I was able to get the other kids in the parks program to make things for me for a penny each and I was selling them for a dime each. So I had a sales force, I had low-cost production and I had a little business going. I called it Cardinal Industries. I had a sign made, which I propped in front of my house against a tree, that said we made high-quality jewelry. But my business topped out because (more…)

Charice joins the cast of “Glee”!

June 22, 2010

Filipina singing sensation Charice

I’m excited! After a premature announcement and official denial a few weeks go, it’s now official: Charice is joining the cast of Glee next season! She’ll play a foreign exchange student who will serve as a rival to Lea Michele‘s character, Rachel.

As Charice tweeted yesterday:

It’s official. I’m on Glee (next season) but story behind it. When rumor came out, it wasn’t true. But then after that, I tried to audition. And i made it!!! Let’s Party!!!

When I found out the news late last night, I tweeted directly to Charice:

I’m so happy for you, Charice! Being on Glee will awaken millions to your talent. Hope you’re ready for takeoff!

I am indeed very happy for Charice because her performances on Glee will expose her to millions of new fans. I can’t imagine a better way to get the word out!

By the way, how’s this for cool: The tweet that I fired off at 3 AM was featured hours later on Showbiz News Ngayon (SNN), a Philippine entertainment news show hosted by  Boy Abunda, the country’s King of Talk:

Here’s the two-minute video of the SNN segment (my tweet is at 1:19). The following translation is (more…)

Remain Sitting at Your Table and Listen

June 21, 2010

If you are always on the go, the notion of taking time for quiet reflection may seem counterintuitive. Yet silence is your natural state. It may take a few attempts before you are able to sit quietly and breathe deeply without feeling anxious.

All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.
Blaise Pascal

Done mindfully, sitting in silence delivers you fully into the present moment, washing away your troubles and synchronizing your breathing with (more…)

Honoring Wes Michaels, a Heroic Dad

June 20, 2010

Wes Michaels gave his life to save his daughter

Wes Michaels was taking a rare day off on Thursday, June 17. It was his fifty-eighth birthday so he left Heidi, who is twenty-six and the youngest of his three daughters, in charge of the gas station he owned in Mentor, Minnesota. But when Wes heard there were tornadoes forming in the area, he jumped in his pickup truck and headed to the station to check on Heidi. Sure enough, within minutes, a twister was bearing down on the little station. Wes ordered everyone into the cooler right before impact. As Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Jon Tevlin wrote today, which, fittingly, is Father’s Day:

Michaels was a big man, about 6 feet tall with a broad chest, “a strong man who wasn’t afraid to use his strength,” according to his former boss, Orville Lee. Instinctively, he positioned his body above that of his daughter, and (more…)

Exploring the Private Sea

June 19, 2010

Reshaping your inner world and living more consciously beings with self-reflection and self-appraisal. Taking internal inventory requires time alone and a willingness to ask and answer pointed, and perhaps painful, questions.

It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one’s being alone.
Henry David Thoreau

You cannot get to know yourself in a meaningful way until you (more…)

Was It Worth It?

June 18, 2010

To shift your priorities from doing to being, look beyond your “To Do” list and create a “To Be” list. Begin it by writing down the qualities your ideal self would possess. Perhaps your list includes such traits as being loving, kind, nurturing, generous, honest, and reliable. Monitor your behavior and train yourself to stop thinking, saying, or doing anything not in harmony with your vision.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

Imagine yourself evolving and gradually embodying these qualities. Challenge yourself to (more…)

Rick Reilly Remembers John Wooden

June 17, 2010 writer Rick Reilly filmed the above four-minute video near the end of 2009 when legendary basketball coach John Wooden was ninety-nine years old. Wooden was revered as much, if not more, for his greatness as a human being as for his basketball career.

After Wooden died on June 4, 2010, Reilly wrote this poignant tribute for

John Wooden

The awful thing about knowing John Wooden was that when you left him, you realized how weak you were as a man.

Every time I left his little 700-square-foot condo in Encino, Calif., full of books and learning and morals, it would hit me how far short of him I fell.

He made me want to be (more…)

A Commitment to the Unimportant

June 16, 2010

We are human beings, not human doings. Pour all your efforts into doing while neglecting the art of being, and yours will be a life out of balance. You live harmoniously when you reconcile doing and being by performing every action with mindfulness and conscious intent.

Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.
Stephen Covey

Emphasize doing and your attention is stuck in the past or the future. Emphasize being and you (more…)

Chaotic Inner Life = Chaotic Outer Life

June 15, 2010

How you relate to the outer world is a reflection of your inner world. A chaotic inner life manifests as a chaotic outer life. Tragically, many people get so absorbed in the demands of daily life that they lose touch with themselves. They focus exclusively on what they can do instead of who they can be. They hitch their wagon to ego, unaware that Spirit walks patiently beside them.

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Single-mindedly focusing on what you can do, achieve, and acquire, all the while ignoring your soul’s yearning for deeper connection with the Source of all that is, is a (more…)