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This photo was flashed across the television news last night, and on the front page of the Dayton Daily News. He was one of the several thousand sons, brothers, grandsons, nephews, cousins, neighbors, students, and friends, whose life was cut short due to the tyranical leadership of those villains who have been mis-leading this country in a war that should have never been considered….

 My thoughts and prayers go out to Marine Cpl. Derek C. Dixon’s family and friends…

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“Well, every man has a religion; has something in heaven or earth which he will give up everything else for—something which absorbs him—which may be regarded by others as being useless—yet it is his dream, it is his lodestar, it is his master. That, whatever it is, seized upon me, made me its servant, slave—induced me to set aside the other ambitions—a trail of glory in the heavens, which I followed, followed with a full heart. . . . When once I am convinced, I never let go . . .”            Walt Whitman

This chapter presents six principles that are important to observe as we seek an inspired life—they’re a blueprint to refer to as we reconstruct a life in-Spirit. I’m listing them in no particular order of importance because I believe that they’re equally essential.

Principle #1: Be Independent of the Good Opinion of Others
In order to live in-Spirit, we must adopt Arthur Miller’s trust that the Source is always working within us, or Walt Whitman’s belief that our ultimate calling “may be regarded by others as being useless—yet it is [our] dream, it is [our] lodestar.” In other words, inspiration must be our master, even though following it might disappoint others.
When inspiration makes its presence known, we must pay attention if our priority is to be who or what we were meant to be. William Shakespeare’s famous query, “To be or not to be: that is the question,” symbolizes the urgent choices that we have to make—that is, do we become what we came here to be, or do we ignore that calling? In this oft-quoted soliloquy, Hamlet delves deeper by wondering, “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them? . . .” Suffering the consequences of living according to someone else’s wishes doesn’t make any sense; rather, we need to oppose the external opinions that try to force us to be what we’re not intended to be.

There are many well-meaning people in our lives who have ideas about what we should or shouldn’t be doing . . . relatives tend to be specialists in this area! If we let them guide us with advice that isn’t congruent with our inner calling, we’ll suffer the anguish—the “slings and arrows”—of an uninspired life. Each of us can feel what we’re being called to be; when we pay attention, we can hear our own impatient voices coaxing us to pay attention and complete the assignments we brought with us from the world of Spirit. But when we allow the opinions and dictates of others to determine what we’re going to be, we lose sight of our objective to live an inspired life.
We need to determine for ourselves how much we’ve allowed others to decide issues such as what we do, where we live, with whom we live, and even how we’re treated. We must know that absolutely no one else truly knows and feels what we’re here to accomplish, so we must give ourselves permission to hear our inner guidance and ignore the pressure from others. Regardless of how absurd our inner calling might seem, it’s authentically ours and doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. The willingness to listen and act on our inspiration, independent of the opinions of others, is imperative.

Principle #2: Be Willing to Accept the Disapproval of Others
Logically following the last principle, this one notes that we’re going to incur the disfavor of many people when we follow our inclinations to be in-Spirit and live the life we came here to live. This isn’t a selfish or cynical attitude: When we begin to follow our ultimate calling, there will be a lot of resistance. In fact, the purpose of the “slings and arrows” sent our way is to get us to change our mind and be “reasonable,” which translates to “Do it my way!”
However, as we gain the strength to ignore the pressure to conform, resistance will diminish and ultimately change to respect. When we steadfastly refuse to think, act, and conform to the mandates of others, the pressure to do so loses its momentum. All we have to do is endure some initial disapproval such as dogmatic persuasion, anger, pouting, silence, and long-winded lectures . . . and then we’re on our way to inspiration rather than frustration.
Here’s a recent example of this from my own life. I elected to have most of the royalties and all of the advance payments for this book go to a scholarship fund, and there were people who tried to get me to “come to my senses” and not “throw my money away,” which was how they viewed my decision. I have an inner voice that is overwhelmingly powerful, and I trust in what truly inspires me. I’d known for many years that one day I’d endow a scholarship fund at my alma mater, for instance—the thought of young, financially challenged students having the opportunity that I’d received as a young military veteran inspires me more than I can relate to you here in these pages. So I was comfortable with, and able to ignore, the disapproval I encountered, giving responses such as, “I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it,” and “Don’t waste your time and mine attempting to convince me otherwise.” And sure enough, the resistance I met was converted to acceptance.
The people who receive the most approval in life are the ones who care the least about it—so technically, if we want the approval of others, we need to stop caring about it and turn our attention to becoming an inspired being of sharing. One little note of caution here: When we raise our children according to these principles, and they observe us living them on a daily basis, we’ll have to deal with their determination to respect their inner calling. For example, when my daughter Sommer was about 11 years old and I asked to see her report card, I was a bit taken aback by her response. “Why do you want to see it?” she asked.
When I said, “Well, I’m your father, and I think I should know how you’re doing in school,” she matter-of-factly replied, “But these are my grades, not yours, and if I thought you needed to see them, I would’ve shown them to you already.”
I assure you that she wasn’t being disrespectful; she simply had no need to share her grades with me. Since I knew that she was doing very well in school, I let it go—and let her be who she wanted to be.

Principle #3: Stay Detached from Outcomes
Inspiration doesn’t come from completing tasks or meeting goals; in fact, that’s the sure way to have it elude us. Returning to Spirit, you see, is an experience of living fully in the present moment. Our purpose in life isn’t to arrive at a destination where we find inspiration, just as the purpose of dancing isn’t to end up at a particular spot on the floor. The purpose of dancing—and of life—is to enjoy every moment and every step, regardless of where we are when the music ends.
Many of us are seduced into believing that having goals is necessary for a successful life, especially since we’ve been brainwashed by slogans such as “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there?” and “Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching a goal.” This kind of logic keeps us from feeling inspired because we live a life of striving while foregoing arriving.
A more rewarding spiritual truth is that there’s only now—and when this moment passes, it will be replaced by another one, ad infinitum. To use up our “present now” being consumed with a “future now” that will only turn into a “then” is the prescription for the absence of inspiration. Since there’s only now, learning to live in it and enjoy every present moment is the same as being in-Spirit, while being focused on an outcome to determine our level of happiness and success keeps us out of Spirit.
Yoga master Sri Swami Sivananda offered the only worthwhile goal I know of when he said that the goal of life is God-realization. Now here’s a goal I can live with! After all, this allows me to live in-Spirit every moment of my life, while simultaneously thinking ahead to the next God-realized moment (and the next). As the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi once remarked, “There is no goal to be reached. There is nothing to be attained. You are the Self. You exist always.” Now this is real inspiration.
As I sit here writing, I don’t have a goal in mind, yet I trust that the book will be completed. I’ve seen it, even though I’m months away from the final product. I live in the bliss of creating right here, right now, and I relish these moments. I trust that the outcome will be handled by the same Source that inspires these words to appear seemingly out of nowhere. I’m here now—in peace, in love, and in awe—and my only goal is to stay in this consciousness and enjoy every moment, putting into practice what I agreed to when I was in-Spirit before becoming the particle that began this glorious journey.

Principle #4: Know That We Need Nothing/No Things to Be Inspired
We came into this world of boundaries from a formless energy field of Spirit. We arrived here with nothing/no things, we’ll make our exit with nothing/no things, and our purpose (God-realization) requires nothing/no things. We are all that we need to be inspired and living on purpose, and the things that continue to flow into our life are just symbols of the unlimited abundance of our Source. In other words, these things have no value in and of themselves because everything in the physical world is changing and will dissolve back to nothingness anyway.
The objective Universe is not made up of things—it’s made up of waves of motion that simulate the things we’re taught to believe are real. Once we accept that, from an infinite perspective, everything we see in nature isn’t really what it seems to be, we’re able to convert what we view with our eyes into a knowing about all things. Then we can recognize that the objects we believed we needed to feel inspired are nothing from Spirit’s perspective. This is what distinguishes the physical person from the spiritual person, the inspired person from the uninspired person.
We’re beings of Spirit, living from mind (rather than the body with all of its inherent restrictions), so if we communicate with God in the language of light and energy, we’ll see His tolerant amusement at our preoccupation with the illusion of possessions. We don’t need more of anything to become inspired; rather, we need to take our attention away from what we see and move into the miraculous world of Spirit, where joy and bliss await us.

Remember: We’re already connected to everything that we think is missing from our life. Below and above the ranges that our eyes and ears perceive, the entire activity of creation remains invisible and inaccessible—but when we shift from sensory searching to trusting what we know, we discover the folly of chasing after anything in order to feel inspired. All we need is a conscious realignment so that our thoughts begin to match up vibrationally with Spirit, which we know is a part of us already. And our state of inspiration is what allows for this realignment.
When we tune in to what we know rather than what we see, we immediately find that every thought of God is repeated throughout the Universe. We can watch as some things enter our life and others leave, all the while remaining in-Spirit, knowing that all of those things have nothing to do with our state of inspiration. We need nothing more to be inspired, since we’re connected to Spirit already. The ancient Persian poet Omar Khayyam offered us these words, which summarize this principle that we don’t need another thing to be inspired—it’s all right here, right now:

Forget the day that has been cut off
from thy existence;
disturb not thyself about tomorrow,
which has not yet come,
rest not upon that which is no more;
live happily one instant,
and throw not thy life to the winds.

Principle #5: “Don’t Die Wondering”
This principle is extremely important in working toward an inspired life because it motivates us to act—after all, we don’t want to be full of regrets because we failed to heed our ultimate calling. Attempting to do something, even if it doesn’t succeed, is inspiring because we don’t tend to regret what we do, we regret what we didn’t do. Even following a futile attempt, we’re inspired because we know that we gave it a shot. It’s wondering whether we should or shouldn’t try something that leaves us feeling stressed and incomplete.
When I’m playing a tennis match and being tentative in anticipation of losing a point, for example, I’ve created a situation in which I’ll wonder what kind of a game it would have been had I really gone for it. It’s in these moments that I remind myself, “Don’t die wondering.”
Inspiration has nothing to do with whether we win or lose; in fact, if we just play the game of life, we’ll have plenty of wins and losses, regardless of our talent level. If we fail to even try because of fear of rejection or doubt about our talent, we’re going to go through life wondering, and that’s what keeps us from finding and feeling inspiration.
Most of us, myself included, can remember the intensity of our first romantic attraction—just as we can recall what happened when we didn’t follow our inspiration. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d been able to act on that strong inner call in high school, when I had an enormous crush on a beautiful girl named Janice Nelson. I wanted to ask her out, but I let my fear of being rejected keep me from taking the steps to act upon my inner desires. On several occasions I even dialed her phone number and hung up when she answered. I never overcame my foreboding thoughts and, in effect, was left to die wondering.
Many years later, I danced with Janice at our 30-year high school reunion and told her how I felt back then. I even confessed the way I’d hang up the phone because of my trepidation. Janice, to my everlasting delight—and chagrin—said, “I always had a crush on you. I would’ve loved to have gone out with you, and in fact I tried to leave you clues to call me. But you never did.” Ouch! That’s a perfect example of regretting what I didn’t do.

Goethe, writing in Faust, provides a poetic description of the two souls living within us: ne, a spirit that allows us to make the phone call and ask for the date regardless of the outcome, and the other that clings to the world of fear, and lives to die wondering:

Alas, two souls are living in my breast,
And one wants to separate itself from the other.
One holds fast to the world with earthy passion
And clings with twining tendrils:
The other lifts itself with forceful craving
To the very roof of heaven.

If we lift ourselves “with forceful craving to the very roof of heaven,” we’ll never die wondering.

Principle #6: Remember That Our Desires Won’t Arrive by Our Schedule
There’s an ancient aphorism that goes: “If you really want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.” In essence this means that all we desire will arrive in our life when and only when we’re aligned vibrationally with the energy of our Source. Our ego won’t be consulted or get to determine the schedule—creation reveals Its secrets when It’s good and ready. Our job is to take the focus off of the when and put it on being connected to our originating Spirit. Our job is to stop challenging and demanding responses from God, and instead be more like Him. Our job is to understand and accept that all of the things that show up in our life, which we often find contradictory or troublesome, are there because we’ve attracted them . . . and we need to have these obstacles in order to clear an opening for our true Spirit purpose to emerge. This may require a change in thinking patterns, which is something Tom Barber knows all too well.
Tom is the head golf pro at Griffith Park in Los Angeles and owns and operates the Tom Barber Golf Center in Southern California; his father, Jerry, was the PGA champion in 1961. Tom is a close friend whom I can talk to straight about virtually anything. For example, he once admitted to me that business had fallen off, and he was concerned about a deterioration in income due to fewer customers golfing in an economy on the downturn.
He’d gone on for about as long as I was willing to absorb this kind of energy when I finally said, “Tom, you’re approaching the whole issue from a perspective that almost guarantees that this financial headache will continue to grow. Try affirming: What I desire is on its way. It will arrive precisely on God’s timetable, not on mine. Everything that I’m experiencing now is disguised as a problem, but I know that it’s a blessing. What I desire is on its way, and it’s coming to me in amounts even greater that I can imagine. This is my vision, and I’ll hold on to it in a state of gratitude, no matter what.”
I received a letter from my friend about two months after our conversation, in which he wrote: “Thanks for the pep talk. Once I started to say that the business I’m seeking and the finances I need are on their way, everything started to turn around.” What happened is that Tom decided to align with the unrestricted abundance of Spirit energy.
As you can see from Tom’s example, rather than making demands of God to follow our schedule in order to feel inspired, we can let go, surrender, and remind ourselves that all is in Divine order. We’re much more successful when we allow inspiration to flow in on God’s terms than when we’re impatient and demanding. As always, our job in God-realization is to become more like God—that means surrendering to the timetable that’s always perfect, even when it seems to be full of errors.

Keep these six principles handy and access them anytime you find yourself lacking inspiration. Remember, too, that we’re called to this world of inspiration, which beckons us to “let go and let God,” as they say in the recovery movement. I also love this advice, which was tendered by one of my favorite teachers, Napoleon Hill: “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way. Don’t wait for great opportunities. Seize common, everyday ones and make them great.”

Some Suggestions for Putting the Ideas in This Chapter to Work for You
— Make a written commitment to be free of the pressures of people who try to dictate the course of your life, such as: I intend to listen to my own thoughts concerning my life. I’ll be receptive to advice, but I’ll do what my conscience dictates, even if I incur disapproval. By writing your intentions and having them readily available to refer to, you nurture the inspirational energy to follow through on your interests. The intention behind the words guides and reminds you to be steadfast about seeking your own inspiration. Don’t employ anger or aggression as ways of being independent of others’ opinions—you’re Spirit energy from a field of love, and you must be love in order to be in-Spirit.

— Small steps will activate matching vibrations to what you desire. So if you want to live close to nature, plan a visit to the place of your dreams and take the small steps to experience what it feels like. If you can’t or won’t do that, or if you aren’t ready to go yet, you can read books or rent movies in order to have the experience vicariously. But be alert to the vibrational energy of thought and action that you offer Spirit.
When my daughter Skye wanted to produce a CD of her own compositions, it seemed like a daunting task to write, perform, record, and arrange for all of the studio time and musicians. She continued to shy away from what inspired her, so I encouraged her to take a small step and write just one song. I gave her a suggestion for a title and gave her a deadline—and then I watched with joy and pride as she sat at her piano, engrossed in her inspiration, creating. One small step put her on the path of inspiration, as Napoleon Hill suggested.

— Instead of goals, make the commitment to live joyfully in the moment. Stop dreaming about the future and get back to the only thing any of us have: now. Decide to live fully in the present, withdrawing attention from past and future. Your desire for inspiration activates the world of Spirit from which you came. Your imagined future, the stuff of goals, is an unnecessary way of squandering the present moment. Be Here Now is more than a great book title by Ram Dass, it’s the essence of inspiration. Being in the now is the way to remove anxiety, stress, and even some illnesses.
As I sit here writing, I can daydream all I want about completing this book, but in reality, all I can really do (which is precisely what I am doing) is listen to my inner voice, offer a matching vibration to those inner pleadings, and feel the joy of allowing the thoughts to come through me onto the pages. The “goal” has been suspended in favor of being here now, living out what I’m being directed by my “Senior Partner” to do. The end result takes care of itself, particularly since I see the end result in my mind, and I use my present moments in harmony with that vision.

— Respect the silent and burning desire that’s within you—don’t scoff at it, and refuse to be critical or judgmental. Create a sacred space within your home, some private corner where you can have an altar for the symbolic residence of your inner vision. When you walk by this altar, offer a silent blessing and express gratitude for the presence of inspiration in your life. The altar can have photographs, magazine articles, artifacts, totems, crystals, jewelry, plaques . . . anything that reminds you of your own passions. As “silly”or “far-fetched” as this might appear, it’s nevertheless true that when you talk and live with daily reminders of Spirit, you become a vibrational match to your ultimate calling.
When I was much younger, many people ridiculed and disregarded my vision of being a writer and a performer, but I treated my inner vision with the veneration that the sacred deserves. Holding my inner knowing in high esteem during my teen years allowed me to undertake writing a novel, irrespective of what anyone around me expressed. When you trust in your inner vision, you’re trusting the same wisdom that created you.

— Make an affirmation that whatever brings passion, enthusiasm, and inspiration to you is on its way. Say it often: It is on its way, it will arrive on time, and it will arrive in greater amounts than I imagined. Then look for even the tiniest clue that will help you be a vibrational match with your affirmation. You’ll get what you think about, whether you want it or not!

***

The words of a man who was both a philosopher and a Roman emperor will close this chapter. Marcus Aurelius disdained thoughts of violence and refused to go to war; in fact, he presided over his empire with a philosophy of peace and respect for all of his fellow men. Below, he speaks of the things we’ve forgotten when we’re uninspired or not focused in-Spirit.

When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast forgotten this, that all things happen according to the universal nature; and forgotten this, that a man’s wrongful act is nothing to thee; and further thou hast forgotten this, that everything which happens, always happened so and will happen so, and now happens so everywhere; forgotten this too, how close is the kinship between a man and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood or seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, that every man’s intelligence is a god, and is an efflux of the deity; and forgotten this, that nothing is a man’s own, but that his child and his body and his very soul came from the deity; forgotten this, that everything is opinion; and lastly thou hast forgotten that every man lives the present time only, and loses only this.

Use his words as an inventory of things to remember as you seek to find your way back to inspiration.

Although summer officially begins next week, for us, it began this Monday.

After a fantastic, but exhausting weekend, I woke Jose at 7:00am for his first day of summer phys ed.  I was up early, plants watered, showered, and out the door by 7:15am to run errands. Jose left around 7:40am. As I was passing by the high school around 8:15am, I saw Jose walking across the lawn. My brain was racing – Did I fill out all the paperwork correctly? Was he bumped because an upper classman needed in the class?

I met Jose at the parking lot. With a smile, and a twinkle, he said, “Summer school begins tomorrow.” I casually looked around at the high school parking lot, noting the emptiness… Ooops.

My lessons began with two former students who are returning for voice coaching, and how wonderful it was to reconnect with them.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are long days of teaching, but I have a 2 hour scheduled lunch break which was nice. I fixed hamburgers the first three days, and Jose and I took our lunch on the deck. Thursday was a taco salad. I have really enjoyed our time together this week, and it is neat to see Jose growing more into the high school frame of mind. He is very eager to officially begin high school.

Summer school ends June 29th, and I am hoping to make a dash to the Outer Banks for a mini-vacation before marching band begins, July 9th. Once marching band commences, the quiet life as we know it will be over. Jose will have band from 9:00am to Noon, and 1:00pm-3:00pm, Monday through Thursday. Band camp is the last week of July. When they return, it is the same schedule of 9:00am-3:00pm each day with Fridays off. The end of August school will begin on the 28th, and the first football game against Alter will officially begin the marching band season. Once September hits, it will be a game each Friday, and a contest each Saturday through October 31st.

Jose is pumped about marching band, and I am so glad, as I am hoping this will be his niche. He needs something like this, and I am glad he will have Mike Berning as a band director – they don’t come any better than Berning.

Tomorrow is Friday – well, it is 12:30am – Friday is here. I will go get new plates for the car, run some errands, and hopefully by Noon, I will be able to relax the remainder of the weekend.

 

Leaders

Potential

Success

I think this past weekend was one of the most delightful weekends I have had in ages.

FRIDAY

It was the last day of school, and I drove over to Kettering Middle School to see students for the last time, and spend time with Loretta Henderson, who has become a very dear friend.

That evening, Jose and I rode our bikes to Friendly’s restaurant for dinner to celebrate the end of school.

SATURDAY

After packing our bags, and dressing in our shirts, slacks, and ties, we loaded the car – Flyer included – and headed northeast to Springfield, Ohio for the wedding of Elaine Post to Ben.

Stacey & Elaine

In 1991, I began my position as director of worship and music at Faith In Christ Lutheran Church, and there I met many wonderful people, including the Post family: Cindy & Bill, and their three small children, Stacey, Elaine, and Simon. Now, Stacey is married with two darling little daughters, Simon has finished college and is working in North Carolina, and Elaine – Little Lanie – is now finished with college, and married. Since the early 1990’s, I have been “Uncle Darin” to the Post kids. I have returned for graduations, two weddings, two christenings, and anniversary celebrations.

Simon & Stacey

At the church, we met up with Cindy’s younger sister, Valerie Lockhart. Valerie and Mike, and their two children, Jackson and Sophie, live a few blocks away, and have become dear friends. I met Valerie and baby Jackson the summer of 1992, and little did I know then he, along with his younger sister (yet to arrive), Sophie, would become my students. As with their Post cousins, I am also “Uncle Darin” to the Jackson and Sophie – which really causes confusion at school with Jackson and Jose’s friends. Kids cannot imagine how red haired, blue eyed Jackson is related to Jose.

Cousins – Jackson & Stacey

Also at the church were Dixie & Paul Schmid, and Cathy & Jim Chamberlin. Cathy and Jim sat directly behind, with the Lockharts in front of us, and Simon right next to us – and yes, Simon and I did behave throughout the ceremony. 

The ceremony was explicitly Elaine’s! For those who know Elaine, they will understand.

The reception was wonderful. I sat at a table with Jim and Cathy Chamberlin, and just before dinner, Simon joined us. Cathy was born in my home town of Elwood, and her parents, Art & Dorothy Von Dielengin, were two of the most beautiful people I have known. The June of 1992, I lost my grandmother and Art & Dorothy drove over for the funeral. I was with Art during his last few days the following September just before he passed away. I felt as though I lost two grandparents the same year, and 1992 was very difficult.

Cathy was previously married, and had two children, Jeff and Stephanie. Now, these two former teens as I knew them, are married with children of their own. Jeff lives near Columbus, and Stephanie lives in San Antonio, Texas. Cathy is a doll. She is much like her mother, but then, she has a good deal of Art in her personality. After I left FIC Lutheran Church in 1993, Cathy eventually remarried a wonderful man, Jim. He is a retired teacher, and is an absolute delightful conversationalist. We had a great discussion on “angels” – one of my favorite topics.

After bidding farewell to the Posts, Lockharts, and Chamberlins – folks who as dear as family – we hopped in the car and headed west towards Indiana, arriving at Mother’s around 9:30pm. We spent an hour with Mother and then went to Dena’s to spend the night.

SUNDAY

7:15am, Jose and I were on the road towards Destin & Stacia’s home in Fowler, Indiana, just about twenty miles northwest of Lafayette. They recently moved into the farm house in which Stacia grew up, and for the time being, her mother, while things are completed on her new house, is staying with them. Norma, Stacia’s mother, is a teacher in the school system.

Destin & Stacia’s home

The farm is awesome! Rolling fields surround the house, with a number of farm buildings, and it is complete with a creek and a pond. What a delightful place for my nephew, and his future siblings, to grow up!

When we arrived at 9:30am, Stacia was at church, Parker was just ready to wake-up, and Destin had a long list of chores while Stacia was gone. Parker was up, and I sat with him at his breakfast spot as I shucked corn.

My nephew, Parker, age 2

Mother, Dena and the boys arrived, soon followed by Stacia and Norma. We had a wonderful lunch, and shortly thereafter, the guests began arriving – a group of fantastic friends of Destin & Stacia’s who are delightful company. The kids played in the water (with the water ball and water table) for a while, then it was time to open presents, eat cake and ice cream, and relax. I followed a group of the boys back to the pond, but was unwilling to climbed the fence, as there was an electric fence just on the other side. Flyer, however, found a spot through which to crawl, and she joined the boys in the creek, jumping and splashing.

Stacia & Parker

Uncle Darin & Parker

The Fishers: Henry, Ethan & Emma

Eventually, all the friends left, and it was just our family remaining. Jose and I played pitch & catch, and after more chat on the back deck, we left for the return trip to Ohio – which only took us 3.5 hours. It was a nice drive, and both Jose and Flyer slept most of it.

Flyer in the creek

Well, Jose slept when he was not watching his new love, JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR. I think the DVD played a total of four times on the trip! Good stuff, and I am so glad my son has found something of great interest in this music.

We arrived home by 9:30pm, and though I was tired, I knew I needed to get some things at Kroger. Jose went with me, and on the return trip, I drove by the Administration Building for Kettering Schools to show Jose where he would go for summer PE class the following morning. As we drove by the library on Far Hills Avenue, something smacked the passenger window with great force. I saw water droplets and knew it was a water balloon. I turned the car around in the parking lot, and saw three teen boys take off running. Jose and I hopped out of the car and took after them, and were right on their heels, probably scaring them to death.

I have eleven graduating students this week, and all will be heading off to colleges in the fall. Nine of these eleven will one day be band and choir directors, and I am so very proud, and grateful, of the other two who are taking completely different career paths, but will still be involved in collegiate music.

Once the sentence is uttered, “I want to go into teaching…” I immediately begin stressing the importance of leadership.

Now, I have a new batch of leaders stepping up to the firing line – that last year before they too, reach up and switch their tassel from one side to the next, leaving behind one chapter so that they might embark on one of the most extraordinary journeys of their lives.

The one thing I stress is to always have a possitude – a positive attitude. Even when our leaders disappoint, we must remain optimistic, for there is a reason that our leaders sometimes will disappoint – they are human.

The Humanity Of Leaders

When we recognize someone as a leader, we often place our faith in that person to a degree that exceeds what is humanly possible. In other words, we expect them to be beyond fault and to not make mistakes. This, of course, is neither realistic nor fair. Just like us, these people are living human lives, and part of the deal is learning through experience and working out our individual karmas. There will always be missteps and things they would do differently given a second chance. If we are to be fair, we must grant our leaders the same forgiveness, compassion, and understanding that we grant our closest friends as they navigate the complex challenges of this human life.

Leaders are special people in that they have the ability to guide and represent large groups of people. In this calling, they agree, to some degree, to be responsible for the well-being of others. Because of this, we hold them up to a higher standard of behavior, and in some ways this is fair. However, we will only be disappointed and disillusioned time and time again if we expect them to be perfect. If they were perfect, they would not be here on earth. Perhaps the most we can expect of our leaders is that they make it a practice to acknowledge their shortcomings and learn from their experiences. Beyond this, when our leaders let us down, it is up to us to forgive and move on. Dwelling on disappointment and negativity creates more of the same.

People who choose to lead are often extraordinary individuals blessed with vision, energy, and charisma. It is their path to inspire, guide, and represent us, but it is not possible for them to never let us down. Leaders are on a path of growth just as we are. Perhaps this is something to remember when we have the opportunity to choose somebody in a leadership role, or perhaps you are ready to step into a role of leadership yourself.

From a website, Beliefnet, to which I subscribe for Daily Devotionals and other neat items:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2007/06/when-one-door-closes.html#comments

When One Door Closes…

Thanks to reader, Jean, who wrote the following message on my “The ‘We’ Pronoun” post:

My husband died suddenly, 3 days shy of our 15th wedding anniversary. I was 36, with children aged 9 and 13. Someone at the funeral told me it just gets longer in-between cries. I have passed this sentiment on to many in the passing 12 years. In the same breath, I normally add the quote “When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” For me, that “window” is a wonderful man who has taught me that I can move on without forgetting the joy of that first true love. The most affirming part of this tale, is that I met this wonderful man at church. God has blessed me with a new beginning, and is there to rejoice in it with me, as He was when I was in mourning.

The maxim, “Where one door shuts, another opens,” is quoted, most famously, in the 21st chapter of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes’s classic, “Don Quixote.”

And I pondered it today as I opened my mail.

There, on our kitchen counter (buried underneath the old apple cores, brown bananas and three days worth of mail), lay a letter from Boston College–thin, like the one I received 18 years ago that said something like this: “Your grades are good enough, and you’ve got the whole president-of-your-freshman-class thing going for you. But man, girlfriend, you forgot to eat your Wheaties the morning you took the SATs, because your scores truly suck. So, until some smarties decline our invitation to study amidst the academic stars, you get to sit your butt on the bench and wait.”

The thin envelope slightly crushed my 17-year-old heart because my (detailed) plan was to major in international business at BC. My dad and I visited the school in the fall of my junior year in high school, and I fell in love with its campus and its city.

Instead I landed at a college in the ugly city of South Bend, Indiana. And thank God I did.

Because within one week at Saint Mary’s College, my alma mater and spiritual mother ship, I was in therapy and had begun a deep search into my soul, trying to figure out who exactly I wanted to be, and what I needed to do to get there.

The exceptionally nurturing environment of this all-women’s college made it possible for me to begin my recovery from depression and addiction. There, in a setting where teachers and counselors cared enough to get involved in a student’s life–probing her with important questions, and listening patiently while she arrived at some answers–I found my true self, and learned bits of wisdom that have guided me to this day.

Much of who I am today was born in my four years there.

I discovered my inner theologian–a person who wasn’t satisfied with the neat and tidy answers printed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a curious scholar who was willing to go to great lengths to understand her faith (even if the holy trinity is a mystery, in the end)–and the writer, both of whom may have suffocated had I pursued international business (which fits me about as well as Martha Stewart’s apron) at a large college like BC.

Oprah told the 1997 graduating class of Wellesley college that failure is God’s way of saying “Excuse me, you’re moving in the wrong direction.”

As I reflect on some of my disappointments throughout life, I tend to agree with her. If I had landed the publishing job in New York that I so badly wanted, then I wouldn’t have met Eric (and had David and Katherine). My dad’s death, as hard as that was at the time, has, in a way, healed and united our family. My depression has certainly added a new depth and candor to my writing (and to my life), and has provided me a type of rebirth or new direction in each. And, most recently, my running injury has forced me to rediscover my love of swimming and biking.

In 1978 Oprah was demoted as an on-air anchorwoman in Baltimore because she got too emotional with the people she interviewed. She was given her own talk show as a way to finish out her contract. But there she found her true self.

“And so, I took what had been a mistake, what had been perceived as a failure with my career as an anchor woman in the news business and turned it into a talk show career that’s done OK for me!” she said.

Today’s letter from Boston College was thin. But it wasn’t a rejection. On the contrary, it was an invitation to participate as a panel speaker in a national symposium on marriage, hosted by BC’s The Church in the 21st Century Center.

I don’t think I can do it (my no-more-than-25-hours-of-childcare-a-week rule, plus I have little marriage advice other than to say if you treat your spouse with respect and sleep with him at least twice a week, everything seems to fall into place).

But it sure was nice to be asked, and to get my letter of acceptance–even though it was worded a little differently than I had expected.

I was sitting at my desk this afternoon when I heard a familiar “screach.” I knew, instantly, what it was.

As I rose from my desk, Flyer raced past me, and out my study door. I ran to the steps of the deck to find Flyer and Logan chasing the poor chipmonk… Flyer finally grabbed it. I yelled for her to drop it, and she obeyed. However, Logan immediately reached down with her mouth and grabbed it by the neck.

Logan fiercely shook her head, once, and something snapped in the poor little fellow. She dropped it, and both pets danced around the adorbale little creature as it flopped on the pavement.

I hurried both pets back into the house and closed the door. The little chipmonk calmed down and looked up at me, pleadingly.

The spasms stopped, but his breathing continued… for a few minutes.

It tried to lift its head several times, but with a broken neck, or spine, it was too painful, impossible.

The little fellow died.

This is the 8th or 9th chipmonk killed by one of the pets. The chipmonks are pesky little fellows, but still adorable. I think Logan is the high executioner, and Flyer is the deliverer. We have had slaughtered chipmonks left on the deck, on the steps of the deck, on the patio off the deck, and in my study.

I stepped back out several times to check on the little fellow, hoping he had merely passed out and had escaped…. but sadly, he remained on the sidewalk, still…

Logan and Flyer were both eager to return to the great wilds of our back yard, but I kept them inside. It is amazing to me how Logan always hisses and slaps at the ever playful Flyer, but when it comes to grabbing food from my plate when I leave my study, or killing a chipmonk, she is all about team work!

After reading an Email last night from Claudia Mink, describing the execution of her brother, Scott, for murdering their parents, I read a good deal about capital punishment. This morning I was read a number of articles on the murders innocent Iraq citisens, mandated by the fool sitting in the Oval Office.

The little chipmonk’s death, right before my eyes, reminded me how gentle life is… and how sad that it is sometimes taken too soon by those who hold little regard for others….


Stepping Out From Where We Were

Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” A Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein’s scientific theories transformed the world’s understanding of the universe and its workings, so we can believe that these words come from his personal experience and helped him to explore both science and life itself. He offered us an example of what can be learned by looking deeply into nature to reach a deeper understanding of all life and by following our ideas to their logical conclusions in our minds before acting upon them in the world.

When we apply this quote to our lives, we can see that we cannot create abundance by staying in a consciousness of poverty, nor can we gain a sense of power in our lives while identifying ourselves as a victim. Situations begun from anger or fear can have little chance of reaching a state of peace and trust unless someone involved can conceive of that possibility and act upon it. We need to find ways to step outside of our limited understanding in order to seek a bigger picture. One way to do this is to shift our perspective to see the situation from another’s point of view and ideally the perspective of all others involved. Even if we can’t truly know another’s motivations, by imagining what they might be, we open ourselves up to numerous possibilities and an expanded vision. This alone can shift our feelings of anger to compassion and the desire for a positive solution for all involved.

Once we have opened our mind to greater possibilities, we can connect to our higher self for inspired solutions. From the peace at our center, we gain distance from our emotions to connect to intuitive wisdom that offers us understanding of the underlying causes and the inspiration needed to guide our steps in a new direction. Albert Einstein showed us the impact that can be made when we raise our consciousness and allow ourselves to imagine the possibilities.

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”   ~Winston Churchill

What a fun, busy week.

Kettering Middle School’s choral concert was Thursday, and it came off well. I will miss working with Loretta. I got to finally meet her husband, Rick, and her two absolutely adorable daughters! What fun Loretta and I had this past year.

After the concert, Jose worked on his poem for Language Arts. It is very touching piece about his birth mother…

A Young Boys Life

 When I was a boy you were there for me

Whenever anything happened you were there for me

When I fell you were there to help me on my feet 

As I got older you made some bad choices

But I still loved you no matter what 

When I was ten I was taken from you

I was afraid not knowing where I was going to live 

I miss you a lot

I hated the choices you madeI

t cost you everything 

But in the end I thank you

My life here is wonderful  

I still love you

And I always will

You will always be my Mother.

Friday was spent cleaning, gardening, librarying, and teaching in the afternoon. I called the doctor about my throat and the assistant said it could be strep without the pain. Yikes! My throat was so tired from teaching, and aching. The Salchak family had to cancel, and Sue Branson decided not to come. I spent the remainder of the evening relaxing with some DVD’s. 

Yesterday, after watering plants, and showering, I returned to my bedroom with about 15 DVD’s I brought home from the library. Jose’s friend, Tom, spent Friday night with us. Around Noon, after teaching two lessons, Jose and Tom went to his house, later calling to ask to spend the night with Tom. My voice has been absent all week due to allergies, or asthma. I spent the entire day relaxing with reading, movies, and enjoying some quiet in the house.

I did not feel like heading to church this morning, and I hate it because it is Music Sunday. My voice is a little stronger, but still weak, and it is so tiring to speak.

Right now I am listening to Don Nuen, formerly of Ball State, conduct the Chrystal Cathedral chorus on a Faure selection, which is absolutely beautiful.

It is 10:10am.  Three years ago, 2004, my grandfather, Leroy Barmes, was within the last hour of his earthly life. The night before, Wednesday, I learned that his organs were shutting down, and waited for the next call which I knew would be coming within the next 24 hours.  He passed away on a Thursday morning at 10:55am.

The music of Faure is fitting for this morning of remembering an individual who had a great impact on me for nearly 40 years.

I have no major plans for the day – just reading, relaxing, and enjoying time alone until Jose returns from Tom’s.

This week is busy – the end of school, meetings with Jose’s teachers, finishing up the summer teaching schedule… Jose will be taking physical education from 8:00am-Noon, beginning June 11th thru June 29th; and then July 9th, marching band practices begin…

Wishing you all a great day!

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