Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness

Well.  You spend a lot of time hiking in the wilderness, thinking about life’s ups and downs, and relationships are going to come up—a lot.  Here’s some of my thinking.

To start, a few maybe hard to hear truths.

In the area of relationships, we are immature.

Well, at least less mature than in other areas–and for understandable reasons.

First, we spend less time on relationships.  Work comes day after day, week after week, more or less throughout our lives, and like it or not, we learn at the very least to cope with it.  Handling rent, balancing the food budget, keeping the check book straight–these are things we do continually.   But for many people, relationships come, end, come, go, as periods at times during our lives, punctuated by periods of singledom.  We just get more practice at everything else than we do at relationships.   Or if in a long term relationship for years…it’s a relationship with that person, and a change in partners later presents new challenges.

Second, when stressed or threatened, people tend to regress.  It’s a natural response…we retreat to what’s more comfortable, to what we know better, and that’s to what we used to be, not to what we’ve evolved.   Imagine…first you’re diplomatic.  Then you get shorter and more pointed in your responses.  Then you’re a trifle brusque.  Then…well, you get the idea.  The emotional pressure increases, and the maturity of the responses goes down.

Seriously, think about some of the arguments you’ve had in the context of romantic relationships.  These are at levels you would never  use for any other adults.   This is us at our worst, because it’s the most immature/underdeveloped aspect of our experience.   Here are a couple of reasons–Expectations and the Onion Effect.

We expect–no, even demand–things from lovers we would never reasonably expect from even our closest friends.  And quite unfairly at that.  Remember that person you met who was just the most amazing angel who ever walked the earth?  How you walked around floating and glowing?  And then how a few months later that same person was the most despicable, devious, horrific spawn of Satan in all the annals of evil?  What happened?  What’s the truth?  Neither.  Both are your own projections, and both are completely your own invention, having little to nothing to do with reality.   More about expectations in a moment.

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There’s got to be someone for us out there…right?

When we get emotionally close to someone, we open up, and in so doing, unveil emotional layers we don’t usually expose.   While this is important to building trust, and while sharing deeply is an emotional need, these are also feelings we typically keep buried.   They are raw, and we’re still quite defensive about them, being so new at showing them the light of day.  Consequently, we don’t handle this process well, and when we feel hurt, we blame the only available person–our lover.  The truth, though, is just that we’ve pealed into deeper layers of the onion.   Reaction clouds logic, and the tears fall.

Anger is denial.  True anger is a flash of a danger signal–something’s wrong.  Anything after a few seconds of that is all about ego–how could this happen to me!   The real emotion is fear.   Nothing true needs to be said in anger, because truth can always be said calmly and peacefully, standing on its own–or it’s not really the truth.   We raise our voices when we’re feeling threatened, and in relationships (baring an abusive situation, of course), that threat is internal.  False Expectations Appearing Real.   As the Course in Miracles says, “Nothing real can be threatened.   Nothing unreal exists.”  But that takes emotional courage.

Expectations are resentments under construction.  We each have a notion of how things are supposed to be, built from upbringing, culture, past experiences, and our own fantasies.   But no one else shares this precise notion, and thus, everyone falls short!  Losers.  And we can never please them, no matter what we try.   Ingrates.   The one thing that can help–openly and honestly discussing these–never happens, or happens only partially, because we actually don’t get that these notions are our own independent creations, not the ancient wisdom of all humankind.

So we rebury our feelings, only to repeat the process with the next partner.  And when we bury our feelings, we bury them alive.

Nothing is particularly wrong with any of this.  It is what it is.  The important point is to become aware of it, and at that point, we can deal with it and grow, both individually and in relationships.

The problem is that we believe we are above all this.   We are being perfectly reasonable, and all the others are being unreasonable.   This is really the top place where we need to recognize that one finger pointing is three pointing back at us, but no, all that goes out the window.  We are just right.   But we aren’t.  We attract who we are.

And that’s something most of us don’t want to hear.  So we pass the blame.

That, then, is the first step in getting unstuck in relationships.  Recognize your part in all this, and start to understand the difficulties the others are having–similar ones to yours.

Next, recognize these relationships will be with human beings.  They will not be perfect.  They will make mistakes.  I chuckle every time someone claims to seek a partner with no baggage.  Good luck with that.  Guess what?  You are not perfect.  You will make mistakes.  And you have baggage.  Don’t look for someone without baggage;  look for someone who likes you enough to help you unpack.

If you could do the above, you’d be far happier and far more balanced right from the start.  But remember…right now you’re reading this with your rational self.  The trick is to learn to do this with your hurt, afraid, defensive, suspicious, cautious, uncertain, reactive immature self.  The one with the baggage.  It won’t come at once…but progress, not perfection.

 

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

 

In Search of Enlightenment

Among the best reasons to hike into the wilderness is to find peace.  A lasting peace.

What does it mean to find Enlightenment?  All the texts say the same–we already are Enlightened, that we are just unaware.  Awakening would be a more accurate term.

“How can I live in the moment?”  It’s got to be an ironic question–we are  in the present moment.  But as Eckhart Tolle says, when we make the present moment an obstacle, life become the problem.  He goes on to advise, “Don’t treat the present as no more than a means to an end–make it your friend.”  This is the dysfunction, the ego.

Just be.  We all have moments when we get it right–that deeply peaceful time in nature, the incredible love-making glow with someone so very dear, the playful laughter of a child, playing fetch with the dog, absorption in work we find meaningful, all these make time collapse, worry vanish, and for a time, we just live.  In these moments, we are Awakened.  We know how to do it.  The problem is, we feel these are fleeting adventures;  we’re unaware it’s how we’re supposed to feel all the time.  All the time.

What gets in the way?  Ego.  We want to run the show, but in doing so, we separate ourselves from it, and are no longer Enlightened, and no longer see ourselves as connected to All in the Moment–we’ve become Unaware, and ironically, by choice, even as we deny that choice.    “I want to be Enlightened” already puts the Ego as separate and ourselves as distant from something that we already are.

The Buddha’s last obstacle to Enlightenment was his own ego.  “Architect, I have met you at last.”  It’s the ego that constructs the imaginary world of our Unenlightenment.  And when his Ego challenged him, asking if he did this great thing, who would be there to see it, if not even his own Ego?  That’s the genius of The Buddha’s final realization:  “The Earth is my witness,” and touching the ground, entered Nirvana.

To get out of self, be of service to others.  At first, I found this hard to do.  I had many tasks, and if I didn’t do them, then who?  I had no time.  But in time, looking for opportunities to truly help when the need arose, I found more and more opportunities–and I found these opportunities detracted from my other tasks very little.  In fact, things ran much better when I focused on being of service than when I was just out for my own endeavors.  I also found life far more enjoyable and rewarding.

So get up in the morning and ask to be guided to where you can best be of service.  This accomplishes several things.  You’ll be more open to opportunities and new experiences.  You’ll have greater opportunities to express your unique talents, and enjoy life all the more because of it.  Notice that all those transcendentally happy moments above involve getting outside of ourselves and our own minds?  You’ll start experiencing more of these moments, closer and closer, sacred moments, until naturally, easily, as it was meant to be, you’ll find these moments coming continually, each moment of each day a sacred event, rich with profound enjoyment, unattached for the outcomes, letting them unfold, peaceful in the process.

And when that happens–it will happen prior to you becoming aware of it–you will realize what The Buddha meant.  You are Awakened.  You are Enlightened.

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A scene along my daily walk near my home.

Share it freely.

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

The Importance of Spiritual Direction

Of all the reasons to escape to the wilderness, spiritual seeking and direction is among the best.  It helps to sort out what’s real from what’s projected from our minds.

In The Cosmic Prison, Loren Eiseley points out that the moment we name something, we limit it to less than what it is, and in the image of our own limited understanding.  We define and classify to understand, but in so doing we create an artificial structure of reality, believing our creation in place of the truth.  Mayflies pretending to be Masters of the Universe.

But we aren’t.  Eiseley compares our situation to that of a white blood cell traveling through the circulatory system of a cat.  What could we know of the world, let alone the universe!  We would never see the sun.   We would never even know we are part of a cat, or that there were other organic systems besides ourselves.   Reality for us would be the circulatory system alone–and a limited understanding of even that.

Trying to use our minds to comprehend our natural state and our connection to what’s around us is then beyond our capacity, beyond our perception, beyond our understanding in the usual sense as we use that term.  We just aren’t capable.   We must turn instead to our experience, and to what flows through and unties us, beyond the abilities of our minds.  This is not a matter of turning mystic;  it’s a matter of using the right tool for the job.  Nor is this a matter of embracing religion necessarily–it’s a matter of facing reality.  We simply cannot function well while insisting we are separate.

K. C. Cole’s The Arrow of Time  adds the dimension of purpose.  Left to themselves, the molecules in the refrigerator might stay grouped as cold ones inside and warm ones outside, but it’s more likely that without any organizing purpose, they will co-mingle and turn lukewarm.  The purpose of the refrigerator is to continually cool the molecules inside, thereby maintaining a refrigerator’s viability as a reliable appliance.

Our lives, too, need this direction and purpose, or our energies become entropic.  Relationships, careers, nations–all need continual attention in consistent directions to maintain their viability as reliable vehicles.  The same is true of our personal lives.  Without a direction and purpose, without a spiritual focus, we have no compass, and are easily thrown not off our path, as it might seem, but rather thrown because we have no path.

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Railbed trail along Chittenango Creek near my home

Wayne Dyer describes it well:

“Nikos Kazantzakis reinforces this idea by giving these words to his fanciful character Zorba (in his book Zorba the Greek), who always lived his life to the fullest: ‘By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.’ This is the power of your imagination when what you desire is imagined sufficiently to make it your reality.

“Perhaps the most common misuse of imagination is stressing what you don’t want for yourself. This is the largest category of misusing imagination. Start paying attention to general conversation, and you will be astounded at how incredibly prevalent it is.”

Dan Zadra says it even more pointedly:  “Worrying is a misuse of the imagination.”

We need that spiritual core, that connection to What Is, whatever we want to call that What Is, even if we don’t know what that is–and not to worry, because we can’t know.  It’s beyond our minds.  But we can experience the connection to whole, the flow of the spirit, and we can direct our purpose and proceed in accordance with our spiritual path.  This is living.

 

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

 

Escape the Wilderness of Addictions

There was a time when walking into the wilderness would have been unthinkable without bringing an ample supply of beer.  Well, things have changed.  I’ve been dry for quite a while, leaving this addiction behind.  But there are others, and we all have them—cigarettes, excessive caffeine, workoholism, hours of television or Internet surfing—all the unhealthy or unproductive pursuits that don’t add to our growth or regeneration.  In fact, they get in the way of our growth, production, and happiness.

So here are a few thoughts about addiction.

1)  Be of service

One friend tells the story of complaining about his life years ago to his uncle.  “I’ve got just the thing,” replied his uncle.  “I’ll come pick you up.”  And when he did–he drove them straight to the Rescue Mission, where they served food to homeless people all day.

Need help?  Want to solve your problems?  Go help someone else. It works.   Instead of continuing to revisit your own mind racing in circles, break the pattern in a positive direction.

2) Stop trying to do everything by yourself.

Learn to ask for help.  I don’t care that you don’t need it.  Ask anyway.  It’s foolish to insist on handling everything alone, and you’re not as good at it as you think.  It’s also more fun to do things with other people.

I know.  You’re a loner.  You’re not good with other people.  And you’re the ten millionth person I’ve heard say that.  Get over it.  I too suffered from terminal uniqueness.  Trust me—you’re going to like this better.

Let other people get to know you.  You’re a wonderful person–but not as special and unique as you think.  Stop setting yourself apart, and join with these people.  You’ll learn to love it.

3) Replace old habits with new ones.

Right now–don’t think about orange juice!  Oops, too late…that’s the problem with trying NOT to do something.  Now, instead of orange juice, think of cranberry juice…much easier, yes?  Do the same with habits.

If you usually have a cigarette with that first cup of coffee, plan ahead of time what you’re going to have with your coffee from now on (make it sustainable).  If you usually have a drink after dinner, decide what you’re going to have after dinner instead.  If you usually get a pint of ice cream when you’re having a rough day, figure out what you can have ready instead.  And keep at it–it takes 21 days to change a habit, and in the case of psychological dependency, perhaps much longer.  But it gets easier with time.

And time takes time.

But don’t try to just stop–change.  If nothing changes…nothing changes.

4) Avoid people, places and things.

If that convenience store you stop at every day has a worn path to the scratch off tickets, shop somewhere else.  If the supermarket aisles show the trail you’ve well-traveled to the beer displays, change stores.  If the route you take home every day goes right by where you usually buy cigarettes, take a different route to and from work.  Change.

If you’re trying to stop drinking, smoking, gambling, over-eating, or any other addiction, stop hanging out with the people who do those things.  Don’t hang out where those things happen– “You don’t go to a whore house to hear the piano music,” as the saying goes.  You are just flirting with trouble.  Don’t.

And lose the things you associate with those addictions, whatever they are.  Change.

It will get easier the further away you get.

5) The Rule of Three

I went through a lot of pain before I realized this.  I call it the Rule of Three:

*I won’t feel this bad in three hours (usually two).
*Things won’t look this bad in three days.
*This situation will look very different in three weeks.
*Things will be completely different in three months.
*You can’t even imagine where you’ll be in three years.

Doubt it?  Think back to how you were feeling three months ago, three weeks ago, three days ago, three hours ago.  Emotions change quickly–we only treat them like the present one will last forever.  It won’t.  Ride it out, knowing all will be well shortly.  And it will.

6) Have a daily spiritual program.

Make sure it’s daily, and inviolate.  Let this be your touchstone each day, a way to focus and renew your energies in a positive and productive way.  Daily readings are a popular way to do this, along with prayer and meditation, but whatever way works for you, whatever way is most meaningful to you day by day, is what you should organize your life around, day by day.

Ask for help.  Whatever your spiritual beliefs, don’t try to go through life without aligning yourself with God/Universe/Nature/Tao/Higher Power/Creator/Great Spirit or whatever other term you prefer.  Be part of the whole, and let that whole govern your part in it.

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There is always a way out of the darkness — but it will mean making changes. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

At the end of the day, say “Thank you.”  There is tremendous power–and solace–in gratitude.  Use that power, daily.

7) One more thing….

Addiction comes from fear.  Nothing logical about it–our addictions, whatever they are, serve purely emotional ends, and not in logical (i.e., not in healthy) ways.  It’s a denial parading as a solution.  But like all lies, it comes from fear.  Truth needs no lie.

Imagine that first cigarette–eyes watering, mouth burning, the urgent cough, feeling nauseous…and then deciding to do it again.  That’s not the rational mind at work.  Or dropping dollar after dollar on the lottery, because, “Hey, you never know!”  Yes you do.   When the odds of winning are one in millions, and the odds of being struck by lightning are one in a million–hey, have you ever run in terror of lightning because “Hey, you never know”?    Or did you ever wonder where all the money for that gorgeous casino come from?  This isn’t hope–it’s desperation.

To counter fear, choose love.  Why do we baulk at love?  Why is happiness too great a price to pay?  Nothing logical about that either.  To counter darkness, turn on the light.   Rationalizing the dark will never make it light.   Love yourself.  Love your fellow humans.  Love your current situation, even if it seems there’s not that much to love.  Love.  Face your fears with love.

They will run.

 

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

 

Bright Mountain Dream

Dreams are often just getting rid of accumulated mental junk.   Then others are clearly important—sometimes something just isn’t right, or we are learning lessons.  But especially interesting are the recurring dreams—and how easily we can forget we have them.

If you’d asked me yesterday if I ever dreamed about mountains, I’d probably have said no.  Now that I think about it, I remember one I used to have, years ago, over and over.   I would dream that I had climbed a mountain, impossibly high—50,000 feet or so (Mt. Everest is only 29,029 ft.)—and that while I had no problem hiking up, I was frozen with fear looking down (even though I’m not afraid of heights) and could only cling to the mountain, immobile, until I woke.

But today I woke and realized I have had another one more recently, over and over, though not for a while now.  In this dream, a very nice dream, I return to a favorite climb (not an actual one) up an unnamed mountain.  The trail head location is a composite of a line of houses in Ithaca (where I did my undergraduate work) along a hill (greatly exaggerated in the dream—an hour drive-!), and just out of town, there’s a meadow similar to one near where I live now, with similarities (in the dream) too to the Thendara parking area where I frequently access John Brown’s Tract in the Adirondacks.

I have hiked this dream mountain so often that I know the trail well, including with some favorite parts, like a steep part that climbs up tree roots and rock like a spiral staircase.  Almost near the top, there’s a village with several stone buildings, including one large mall-like one, the main building, which always has several people milling about.  If you climb to the roof, you can see farther up the mountain in the distance a row of monasteries, many of them, in Himalayan style.   Thinking about this now, I don’t think I’ve ever climbed up to them.  Then along the mountain’s ridge, there’s a scenic trail that goes on and on and on;  I’ve hiked portions of this one.

Today, though, I realized a path that breaks off to the left near the beginning of the climb is actually a trail to another summit, “Bright Mountain” (another dream mountain).  I saw a map of it—a cool 3D view from a flat “you are here” type information map, with two trails neatly laid out against the green of the mountain (yup—this dream was in color), one shorter going straight up a steeper path, the other meandering around the mountainside.  The summit is open with clear views on all sides, higher than Mt. Marcy (New York’s tallest peak) for some technical dream-reason I don’t recall.  But I would set out on this route for a beautiful hike.

That was my dream last night—I’m on my way up “Bright Mountain.”  I’m thinking that can only mean good things.  But I’m also reminded of just how much is buried inside our heads and psyches, and how helpful getting into the wilderness is for letting that clutter clear so we can peer inside.

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Is that Bright Mountain in the distance? Perhaps I’ll get to see soon.

And I’m wondering why/how I always missed Bright Mountain before.  But no matter.  Everything in its proper time, I guess.

 

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

 

Finding jobs within jobs

One of the coolest things about wilderness hiking is the new ideas that shine through as the mental clutter settles.  This was one of my favorite discoveries years ago.

If there “aren’t any jobs,” go networking—especially informational networking—to turn up the jobs in the “hidden” job market (which is the vast majority of jobs—a good 85%).   If you are unemployed and looking for a job (remember that creating one is also an option, either as a new business or a short term project), this is the place to start.  There ARE jobs.  There are always jobs—because there are always needs, and businesses need people to fulfill those needs.  In down markets, that may not be so apparent, as hiring can be cautious, but that’s still the case.  You just need to look more closely.  Remember to focus on what you actually want to be doing—that’s key.

This applies to people currently employed looking to change jobs as well.  However, here you have an option in the middle, one rarely considered—creating a new job at your current place of employment.   If you’re unhappy, for whatever reason—conditions, pay, coworkers—you may be able to change this without changing bosses.  In a large company, you can ask for a transfer, of course, but here I’m talking about staying put but changing job titles—not a promotion, but a new job.  I’ve done this three times, along with many more minor shifts within the same job.

The first, and most generic, was the book store management job.  I was hired simply as another employee.  I had just left a job I hated, and I took this lower paying job because I liked the New Age feel to the store and wanted to do a job I liked.  Two months later, I was the Manager.  How did I do that?  I just started from the beginning doing the kind of work managers would do, on my own.  The store didn’t have a manager, just two joint owners (husband and wife), and they noticed, increased my pay and responsibilities.

I often hear, especially from young workers, but some older ones too, “Why should I work harder or do extra things?  When they pay me more, I’ll do that!”  These people will never get those promotions.  That’s not how it works.  They are asking employers to first take a chance, putting their money and the leadership of their business in the hands of an unproven and undemonstrated promise.  Not gonna happen.  Nein, Nyet, Nope.  Instead, first be doing the extra work and taking those extra responsibilities, because this demonstrates your worth and capability.  It also demonstrates your quality of a take-charge get-it-done responsible person—and that’s the kind of person employers want running their shows.

But what if it doesn’t pay off?  Forget about that.  You should be always growing anyway.  As management guru Tom Peters advises, take the annual resume test—remember from the last chapter that this resume should be showing your specific contributions, not simply job title and time served.  Each year’s resume should show a substantial improvement over the previous year.  If not—you haven’t been growing, and that’s why nothing new is happening for you.  What have you tried?  What have you learned from your mistakes?  And if you haven’t made any mistakes, then you haven’t been trying very much of any substance.  Only when those things are in place can your employer notice anything about you—because you haven’t done much otherwise.  When you have, you can build on your successes.

Image

Once the mental clutter clears, bridges from your current situation become apparent.

And if your boss doesn’t notice, or either can’t (because there’s no suitable opening) or doesn’t want to acknowledge your expanded worth, you have a basis for taking your bettered skills out into the marketplace for a better situation.  Tom Peters recommends never asking for a raise.  I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I get his point—either you’re getting fed where you are, or it’s time to go find a place that does.  One caution, though—don’t get cocky.  Don’t just quit and hit the street (all things being equal—there are always exceptions).  Look first, give notice, start the new job.  Or start the new business on the side and wait for it to grow.  Over estimating your worth in the marketplace is common.  Find out first, and don’t blame the market—adjust and build your skills.

The second took the “building on skills” approach.   I was actually called and asked to teach a college music class, and after some hesitation, I did, and found I liked teaching.   At the time, the college climate was very hot to implement multicultural and interdisciplinary approaches.  I was flabbergasted;  from my perspective as a performing artist, I couldn’t believe people didn’t already do this—how can you understand a piece out of context and connection?  But, that was the case, and as you might imagine, they loved my course creations.   And, once I’d designed, for example, a “Music and Literature” course, I now had experience as a Literature professor.  My interdisciplinary/multicultural classes gave me powerful leverage from college to college to college, even letting me grow into teaching writing and literature as schools cut music and the arts to save a buck in slow economies.

This can be done almost anywhere.  Learn more than you have to at your job.  A friend of mine inspects housing construction for a large company overseeing compliance with state housing programs, and he makes a habit of getting certification after certification after certification.  His boss encourages this, and it makes him one of the most valuable employees in his position;  they reward him with flexibility and raises, even letting him work from home two days a week, calling by conference call into meetings as needed.  Some companies wisely pursue cross-training of their employees, and it’s often not popular.  Embrace it.  Learn to do jobs you don’t have to do.  It will keep building both your resume and your pool of available skilled positions for which you qualify.

The third was by an inner proposal.   I had just returned from Vermont, where I had been working for an independent label distributor, and returned to New York and needed a job quickly.  So I took a position for a branch of a major label distributor, where the choices were shipping or salesman.  [Yes, I was overqualified.  Hey.  It was a job.]   Now I did like getting piles of free demo records and free tickets to major acts’ concerts from the major labels’ reps.  And I didn’t mind shipping, but I really didn’t fit in with my heavy metal listening colleagues.  The salesmen, on the other hand, got company vans for their own use and a great deal of freedom, driving from store to store taking spot inventories and racking product—and made far more money.  However…openings were few.   I got tired of waiting.

I did notice several things about our operation that could and should be improved.  Inventory control was haphazard, and back-up stock hard to find (physically in the warehouse).  Invoices were in a big pile, one for each salesman, and when questions arose, someone would have to dig down through the pile looking for that invoice.  Ordering was done largely by eyeing the racks and writing orders on a pad, working from memory.  It was a mess.

I mentioned these issues and my solutions to my boss, who…sort of took it under advisement.   I got tired of shipping and turned in my notice.  I did my two weeks, working just as well as always (no sense burning bridges)—and at 4:00 on my last day, one hour left, my boss called me into his office for a talk.  “We don’t want to lose you,” he said.  “What would it cost us to keep you in an office job?”  We discussed it, settled on nice raise, and I automated and implemented our new systems, as well as handling all the correspondence for our branch.   Left with a lot of freedom, I continued to expand my job reach, even analyzing trends, something which once saved us a $2 million account (when sales dropped, I showed how we increased their inventory turns, resulting in higher sales per square foot).

The same is true of outer proposals.  You don’t have to rely on what businesses are seeking to find employment.  Go show them what they don’t realize they’re seeking.  Yes, this takes a bigger sales job, but you also have (1) no competition and (2) they certainly know you’re a go-getter/take-charge person—you’re proving it in the moment.

I floated some that didn’t work.  It happens.  But when I left the book store, I was interviewed at three independent label distributors in three different states, all of whom were interested not because they knew what they wanted me to do, but because I knew their businesses and product well, and had first hand experience succeeding at their clients’ business.   I got two offers, turned down the stingy one, and moved to the mountains of Vermont (which I wanted to do anyway), to do…well, we weren’t quite sure.  But I was going to do it there—that was the point.  In fact, I worked with them on their in-house marketing, until they went with an outside consultant.  I was offered another position there, but decided to move on.

Bottom line here—you’re allowed to create, not simply wait.  Look for solutions that use your skills, experience, and interests—and propose them.

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!

Do you want to be the boss? Be sure you want to run the show.

Two key points I worked out the hard way in the early days of my wilderness wandering in my 20s are that (1) if there are no jobs, you can still earn a good living, and (2) it is easier to get work doing what you love than simply settling for whatever you can get.

Great!  Then why doesn’t that happen so much more often?

Because that second part is tricky.

First, most people—yes, most—have no idea what they want to do.  That makes things difficult, that is, impossible.  You know what would be fantastic right now?   See…you’re waiting to find out…you should be saying, “Yes I do!” and telling me enthusiastically what would be fantastic right now!  Just a little humor, granted—but nonetheless true.  We don’t know what we want.  This is why Napoleon Hill’s point about a written definite major purpose is so important.  William Oncken (author of Who’s Got the Monkey? and Managing Management Time) tells of asking his business consulting clients to write down the problem his company was there to solve in a sentence or two—because if they can’t write it down, they damn sure don’t know what it is…or what they want to happen instead.

Second, while talk of being proactive is common, the reality is we prefer to be reactive.  We even aggrandize it, romancing the shoot from the hip fluid approach to events of the day, never seeing it for what it is—drifting rudderless.   That’s fine if you aren’t really going anywhere.  But if you’re trying to accomplish a goal, drifting isn’t likely to achieve that objective.  Focusing on what you love is going to take prolonged proactive…well, focus!  Reactive, though, is easier, and is generally manifested as complaining about conditions and exterior barriers as the reason for not achieving those dreams we can’t specifically name.  Try a test.  For 30 days, simply don’t complain.  About anything.  At all.  The results—if you can get past the difficulty—will surprise and delight you.  Most people—no cynicism here, just a statement of fact—will prefer to complain.  It’s how we most commonly do things.

Finally, given those two points, proclivity to react and not knowing what they want, most people, despite talk to the contrary, don’t actually want to run their own enterprises.  They might dabble in something part time for a while.  But rarely do people step up and step out on their own.  Getting a job is simply easier.  And there’s nothing wrong with that per se.  The caveat, though, is to be sure to recognize that this is what’s happening, that this is the preferred choice, and not to choose it while living life in resentment of the choice, the boss, the conditions, the customers, the company, and so forth.  Choose, and choose fairly and completely.  If the choice is to work for a boss, embrace that choice and be glad of it.  And if you want to be the boss, be sure you want to run the show.

Feeling out there alone? You have options–depending on what you want. This scene is from my daily walk by Stoney Pond (misspelling not mine–that’s how it’s spelled here).

Almost everyone thinks, “Gee, if  *I*  were the owner/manager, things would really straighten up around here!”  And, feeling fully capable, this is a frustrating thought.   Why are some people kept down, when others thrive, rising to the top?  Where’s the justice in the world?

See the victim thinking?  The main problem here is—none of that is true.

All too often, managers become managers because they were employees who worked hard and were promoted as a reward for their hard work.  This has two problems.  First, the business just gained a completely untrained and inexperienced manager.  And second, the business just lost its best worker.

Management has nothing to do with bossing people around (you may have noticed that doesn’t work well anyway).  Management has everything to do with the ability to get results through other people.  It’s a whole different game.  The manager’s ability in terms of doing the desired tasks is irrelevant.  Absolutely irrelevant.  If you’re a manager, or would like to be, track down William Oncken’s Managing Management Time (it’s out of print—you might have to find it on the web), and find an old recording (I have a cassette version!) of The One Minute Manager meets the Monkey, containing an eye-opening live lecture by both Oncken (his Who’s Got the Monkey is the most requested business article reprint from the Harvard Business Review – you can find a .pdf online) and Ken Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager) as a starting place.  From there a wealth of information awaits—but recognize you are not  a natural manager.  No one is.  As Blanchard points out, “How many people work for you in round numbers?”  The answer is zero—people work for themselves, and good managers know this (and what to do about it).  As famous economist Peter Drucker put it, “Labor is a resource, not a cost.”  These employees are your only hope—learn to manage their talents.

Similarly, many people dream of owning their own business.  After all, when you were manager, it was always that owner in the way, right?  Or more positively, you’ve always wanted to open your own ____________ place, whether restaurant, shop, gallery, service etc.  As we’ve discussed earlier, you can avoid being one of the 80% of businesses that fail in the first five years with some basic attention to market—simply opening your dream doors does not mean that because you built it, they will come—supplemented by reasonable financial planning grounded in realistic expectations, not wishful thinking (especially in terms of cash flow).

But here’s something else—of those business that survive, only 4% will still be around in ten years.   And a lot of that isn’t even financial struggles—it’s creating unsustainable systems.  What seemed like a good idea just doesn’t work well day after day after year after year.  As Robert Frost observed, “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.”  Many business owners would chuckle ruefully and point out they’d love to put in twelve hours and have a break from their sixteen hour days.  They created plans that weren’t scalable, that is, that could work as business grew without growing the time input by the same amount (or even more).  They are thus tied to their businesses.

And it’s really more the last part—all too many businesses are prisons created by their owner-inmates.  Striving for success, people commonly overlook the balance of the rest of their lives.  I don’t mean simply taking time to smell the roses.  That won’t work—stuff needs to get done.  What I mean is thinking through things like lifestyle, location, who you want to be working with, incorporating things that invigorate you as part of the business—living a life that’s you, now, rather than one you’re working toward “one day.”  If you don’t, no matter how passionate you are to start, you’ll grow to hate and resent your own creation and prison warden.

I have made this mistake myself—repeatedly.  I created the venture, it was off and running, it was well received—and I hated going to work.  All of these ventures could have been saved;  I just didn’t want to do it.  I had focused on “Well, I could do this, or I could do that, and I could do this other thing” type thinking quite a bit, brainstorming some frankly nice enterprises—a musicians’ cooperative acting as if an independent label, a concert/event promoter, a business consultant, several music ensembles/bands, an independent performer/recording label, co-author, T’ai Chi teacher—all of which flourished for a bit, then died with the help of their creator.  By focusing on could,  I did things a lot of people only imagine doing.  But by overlooking whether I should as a long term endeavor, I ignored several intangibles that were too important to ignore for long.

And the same is true for jobs, incidentally.  You can’t work at your passion for school teaching, for example, and bemoan the lack of a top income.   This just isn’t going to happen in that profession, no matter how exhaustive or amazing your talents and accomplishments.  If you want both the income and the teaching, you will have to recognize that the rest of the income will have to come from elsewhere.   And if you don’t have the time to invest, then it will have to be an automated enterprise.

But start by getting clear about who you are, what you want (from life, not just work), and how you prefer to pursue it.  Stop blaming companies, managers, the economy, politicians, bad luck, family obligations, uncooperative people, or whatever else you invent as an excuse.  Get clear about where you want to go and how.  That’s the real stumbling block.  Then create plans to get there.

Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.

If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Getting Unstuck” list.

October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”

You can read the series from the start via the links here:

Oct. 1:    A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2:   The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3:   Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4:   Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5:   “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6:   Mountain.  Buddha.  Impermanence.
Oct. 7:   The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8:   Finding the Keys
Oct. 9:   “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10:  Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11:  We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12:  Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13:  Getting Unstuck:  Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14:  Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15:  To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16:  Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17:  Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18:  Do you want to be the boss?  Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19:  Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2:  Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness

Enjoy!