Shades of Grey

Black and white are truly decisive colors that can be interesting at times, and even at other times necessary.  But there is nothing that truly brings out the beauty and truth in life than the many shades of grey.  There are things that are definitely black or white, but if you were to paint everything over with just black or white, you would lose so many beautiful and amazing details that you could otherwise notice and that might help you to have a better perspective should you add a bit of grey!

Too many of us tend to make that very mistake when judging a situation, or when arriving to a decision.  We apply the black or white rule and leave out the various shades of grey.  If you go into any situation with a bucket of just black or white you risk missing out on a lot of beautiful details that could make the overall picture be so much more clear and relatable.

Take politics for example.  There are too many people who are stuck on either red or blue when making a choice or decision.  The white in the States often gets forgotten or ignored and therefore those who are so busy throwing their buckets  of either blue or red on everything can totally miss the whole point of what building a true democracy is really like, they are too busy trying to tear down or paint over the other color.

Life, love, relationships, politics, business, religion, and in fact everything has many different shades of grey.  If you want to make it in any one thing, take your nose out of your paint bucket, then take a few steps back and the look at the canvas.  As you focus on things with your  new perspective, you might find that adding those shades of grey will complete your masterpiece, better your life and help you grow close the world around you!

Do you add shades of grey to your pictures? Or are you stuck with trying paint them all over with black or white?

Tragedy Unites Foes

I just watched the resignation of Gabriella Giffords from the Senate this morning and the number of outpourings of support and love that were shared at the senate floor by both sides of the aisle.  I can’t express how nice it felt to see these politicians who are for the most part divided on issues, unite and show us their human side, albeit for a moment, to give Gabby the send off that she deserved.

I can remember as if it were yesterday the day that the shootings happened in Arizona and the heart-break that I felt for the families of those who had lost their lives that day.  It has amazed me throughout this year of how well Gabby has recovered from the potentially fatal shot to her head.  I can’t help but feel that Gabby must be a very special person and that she is still needed here on earth to fulfill a purpose.

Today, on the day of her resignation, she seems to have brought about a sense of camaraderie within the senate and the country in general.  It is election year, and things tend to get pretty nasty and just plain unpleasant.  I don’t enjoy this time when so many rhetoric is thrown around to place doubt on the other parties and candidates.  So many unfounded “facts” to mislead the country.  Gabby’s beautiful smile, so simple, so pure touched the hearts of everyone on each side of the political aisle and helped us see what we really want in our hearts.  We want, we need we desire peace, unity and recovery from many years of war and economical woes.  We can nay obtain this if we hold dear to this very spirit that we were given a glimpse of today through Gabby.

I don’t know about you, but I was touched today, and I pray that we can continue with this spirit of unity!

A Hug– The Miracle Drug!

Hugging is healthy. It’s invigorating, rejuvenating & has no unpleasant side effects. It’s nothing less than a miracle drug. –Author Unknown

It is amazing just how a hug can work miracles to those who administer and are administered one in the time of need or stress!  Most of us have gotten so out of the habit of hugging, we only do so in dire situation to console someone on extreme occasions.  But really, it should be something that we do on a daily basis!  We could see a remarkable difference in our overall perspective on situations and on  life in general!

There are still families who are in the habit of hugging and they are usually the families that continue to be pretty close and tight-knit.  There are certain countries that are traditionally into physical contact when greeting one another like in southern Europe, and others who are so used to zero contact, even in a family setting such as in Japan.

I remember having been away for several years without seeing my family, brother and sister and parents and upon returning from Italy and South America I was met with a hand shake from my brother and father.  I thought, this is weird and just grabbed them and gave them a big hug and it sort of freaked them out at first. I witnessed the same thing in the London Airport when family and relatives would arrive from a long trip having been away for years and they were met with a formal handshake.

My sister is a very affectionate woman and in her family they are all very affectionate the one with the other and are always so concerned about each other.  It is a very inspiring environment to be in.  They are a mixed family as my brother-in-law is from Iran where they are pretty affectionate in their culture.  I find it important to show affection to those around you, of course it doesn’t mean that I think everyone should go around hugging any and everyone they see, but it is amazing how walls seem to come tumbling down with a simple show of affection, a touch or sincere hug!

My wife is also a real huger!  She will hug people that she first meets here in Italy and even they are a bit shocked when they meet her, but they are also drawn to her in a very special way.  People she hardly knows will begin to confide in her and call on her when they are going through things as they tend to feel a special connection.  I believe they can sense  that she sincerely cares about them.  Hugging does give a message that you are there for someone it has a chemical reaction within you that inspires closeness and works real miracles!

We tend to be inhibited in our outward show of affection as we are afraid of mixed signals being given when we hug. We are afraid that the other will think we have ulterior motives or want more than just a simple show of affection. It is a fact, there are a lot of perverted individuals in the world who do have ulterior motives, but this should not ever be reason to stop us from giving that needed hug.  When someone is coming on to you in a sexual manner, you can usually sense that pretty quickly and can put a stop to it. But this should not give us reason to stop all hugging and affection!  Have you hugged someone today? Don’t you enjoy a warm hug from time to time?

Rich Or Poor By Association

He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more, He who loses faith, loses all.”–Eleanor Roosevelt

Friendship is so very important!  We are not on this planet to be on our own and it is nice when we are able to have the pleasure of good company with a friend, someone close to heart to share special moments with.  For young people it is such a huge deal to have friends and to be “popular”, some have fallen into a serious state of depression when they are not surrounded by the friends that they hope to have.  Then there is the bullying issue that has continued to be a tremendous source of depression with some deciding to end their lives finding the feeling of not being accepted totally unbearable.

Friends are indeed important as they can be a real positive addition to our lives, but on the other hand, they can also be a reason for our lack of success as well.  We are influenced a great deal through our associations, sometimes unknowingly, and they can lead to helping in our success or they can be the reason for our lack.  It is so much more evident to us when it has to do with our teenage kids at school and we warn them to “not mix with the wrong crowd”.  In certain circumstances it is real obvious what is not “the right crowd”, but there is a subtle crowd that may be less evident of being “wrong” .

Even as we have grown older and our urge to have “friends” tends to fade away, those who we “hang around” with can tend to lead to helping us or in some situations can tend to hinder us. It is important to sit back and to take stock of the crowd that you associate with to see in what way they have an influence over you. You may think that they have no influence over you at all as you are “your own person” and you can “stand on your own”.  While this may be very true, it is also very true that when you spend a good part of your time around people who tend to be negative, speak doubt, have fears, it eventually wears on you, or at least it can pull you down.  If you are around shallow personalities all of the time who want to just “chill” all of the time, it may be deadly for you to spend too much time with this type of person, because before you know it, you might just find yourself “chilling” till you freeze over!

We are rich or poor by association, because as the saying goes, no man is an island.  We are influenced in one way or the other by the people who we surround ourselves with.  A true friend will know when it is time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to play and a time to cease from playing.  A true friend will tell you the truth about yourself even at the potential expense of your friendship, because a true friend wants you to be successful as much as you do.

It pays to stop once in a while and consider who you are “hanging” with to see if they are the right ones for you or not.  They can still be your friends but you can control the time that you spend with that person to limit the influence they may have on you if you feel it is not helping you reach your life goals.  And if you want to be a good friend, make the times that you are together with those you are close to a positive experience.  Be there for them, share with them what you can contribute to help them, but let them choose for themselves what they might do with your “help”.

Friendship is wonderful! Friendship is important! But you need to choose your friends wisely!  How do you feel about it?

The Negative Affects of Gossip

Gossip is like a cancer that spreads and kills as it goes! How do you stop it!

I once heard an interesting story told about gossip and I wanted to share it here with you as follows:

There once was woman who did not like what a certain pastor of her church  and what he would say to would say to her. One day the old man’s words were more than she could bear. It was the truth “BUT” it made her so angry that she really began to “butt”.  She went everywhere telling lies and evil stories about him. She tried very hard to turn all of the people against him with her terrible talk and gossip. But the more she talked the sadder she became.  At last she was very unhappy, and began to feel sorry for all the lies she had told.

Finally, in tears, the woman went to the pastor’s house to ask him to forgive her, “I have told so many lies about you,” she said, “please forgive me.”

The old man did not answer her for a long time. He seemed to be deep in thought and prayer. At last he said, “Yes, I will forgive you, but FIRST you must do something for ME.”

“What do you want me to DO?” she said, a little surprised.

“Come with me up to the bell tower and I will show you,” he said, looking straight into her eyes, “but first I need to get something from my room.”

When the pastor returned from his room, he carried a big feather pillow under his arm. The poor woman could hardly hide her surprise and growing curiosity.

The flustered woman could hardly keep from asking what the pillow was for, and why they were going up to the bell tower. However, she kept silent, and a little out of breath they finally reached the church bell tower.

The wind blew softly through the big open windows of the bell tower. From the tower, they could see far out into the countryside that stretched out beyond the village.

Suddenly, without saying anything, the pastor ripped open the pillow and dumped all of the feathers out of the window.

The wind and the little breezes caught the feathers and carried them everywhere:  Out on to the rooftops, into the streets, under cars, up into trees, out into the backyards where the children were playing, and even out to the big highway, and on and on farther still into the distance.

The pastor and the woman watched the feathers flutter away for some time. At last the old man turned to the woman and said, “Now I want you to go and pick up all of those feathers for me.”

“Pick up all of those feathers?” she gasped. “But that is impossible!”

“Yes, I know.” said the pastor. “Those feathers are like your lies about me. What you have started, you cannot stop, even if you are sorry. You may be able to tell a few people who you lied about me, but the winds of gossip have carried your lies EVERYWHERE. You can blow out a MATCH, but you cannot blow out the great forest fire that one match can START!

It’s ALL About The Money!

It’s not about the money, money, money,
We don’t need your money, money, money.
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag.
Ain’t about the (ha!) cha-ching cha-ching.
Ain’t about the (yeah!) ba-bling ba-bling,
Wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag. —Song by Jessie J

Let me start this post off with one clarification, and that being…money is NOT the root of all evil as has been misquoted on many an occasion, but rather it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.  Were the above song true in the hearts of the great majority of the world we would be better off than we are today!  Money is also NOT what makes the world go around, but rather LOVE is what makes the world go around and money could be a part of how we could demonstrate that love were it used for the purpose of healing, helping, saving, and feeding the ones that could use it.

I guess that the current global economic situation is only underlining and making evident one aspect of how the love of money is evil. When you have certain individuals who would rather lay off thousands of people from their jobs than to give up 7 digit bonuses that they really don’t even need, then there is something that is not quite right.  Not only is it not right, but then you have the government bailing out these banks and firms only to have them come back and do it all over again! Did we run out of coffee or what!?

This has been how things have been for quite some time which unfortunately can only lead to more economical, political, social and health problems.  We are, through selfish personal gain, willing to sacrifice the air we breath, the water we drink, the people we say we love, the health of the less fortunate and the list goes on and on.

Did you know that the electric-powered cars were first invented and potentially on the market place as early as the 1950’s?  It was dropped of course and the  news not thoroughly defused for fear that it would damage the more profitable petroleum market!  The internal combustion engine has been providing us with a great part of our earth’s erosion and the cause of a long list of health issues throughout the earth.  All this sacrifice for the benefit of an elite group who couldn’t get over their love for money to the pint that they are willing to sacrifice millions of lives.

Did you know that cures for a number of terminal diseases have been discovered and not announced since this would put a devastating dent in the income of the pharmaceutical industry, it simply is not “convenient” for them to be released.  It is instead better for them to give a partial healing or relief in small doses at high prices to keep their pockets lined with a continual flow of cash. In addition, your continued contributions are greatly appreciated as that will keep some people employed and others ridiculously wealthy as they continue to pull on your heart-strings for continued contributions for additional research.

Did you know that over half the medication prescribed by your doctor are not only not necessary but potentially harmful to your health? But that is how your doctor earns a large amount of his/her income as he is rewarded through handsome commissions by the pharmaceutical industry to keep you pumped full of pills.  If you take one pill you need a second to counter act the side affect of the first and then a 3rd and a 4th!

Did you know that money counts as the leading cause for divorce?  Arguments over financial issues in a marriage count for 57% of all divorces!  The love for money often supersedes that of the love between two people and has been the cause of breaking up homes and families!  Then it also counts for the greatest litigation in settling the final dispute of a divorce case. See this report here.

Did you know that wars are for the most part initiated for financial gain and not so for a “righteous” cause.  Promptly after the attack of 9-11 and attack was launched in Afghanistan which was most understood due to the fact that Al Qaeda was known to be hiding there.  Shortly thereafter, rumors of  “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” surfaced thus winning popular support to invade Iraq.  The rumors ended up being only that, and the world at large has now understood that the real reason was a series of business deals and of course to make certain that the petroleum continues to flow towards the west. If we fought wars to help people then why did we wait 12 years to intervene in Bosnia, never intervened in Rwanda, turned a blind eye towards Sudan, well I guess there just was no money to be had there! How sad!

The list would go on and on of instances where money took priority over love and has been destroying the world, not making it “go around”.

So it is ALL about the money, money, money,they just want your money money money, couldn’t care if the world dies, just as long as their account thrives!

Sad but true! How about you?

Accepting Differences–Without Forcing Them On Others!

The end result of your life here on earth will always be the sum total of the choices you made while you were here.”–Author Unknown

For the record, yes I do believe in God, and I believe that He has placed us here on earth to make choices, choices that we alone can make and that even He has limited Himself in such a way to allow us to choose.  I also believe that with every choice that we make in life that we will then be left to live with the consequences of those choices and that what might be OK for one person does not necessarily mean it is for another.  There are so many differences between us, and thank God for that, there is male, female, tall, short, blonde, brunette, dark skin, light skin, the list is too long to enumerate here and I lack the time.  Well in the end there is just about every flavor on earth to satisfy everyone, if we just learn to accept them.

We are blessed with what I will call here “the majesty of choice”, a gift given us at birth that no one can take away from us but ourselves through our own choice to relinquish it according to our own will (or unless it is taken from us through some act of war).  There are choices that we make that are “good” choices that will bring us to greater and more wonderful things in our lives, as there are “poor” choices that may bring us to hard places and difficulties that, had we chosen the other way, perhaps things would have ended up better.  If you are able to discover this on your own, without outside interference, then you will be convinced beyond any shadow of doubt whether your choice was the better of choices. But “a man convinced against his will, will remain of the same opinion still”  In other words, if a man is coerced into believing something, or there is an attempt to push him to believe in a certain way, he will never be totally convinced until he personally chooses of his own volition!

We live in a society that is so diverse at this point that there is no way that you can place boundaries where one person is totally wrong and the other is completely right in all his ways.  If we cannot learn to accept others for who they are, instead of insisting that they be just like us, then we can move forward in unity despite our differences.  There are so many things that others do or lifestyles that others have chosen that I do not agree with, but it doesn’t give me license to condemn them or to criticize. I just choose to agree to disagree.

What I have a hard time with is when people make personal choices, and want to be accepted for who they are, but then they go beyond seeking acceptance and begin to impose their lifestyle on others.  Take for example homosexuality.  I do not agree with it, but I am willing to accept homosexuals for their personal choices and if they are happy with their choice, then fine.  But what I am not in agreement with is how their cause has not stopped at acceptance only of their personal lifestyle, but it has gone way beyond to the point in the attempt to rewrite how we should live our lives as a society.  Schools as early as kindergartens have felt it necessary to advertising that they are “gender neutral” which begins to make subtle suggestions in the minds of impressionable children that “maybe” they are homosexual.  To me that is way overboard and is exactly the same of what they accuse the “hardline religious” for being dogmatic. It is an example of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

As for my sexuality and what goes on in my bedroom it is NOYB as for your sexuality, it is NOMB, and I am perfectly fine with that, so what I am trying to say is, respect, and be respected.  Live and let live, because at the end of the day, we have to decide for ourselves.  So as for the myriad of choices that we make in our lives, be they religious, sexual, careers, habits, free time, etc.., they are all personal choices and should never stand in the way of our walking hand in hand as people, or a nation.  And please, do not force your choices on others, share how you feel, then leave room for others to choose on their own.

This is just one example, that I feel strongly about and it is not meant to attack homosexuals, but rather to suggest to anyone who has chosen a certain lifestyle, live it for yourself, share with who voluntarily wishes to do the same, just don’t push it on others who do not agree.  Agree to disagree, join hands and look for common ground.

As usual, your thoughts are always welcome.

Complaining Criticizing and Mud-slinging

He who throws dirt is losing ground! –Author Unknown

It takes no effort whatsoever to criticize another, especially since we have no idea what they have gone through.  It cracks me up to see someone watching a soccer, football or basketball game and their comments are, “what an idiot, why didn’t he just do this or that“.  I’ve been guilty of the same, and then you stop and wonder if it had been you in that game under the same circumstances whether or not you would have been even capable of even a fraction of what this guy was able to perform.  It is too easy to make these comments when we are seated in the comfort of our living rooms sipping on a beer or a some drink and eating potato chips!

We are all so quick to judge, but we tend to measure other people’s performances from our personal perspective and perhaps we are right to arrive to a certain conclusion, only if it were ourselves in that specific situation.  But we are all different, come from different backgrounds and experiences, so to sit comfortably and pass judgement on others is simply not right or fair.  I believe that it is possible to overcome difficult circumstances to achieve great results, but it is up to the individual to get to that point!  You can try to help others to understand that all things are possible if you put enough effort, but as the saying goes, “you can take a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink” not everyone will decide to take a drink. We just have to take them as they are.

Some people seem to thrive on putting others down and poo poo anyone that dares to say that you can overcome, or that you can make it if you try hard enough.  Just the other day I was on Twitter and I saw the most ridiculous tweet that read something like “positive thinkers and self-improvement guru’s are to blame for the current economical problems” .  It made me sort of chuckle to read such a silly comment and most likely this is the sort of person that thrives on putting anything and everything down and sings the “it can’t be done”  dirge in the attempt to justify their own in-capabilities.

I have a deep admiration for the seemingly underdog who has defied all odds and has come out a winner.  I cannot stand instead to constantly hear how it can “never be done” from the whiner.  If your circumstances were to truly dictate your ability to make it in the world, then Oprah Winfrey should go back to an abused household and the ghetto.  So if you are not making it in life, if you are in a dilemma, get busy and do something about it, don’t spend your minutes, days, hours, weeks, months, or years belly aching and complaining about why you are not able or shouldn’t be expected to get anywhere! What a waste of time! And if you are busy trying to criticize others and put them down, be careful you are only putting yourself down and wasting precious time!  If you want to be miserable, go in your closet and be as miserable as you want, but don’t share your lack of faith, don’t tweet about it, get up off of you a** and get busy doing what you can.

There was a song that I used to sing years ago (yes I sing sometimes even outside the shower stall) and the chorus goes like this: Walk a mile, walk a mile in his shoes, don’t put down criticize or accuse.  Take the time to feel the things  he’s going through, see just how it feels to walk a mile in his shoes”  There are those who know how to overcome, others that are in difficult situations that may need some understanding and a helping hand, but that does not mean that they are any worse than you are. Whichever the case, we should make the attempt to understand where they are coming from and empathize with them and to accept them as they are.

Are you a winner or a whiner?

Life’s a Boomerang!

“The game of life is like the game of boomerangs, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy” –Florence Skinner

It is a truth! Life is a boomerang!  What you put in you get back, what you sow you will surely reap!  If you are there for others, it will amaze you that in the time of need others will be there for you!  Unfortunately, the adverse is also true, when you neglect others then in your time of need others will not give you a second thought!  You may argue this point, and I have heard it a thousand times, “all my sacrifices, all the hard work and care I have given others and look it never pays off”.  Watch out, it certainly does and if it hasn’t yet, it will.

One way or another our deed come back to either enrich us, or haunt us!  What you put into life, it will eventually come back to you in the same form or in another, in the same intensity in which you threw it out, it will come back to you!  Just watch out, sometimes without you even realizing it, it might come back and hit you from behind when you least expect it!  This is true in your daily interactions, in your business and in your love life, what you real you will sow, what you invest you will earn back with interest and when you love unconditionally love will come back in wonderful way.

This is a natural truth and it is believed regardless of your beliefs, a Christian believes what you sow you will reap, Hindis believe in Karma, and Buddhist are quick to burn what they wish to send to their ancestors for eternal use.  The fact of the matter is,  whether you  believe it or not, it is coming back your way,  just keep your eyes peeled, all four of them, because it could hit you from behind if you are not careful!

The secret is in what you give out, your return will reflect in quality and intensity!  If you are negative and go around sowing hatred, negativity, and doom, most likely that will be what you will also see coming back at you.  Instead, if you are giving out love, courtesy and kindness, you will find the same coming back you way!  Just try it out, you will see if you haven’t already taken notice in your life, the more you love, the more you will have love in return!  The more you hate, complain and grip the more negativity you will be faced with in return!

Knowing this fact, it comes down to, what do you want in life?  Do you enjoy being on a constant bummer, or do you enjoy the ecstasy of  love and positivity? I have even experienced on Twitter those who have taunted me with their negative comments to try to counter what I might have shared about positivity, it is fine by me, if they want to live in that world, then may they drown in it, but as for me, I will choose love!

Have you experienced the effect of the boomerang in your life?  What are you sowing?

Long Lasting Love!

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy” Saint Francis of Assisi

Gosh, I think we all feel the need to be loved and would like for our passion and love to live on for eternity!  We would hope that others would just accept us for who we are and love us despite our weaknesses and failures!  The question is, do we do to others as we would like others to do to us?  Or do expect others  to do unto us, even though we do not do so ourselves.

We tend to have a high standard of expectation towards others, but tend to forget that the road to get there is a two-way road and not one way only!  I have heard it said many times over how wonderful a dog is, man’s best friend!  You can forget to feed him, he loves you the same, you can correct him for something harshly, he loves you the same.   Humans can be so much more critical and judgmental and have very long memories.  You make a wrong step with another human being and boom you are literally in the dog house, and not for just the day!

Love is an interesting thing, we all want it unconditionally but we deal it out with many conditions!  But is this how we really believe and expect to get it back? Of course not!  So, in order to have real, long-lasting love, we need to abide by the same rule book we hold over the heads of those we pretend it from!  Let’s name a few of these points.

1) Forgiveness, do we seek to forgive those who have wronged us?  Do we take the time to talk things over and attempt to understand how they may have strayed, shared our hearts together to see how we can avoid this from ever happening again in the future?  It is important to learn the importance of forgiveness, after all, we are all imperfect and fail and most unfortunately need to be forgiven ourselves for the many blunder that we make as well.  No one is perfect, not even you, believe it or not!

2) Patience.  Do you have the necessary patience to put up with certain things that bother you about your other half?  Do they snore at night, leave their laundry on the floor, discard a dish or cup without cleaning it.  Do they take forever to get in the car when you are late for an appointment, do they wait for the very last-minute to complete a task.  Are you able to bear with this weakness, and express your loving concern for their lacks, even if this means repeating it almost daily…in love?

3) Humility. Are you able to humble yourself when you know that you have transgressed in any of the above mentioned “transgressions” and have you asked for forgiveness?  Saying that you are sorry for your past or present mistakes can break down many barriers!  Try to take the “lower seat” in an argument, you will be amazed at what love and trust you will gain!

The road to long-lasting love is…well…long!  So you need to understand that it will take a lot of work.  It is not something that you just snap your fingers and it happens or rub a lamp and a Genie will appear with a magic solution.  It takes that horrible four letter word called w.o.r.k.! Yep, effort, but one that is well worth it and so rewarding!  It is all too easy to just give up, and sad to say that is what so many tend to do.  Well, if it is not going my way then forget it!  How selfish!  The road to success is one of great sacrifice!  Everything that is worth anything cost something!

Have you experienced the tough road and found it to be extremely rewarding?  Let us know what you think!