Archive | December 2012

The Sorcerer – art by Michel Pleau

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The Sorcerer

art by Michel Pleau

The story about this art piece titled, “The Sorcerer” by Michel Pleau is very interesting.  Michel was approached by Nancy who commissioned the piece in honor of  her father who used to tell Nancy stories as a child.  She tells the story of how since she can remember, her dad would tell her stories at bedtime.  These stories weren’t from a book or bought from a store, but rather he told her an ongoing story of a young girl named Mathilda and the harsh but magical lands in which she lived.  The stories chronicled the adventures of Mathilda as she grew and navigated this realm.  It was a time were everything about life seemed to be in an unstable and in transitional upheaval.  Even the earth itself was undecided about its destiny and it was a time were all beings were in this state of flux and there was a great need for direction and leadership.  Nancy tells how her father would describe how Mathilda would connect with nature as a way to become grounded and to see the clear truth of the world and herself.  Mathilda would then show others this truth and provide leadership by example for others.  Nancy spoke at length about how these stories made such an amazing impact on her life as she grew up.  They helped Nancy see how she could make a positive impact on the world around her and how to have many deep and fulfilling relationships.  Nancy tells of how Mathilda didn’t see herself as anyone special, but rather as an ambassador of life’s truth.  This truth she saw as her greatest power and this power eventually enabled her to become a very wise and gracious sorcerer.  As Nancy spoke about her father’s stories I could sense the deep impact they had on her.  She commissioned this piece in honor of her father, but it was being given to her own daughter as a gift.  You see, Nancy continues her dad’s stories with her own daughter and these stories really are a guide of the truth and self empowerment for her as well.  I have been so very blessed to have a second edition of this piece of art and I will always think of Mathilda, “The Sorcerer of Truth”.

Dwight Raatz

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Active Contentment

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What does it mean to be contented?  Merriam-Webster defines it as:
: the quality or state of being contented
: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation

Sometimes I think that being content is like giving up.  For example, if you have a relationship that isn’t fulfilling, but you’ve decided that it’s good enough.  Or, perhaps you’re being told that you should “count your blessings” and be content with what you have.  I really think this is bullshit and that a person thinking these things has given up a part of themselves.  Especially when it comes to relationships, I think we’ve all been programmed to think that once we’ve indicated that we are connected to another person in an intimate way, we need to find all our fulfillment in them.  The reality of this is that no one can be everything to another person.  We each have our own interests and passions that can certainly overlap with another’s, but why give up on the rest?  What happens when you meet that other person who is a perfect fit for some or all of the rest of what you are passionate about?  Why does anyone need to give up “the rest” out of some ideal that it would be wrong or immoral to connect with another person who can fulfill that for us?

It’s important to indicate that just because you are not finding complete fulfillment in another, doesn’t mean that there is anything “wrong” with that person or that they are “bad” in some way.  I’ve personally been married for almost 25 years to someone I consider to be my best friend in this lifetime.  However, for many years I have had a driving force telling me that I needed to expand on my experiences with relationships with others.  This doesn’t mean that my wife is “not enough” or that there is something wrong with her in any way.  I just simply means that I want to experience more things with other people.  You might be thinking that this is just a “mid-life crisis”, but it isn’t because I’ve always known this about myself, I was just not brave enough to express it until this past year.  Once you are married you are fit into a specific role that has specific expectations by society.  I thought there was something wrong with me and that I was somehow faulty or not good enough.  It has been through my process of increasing my awareness that I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be stuck in a role that I had nothing to do with creating.  I also discovered that by communicating my desires and intent to her, that we can and are, creating a new way of being together.  This is not just being content, but what I call “Active Contentment”.  Active Contentment requires a person to take responsibility for all aspects of their life and to Actively work on being Content!  This is a process of evaluating my life repeatedly in who I am and what I desire to experience, then make a decision and a plan of Action that will adjust things so it moves me toward that goal.  This process is ongoing and has no end.  After all, it’s actually pretty awesome to take control of my life in an active and pro-active way!  The other benefit of what we are doing with our relationship, is that we are both growing more independent, grounded in who we are, and focused on what really matters in our relationship.  This concept has been very confusing for some that have been witnessing our changes, and I think the most confusing part for them is that we aren’t acting in the way they would “expect” two married people who no longer live together should act.  Society most definitely wants to neatly categorize our actions and to set expectations on the outcomes, but at every turn we are causing the expectations to collapse and forcing people to re-evaluate their perception of how a relationship can be.

Another area to consider is what you do for work, whether it is a job or maybe a business you are running.  You’ve made a contract or arrangement with the employer or your employees to the work or service you provide, but if you aren’t happy with what you are doing, why not change?  I can certainly understand this from both perspectives as I’ve been an employer and an employee.  I have experienced stepping into an agreement that I will do something and then perhaps after a time I’ve find that it just isn’t working.  Then what I’ve done in the past is to start to feel guilty about changing, that I will somehow be letting “them” down if I leave my job or have to close the business.  In my last business I wasn’t getting enough cash flow to support the overhead expenses of rent and payroll so instead of shutting it down at that point, I cashed out one of my retirement accounts (at a penalty of course plus taxes) in order to fund the business and pay my employees.  The only thing this did was postpone the inevitable and drain me of a savings I’d been building up for over 20 years.  Out of a perceived “responsibility” to others, I’m the one who ultimately suffered.  I suffered the guilt, the anxiety and the loss of money for nothing.  I also see this all the time with people who have jobs that they really don’t like at all.  Rather than doing something about it, they stay, feel miserable and sometimes complain to everyone who will listen about the job and the employer.  In the end, nothing usually gets solved from the situation, the person is unfulfilled and everyone around them is robbed of having a positive relationship with that person.

For me, I’ve been doing the same kind of work for over 20 years, but never fulfilled with what I’m doing.  This has caused me to move around in my jobs hoping the next place will be the one to fulfill that need and during this time I would “suffer” this discontentment by having anxieties and depression about feeling lost in my life and career.  I would always have a reason to seek the greener grass to motivate me to find a new job or start a business.  I never spent the time to really understand what was at the core of my discontent and therefore kept re-creating the same situation over and over hoping for a different result (therefore insanity was a reality for me).  Through Active Contentment I was able to discover that the root of my issues around my jobs was in my own lack of self esteem and self love.  I never felt that I ever measured up to my expectations nor the perceived expectations of others.  My “assumptions” said that others found me lacking and that I wasn’t really capable of performing at the level which is really needed for this position or as this kind of employer.   However, the overwhelming responses I’ve always received from reviews and customers, was that I am an exceptional person.

I had a recent experience where I was talking with a former customer of mine about the business I had closed.  I was indicating to them that I had found someone locally to take on my customer’s needs and that they were very competent and capable of handling the same services I had provided.  The customer looked at me and said that I didn’t get it; that it was Me that people wanted to have as a service provider, not just someone that would provide them with a “service”.  I was stunned by this as I had never considered what I was doing or who I was as exceptional or irreplaceable.  This gave me a whole new perspective on myself that was at the beginnings of my discovery of a positive self worth.

Active Contentment means that you have responsibility, but it also means that you have the freedom to choose how you are going to feel content.  For me in my job, I’ve shifted into an active contentment about what I do.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on changing what I do for a living at some point, but it does mean that I’m a lot happier in the meantime.  I am choosing to love myself, to see the great things that I do and am able to do, to admit freely of things I don’t understand and to seek help without embarrassment or self deprecation.  I am choosing to leverage my employment to prepare my life in a way that will enable to me step away from what I’m doing now, to a new career or business.  I am choosing to be excited and methodical without being unrealistic.  I am choosing to discover what it is about another person that intrigues me or attracts me to them without feeling like I’m betraying someone else or myself.  I am choosing to be content but not to give up or settle.

What can you do in your life to be content without giving up or settling?

 

Dwight Raatz

Submit

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Have you ever committed to something and the moment you do, things begin to change?  For me, I can reason and think about actions I might want to take, but nothing much changes until I submit and commit.  By submit, I mean that you take an action or step that commits you toward the goal or destination you have decided to attain.  This action is something that you can’t easily change your mind after submitting.  In my case, I recently went on a trip that involved quite a few things outside of my comfort zone because it was out of the United States and involved traveling to a retreat in the middle of the Amazon jungle with no connection to the outside world.

As I was on the retreat center’s web site and I filled out the payment forms, the moment I clicked the submit button to send my payment, I could feel things change and shift.  This was even compounded more when I booked the hotels and flights.  There was no changing my mind, no going back.  I committed to the journey and the Universe started to manifest my wishes.  I felt different immediately, lighter, more free, nervous, excited, focused.  Debate or worry about going on the trip ceased and a new perspective started.  I only had to decide what I wanted and it began to form immediately.  This has me wondering about all of the other things in my life that I’ve “thought” about, worried about, not decided.  I think about all the time and energy that I wasted in the space of indecision and worry that came to nothing in the end.  I can see how it’s better to make a dozen different decisions than to worry and think about one decision that takes forever to decide (if at all).  Deciding is an action that sets in motion a whole myriad of other actions and releases a flood of energy that is fully dedicated to making what you decided come to life.  If after making the decision you see that it isn’t working, then you decide something different and again set in motion more actions and energy.  The first decision loses it power and dissipates into the void (or some might say that the first decision continues on to create an alternate reality) and the new decision begins to take form.  It’s the indecision that blocks energy which can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, constipation, and other forms of dis-ease.

Submit to me also means to release.  Once you have “filled out the forms and clicked submit”, you have decided to do something and then released that decision out to the Universe to become manifest.  In my act of submitting to the retreat journey, I sent out to several organizations my intent to act and it was up to them to fulfill my intent.  At that point all I needed to do was show up!  Yes, that’s right; you can do the act of deciding and acting on that decision, but it really takes many subsequent actions to fulfill the intent for my part of the agreement.  Each subsequent decision and act continues to build a momentum of energy that culminates once you’ve reached your goal or destination.  Then the energy can resolve and complete to satisfaction, self-assurance, joy and even love.

If you’re feeling the anxiety and pressures of life holding you in place, the best thing to do is start making decisions and lots of them!

Dwight Raatz

The Reality of Fog

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Fog is like the illusion of reality.  There are things that exist but are just out of site.

As I was driving in fog recently, I was suddenly struck with the feeling of isolation as I could only see about 100 feet in any direction around my car.  Every so often I would meet a car going the opposite way, that didn’t exist a few seconds earlier.  This was even more prevalent with drivers who chose not to turn on their lights whose vehicle’s would seemingly pop out of nowhere.

This observation started me thinking about the nature of perception and our reality and it reminded me of a recent trip I took to Peru with my friend Andrew.  We were standing in one of the airport corridors trying to determine which direction we needed to go to find our gate “D6”.  As we both looked down the hall toward some signage, I saw the sign hanging from the ceiling that stated gates D11 – D15 were down that particular direction and when I said to my friend that we needed to go the other direction, he gave me a quizzical look and said, no we need to go the direction of the sign that had our gate number on it.  It turned out that even though we were standing only a foot apart, from my perspective I saw one sign, but not the one he was seeing.  Nor did he see the sign I was seeing (even though they were in the same direction of the same hallway).  It was all a matter of perspective because of where we were standing and the difference in our heights.  We both saw the “truth”, but we just saw different aspects of the truth.

This observation can be related to so many aspects of life ranging from the economy, to the state of the world, to relationships, to religion, to war, etc.  Each of us has a historical life-time of experiences and influences from our environment that we use as a comparison for constructing our everyday realities.  These “perspectives on the truth” are at the very core of everything you know.  We become so convinced that our perspectives are the only obvious truth and that everyone should know or see this truth the same way as you do.  We are so entrenched in our truths that we are willing to kill for it or to even die for it.

The real truth is that there isn’t any one superior or all encompassing truth and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this each time we think we know what we are saying, seeing or doing.  Especially when it doesn’t agree with or match up with what someone else is saying, seeing or doing.  Like my friend and me, we needed to take a moment and say to each other, wait a minute, can you show me what you are seeing, because I’m not seeing what you are seeing.  I didn’t take much for me to move over and stoop down to see a completely different view of the same hallway and the sign to our gate.  Seeing the other perspective doesn’t mean that either of us were wrong, we just saw different versions of the same truth.

Like driving in a fog when you see your whole world around you, just wait a moment or move just a little bit and you may see it completely different than before.

Dwight Raatz