And so it is Christmas…

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year” – Charles Dickens


I always loved Christmas and looked forward to the time (about 2 weeks before the day) that my father would let me into his study to see his latest creation of the year… an elaborate and each year unique three-dimensional rendition of the nativity.

The scene would rise from a large base about 3 foot off the floor featuring valleys, lakes and mountains, the highest of which supporting a fragrant real Christmas tree decorated with tinsel, gold & red glass balls and clip-on white wax candles with beautiful red bows at their base,climbing up to the study’s tall ceiling leaving only enough space for the brilliant silver star to be placed on its top. Each year this massive setting would grow; as he would continually add new figurines and different landscapes, to take nearly one-quarter of his study at my last recollection. It was a thing of wonder…

From the day he would unveil it onward, I would spend my evenings before going to bed admiring the details of the scene, the colored sawdust paths lined by real and fragrant mosses, the skaters in the large frozen lake, the shaped and painted canvas he used to form the mountains with bits of evergreen and patches of snow here and there and the joy in the faces of each figurine placed just so throughout his amazing effort and always aimed at the lit manger where a beautifully sculpted baby Jesus lay flanked by his parents and various animals.

I remember staring at it for hours taking on the scent that forever shall remind me and “be” of Christmas, imagining stories for each of the characters… until my mother would bribe me with some milk and a warm cookie to go to bed. I truly learned to dream and fly as Peter Pan only could, by the power of the scene and the immense love that my father poured into it… and me.

One day in my very early twenties, with his work complete, my bigger-than-life father passed-on and – although I stopped celebrating it for many years afterwards until my beautiful daughters graced this world – that strong Christmas vision and light burnt deep within me, continued and remains a time to celebrate the everlasting gift that was this amazing man.

He did well by me and throughout the year I remember him often and try to live with the same richness and quality that he exemplified throughout his short life. I hope that one day, when my daughters experience their first Christmas without me, that they will be as touched and inspired by a love that has no limitations nor knows of seasons.

This is a time of year that more than any other speaks of rebirth; of letting go and imagining new possibilities. It is a time of softness, of peace, of intimacy and hope.

May you all and those dear to you have a warm and memorable Christmas. May your experiences lead you to feel touched by Joy and Wonder and compelled to share-it-forward every single day. For that is the essence of life… so aptly marked by the event.

With Love…

Thinking differently…

How many of us read a newspaper or walk around our offices and neighborhoods and wonder if the people we read about and sometimes interact with actually really “think” at all…?

There seems to be no shortage of headlines to shock our system; the discovery of some new fraud fed by greed and gullibility, rising pressures driving folks to catastrophic breakdowns… to mother’s abandoning their children, teenagers killing each other, father’s enslaving and abusing daughters. We read about wars, starvation and death, massive man-made ecological blunders that challenge life at a macro level, irresponsible excuses and inadequate governance responses… how many of us shake our concerned heads and think; “what were they “thinking”…?”

Do we ever get the feeling that “thinking” per se, any form of informed and balanced “thinking” at all, would be a “nice” enough goal for us humans in-general to strive for… to give us all a chance; a reasonable alternative to the “unbelievable stuff” we brace ourselves each morning to read and witness throughout the day?

Why such a big preamble to share a view on what it means to “think differently”? Because I believe it is relevant to note and foundational to try to understand the potential effect this continued exposure to abnormal occurrences; to such endless mass of challenges, may be having on our psyches…

Inner Conflicts

Image by Henry M. Diaz via Flickr

Are we at-risk of “normalizing” what we are continually exposed to? Of distorting and maybe even impairing how we think about ourselves and others relative to this world we live in? Are we in-fact sub-consciously “thinking differently” as it were, just so that we can keep functioning in a socially acceptable manner?

And if this may be happening to those of us who are relatively safe and well-off in our respective “developed countries” and neighborhoods, how desensitized and disoriented are those of us that live on “the edge”; at the center of these events…without the relative “safety” of structure and hope, without roofs and walls to mimic some form of emotional protection…surviving if at all possible instinctively, whilst facing challenges and extinction day-in and day-out to levels the rest of us probably can’t adequately imagine?

How differently – assuming we could – would we have to “think” to effectively help ourselves in these circumstances even if only marginally?

CNN broadcasts a segment titled; “Impact Your World”…it came to mind whilst I pecked-away writing this; to Impact Our World…is what “thinking” – differently or otherwise – aims to accomplish me thinks. What it means to me.

We humans were designed to think…we MUST THINK and have the opportunity to ACT on our thoughts not just in London or Chicago or Beijing neighborhoods but in Kandahar, Haiti and Khartoum…just a handful of examples to indicate a much broader geographic base, so that our thoughts and actions can collectively impact our world hopefully in a benevolent way. Otherwise, our world as we broadly experience it these days will in the end completely desensitize, overwhelm and possibly eliminate us all-together.

Some days as we “read the news”, this may not seem like such a bad idea if only we were able to hit a “reset” button without doing away with ourselves by the process.

Thank goodness we stopped and thought about it.

The Opposite of Fear…

“Delusion” is an appropriate opposite to “Fear”. This based on my belief that “fear” isn’t always bad… rather in its basic form; it is nothing more than the natural result of our own built-in self-preservation organism.

I like to sky-dive… have done it many times over the years; some may say that I’m even “good” at it, but I tell you truthfully that “fear” is a good steady companion every time I step to the airplane’s door and think about what I am about to do.

I also am known for speaking out and arguing what I believe in Board meetings and other events that could result in unexpected career consequences… again, “fear” is the right word to describe the butterflies in my stomach and rapid heartbeats just before my mouth opens.

To not experience such natural feelings in either case, could only mean that something is seriously amiss within my construct… that my sense of “reality” is flawed, or that I’m delusional.

To be “fearful” is an important and valuable experience; whether “fearful” of being killed if you’re a solider in the front lines, of going into surgery (having someone you don’t know cut us apart and put us back together again), or of having our heartbroken… a healthy dose of “fear” comes in handy to remind us to prepare, learn as much as we can, be honest with ourselves and then WILL beyond the discomfort; the natural warning, to do what we have been charged to do or believe should be done.

I do know a few people who have no apparent sense of “fear”… they are good folks to try to avoid like the plague in my view, for fear is healthy and requires no antidote beyond preparation and will. The later, what gives us mastery over lesser organisms.

One more thought… One of the most “fearful” moments in my life took place when a doctor placed my brand new 3.25 lbs twin baby daughters in my arms.

In that moment I realized my life had changed forever, and I had no idea what THAT meant… what was about to happen, would they “make it”, how would I take care of “all of this”… fifteen years later I still don’t know the answer to some of these questions.

Healthy “fear” came first…then, I willed past it and fell in-love.

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