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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Friday, December 25, 2015

Why it's Christmas Day Sir!

2015. Wow. What a year. I could write for days about all that's happened this year and all that I've learned. But for today dear reader we'll just look at December 25th or as most of us call it... Friday. Hahaha. Ok, I'll say it, Christmas.

As part of my challenging everything I "know" this year one thing I challenged myself to do was to look at Christmas differently. In years past I've been known as a "Christmas guy" to just about everyone. In the past I'd start thinking about Christmas as soon as possible, planning as soon as Thanksgiving was over, and decorating as soon as it wouldn't be seen as absurd. This year however things had to be changed. I had to "break up with Christmas" as it was recently described in one of the podcasts I listen to. (The Nature of All Things podcast; if you enjoy this blog, there are certainly topics on there you'll find appealing.)

Part of "breaking up with Christmas" for me meant challenging traditional Christmas stuff. So this year not a tree was lit, not a stocking was hung, no Christmas movies, no Christmas Who-pudding, not even roast beast! (Dr. Seuss I am not). I only bought one gift and that was for some friends of mine who have just been awesome this year and I wanted to just give something to say thanks more than Merry Christmas. If you walked into my apartment today it would look just like any other day. Not a sign of Christmas. I didn't go see any lights, I didn't cook any special meals, I didn't sing a single carol. Now, this wasn't in any attempt to poo poo Christmas or be a Scrooge, it was just stripping away all the traditional 'stuff' that I usually apply to December 25th.

So... What happened? What did I do? Well I didn't spring out of bed with a rush to rip open packages that's for sure. I did wake up early and drive myself out to the beach for some quiet time. (pre-coffee even) I've done this before, but today was totally different. It was so foggy out at the beach that you couldn't see for more than 40-50 feet and there was nobody out there. So, when I sat down to watch the surf and just be by myself, it was like sitting in a bubble. It was like I was in my own little world. At first I was sure a pirate ship was going to show up out of the fog and take me off on some grand adventure, then I realized they'd probably still be asleep. Sigh. After I settled in, I had a good hour of time to put Christ back in Christmas. That's what I wanted to do despite how cheesy that phrase may sound to some of you. I wanted to get quiet and get present not get busy and get presents.

The sign of Christmas is a star a light in the darkness. See it not outside of yourself, but as shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come...
This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely, that you may join with Him in healing. And let us celebrate our release together, by releasing everyone with us. Leave nothing behind for release is total...
For in the time of Christ, communication with him is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son's Creation. God offers thanks to the holy host who would receive Him, and let Him enter, and abide where He would be. And by your welcome, does He welcome you into Himself.
(ACIM ch. 15)

I had read these words a few months ago and then again last night and this morning as well. It's what I went out to the beach this morning to meditate on. At Christmas, the time of Christ, communication with God is restored. That's not to say that this can't happen anytime, but, for me, I chose to make that my focus today. There was a lot of saying, "Here I am. I am here, now, with you; welcome!" In my little fog bubble there was no hiding, there was no holding back, there was only release and communication.

By the time I got back home, I was starving so I did make myself a nice breakfast and then took a nap. When I woke up however I found I was still hungry for some of my new Christmas so I went for a nice long walk and did some more communicating. And, that is pretty much how this day passed. Lots of being present. Just communicating and listening. Ok, and that long nap. This communication was the only gift I received today, and will last longer than any other I've ever received. What's better than a bike under your tree? Not having a tree and opening up rather than opening boxes. Again, I am not crapping on Christmas here. There are good things in traditional Christmas and everything is what you make of it, but for me today, that wasn't what I was looking for.

Why? Why "challenge" Christmas? Because Christmas was a big thing for me in the past. So were a lot of other things that have been challenged and looked at. Challenging Christmas today for me was a day that represents a life; my life. There is a lot of stripping away of tradition and roles and a lot of replacing that with honesty and presence. There was a lot of questioning what is important. There's guilt, fear and obligation being replaced by forgiveness and love. There is a lot of work to be done still, but the excitement and joy of actually looking forward to that work gives me hope and faith that 2016 is going to be a good one.

The week ahead gives us all a chance to look back and look forward as we approach the New Year. I'll probably pass on that this year just like I passed on the traditional Christmas. I think I'll just try to stay present, not plan, and just let life come to me. Everything will be as it should be...

As a bow on top of this Christmas post, let me wish you all a smile that warms your heart. If it's like mine today, it may last long enough to make your cheeks hurt. But you'll enjoy it none the less.

With Love, Merry Christmas Dear Reader!

Monday, December 21, 2015

An OBT Obituary

Oscar Bartholomew Templeton
Summer 2013 - December 21, 2015

Oscar Bartholomew Templeton or OBT as he was know to those closest to him, of West Ashley in Charleston, SC entered into eternal rest in the early hours of Monday morning. He was in his tank with his favorite plant and beside the two story temple that was his namesake. 

His funeral services will take place in the bathroom on Monday night and will be a private ceremony attended only by his caretaker in life. OBT had asked that any gifts in kind or remembrances be made in his name to the Charleston Animal Society. He is survived by his rocks, plants, small Buddha statue, and of course his temple and home.

Rescued one sunny day from a pet store shelf, OBT began his life in a meager plastic cup. He soon moved however to a plush tank with heat, a light, and filtered water where he lived a long life the best way he knew how. While he did enjoy swimming the most, he was also very fond of long naps near his temple. 

An Asian Beta fish, OBT's beautiful color and bright red fins were only eclipsed by his warming nature. Always willing to listen and never one to judge, OBT was a constant companion and a friend to all those who were lucky enough to know him. While he could have been described as ornery at feeding time, he was overall a gentle soul and one that will not soon be forgotten. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sitting Quietly

I decided last week to give something a try that I haven't ever really done before. Meditating. Now, I've meditated before, but not as a practice. Every now and then I'd sit quietly and try to... well, sit quietly. Try to turn that running dialogue off in my mind and just listen. However, I came to realize that doing that was a lot harder than you may think. I'd sit for a few minutes before I got comfortable and then... thoughts, lots of them. And, I'd find that after a few more minutes that I'd be thinking about what I normally think about: work, relationships, books, baseball trades I'd like to see made... wait what? What you are thinking about? I thought I was supposed to be thinking about nothing!?

I started a few weeks ago doing some guided meditations. Those are nice as long as the subject matter matches up with what you're looking for, but I found that sometimes the presenter would be saying things like, 'you're feeling really sad and you need to just relax and...' then, I would find myself facing sadness rather than the good mood I was in before I started. Well that's not cool! That's not what I came here for. But that led to the question of, what did you come here for? What's the point of meditating?

That's when I decided to get away from having a "goal" for my meditations. I wasn't going into it with an idea of what I wanted to "happen" or "feel" anymore. That's when I decided to take a week and meditate everyday rather then just every now and then when I 'found time' to do so.

Now there are probably a million blogs out there that will tell you 'how to meditate' and that's not what I'm here for dear reader. I'm just here to tell you about my experience over this one week of my life and what I learned. Last Sunday, as you may have seen in the post below this one, I went to the beach to sit quietly and kick off my week of practice. It was awesome but I realized that this practice was not going to be easy for me. I have over the past few months been trying to listen. Just listen. Listen for what's right in my life, listen for signs of where my fears reside, and listen for love. Just listen. In order to do that, I needed to be able to 'quiet' a mind that was very very busy a good deal of the time.

One thing that I had read about meditation was to think of yourself as sitting on the side of the road and watching traffic as it goes by. The cars are the thoughts that enter your mind when you're meditating. Trying not to judge them is the goal. Fast car, expensive car, big truck, ugly minivan, your high school car... all of them are just cars (thoughts) passing by. Don't judge those cars as good or bad or whatever, just notice that they are nothing more than cars. What you're (I'm) waiting for are the breaks in traffic when there aren't any cars on the road and it's just... quiet. Then, I can listen. What I've found is that as the week went on there were more and more breaks in the traffic and there were more and more times when I was able to just be sitting there on the side of the road.

For me, I imagine a stretch of interstate in the South. Two lanes of asphalt, a median with grass, two lanes of asphalt, then pine trees on the other side. My thoughts drive by, and there I am just sitting on the side of the interstate that is my mind. And, when there is a break in the traffic, it's just me sitting there with the sin on my face looking out across the hot road as heat waves kind of drift off the surface. That's when I find myself to be quiet.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that after just a week of this that I've lost five pounds, grown two inches taller, cured my amputated leg or anything like that. What I will say is that as the week went on I found that there were times when I wasn't meditating that I was able to 'stop traffic' as well. Standing in line at the grocery store, sitting at work, walking... whenever, I would find that I was able to actually catch myself and say, 'oh wow, I was present just then.' Of course that 'oh wow' snaps me out of that, but I still celebrate the success of it. And, I think that, if anything, was the goal of all of this week's exercise. Just be present. Just stop and listen.

I'm reading this book right now called, 'Unwind Your Mind Back to God' and in it this week I ran across a quote that really applies here: "We must go into the silence for the experience. Still your mind! That is where the experience is."
So true. If we're going to be an active observer of our own lives, as I hope to be, then we have to observe ourselves as having a human experience. With that comes fear, guilt, anger, joy, peace, relaxation, and the need to be right (uh oh).
I have found that in those moments of stillness and presence however that it is easier to find peace and reaffirm your trust. To say to yourself that yes, this is right, what I'm experiencing is not being clouded by egoic thoughts or fear. This is where miracles are allowed to happen.

"Miracles come from trust in God; as trust increases, fear disappears. Your willingness will seem to open into readiness and readiness will seem to open into mastery." - Unwind Your Mind.

Now, the astute among you may notice that this post has started to drift a bit, but hang in there... this is how my mind still works from time to time. Remember, this is What's Now so I just type and see where we go.

What is a miracle? Well maybe an alcoholic goes sober, maybe an abuser deals with their anger, maybe an emotionally withdrawn person opens up, maybe a depressed person realizes their own greatness, maybe the fearful realize there is nothing to be afraid of. How? Trust. I think if you've read any of my posts over the past few months you're aware that this just keeps coming up. Trust in God. And, here is where willingness comes to the plate. Just a little willingness is all He ever asks right? Are you willing to trust?

Yesterday I had a conversation that was observed by a third party. He stopped me at the end of it and pointed out how, while I may have had the best intentions, that the conversation was driven by my ego. I was being driven my be need to be right. Ouch! Damn! Not what I wanted to do. I wasn't being present and I wasn't listening. But, here is the miracle... when I am able to surrender my need to be right. Not giving up the "argument" and holding onto resentment, but truly acknowledging my lack of "rightness." Saying, I don't know. Trusting that. Trusting. Being willing to see things differently.

One thing I've found is while meditating (bringing it back here) I'm able to cultivate that willingness. I'm able to, in those moments of silence, plant the seeds of willingness. What they grow are: presence, an absence of fear, and trust. Those things start to creep out of my meditation sessions and into other times in my day. Awesome! That is my "goal." To be willing and trusting at all times; to be present as much as possible and to open myself up to what comes from that.

Now, to put a cap on what I suspect is a long and rambling post by this point... I am not here to advocate that you drop what you're doing, go sit on the floor, and start meditating. But what I am encouraging is more silence, more presence, more willingness, and more trust. However you want to get there is up to you. Whether you want to get there is up to you. We all have but one choice... I'm just trying to listen and allow the right one to be made.

Tune in next time when we play Hide and Go Seek with emotions and honesty. There is no home base, and no you can't unfreeze your friend just because his mom makes the best PB&Js.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

MTV goes back to the beach

One of the many advantages of living in Charleston is the weather. In the middle of December I'm able to both go to the beach and take a drive out into the country with the windows down in the car. Just beautiful.

Got up this morning and made some breakfast then went for a long walk on the beach then got to sit, just sit, for about two hours and watch the ocean and just be there. Awesome.
I got to see a dolphin at one point, he/she came up to the surface three or four times and then... gone. I kept looking to see more, but, alas just the one. Really made me appreciative of being able to be there right then though.

After the beach I drove across the islands, taking the long way home and got to see so many awesome Fall colors in the middle of December. We don't get a lot of leaf changing colors here every year, but today there were just so many awesome colors everywhere. Reds, yellows, browns, and greens all together with the sun and me.

I don't really have a point to this post other than to share an awesome morning experience with you and a short episode of Muganlo TV. Hope all of you are having a peaceful Sunday and hope you find some time to spend with yourself as well. Enjoy life today!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Celebrate good times come on! Do do do de do de dit... (hands clapping)

In all of my looking and digging and changing of my perspectives in life I've come across some hard truths about myself and the world that I live in. There have been some moments where I wanted to call myself a real asshole. There have been times when I've felt really guilty and times when I've felt real anger over things that I did in the past. I've changed my mind on a lot of those attitudes and I see so many things so much differently these days. That is cause for celebration.

I far too seldom stop and look back and then take stock of the present and say, 'Hey man. You've done a good job, you're doing a good job, and you're in a much better place right now.' Why not take time today and celebrate all that is right today rather than focusing on the negative.

I saw a kid the other day raking leaves in his yard. I was at a stop light so I had a few minutes to just kind of watch him and remember when I was a kid raking and doing yard work. He had maybe done about 10% of his yard and he stopped, sighed, and looked at the rest of the yard. Been there kid.
I know, there is so much more to do. I remember when I would finish raking as a kid my hands would hurt, my back would be sore from scooping all the leaves into a bag, and I would be really tired. But, then I'd look back at the yard and think, wow, I got a lot done and now our yard looks so much better. I'm sure he had the same feeling a few hours later whether he enjoyed raking those leaves or not.

That raking is sort of like the work I'm doing in my life. I can't say how much of my 'yard' I've gotten done, but I can take a minute to lean on my rake and look back at what I have done and celebrate that work and those accomplishments. There may have been a lot of acorns, sticks, and hidden dog poop in there to clean up, but it got done. Some work has been done. Now, I'm not looking to toss down my rake and call it a day, but I am willing to stop for a second, enjoy some sun on my face and celebrate where I am right now.

You don't have to accomplish 'big things' to celebrate your successes either. Did you get out of bed and put some pants on today? Good for you! Maybe yesterday that wasn't a possibility for you and now it is. Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe a shirt and some coffee...

It's like that in life though. You have to take the small steps before you're able to take the big ones. For me, one of these steps lately has been trust. Trusting not only myself to listen, love, and make the right choices for me, but the ability to trust others. There is a vulnerability in that. 'I trust you.' was not something I would say (and mean) very often in the past. Today, I seem to be able to not only say it and mean it, but crave it. I've gotten to a point where I've surrounded myself with people, thoughts, and mindsets that I can trust. How? By trusting in God, by not planning for the future but trusting in it, by listening to people in my life whom I know have my best interest at heart. It's great to look at someone and ask, 'What do you think?' and then fully trust that their response will be the best thing for you.

I made a choice to see my life differently, see my world differently, and to give up trying to control and force 'my will' onto it. In defenselessness my safety lies. All of this took a ton of trust, faith, and willingness to see things differently. Today, I'm willing to stop and celebrate that. I may just be leaning on my rake for a minute before getting back to work, but the sun feels great on my face and I'm confident that my yard is going to look amazing once I finish.

So dear reader, just stop for a second and celebrate yourself. It's ok to take a breather from time to time and find something to be grateful for.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oh Honesty

Its nice to feel good every now and then ain't it?

You know the quickest way to get there? Honesty. No matter what you're feeling or who is around you, honesty quite literally is the best policy.

Over the past few months there have been times when I've wanted to deny that fact, when I've wanted to look away from the truth because sometimes it was uncomfortable, sometimes it really hurt. However, in the end it was honesty that got me to a place of comfort, quiet, and peace. When you take time to look at yourself and life around you and get real honest about it is when you find the answers you're really looking for.

Take whatever your current predicament or upset is dear reader and look at it. Go head, this post can wait for you to find it and I'm sure it's not far from your thoughts. Now... what about that is yours? Not what others have done to you or better yet what you think they've done to you, but what about that situation is your part? Not an easy question to answer if you're not willing to get real honest with yourself. Some might even label coming to those answers as work. But trust me, from where I sit today I can tell you that if you're willing to do it and be really truly honest with yourself, good things will come.

This magic honesty pill doesn't just work for you, it can work for others as well. After today, I can tell you that there is not a whole lot better in this world than expressing your honest emotions to someone else with confidence that you speak only the truth, and having that person accept it wholly. Because, if you've done your "work" and if you've been honest with yourself first, then there is no other way you can be accepted. Wholly honest. The same works for you. If others are truly honest with you its impossible not to accept them. If they're honest about what they're feeling or what they're fearing, seeing, whatever; you can't help but relate to that honesty, that person and accept them.

(Take a moment and recover from your mind just being blown there).

I could go on with this but it would take pages to get you the story of my journey within and the terrors that had to be faced honestly. That's not what this blog is about. It's about what's now. And what's now is this... honesty works.

However, before I leave this today and go back to doing nothing and loving it... I will make one more statement. Honesty is love. It extends. Honesty, like love "is like itself, unchanged throughout." (ACIM WB 127).
Truth can not be changed, but it can extend to every aspect of our lives if we're willing to take it there and shine its light on the dark corners of our mind. And the truth is... we're all seeking love. Seeking to give and seeking to receive love. Seeking to reconnect to our love and the love of God that we all thought we'd thrown away. Honesty is a path back to that love. It may be rocky at times and you may get tired walking down that road, but if you're honest with yourself, I'll say it again... good things will come.

With honest love...