Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post

Today, I have a guest post by former CA Senator Omer Rains, legislator and world humanitarian, whose book, "Back to the Summit", relates his amazing physical and spiritual recovery from a near fatal stroke. Though he writes of his own challenge, his message regarding attitude adjustment and new goals can give strength and hope to those facing any serious life challenge.

Attitude Adjustment and the New Goals

I am Senator Omer Rains. I had a debilitating stroke and brain aneurysm at the age of 61, but it did not keep me down--and it will not keep you down either if you do not allow it. When I left the hospital, I was transported to my home in Carmichael, CA via ambulance. I was still unable to walk and, as a result, they carried me up to my second floor bed on a stretcher.

Friends and family saw the frail shell of my former self.

My stroke and aneurysm left my body severely impaired, but--thankfully--my speech was mostly normal. As my good friend George came to visit, there was not much that needed to be said. I didn't have to tell George how emasculating it was to have to be bathed and fed by a paid caregiver, who came by for a short time each day. She did all she could to help me feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

But, comfort wasn't what I had in mind. As I lay, trapped in my bedroom, I resolved to regain my strength and be on my feet in a month. And, after that, I would take on work to be capable of doing all the things that George and I used to do before the aneurysm and stroke: hitting the tennis courts, taking to the ski slopes, and biking trails of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. offers observations that aren't just for women on this front. Their stroke recovery guide notes, "Having goals for your recovery and a plan for how to meet them is essential to a successful recovery from stroke."

But it's more than just setting goals, it's about evaluating your current situation and using that knowledge to set short term goals that build up to long term goals. "Setting short-term and long-term goals will help you to motivate yourself to take the initiative to develop new abilities, activities, and interests, which is good for both your recovery process and your peace of mind." As I took stock of my own situation, my friend George offered encouragement. "The body will recover itself," George said. "And with your strength and your determination, you're going to come out of this and be stronger than ever, Omer. I know what a fighter you are. I know how determined you are. You'll do it. I did it, and you'll do it, too."

George knew that when I said I would walk again in thirty days, I would do it or die trying. I had already set two simple goals for myself:
          No matter what the doctors said, I would walk again.
          I would live to help others.
I am proud to say that I have reached both of those goals.
During my recovery, I started writing "Back to the Summit" and finally finished it just before beginning work with READ Global to build libraries and economic development projects in Bhutan and Nepal. I hope you will read it and that it will be an inspiration to you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another New And Better

I'm not due to post anything until Wednesday, but I've been given a whole new blog interface which looks like a huge mountain I'm supposed to climb if I want to post anything. So now I'm practicing to see what will happen when I click strange icons on the screen. My computer skills are limited, and it took me a long time to figure out the format I've been using for a couple of years. Now I'm given the "new and better" version.

I hate "new and better", because "new and better" is rarely better, and it's a pain in the you know what to figure it out. Besides, I'm too old for this. I'm happy with the old stuff, so leave me alone and let me wander through what I know. At least a user should be given an option to stick with the old or adapt to the new. But then consumers don't have much clout in today's world. We're just supposed to shut up and do what we're told, or go without. Well, I've gone through too much in my life to shut up and obey now. (Read my book, Silent Echoes)

I do realize that if I don't learn the "new and better", it's no skin off the producer's nose, and I'll have to just pack up my gear and get outa' Dodge. (Older folks know what that means) On the other hand, maybe I'm spinning my wheels anyway. Other than one friend who occasionally writes a comment (God bless her), I never get comments. So maybe I'm just writing for myself. And I don't need to write for myself. I already know what's in my head. But it's an interesting question. Does anyone read what I write? Does anyone receive any help with those bumps in the road in their life? I started the blog to try and help people, but how do I know. Maybe I've been living in La La Land, and didn't know it.

Anyway, I'll see if what I'm writing now gets posted on my blog. If not, I may just disappear. But if nobody's reading my blog anyway, then nobody would know if I disappear. Oh, that's right--my friend would know. Maybe she would miss me. What a strange kettle of fish that is. (That's another one old folks would understand)

Well, I guess now I'll start clicking icons, and figure out whether I keep writing to take to the hills.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ungrateful Ant

A few days ago I saw an ant crawling on my table. Since I don't want to kill the critters, I picked him up and headed for the back door to put him out. There he could return to his family--empty handed, of course, but still alive to hunt another day. Well, the ungrateful thing bit my finger before I could let loose. I think he bit me several times, because my finger swelled up, turned red, got burning hot and itched like crazy. How's that for gratitude. Now I know, if there's a next time, I won't pick up an ant with my bare hand. I'll put on a glove to protect myself.

Thinking about the incident, I realize the ant probably felt threatened, and did what ants do to protect themselves. Of course there's a big difference between ants and people, but there's a similarity between all living things. They all respond in negative ways when they feel threatened. Perhaps that's why some of the people in my life sometimes act like ants. they seem to get defensive, even hateful, about innocent transactions between us, and then I wonder what ticked them off.

Maybe you have people like that in your life too. Here's what I've learned about dealing with them.
1.    First, look within yourself to see if you, without realizing it, do anything to set them off. If so, work on changing your behavior.
2.    If it's someone you need or want in your life--or have to work with--think about the person and decide how much contact you want, or have to have, with them.
3.    If you want to work on the relationship, choose a fairly peaceful time, and tell them how you feel. It's very important to reassure them you're not a threat. I used this one time when someone resented my presence in a new job and thought I had invaded their territory. We became close co-workers.
4    If the other person still feels threatened in spite of your attempt to bring peace between you and doesn't respond in a positive way, then put on your glove to protect yourself. This can be done in a kind, peaceful way with one statement: You seem upset. I'm sorry you feel that way. I hope you feel better. Then walk away. Threatened people aren't  used to others responding this way, and it may make them think about their behavior.

The above responses may or may not change a threatened ant's behavior, but you'll have your protective glove in case it doesn't. And it will probably work more often than not. We learn from each other, and it's worth the effort.

May you have few ants in your life.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We Need Each Other

Today I had planned to interview Reverend Ed Bacon, author of 8 Habits of Love, Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind. But we ran out of time, and I have to postpone that interview. So I'm going to talk about something I think about when I feel lonely and saddened by our individualistic culture.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa

We live in a world motivated by a competitive, what's in it for me mind-set with ultimate separation from others. We take for granted things like illness, stress, conflict, anger, loneliness, confusion etc. We say, "That's life", and we continue this without question. But is this the way we're meant to live?

Research has shown there's a connection between all people so deep that it runs through our total structure on a sub-atomic level. It's our innate nature to connect, to belong. And our body, mind and spirit need to experience this connection. Living against this nature creates a world of physical, mental and emotional pain--the world in which we find ourselves today. So how did we get here?

Many years ago the cultural norm was a sense of community with others. Yes, there were individual differences, but this was accepted without conflict. When I was a child in the Great Depression years, we lived in an apartment building in Detroit with people of different nationalities, but we shared our food, our time and our love. And much of what we suffer from today was minimal then. Now when I sit in my back yard, I look at my neighbor's privacy fences that were not there a few years ago. I hear their voices and their dogs barking, but I'm not a part of them. And I feel the separation.

The technological society in which we now live has opened doors we never thought possible, and much good is realized in our world today. But it doesn't seem to contribute to the love, peace and harmony our true nature longs for. Why can't we have both? Why can't we see the differences in people, but accept our connection without intention to change another? Can we share our problems, pain and joy and work with others toward common goals? Could we rethink the meaning of our life and send love to the pain and suffering we see in the world?

We are cells in the cell of humanity, and we can choose to be a part of the whole creation. Change begins within each of us, and we can use connection and community to create love, health, peace and harmony within our world.

We need each other. We can change the world.

I wish you new beginnings.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's Talk About Love

We use the word love quite often. I love this. I love that. I love him. I love her. But I rarely hear I love myself. That seems to be forbidden in our culture. Small children express self-love, but that's soon discouraged as wrong, and guilt begins to cover up our most beautiful quality. We're told to love others, but how can we truly love others if we don't feel that love for ourself? Our world begins within us.

True love is not ego. It's that deep knowing inside that we are innately lovable. We're just made that way. But many of us are unaware of that love that longs to be expressed, or we're afraid to express it. Fear blocks our freedom to be who and what we really are in a world of judgmental eyes, including our own. The most unkind and unhappy people I've known in my life were those who felt the least love for themselves. When we truly love ourself, we love the world. Maybe we need to re-learn who and what we truly are and walk in love and peace.

There is a book being released this month that could help us choose a more loving path. It's 8 Habits of Love: Open your heart, Open Your Mind by Reverend Ed Bacon. Reverend Bacon has been a guest on Oprah's show and is now a regular guest on her radio series. His book also received a beautiful review by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Next week, I will be interviewing Reverend Bacon on my blog.

Reverend Bacon's book is written for all people of any faith to stir that seed of love within us and to develop our walk in love and peace. He says that all humankind is connected through the energy of love, and we each carry within us the capacity to love deeply, unconditionally, and fearlessly. He speaks of the critical role of love as a liberating, joy-filled, and guiding force. It is through practicing the Habits of Love that we can transform our lives by freeing ourselves from fear. These Habits of Love can become habitual, and thus change the way we think and behave, fundamentally altering our interactions with those we love most dearly, those we barely know, and the world at large.

Each one of us is special and unique. No two are exactly alike. Yet we all share in our deep need to love and be loved. Just think ... if we learned to walk in love, as love, there would truly be peace on earth and good will for all people.

I wish you love.