Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transform, Never Conform, your Life: An excerpt from the book: I am that... that is in the Well

All change must come from within.  Any change forced upon you form the outside world is coercion or manipulation. When you conform you are adapting to someone else’s idea of how your life should be. Other forms of conform might include: kowtow,  peer pressure, intimidation, oppression or ‘playing the game.’ You instinctively would not do it, but you are reacting and not creating.

As a my friend, Ray Zwolinski,  once stated, “The root word in Conform is ‘con.’ And ‘cons’ ain’t good.” And Ray, if nothing else, is a unique person that lives with passion.

Conform is a result of external influence. At times it is so subtle that we are unaware of what is happening, while it is happening.  It seeps into our Well of the subconscious. The next thing we know we are reciting tunes from 40 years ago. Letting our pants hang low. Getting tattoos, or body piercing. Golfing or fishing when we should be working. Avoiding the responsibility for the direction that our life is going. We cease being a dream maker and by default, become an excuse maker.  Or worse, we lower our dreams. We lower our standards to justify our life. And worse yet, we continue to love (justify) our thoughts (ruts) and blame others for our plight.

I am not what you say I am or think I am. I am what I say I am!

Monday, June 27, 2011

ImPromptu Speaking: A story of Transformation, Love,and Forgiveness

Change is easy. It is staying Changed that is Hard!
About 7 years ago I began to change my life and I began to study in an intense manner. I studied books dealing with motivation, spiritual awareness, and interpersonal relationships.  While my life was good I felt something dramatic was missing.
This studying resulted in writing my first book:
“What’s in the Well Comes Up in the Bucket:
How the quality your life depends on your thoughts and your reaction to the thoughts of others”
Hang with me; I am getting to the point.  In the book I talk about my estranged relationship with my Father.  In short, I grew up afraid of him.  Without getting into details, he was physically and verbally abusive.  While my parents got divorced when I was about 8, he had peed in my Well in a big way. My Mom remarried about 6 years later, and husband #2 was about the same as #1.
As I began to study these materials, I was reading about 2 books per week, and I read over 700 books in about 5 years (I continue to read daily at about the same pace).  There were a few key things I garnished from all this reading: Love and Fear are our two strongest emotions. And when we make decisions based on fear, someone else in controlling the outcome. This is an easy thing to recognize, but harder to live.  Or as I like to say, “Change is easy, it is staying changed that is hard.” It is hard because we have created mental habits (surrounding our love or fear) and these habits control our thinking and behavior.
When we sit in your living room, it is easy to say what we will do next time this or that happens. One other key thing that I leaned was the meaning of: forgiveness.
The word ‘forgiveness’ came to me on about the 5th or 6th time I meditated.  It was as clear a word as if someone in the room had spoken directly to me.  Why did forgiveness come to me so crystal clear? At this point, I began to study forgiveness and learned the meaning and how important it is to forgive the most important person in my life. ME!  I came across a great quote by Ceanne DeRohan, “I forgive myself for having believed for so long that I was never good enough to have, get, or be what I wanted”
I forgave myself, and then I forgave anyone that I felt had ever offended me. Again, easy to do from the safety of your living room.  I began to pay attention to my self-talk and how fear was driving me, and others, to avoid certain situations or people. Especially authority figures.  I was literally retraining my brain to recognize fear in my behavior, and also to pay attention as to whether other people are coming at me from a point of fear.
As I said last week, I attended a eulogy for a casual friend. The Pastor asked for comments and I froze. My fear was still controlling me. I later felt bad that I had not shown love and respect for this person. It didn’t have to be anything grandiose. Just something respectful. His children, parents, fiancĂ©, were all there, and no one spoke.  I felt bad. I literally had to forgive myself again, and I made a personal commitment that if that ever came up again, that I, at the very least would say something to honor the life of this person.
My Dad abused others, and he abused himself. He over consumed alcohol and tobacco, and at a time late in his life when his body needed to be strong, it failed him.  He lingered for six weeks in intensive care until his death.
I drove about 800 miles to attend his services. I was going to show respect for a man for whom I spent most of my life living in fear.  My impression of my Dad was that he was a bit of a scoundrel. But, I reconciled that he had given me at least one gift that I should truly appreciate: The gift of life.
I entered the church. This was a ‘mega’ church in the south, and to my surprise, the place was packed. When they found out who I was, they hugged and consoled me for my loss. To me, my Dad represented a deeply flawed man that left some profound scars in my mind.  My thoughts were to be respectful to those that had gathered, but to me it was: Let’s get this over with.
The pastor asked me to sit up front. Which I did. He talked about my Dad, and as he spoke I was thinking, “Are we talking about the same person?”  A few hymns were sung, and then the defining moment came. The moment when all my studies and meditations dealing with fear, love, and forgiveness, in an instant, came to a focal point. The Pastor said, “I would like his son to come up and say a few words”
I remembered my promise to myself that I would never let a life go unappreciated. I took a deep breath. Rose and moved toward the Alter.  As I turned I saw the enormous gathering for the first time. I took a second deep breath. I told those gathered about the having been too afraid to speak at a prior service, and that I would never let another opportunity to pass without paying respect and honor to the deceased. And when I made that promise to myself, I had never expected to be asked to speak at my Dad’s funeral’ Much too my surprise and relief, there was small amount of laughter that circled the room.
I continued to speak for a few minutes, and their love and appreciation for my Dad caused me to tear up. They knew the same man I had known, but I had not allowed myself to truly know him. I chose to live in the past, and not to truly forgive. That day, I was forgiven for my own fears and attitude about my Dad.
I got through the day. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if God was holding me to my promise.
They say when you give a speech, you actually give three speeches: The one you rehearse. The one you give. And the one you wish you had given when you think about the one you gave.
One reason I was able to overcome the fear was because I was aware of the fear, and I had actually rehearsed my presentation.  Although I did not recognize it at the time, that when I had left my friends funeral, I had told myself so many times that I would at the very least show respect for their life. So much so, that it became part of my new habit of thought.
About six months later, Flo died. She was 101. There were about 12 people at her graveside. The executor of the estate got up and read her last wishes.  One of those wishes was for Chuck Locy to say a few words. I began with what I had rehearsed, when someone dies, we should at the very least, show appreciating for their life. And off I went.

Lastly, 3 months ago, my only Aunt died. Once again, the Pastor simply made a general request for anyone to come up front pay respect. I waited. No one rose. Finally I did. I told the story again, and then talked about my Aunt. After my expression of love, others spoke. They felt safe, since I spoke.
Again, many people came up afterwards and said something like, “You always know the right thing to say.” The opposite of that is that people don’t speak in an impromptu manner because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing.
This is another example of fear dominating over love. We become afraid of loss. Loss of dignity, respect, social status, etc. And this fear limits us. Even when we should show love. And the reason we limit ourselves is because we have learned to act in a certain way when it comes to speaking to strangers. WE learn this as children and it carries into adulthood.  It is that simple. What’s in our Well Comes up in our Bucket.
When I asked, John, the first funeral where I froze, for his spiritual forgiveness, his humor came to me. He most likely would have said, “...since most people there don’t know you, you can say whatever you want and go home.” Showing respect and love is natural and easy to those who truly love.  And when we learn to love, we learn to overcome our self- limiting fears.
Overcoming this type of fear requires that we have love for people and love for ourselves. It is then and only then, that our love will dominate our fear. And when we show love, it will give other the courage to show love.