Onward and Upward (My 100th Blog Post)

I can’t believe this milestone has arrived. 100 posts! Back in April of 2015, I decided to revitalize my blog with the announcement “I’m Still Here.” I had been inactive for months, what with the care and maintenance of John Adams plus life, and I hadn’t done much writing. But after months of inactivity, I decided to jump back in the saddle and try to kick start my blog. There have been fits and starts of creativity and exhaustion, but after months of sticking it out, here it is: 100.

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“What’s that you said? 100 Blog posts! You have got to be kidding me!!!”

Over the last year I’ve renewed my passion for writing, for poetry, for blogging, and for reaching out. I love to write things that make people think , that informs them of the good in the world, that shares something of my life in a way that might illuminate something in someone else’s. To that end, I’m re-branding my blog as of today. No longer “An introspective journal for spiritual growth,” but rather “A Journal of Joy, the Arts, Wellness, Parenting, and Personal Growth.” I want to inspire people, raise them up, and give them hope. I want to be a light in the dark, not the latest rant on Facebook. I want to make people laugh, cry, and think. I want to help people lead better lives, not remind them of the problems we all face. We already know.

Going forward I will continue to write about my personal experiences, my son John Adams, and my family. It’s what I know. I will include poetry, especially haiku of course, and I want to start including recipes, guest blogs, and other pieces of wisdom that promote better living. No extensive change here, just expansion. I want to stress that this will be the same Reflections from Shangri-La that you have read. I just want to expand the scope, hopefully net wider readership, and in turn, help more people any way that I can.

This last year has been one of some wonderful successes and milestones for my life and my family. My wife did a one-month teacher training fellowship in Kalamazoo on Beowulf through the National Endowment of the Humanities. My son has just turned three. I was a guest blogger for the first time on www.businessinrhyme.com . I just learned that one of my favorite poems, “My Greatest Treasure,” will be included in the Fall issue of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review (more on this as it develops). I’m participating in the First Annual Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival this weekend, and reading both Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway)and our forthcoming book Mommy Made a Beastie (But I Love Her Anyway) in their Kid’s Corner. And my arrangement, “God Rest Ye Jazzy Gentlemen” is being premiered by the area choral ensemble The Spotsylvanians. Much to be proud of, much to blog about, and much to inspire with, and bring hope to others. My life is far from perfect, with many struggles and woes, but there is also much to be thankful for. And that it what I wish to focus on here and share with you. This year alone, Reflections has had over 1,000 views from some 750 people. Two posts—“The Boy Who Lived” and “Still Wild About Hank”—have had over 100 views each. If you are still reading this, you are among those numbers and I can’t thank you enough for supporting my efforts, reading my thoughts, liking my posts, and being a part of my online life.

So here’s looking ahead to 2017, to post 200, and to all of the good things we can share and accomplish together.

Thank you again and see you next post.

Namaste,

Jason

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My son, father-in-law, and I celebrating 100 Blog posts…Not!

When the Dead Awaken…and Teach! (The Continuing Legacy of Dr. Wayne Dyer)

Today, August 29, 2016, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer, the “Father of Motivation,” and my self-appointed guru for fourteen years. One year ago today, Wayne succumbed to a heart attack and crossed over. He was seventy-five years old, and the author of more than forty books in the fields of self-help, positive thinking, and spirituality. Though he had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, an autopsy completed shortly after his death revealed the impossible: no trace of leukemia found anywhere in his body. Wayne had claimed without supportive medical evidence for several years prior to his death that he was in “perfect health,” and that through his lifestyle and positive outlook he was clean of disease. The autopsy validated his oft-claimed assertion that “our thoughts create our reality.” In death he was still teaching, and those of us willing to listen were still hearing. It seems in the year since his death, his voice has still not gone silent.

Wayne Dyer, Photo Credit: www.hayhouse.com

Wayne Dyer, Photo Credit: http://www.hayhouse.com

In June of this year, in Elevated Existence magazine, Tammy Mastroberte interviewed two of Wayne’s daughters – Saje and Serena – focusing on the family’s life since Wayne’s passing, their claim that he continues to speak through medium Karen Noe, and that his teaching is ongoing, if from the other side. Numerous anecdotes are recounted through the article, including the possibility of Wayne bi-locating while alive and in Australia, and a postmortem visit to daughter Saje in New York, to name just two. The article also reveals that he uncharacteristically insisted on paying in full daughter Saje’s last year of graduate school (ahead of his normal schedule), and that he felt driven to complete his autobiographical I Can See Clearly Now (his last published book while alive), indicating that he may have had some sense that his time on Earth was drawing to a close. In fact, the family now sees his last published book, Memories of Heaven – about children’s recollections of the other side – as something of a prescient extension of his sense of humor, given that it was published after he would have arrived there to verify the recollections. The family claims (in part through Noe) that Wayne has shifted his teaching of “I Am” to “We Are,” that he is available to anyone that calls upon him for guidance, and that he has summed up to them his philosophy of living somewhat simplistically as “always come from a place of love.”

Whatever the truth of the claims, the article is more than a welcome reminder of the profound teachings that this man offered the world starting with his landmark bestseller Your Erroneous Zones in 1975, and ending with the aforementioned Memories of Heaven. For myself, I know that I owe Wayne a debt that can never be repaid. I have written of my personal journey through Wayne’s work before in the posts “Dr. Wayne Dyer – In Memoriam,” and “Dr. Wayne Dyer – An Addendum,” as well as in an upcoming guest blog post for www.businessinrhyme.com to be released on September 12th called “The Healing Power of Haiku,” so there’s no need for me to dwell here on that debt; suffice it to say, without Dr. Wayne Dyer I don’t know if I would still be around to love my wife, my son, and the new outlook on life he gifted me by his beautiful words and timeless wisdom. Thanks are more than a little in order.

So to that end I want to close this post by recounting some of my favorite Wayne Wisdom, his 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace; enumerated in the book of the same name, and used as the template for Wayne’s third to last book, the co-written Don’t Die With Your Music Still in You, in which daughter Serena recounts what it was like to be a child growing up under the influence of such an “enlightened” father. The Second Secret holds deep significance for me as a musician, child of musicians, and artist in general, but I have tried to live by all of them in turn with varying degrees of success. For a life plan one could hardly do better.

 Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

  1. Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing.
  2. Don’t die with your music still in you.
  3. You can’t give away what you don’t have.
  4. Embrace silence.
  5. Give up your personal history.
  6. You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
  7. There are no justified resentments.
  8. Treat yourself as if you already are what you’d like to be.
  9. Treasure your divinity.
  10. Wisdom is avoiding all thoughts which weaken you.

Thank you, Dr. Dyer, Wayne, for the last fifteen years; for the love, wisdom, outlook, and mentor-ship. You are neither gone nor forgotten.  Keep it coming. We’re listening. Namaste.

Love,

Jason

P.S. For those of you who want to explore Elevated Existence magazine, here is a link to their website: Elevated Existence

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Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (1940 – 2015) Photo credit:: http://www.awaken.com

 

Hot, Hank, and Haiku

It’s the midpoint of August in Virginia, and it’s the hottest it’s been all year. My family and I are all mildly sick with a lingering bug, laying about the house for the weekend (to stay cool) and everything seems like a chore. Clean laundry is strewn about unfolded, meals planned have given way to the local sub shop, and naps are the best thing ever!

At this writing on Sunday morning I’m actively looking for supplementary work to compliment what I do at my church, I’m lining up premieres for new choral works I’ve written, I’m planning my next children’s book with the artist, and, above all, trying to make ends meet and pay bills. Tonight is the Virginia premiere of the new documentary Wild About Hank, the story of the cat that ran for US Senate, and my wife and I are hoping to be in attendance. If so, the night will certainly be a blog post in itself. Lots of balls in the air, lots of uncertainty, and lots of stress. It’s time for a few meditative haiku. Here’s hoping your world is filled with adventure, challenge, success, and some desired security, stability, and abundance. Till next time,

Namaste,

Jason

4585
If One Truth exists
It is Love made manifest
In all disguises.

4586
Own the reflection.
Your life mirrors your actions,
Inner and outer.

4587
We should mourn the dead,
But then leave them to their rest,
Not play with the corpse.

4588
Whatever your thoughts,
They will emerge from within,
Designing your skin.

4589
Meditate daily.
Listen to the voice within,
Soothing and guiding.

4590
Grieve for those who “know,”
For they have certainty, but
No authentic Truth.

4591
Riches are hidden
Right under your very feet,
Waiting to be mined.

4592
Stop wondering if
You’re worthy of happiness.
You were born worthy.

4593
Arrive at life’s end
Unfettered by regrets and
Armed with good mem’ries.

4594
You must not hate those
Who know no other pathway
Than what they’ve been taught.

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Nancy and I in the movie theater with our tickets to the US/Virginia premiere of Wild About Hank

Tony Robbins – Are You My Guru?

About a week ago, in mid-July, Netflix unceremoniously dropped an original documentary into my Top Picks for You category. The film, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, is just shy of two hours and follows motivational speaker Tony Robbins through a six-day event called Date with Destiny that he and his huge staff host in various places around the world. Participants, for the low, low price of $5,000 for the week attend workshops, group sessions, and lectures given by Robbins himself as they attempt to transform their life from whatever place they currently find themselves in to a new and better place of strength, courage, fulfillment, peace, or what have you. Over the course of the documentary, a handful of attendees are focused on and given epilogues after the fact with mostly positive results reported. I put the documentary on one afternoon almost on a dare/whim and left it run out in the background of my day. I had had very little exposure to Tony Robbins in the past, save purchasing on the cheap through iTunes a series of The Edge audio books that I tired of somewhat quickly, as they felt more like infomercials promoting more expensive content. But this movie, even half-listening, felt more like the real deal, and I found myself getting occasionally wrapped up in Tony’s interventions and interviews. So I determined to sit down and focus on the whole thing straight through. And I’m glad I did.

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Tony Robbins in a Date with Destiny event

Over the course of the two hours the film focuses on, among others, a suicidal young man, a woman in a dysfunctional relationship, another with “Daddy issues,” and another woman raised and abused in a sex cult. Each interaction/intervention with Tony Robbins proves tough to harsh, profane, emotionally super-charged, and ultimately, very strangely, loving in that “I’m kicking your ass for your own good” kind of way. Each segment is full of hugs, confrontations, and tears, and I found myself deeply moved by many moments in both viewings. I had never witnessed anything quite like Tony Robbins style of self-care: a hyper-steroid induced blend of Iyanla Vanzant, Caroline Myss, and Dr. Phil, but seemingly, almost inexplicably, grounded in the most loving and compassionate of philosophies.

In so much of what Tony Robbins said I could hear my own self-appointed guru, the late Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, saying to these people, albeit in a far more in your face and deliberately vulgarized way.

            You are a part of God

            You are worthy of love

            You are the story you tell yourself you are

Wayne’s way was one of patience, quiet, gentleness, introspection, and meditation on poetry and seminal texts. Tony’s is loud, jarring, abrupt, profane, immediate, and definitely “not in your head.” But both at their core seem to advocate for positive change, personal responsibility, God realization, and an acceptance and embracing of love, both from self and others, that we often feel we are unworthy of receiving. Like two radio stations that play Pop music, Wayne’s focus was on power ballads, while Tony’s plays upbeat dance and techno, but both men seem tuned into the same frequency, Source, themes, and intentions.

The one-year anniversary of Wayne Dyer’s death is fast approaching. He died of a heart attack in his sleep on August 29th of 2015. My heart has maintained a gaping void since then that has yet to be filled by the passing of a man who I studied and read voraciously for sixteen years, heard speak in person three times, and credit his teachings with salvaging my own imploding life in the early 2000s. The facts that I just finished reading Memories of Heaven, Wayne’s last posthumously published book, and that two of Wayne’s daughters claimed in a recent online interview that Wayne continues to guide their lives from beyond, are both comforting and helpful in maintaining my love and interest in my late guru’s work. But I’m just not sure that after sixteen years of meditative study and dedication that it’s not time to turn up the volume, get tough on my life, and join the dance party. So I’ve been asking myself for a week now, and I would at least ask you to consider asking the same question:

Tony Robbins: Are You My New Guru? 

I think I know my answer. What about you?

Watch the movie on Netflix, if you can, and share your thoughts with me.

Namaste,

Jason

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The Purpose of Life – Solved!

At age 45, I find that one question resurfaces in my mind more than any other: What is my life’s purpose? Nancy poses this question to me from time to time as, “What do you want to be doing with your life?” which wife to husband sounds like, “How do you want to make a living?” but I know that’s not the entirety of her meaning. It’s a question that we ask ourselves from little on up, the world hammers in our face, and we struggle to make sense of by either relinquishing its answer to a higher power (God has a plan for me; I just need to find out what that is), or equivocating our financial success and stability with purpose (Wealth = Happiness = Purpose). But ultimately neither mainstream answer proves sufficient. On one hand, I’ve waited impatiently for God to reveal His Big Secret. Guess what? He hasn’t. On the other hand, wealth and stability elude me. I have very little money or security. I do have a beautiful wife and son, and I’ve been an actor, director, music director, poet, composer, educator, father, husband, son, mentor, and assorted other labels, and I’ve looked for illumination in them all to marginal avail. I’ve tried to play the “What is my life’s purpose?” game by society’s rules and I’ve never gotten a satisfying answer to the question. And Lord knows my mother tried to answer the question for me many, many times.

It’s beyond frustrating going through life being told that someone (or Someone) knows what your purpose is, and your sole responsibility is to figure out what they are keeping from you. You’re always chasing rainbows, chasing after the Unattainable Question, and always dissatisfied due to the fact that you can never really know what they – the World Soul, God, Ed, Whoever – is thinking. And you know what? I’m 45 and I’m just tired of playing the game. Here’s a fact: They – whoever they are – don’t know any more than I do, and they are more preoccupied with figuring out their own purpose than cluing me in on my own. SO I QUIT. I don’t want to know what THEY think my Personal Purpose is supposed to be. And, of course, now that I’ve stopped asking what it is, it presented itself to me without effort.

The other night lying in bed it hit me, the Purpose of Life, the answer to the Big Question, the mystery solved. It’s a three point plan with room for revision, but here it is in a nutshell:

The Purpose of Life:

1. Be a Bringer of Joy

2. Be a Facilitator of Healing

3. Be a Provider of Service

That’s it. That’s the whole list. All three foci are about elevating people, assisting people, making people’s lives better. If you’re a performer, comedian, actor, or musician, you are a bringer of joy where there is some measure of healing and service hoped for or implied. If you are a doctor or other medical practitioner, you are a healer who provides service and joy (think relief) in recovery. If you are in any service related field, and you do it with a willing and open heart, you are hopefully making people’s lives better and easier bringing joy and healing. End of story. Mystery solved.

How you choose to implement these three aims is up to you, based on your interests and inclination, and no one, NO ONE, can decide that for you – not your parents, friends, God, or partner. That part comes from you. But instead of concentrating on the vocation or avocation first, ask yourself “How can I be a bringer of joy, facilitator of healing, and provider of service?” to humanity and let the rest spring from your passions and the unique love that you can share with everyone else.

Oh, and one last thing: Joy, Healing, and Service are the real stem careers. They all stem from a place of unconditional love. They all stem from making the world better, easier, more beautiful, more radiant, and yes, godly when they are real and “on purpose.” So you could say then that the real Purpose of Life is Love, and there are three Pathways to Purpose: Joy, Healing, and Service. And the Primary Path you take is up to you, but make sure that the other Secondary Paths are accessible and frequently visited by you as path jumping is essential and strongly encouraged. Leaving any of the Pathways untraveled and overgrown leads to frustration, disillusionment, and a lack of fulfillment, rather than Purpose.

And there it is in a nutshell and yes, other people have said it better than me, but this is my “A-Ha” way of seeing it for what it is. The Purpose of Life is Love given freely by you to Humanity through Joy, Healing, and Service. It’s no mystery anymore. Now go figure out for yourself how your Passions inspire you to embark on one of the Three Pathways leading to your unique version of Life’s Purpose which is ultimately Unconditional Love for all the world.

Good Luck, God Bless, Namaste, and let me know if this makes sense.

Jason

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My son contemplating his Purpose.

Ascending the Summit

Well, it’s late spring again, and that can mean only one thing: The Hay House World Summit has rolled around again, and I’m cramming in as much free bathroom morning listening as I can to inspire my day and change my life for the better. Since 2013, Hay House Publishing has held a multi-week free online listening intensive where people can choose from a range of emerging and established self-help and spiritual authors and listen to one-hour conversations with them. There are movies, supplementary worksheets, and this year a self-guided workbook with multiple courses of study; and the best part is that it’s all free!

Let me say up front I’m not affiliated with Hay House and I get no money or press from praising the Summit. It’s an event that for the last four years I have participated in and look forward to each year, and I just really think it’s worth people’s time to participate in. In 2012, Nancy took me to Atlanta for my birthday for their I Can Do It conference. I Can Do It is essentially the same thing as the Summit but on steroids. You are there, the speakers are there, and for several days you are flooded with positive energy, thoughts, and personalities. The big difference of course is the cost, and I Can Do It isn’t cheap, and it’s gotten much more expensive since we went.

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Nancy and I at I Can Do It! Atlanta, 2012

But for those of us who are financially challenged, the Hay House World Summit fills a much needed void, and until we can put the money aside to go a live event again, it will do nicely.

As of this writing, the HHWS 2016 is starting Week 3 of four, so there’s still time to get a healthy dose of listening in. Since it started on May 7, I’ve listened to Brendan Burchard, Louise Hay, Greg Frucci, Mike Dooley, and J.B. Glossinger, and watched three short movies – Painting the Future, My Greatest Teacher, and the late Debbie Ford’s The Shadow Effect – all for free. I’ve learned about bone broth, the GAPs Diet, strategies for planning my day more productively; I’ve done a guided meditation, and contemplated my “shadow nature.” With 100 authors to listen to over the four weeks (plus multiple movies), your experience won’t be mine, but there’s no telling what you may learn to help you grow, or at the very least, what you may want to learn more about after the Summit closes. 

Hay House World Summit 2016

And make no mistake, I’m very much aware that one of the purposes of the HHWS is to expand awareness of these authors’ work so that you want to go out and buy their books, hear them speak, and explore more of what they do. That’s a given. Without someone buying their merchandise they wouldn’t exist. But it’s also a given that by signing up you are not obligated to buy anything; just listen, explore, learn, and grow.

If you’re interested in signing up here’s the link to begin.

https://www.hayhouseworldsummit.com/

Now if you’ll excuse me Louise Hay has something uplifting to tell me in my bathtub, and I don’t want to miss what she has to say. Won’t you join us?

Namaste,

Jason

 

Fresh Start / Fresh Haiku

So, having said in my last post that I want to expand the scope of my blog to include musings and such other than poetry, (restoring it back to it’s original intent) I have been doing a lot of writing lately and do want to share a few of my more recent haiku. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater; just be more than I have been of late. Here’s some fresh haiku over the last few days.

Enjoy!

3571
I have no limits.
I reject limitation.
It is the World’s Lie.

3579
Let go of the good
In order to find the great.
You have to make room.

3581
Beginning/Ending:
Each is both and both are one.
Circle unbroken.

3582
God is in us all;
Apparent in our actions,
Art and behavior.

3584
Play God a little.
Use your imagination.
The world’s yours to make.

3587
If you’ve lost your way
Take responsibility
And find the road back.

3588
Positivity
Is my personal platform:
Good, light, life, love, peace.

3589
Entertain no thought
That lowers your energy,
Hopes or self-esteem.

3590
You are of value.
This was never in question,
But bears reminding.

3591
No one is coming.
The rescue has been canceled.
You are on your own.