Archive for the ‘Finding your calling’ Category

What almost dying taught Tracy White about living

Monday, February 12th, 2018

I thought I was leading the “right life”—prestigious college, fancy job in New York City, kind husband, happy child, good friends, nice house…then I got incurable cancer.
The doctor thought I had 15 months to get my affairs in order.

When bad stuff happens to us, even the most enlightened can’t help but ask, “Why me?” I just wanted to understand—why did I get cancer? I needed to believe the cancer was happening for a reason.

Now, two years later—after a no-holds-barred healing journey that blended conventional, alternative, and woo-woo treatments—I was beginning to understand the “why me” part.

One reason I got sick was I was living the wrong life.

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The opportunity to fail–the best gift we can give our children

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Mo Issa writes:

My parents gave me love, and lots of it, but often faltered in giving me direction. However, the best gift they gave me was the opportunity to fail, and then learn from those failures.

That opportunity not only made me stronger, but also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and independence that has helped me in every aspect of my life.

I look at today’s generation and sense a mood of entitlement. They expect things to be done for them. They shun responsibility and avoid making decisions.

After reading Jessica Lahey’s bestselling book, The Gift of Failure, and with much reflection on my own parenting over the years, I wish I could get my kids back for another four years (yes, I miss them that much!) so that I could change my ways.

I was trying my best as a parent and thought I was a great father. On reflection, however, many factors affected my parenting, not least of which was ego and and a pull to acquiesce to society’s norms.

Do we want our kids to get the top grades, get onto the varsity soccer team, and be around the most popular people because of us—or them? How do we define what is “best” for them, anyway? Is it not based on our criteria and values, rather than theirs?

When we impose our likes, dislikes, and values on our kids, we rob them of their individuality and their own experiences. As Lahey says, “When parents try to engineer failure out of kids’ lives, the kids feel incompetent, incapable, unworthy of trust and utterly dependent.” They are, she argues, unprepared when, “failures that happen out there, in the real world, carry far higher stakes.”

I love the title of her book—The Gift of Failure—because learning how to navigate failure really is the greatest gift that we can bequeath our children. Especially when we also give them our undivided love and complete support.

Through failure, they will learn life-long lessons they could never learn otherwise.

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Dads Who Are Staking A Claim In The Parenting World

Monday, November 20th, 2017

While our culture still often treats dads like bumbling babysitters, American fathers are taking a larger role in parenting responsibilities. A Pew Research study indicated that, in 2014, American dads reported spending almost triple the time watching their children than fathers in the 1960s. And millennial dads have been helping to shift workplace culture because they expect to be deeply involved in the child-rearing partnership.

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8 Underrated Qualities To Look For In A Spouse, According To Experts

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

There are certain important qualities we’re taught to look for in our romantic partners: Are they honest? Are they strong communicators? Are they good at handling money? And the list goes on.

But what about the less obvious signs that someone will make a great husband or wife? We asked relationship experts to tell us what seemingly small things actually say a lot about a person. Below, find out what marriage therapists, psychologists and authors had to say:

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Five Myths about Self-Love

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

From Sarah Lamb’s insightful essay:

I hate self-help books. Well, I do now. I hate them because they tell us how we should be. They tell us, if we only did things this way—the author’s way—then we will be happy and truly understand what it means to love ourselves. The day I gave up reading self-help books was the day I loved myself for having too much coffee. It was also the day I gave up trying to live someone else’s answer.

It was the day I started to walk away from someone else’s truth.

My occasional overindulgence makes me human. I sometimes stay up past my body’s desired bedtime watching Netflix or perusing Facebook or writing, doing yoga, or talking on the phone. And the next day, when I wake up and feel groggy or wired and tired, I know it was my choices the previous night that led to my current state. I know I caused some sort of suffering for myself—and I love myself for it.

Self-love isn’t what a lot of those self-help books profess it to be, according to my inner guru anyway. It isn’t about being in a constant state of perfection—eating just the right amount at each meal, and exercising before the point of fatigue, and not drinking alcohol at least two hours before bed, and not raising your voice when your best friend pushes your most triggering button.

Self-love isn’t about not having too much coffee. It’s something more than turning away from our humanness—it’s about accepting it.

But before we get there, we have to bust a few myths about self-love that have been floating around since the dawn of the term itself. Some might resonate for you and others might not. We are all guilty of embracing certain ones over others. We all have our preferred conscious and unconscious defenses against this thing that we feel so frightened about.

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10 Weird Signs You’re Stressed Out

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Stress manifests in a multitude of ways. Some of them are emotional symptoms, like moodiness and irritability, and others may mask themselves as physical issues.

The problem with this physiological phenomenon is that you may simply chalk these issues up as something harmless. Not only that, data shows stress is continually on the rise, making the problem more of a byproduct of everyday life rather than a health complication that needs to be controlled. But there are major consequences if you don’t address your stress: It can lead to heart problems, sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms and more.

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Religion Failed Us—but we Still Need It.

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

from Samuel Kronen’s excellent essay:

To live a religious life, we must engage in a spiritual practice. I don’t think there is any way around this. To remain in contact with that what is beyond ourselves, beyond the domain of our individual thoughts, we must find some way of continually remembering that this connection exists and is always possible to attain.

This can be achieved in many different ways, from charity, to meditation, to some form of deep contemplation, and so on. What is necessary is engaging in whatever practice we choose on a daily basis or something close to it—otherwise we are susceptible to falling astray and moving away from this essential connection.

Try to remember that life is infinitely wondrous and beautiful, and do everything in our power to live in a way that serves this remembrance. This is the foundation of a holy life.

We don’t need to buy into religious lunacy to be close to God. We simply must allow ourselves to be active participants in the grace and artistry of the universe, rather than merely being passive observers in a purely material world.

In reminding ourselves that there is more to life than what we think, we become present to the immediacy of life itself, and in my experience, this expands our capacity for love.

Love is at the core of a truly religious life.

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This Simple Mental Shift Can Enrich Everything In Your Life

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Those who are able to shift away from the obsessive chase for more, Twist says, often experience a renewal of sorts. “When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy,” she says.

That energy, Twist continues, can then be channeled into a different endeavor: paying attention to what you already have. “When you actually pay attention to nourish, love and share what you already have, it expands,” Twist explains.

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Our Brains Are Guided More By Empathy Than Selfishness

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

As the year winds to a close, gifts and giving are foremost in many people’s minds. And now, two new neuroscience studies suggest that our brains prompt us to act more like Santa than Scrooge.

In one study, researchers scanned participants’ brains to identify connections between generous behavior and brain activity. In the other, scientists dampened activity in areas of the brain associated with impulse control, to see if that would alter a person’s empathetic actions.

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New Year’s Thought

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

A big culprit in so many thorny issues facing us is religious dogma that keeps people from really seeing and from there getting ourselves and others in balance. As long as we remain dogmatic, locked in manacles of the mind, as the poet William Blake termed it, we make everything worse, not just for others but for ourselves.

I was thinking the other morning on my way home from yoga of the Two GREAT COMMANDMENTS, which, as Jesus said, are the summation of the Law and the Prophets: 1. Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind. And, 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. To love others rightly we must also love ourselves. Many people do not. To get right we must sort ourselves out with love and kindness, and wisdom.

That’s where good books, and good counsel, can really help.

I’ll end the year with this poem from my collection, The Necessity of Symbols,

20/20

Threading from spool to spool
to spool, frost spins
old stories out
over my windows.

Shrunken cherries left by blackbirds
who’ve read the signs and fled
lie discarded on the lawn.
Like motors, hearts turn—
and turn again—
but refuse, make noise—
absolutely refuse
to start.

Ice covers the city
like a freezer-burned pie.
The fruit trees—no matter their kind—
bear only ice.

Oh stabat mater—Jesus—
stoop—
take the cobwebs from the gashes.
Let wounds brighten.
Let us bear fruit
fit for golden bowls.
Thomas Ramey Watson

Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.

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