Bigot on Facebook Says We Are All Stupid Sheep

Not long ago I had a bit of a spat with a friend on facebook about manifestation. I know, I know “A spat? On facebook? No!” Specifically, the practice of manifestation. I say specifically, because that will become significant in a few moments. First, a little background info.

I was joyfully procrastinating through my news feed when I came across his post. To protect the innocent (who are welcome to comment below), let’s call my facebook friend Apollinaris Paul. Hey, I didn’t choose it, this random name generator did. Now I’ve pretty much thought of Apollinaris as a reasonable and intelligent kind of guy. I’ve been friends with him on facebook for years. My friends on on facebook include a very eclectic group of people from all walks of life and many different belief systems. The reason for that is, I don’t judge. I absolutely love the mixed up mix of people in my friends list. There are times when I don’t agree with what someone has posted and sometimes I feel like I have to put in my two cents and sometimes I just don’t think it’s worth it. Apollinaris made a post attacking people who practice manifestation, (especially for their own gain) as selfish at best and resorted to name calling and insinuation of complete, moronic, stupidity right out of the gate.

Obviously Apollinaris has a bug up his butt about something. Maybe he lost a friend or family member to manifestation. Maybe he attended a seminar of some kind and came away less than enthused. Maybe he was just having a bad morning. I don’t know, but I was moved to say something. I commented that there was nothing wrong with focusing on bettering myself or my circumstances. After all, how could I make the world better if I couldn’t make myself better? He said I had the wrong context and the wrong conclusion.

Wait a minute? Who died and made you the stupidity labeler? It was then that I decided to bow out and that my response required way more than a facebook post. I posted that I agreed to disagree and that was that. How about we break down some definitions here.

According to Dictionary.com, prosperity is a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects, good fortune. Manifestation is an outward or perceptible indication, materialization, or spiritualism. I think the latter definition of spiritualism is more applicable in this case and I still stand by my statement that it is not wrong for me to focus on my own betterment, including my financial situation.

In fact, according to the bible, God encourages manifestation through spiritualism. It’s called faithful prayer and it is generally not considered a con or woo-woo horse crap. In fact, God makes a habit of promising prosperity in exchange for believing in him, having faith, praying to him, and following his word. I can’t make this stuff up. It’s already written down. There are dozens of verses in the bible that mention going to God in prayer for whatever, anything, including prosperity. I think this one sums them all up: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24. This is the definition of the practice of manifestation, as is praying to God about your problems and laying them at his feet, then trusting that he will help with them. Most spiritual practices use something similar. Ask for it. Believe it. It will be yours.

Apollinaris also used the not quite seaworthy statement that there was no way that the starving little girl in a 3rd world country could manifest her way out of it by humming about it. Whatever that means. But would the visiting Christian missionaries tell her to pray about it and quote a verse like the one above? You betcha. He also charged the manifesters with manifesting food for the world’s hungry and manifesting world peace. Who says we aren’t already working on that???

Later in the discussion, long after I had stopped commenting and someone else who was not quite as nice as me had begun defending the practice of manifestation. Apollinaris admitted the mistake that had caused the whole argument. He conceded that he had made a sweeping generalization about those who use manifestation, mentioning me specifically as someone in the tiny minority with actual good intentions. He later deleted this comment along with the comments of the other manifestation defender, leaving only the comments of the one person who agreed with him and my initial comments which he ridiculed and tried to make me look the fool for. He continued the conversation with his comrade, bashing people who had the audacity to desire prosperity. I shake my head in disgust. At least have the courage to let the conversation stand as it really happened. But hey, it’s your wall, you get to do what you want. This is my blog. I get to manifest whatever I want on it.

The problem with sweeping generalizations is that they tend to skim over the very people who are trying to make a positive difference in the world. Sweeping generalizations at best, become arguments and at worst start wars (the Christians are infidels and must be cleansed, the Jews are inferior in every way and must be cleansed, the Muslims are bloodthirsty warmongers and must be cleansed, people who practice manifestation are stupid sheep, people who follow a God that has no name are stupid sheep, people who don’t believe in God must be saved or die, all Native Americans are lazy alcoholics, White people think they’re entitled everything and are better than everyone else, all black people are criminals, the rich are inherently evil). You get the picture, right? Sweeping generalizations are obviously quite dangerous. Apollinaris defends this as the generalization of the masses being observable. What? Rather than the few or the one? So…

Jesus wasn’t observable? Died for our sins. Prayed to God to forgive us.

Ghandi wasn’t observable? Starved while praying for peace.

Buddah wasn’t observable? Left the palace to pray for enlightenment.

Martin Luther King wan’t observable? Changed the face of human rights.

Really?

I thought Apollinaris would be respectable and had the ability to have a civil conversation, or debate. Instead, he came off as a condescending, rude, bigot. And now, after discovering he deleted portions of the conversation, I must add, coward.

Look, I’m not trying to bash a religion, a belief system, a way of thinking or even poor Apollinaris. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em. I’m not saying that we don’t need to think of all the starving people in the world (by the way, let’s think about the starving families, and forgotten veterans in our own country before we start sticking our noses in other people’s business and save the word, shall we?).  I’m saying that maybe before you post a sweeping generalization on public media that calls into question the foundations of people’s very belief systems, you might want to think it through just a little bit more and be prepared to have an honest, open, and civil discussion about it.

For the record, my manifestation practice includes, but is not limited to: praying for world peace, the starving, the homeless, the forgotten, the forgetters, my daughter, my grandkids, my son, my husband, my mom, my granny, my family, my neighbors, my city, my state, my country, my planet, the dogs, the cats, animals everywhere, the good people, the bad people, Apollinaris Paul, and yes, myself.  I practice random acts of kindness, I save empty medicine bottles because there are places in the world where they have to put people’s medicine in folded scraps of cloth or paper and I have to take a lot of meds because my body doesn’t work right, I donate to local humane society, I recycle, I help out where I can. How about you? Sometimes I’m petty, sometimes I’m angry, sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m jealous, sometimes I’m lazy sometimes I’m mean. I’m not perfect, but I strive to be the best I can be in my own way. How about you?

Apollonaris had his say on facebook. Now I’ve had mine. Feel free to comment and/or discuss below to put in your two cents.

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Desire Leads to a Different New Year Perspective

So here we are, nearly half-way through the first month of the new year. If you’re like me, New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for you. I stopped making them years ago.

But last year I found something different.

Danielle LaPorte put out this book called The Desire Map and that was a game changer. Now before you tune out and go off thinking “Oh, God! Not another self-help guru’s sheep spouting the wisdom of said chosen guru.” Take a moment to think about this.

What if you stopped thinking about your life in terms of goals, and instead, focused on how you want to feel? Seriously. All those things that you want to do or get done, lose weight, find the right someone, write that book, are all intended to make you feel a certain, desired way anyhow. What if you focused on those feelings and the things you could do on a daily basis to support them?

But I digress, this post is not about the book, the system, the day planner, the cards, the book groups, or the facilitators springing up around the world. The D-Movement (I just made that up myself).

This post is about how focusing on how you want to feel; a subtle shift that changes everything. Including what you thought were your goals. It changes the way you think about everything.

So here’s my case in point. I am not one for routine. I find it to be mindnumbingly boring…a creativity and momentum killer…basically a big downer. However, the practical, hardworking Capricorn part of me knows that routines and schedules are necessary to success, which also means I have a very difficult time putting down a task that is unfinished just because the time to work on said task is up and I must move on to the next. I was having trouble coming up with a way to be more comfortable with routine and schedules. Does this sound immature? It doesn’t matter, it’s the way I feel and I am plenty mature enough to acknowledge my faults and deal with them or work around them <sticks tongue out and makes face>. Also, I have a physiological challenge that cause me to become foggy or unable to focus for anywhere from an hour to days.

I went to the go-to Desire Map group on facebook.com to help me brainstorm an answer because I’ll take a little help from wherever I can get it, I’m exploitative like that. I got a lot of really great answers from going with the flow to wonderful mantras, to-do lists, thinking of it as taking control, and doing what feels good. The coolest thing was that everyone shared what they felt in their heart might help me. No one, single person posted anything like “just suck it up and do it, you pansy!.” That in itself was immensely impressive to me because, you know, there’s always one in every group.

So, my fair readers and DMapers, without further ado, here’s what I came up with. It resonated with my entire being and at the same time struck me as a gigantic, DOH!

I found the secret to submitting to a routine and scheduled tasks was…

drum roll please…<apple drops on noggin>

Nurturing.

What?! I know, right!!!

Here’s the thing, all those “routine” tasks that I think are so boring and ask myself “why do I have to do this?” about, are only nurturing me. Dishes, laundry, housework, only gives back to me (mainly because we are empty-nesters now and there are no kids here anymore to suck up the benefits of my labors. Love ya kids! Mwah!). Scheduling writing time, exercise time, and meditation time only gives back to me, sometimes many-fold more that I put into it. So before you think that I might need a maid and an assistant – I know these things are beneficial and nurturing to me because of the way I f-e-e-l after I have done them. Clean, proud, accomplished, happy, content, and generally good.

So, when I perform my routine, when I schedule these things that are important to me, but may or may not want to do at that time, I am taking care of me, nurturing myself, taking time to love me. In turn, nurturing myself allows me to be more nurturing to others and that’s what it’s really all about.

If you want to know more about Desire Mapping and the great things you can do with it, Check out Danielle LaPorte’s website at DanielleLaporte.com if you find you’re fired up about it, join our group on facebook.com. Happy New Year! May your best and greatest destiny be yours!

As always…feel free to discuss below.

1st Time NaNoWriMo Observations: Pansters vs. Planners

So like a good little NaNoWriPar (National Novel Writing Month Participant) I’ve been following my local activity threads on the NaNoWriMo website. The first thing I notice is that there are few first-time participants like myself and these seem to me much younger than me. Oh well. C’est la vie. I didn’t get into this to hang out with any particular crowd. Our Municipal Liason (ML) is the owner of a local book store in her tenth year of doing NaNoWriMo. In an event where it seems that one is considered a winner simply by finishing, this seems to be big deal. And believe me, finishing, is no easy feat. We are talking 50,000 words in 30 days (November 1 – 30). Around 300,000 writers will participate and about 10% will actually finish. Pray for me people. Pray really, really hard!

An interesting dichotomy has garnered more of my attention as of late that is basic to writing and yet nonetheless fascinating. It is the division of the “pansters” and the “planners” otherwise known as “plotters” (suddenly I’m hearing the battle of the pugs and the poms from the musical Cats in my head). It’s not a new concept and much has been written on the subject. Basically, some writers write by the seat of their pants, throwing everything out there and seeing what ends up sticking during the rewrites, yes plural, meaning several. Obviously if you throw so much spaghetti at the ceiling, you’re going to have to clean it up. Others, opt for a more organized approach, these are the planners. Planners write outlines, make meticulous character development charts, create complicated story trees, map plot points, and basically leave as little to chance as possible. There are pros and cons to both approaches making neither one necessarily right or wrong except in the eye of the person doing the actual writing.

Pansters experience the divine art of creation through sheer imagination. A panster doesn’t think about where the story is going, how many scenes it’s going to take to develop each chapter, whether or not he is hitting plot points at the right time or if the character that just appeared out of nowhere is actually necessary to the story or what kind of ice cream she likes. Pantsters just write. In fact, the less thinking there is, the better. This allows for a purer channel for the story to come through and pantsters live on a kind of faith that their characters will come through and introduce themselves in all their idiosyncratic glory when the time is right. Of course this means tons of work on the tail end in the form of re-writes, but allows for a free and flexible flow of creativity. Sometimes pantsters don’t even know how a book is going to end until they are quite a ways into it. Hence the pantster runs a high risk of getting hopelessly lost in the big, scary forest of a story of her very own making <shiver>.

Planners/Plotters on the other hand, plan as much as possible on the front end of a project. They are the ones busy making outlines, developing story trees, mind-mapping and using any number of other ingenious organizational tools to map out a book long before any actual writing begins. By the time a good planner is finished with her planning, why, the book has nearly written itself. Unfortunately, writing this way doesn’t leave a lot of room for creative flexibility and when new material shows up that doesn’t fit into the paradigm of the world already built, it often must be scrapped or tabled for use somewhere else rather than be explored. However, Planners usually have little to do once the first draft is written as they’ve already planned out the entire thing and know how everything is going to turn out.

Who are these pantsters and plotters? Well, I’m about to drop some heavy duty, maybe even surprising names on you here:

Pantsters

Stephen King –

Preeminent “King” of horror, notorious pantster

Ray Bradbury –

Science fiction writer extraordinaire, pantster

Kim Olgren –

NaNoWriMo participant, multi-genre writer and blogger, pantster (okay, maybe not that big of a name…yet)

Planners

Charles Dickens –

Master Storyteller, planner

Edgar Allen Poe –

Yes, really, despite spending most of his time in one intoxicated state or another, planner

J.K. Rowling –

as with many fantasy writers, planner

Most writers fall somewhere in between the two. pantsters might use some plot points or a loose outline and many planners are not nearly as structured and rigid as the tools of the trade may indicate. However, I’m learning that many pantsters and planners are quite passionate about their particular approach to writing.

If you are a writer, which method do you prefer? Are you a pantster, riding the wave of the story and seeing it through to the end? Or are you a planner/plotter, putting things together with an end already in mind? Why does your particular method work so well for you?

Demons, and Heros, and NaNoWriMo…Oh MY!

Not so long ago I was in the midst of finding a new job and trying to solve some nasty medical issues while my daughter and two precious grandkids moved into our house doubling the headcount overnight. Fast forward five months and now I’m feeling healthier than I have in a long time, all the “kids” are still here, I found a full time job, and I’ve joined NaNoWriMo. What? Nanowhomo? Nanowhatnow? I know, I’m beginning to see it too, I may just be a glutton for punishment. Before all this I spent four years working full time while going to school full time to earn a degree that has recently become absolutely meaningless to me (no, I will not discuss the financial implications of this).

I have always been a somewhat introspective person and it only took one simple question to turn my whole psyche, not to mention my world, upside down. I hate it when that happens! So now that you’re dying to know how one little question turned a grounded, down-to-earth, professional, level-headed, practical gal into a mental, gelatinous pile of goo I’ll tell you what the seemingly innocuous inquiry was.

“What if there is no retirement?”

That’s it. Six simple words, “What if there is no retirement?” Did I freak out because our 401k is nonexistent after stints of unemployment for both me and my hubby? No. Did I lose it because I had just realized there will likely be no Social Security when I reach “retirement” age? Nope. It was much more horrifying that that. Something went off in my soul. My heart felt stifled, I couldn’t breathe for a moment, and for once, my ego had absolutely nothing to say. In that moment of pure clarity and suspended time I realized something big. No, something HUGE. Suddenly and large part of my life lost all meaning entirely, which left an opening for a true and passionate calling. No matter how terrified I was, there it was, plain as the nose on my face.

I couldn’t keep doing what I’ve been doing only to get what I’ve been getting and I certainly didn’t want to live… be…die…”retire” living the life I was living. Suddenly Peter Gibbons voice is in my head from the movie Office Space and I’m thinking every day I have to go into the office is the worst day of my life. Guess what? It is, and there’s nothing I can do about that right now. However, I can’t undo what I’ve seen and it’s funny how being really sick forces you to take a look at your life and figure out what your real priorities are.

Enter NaNoWriMo.org. Before this major epiphany I had resigned myself to being “okay” with the slow and constant drudgery that is my life with maybe an occasional vacation, but now that I know what I know, it has become slow torture leading to certain death. Think I’m overdramatizing? Show me someone who has heard his or her true calling and I’ll show you someone who would wither and die on any other path. I had begun writing a novel several months ago but it has been slow going as I learn a new job and juggle a house full of six people while trying to find the time to write.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is put on by The Office of Letters and Light. You can go to the website NaNoWriMo.org for more information. What NaNoWriMo participants do is write the rough draft of a novel, all 50,000 words, in one month from November 1 to November 30. Gah! Yep. This writer is going to attempt a 50k novel in 30 days working full time with six people in the house! Go me! This is my first time at NaNoWriMo, so I’m doubly nervous and excited. If you are a writer and have always wanted to write a novel but procrastination, fear, or whatever other excuse you’ve made has stopped you, maybe you’ll want to check NaNoWriMo out to get your feet wet.

Once I realized that every day was going to be the worst day of my life until I could get out of the cycle of going to a j-o-b every day I had to move. I had to set things in motion to be and do more, to create a life with more meaning and to give meaning to what I do day in and day out.

All that said, I am ever so grateful to my employer for giving me the means to pay the bills and I work for some wonderful people who will still be wonderful without me pushing papers around for them once I’m ready to become free. Even the caterpillar has to take it on faith that it will become a butterfly because it basically becomes caterpillar soup in that chrysalis before a beautiful butterfly is formed and bursts from it. I am stepping out in faith that out of the soupiness of what’s gone before, I’m changing into something different, something beautiful and someone who can offer the world a little something more. The demons of the past will meet the heroes of the future on the field at NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned.

How about you? What was your epiphany? Your wake-up call? Are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? I felt that way for a long time. How did you know when the defining moment had arrived?

The Return of the Bounty of Good (or even moderate) Health

As some of you may recall (if you’re still interested) I ran into some issues and put my blog in hiatus for a few months while I took care of…well…me. Some health issues had landed me in the hospital and subsequent surgery was required to fix me up. All this caused havoc with my existing diabetic condition, which has landed me dependent on insulin at this point.

Yet all that having been said, I have to add, Oh my GOD do I feel so much better! Physically I think I may have just gone backwards ten years! I have some catching up to do as far as being in shape, but I guess that’s the subtle difference. I may not be in as good of shape as I’d like to be, but I’m healthier than I’ve been in some time and that gives me the energy and endurance to get in even better shape. This is a key that cost me dearly.

Continuing to push along as things get harder and harder and you get more and more tired is a sign that something more is going on. Physically or mentally, there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but the challenge should energize you, not feel like it’s destroying you. There are times when “suck it up and drive on” just doesn’t apply. Who knew???

What’s more, when a major life event knocks you on your arse, I’ve found that it’s valuable to look into why that might be. I’m not talking about physical cause and effect, I’m talking about much deeper correlations. Spiritual correlations. Even now we are learning that when we get sick, it’s not just our body that is sick, something in our spirit, or our soul is out of balance or sick too. Could sickness be the higher self or Spirit trying to get our attention? Could it be trying to slow us down and make us take a look at where we might be in our lives as opposed to where we truly want to or should be? I believe, at the very least, that it offers an opportunity for some introspective stock-taking. Perhaps if I would have been paying better attention, life wouldn’t have had to konk me over the head to tell me that something was amiss.

Nevertheless I am so glad to be back and so happy to be writing again. Have you experienced an event that changed your life or made to stop and truly take stock in your life? Have you experienced a setback only to find that it was one of the best things that ever happened to you? Did you change your priorities because you were somehow forced to be still for a while? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What Is Your Relationship to Silence? – Danielle LaPorte

Photo by: Kim Olgren
Photo by: Kim Olgren

Danielle LaPorte asks her burning question of the week. What is your relationship to silence? I found this a very intriguing question. As I began to ponder the question I wondered how many uber-busy people out there would even get the question. In a time of e-mail, Facebook, smart phones, electronic tablets, and huge TVs, I began to wonder how many people actually know what real silence is anymore. If I grabbed fifty of my Facebook friends and asked them if they meditated or spent any time in silence on a regular basis, what would I find? I suspect that very few would respond that they do.

For me silence is comforting. The world has become a noisy, dirty, mean, joyous, frenetic, volume on max, cacophony of speedy activity. I guess I’m kind of old fashioned or maybe it’s because I’ve found that my best writing comes to me out of silence. I own an android phone, I have a Facebook account, email, and entertainment system that includes a 47” flat screen TV, as big ‘ol stereo receiver and surround sound, but I spend the majority of my day – quiet. I’m sure that will change once I find a day gig to support me while I’m writing, but for now, I relish each quiet day. I don’t turn on the 47” TV during the day. In fact it is off until my husband gets home from work in the evening. Most days, I don’t even turn on my favorite companion, music. It’s fabulous, but then I’ve always been the kind of person who grabbed a bit of silence whenever I could. Don’t get me wrong though, I also do my fair share of making noise and running around like a madwoman.

Silence is refreshing. Silence is grounding. Silence is soothing. Silence is the place where the infinite, the holy, and I meet. Silence is the place where my angel wraps her wings around me and gives me strength. In silence my spirit rests. In silence I find the beauty of my own spirit. Silence makes no demands and yet its incredible power changes lives.

I appreciate the quiet moments in my life. Not long ago, my son and I sat in the living room, each on our respective computer. Me working on a story and he working on some video editing, I believe. We sat silently working for some time and I deeply appreciated the fact that this person who had been raised with all the modern day distractions our electronic era has to offer, could still sit comfortably in silence with another. He is a mere twenty-one years old and is already wiser in the ways of silence than many other adults I know.

Obviously I think silence is a good thing. I think everyone should get a little bit of it every day. Not necessarily in the form of intentional meditation, but if nothing else, to unplug for a while. In taking a moment to hear yourself, you connect to the divine or higher self. Silence allows us to give our brains a rest from the myriad of stimuli that are thrown at it every other second of the day. I know a few people, myself included, who tend to go outside, take a walk or find a quiet place to sit when a particularly difficult or complicated issue comes up at work. Many times that few moments of silence is all that is needed for the answer to a problem to show itself. Silence is valuable.

Now that I’ve told you mine, what is your relationship to silence? Is it a good thing, or do you have better things to do with your time? Does silence make things you don’t want to think about crop up for you, or is it a comfort?