Welcome to SBH
Thanks for stopping by the bear cave and checking it out. Being serious all the time is un-bear-able, so we have added a great comic strip at the bottom of page for your enjoyment. Please feel free to leave your thoughts,or shoot us an e-mail with the link to the right. We'd love to hear from all the creatures in the forest.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


"Truth fears no trial."

No, seriously, I am telling the truth.

There is a scene from a Hollywood movie called " A few good men" that I love. The scene embraces a confrontation between a Navy lawyer (Tom Cruse) and a Marine Colonel ( Jack Nicholson). The lawyer is trying to get to the truth of an event. As the confrontation heats up the Colonel yells " You can't handle the truth."

This scene is very powerful to me. I can relate to it on many different levels. Whats is truth? I have been told that truth is relative. Truth is based on our individual perceptions. Maybe that is correct, to a point. I think somewhere, somehow there must be basic truths that we all see as the same; but what are they? We (humanity) tend to turn to science for many of these basic truths. Often times we later learn that science was guessing (hypothesizing) to start with. But what about those truths that we sense inside of us but can't touch or see? Truths, like knowing the presence of danger or evil. I think that after thousands of years of layered deceptions, many truths have been so covered up that we may never know them.

How is it that we tend to get stuck on our version of the truth as we see it and shut out all other possibilities? How can we be so arrogant to think that we have enough knowledge to define what is true or not? We get caught up in our version of life, quarrel with anyone that presents a different picture, and storm off without gaining any insight from the encounter. Surely we can not be so fragile, so weak in our beliefs, so afraid to find out that we are wrong that we ignore truths right in front of us. If we (humanity) ever intend to grow into any form of "new enlightenment" the first basic truth we should come to is that we do not know what is true! Suspect everything, test everything and hold on to that which is good.

Another universal truth I think exists is this, for me to find the truth, I need other's perceptions of the truth. Maybe together we can see the whole which eludes me individually. If we are ever going to really pursue such efforts as the discovery of truth, we need to quite being our brothers enemy and learn that diversity has a very powerful place in this journey for truth. Our differences becomes our strengths! Our strengths will cast light on the constant ebb and flow of good and evil , and we may one day, wisely, commit to where we stand in the choices of right and wrong.

Henry David Thoreau

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."


I Just had to post this one.......


A guy buys a new Lincoln Navigator for $42,500.00.He and a
friend go duck hunting in upper Wisconsin. It's mid-winter and of course all of the lakes are frozen. These two guys go out on the ice with their GUNS, a DOG, and of course the new NAVIGATOR.

They decide they want to make a natural looking open water area for the ducks to focus on, something for the decoys to float on.Now making a hole in the ice large enough to invite a passing duck, is going to take a little more power than the average drill auger can produce.So, out of the back of the new Navigator comes a stick of dynamite with a short 40 second fuse.

Now our two Rocket Scientists,afraid they might slip on the ice while trying to run away after lighting the fuse (and becoming toast, along with the Navigator), decide on the following course of action: they light the 40 second fuse; then, with a mighty thrust, they throw the stick of dynamite asfar away as possible.Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the NAVIGATOR, the GUNS, and the DOG....???

Let's talk about the dog: A highly trained Black Lab used for
RETRIEVING; especially things thrown by the owner. You guessed it: the dog takes off across the ice at a high rate of speed and grabs the stick of dynamite, with the burning 40 second fuse, just as it hits the ice.The two men swallow, blink, start waving their arms and, with veins in their necks swelling to resemble stalks of rhubarb, scream and holler at the dog to stop The dog, now apparently cheered on by his master, keeps coming. One hunter panics, grabs the shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 bird shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab.The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, then continues on. Another shot, and this time the dog, still
standing, becomes really confused and of course terrified, thinks these two geniuses have gone insane.

The dog takes off to find cover, UNDER the brand new Navigator.The men continue to scream as they run. The red hot exhaust pipe on the truck touches the dog's rear end, he yelps, drops the dynamite under the truck and takes off after his master.Then
" "" "" "" "" "
BOOOOOOOOOOOOM "" "" "" "" "" ! ! ! !

The truck is blown to bits and sinks to the bottom of the lake, leaving the two idiots standing there with "I can't believe this just happened" looks on their faces.The insurance company says that sinking a vehicle in a lake byillegal use of explosives is NOT COVERED by the policy. And he stillhad yet to make the first of those $560.00 a month payments.

The dog is okay. . .doing fine.

Some days, some people should just stay in bed!!

Edith Wharton

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

Colossians 4:6

" Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."

What is the right answer, for $100, Jack!

Recently, like yesterday, an anonymous reader left a great comment on my Group Therapy post. One that I am compelled to respond to more in depth here.

The reader commented; ".......I think that many of us feel that we have the answers that are best for that other person, and when we send that salvo of word-bullets to its target, there might be that desire to help, but the receiver is always hurt and embarrassed, regardless if they show it or not........."

I am not sure if the receiver is always hurt, but the point is that we most likely do not have all the answers. This started to make me think, which is sometimes a good thing. Where did we learn this habit of throwing answers around with the notion that we are right? I mean it is not an isolated occurrence, is it? My mind went back to grade school. The one with the answer seemed to always gain favor. Becoming the one with the answer was a positive thing, until we hit adulthood. More often then not, having an answer now days is not always the best thing. In fact maybe it is better to struggle for our own answers. There is something to be said for discover. So, contrary to what we were socialized to do in school, if being quick to come up with an answer may not the best thing, what is?

Questions! Having a good question in my opinion, seems to be better for everyone. This approach does not assume that someone else is slower than us, and it gives the receiver the option to redirect the effort. This approach also always us to help each other discover our own answers. How we ask questions is just as important. The difference between whats wrong? and what do you want to change? is huge. The latter directs the conversation into a positive path. In any case, regardless of the metaphors we use to describe them, it is important that we remain aware of our words and their effects upon others, period!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Leo Tolstoy

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

The past will not get us there!

The tools, methods, and truths of our fathers will not meet the growing need to address the vast differences of our children. If anyone thinks that he or she can remain idle in their beliefs, truths and faith and be effective in today's world, they are sadly mistaken. Antiquated thinking, stubborn ignorance and the failure to grow following generations into mature and responsible contributors has created a global moral crisis. The "let someone else deal with it" mentality has ran us aground in a beat up, broken down vessel.

There is no way my father can imagine the world my son is growing up in. The generational differences are equal to that of a tubed radio and a dual core Pentium 4 porthole to universal knowledge and information. One man's say so is no longer good enough to convince anyone. Just because the man at the pulpit says this or that does not make it the truth any more. If you liked milk, to bad, it is time to eat meat! We must grow up, walk away from jealousy and quarrelling. A man named Paul once wrote

" Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, your are still not ready. You
are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

With all the study that has gone into the milk, I wonder what the meat would have been? What would Paul have told the Church of Corinth if they were ready? We can no longer serve milk and expect to grow any kind of apostolic radical faith! It has not worked in the 2000 years of effort so far, why do we think it will ever work? My father never had to worry about drive by shootings, AIDS, paroled predators, vast amounts of narcotics and so on. My son has no clue about oil lambs, milking cows, picking-growing-killing your dinner, and so on. Times have changed and so must the bride. But what exactly do we change?

I had a meeting not long ago with an group of Orthodox pastors. They presented several questions to me. One, how should they address sin in the youth? Two, should they change how they teach from the pulpit? Mind you, we are talking about 2000 years of tradition, literally. Traditions haded down to each generation as it was given to them by the Apostles themselves! They are wise men. What a great question. These men see the need to change in order to reach today's generation, who is willing to walk away from tradition, but wanting to keep the faith pure and clean, no compromises. I could help them only with the issues related to their youth. The second question is still out there. What do we change? Or, how do we get to the meat Paul talked about? What is the meat? Maybe the concept of radical faith is simply faith in motion! I know I am tired of milk, how about you?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Winston Churchill

"Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened."

The Warrior Monks

To what allegiance are we granted peace? Or, is the pursuit of peace futile? Christ said he did not come to bring peace, I can see his point now. Is religion only to control us, or can we find within it a pathway to peace? What is true peace anyway? If we are to find peace within our religions, why then do we find, through out history and across the globe, that our religions have given birth to orders of warrior monks? Religious men sworn to oaths that have brought death and suffering to millions protecting what?

The Jewish & Christian Old Testament God was absolute! A single God, tested by many, who could and would deal out tremendous destruction of the wicked. The Christian New Testament God is much more user friendly. Why? Is not Jehovah the same, yesterday, today, and forever? Why do we have so many variants of the same basic faiths? Has man used religion to seize power and satisfy greed? Why are today's generations leaving the church by the thousands? Where we will find a pure pursuit of the faith and in turn discover some form of internal peace?

It would appear that every nation has one thing in common; some form of religious faith. Why are we (humanity) so consumed by a higher being if there is not one? Where does this global quest of mankind come from? It would be near impossible for me to come to the conclusion that faith is man made based solely on the vast diversity this quest is found. I believe that God is alive and well today, but his people are fragmented and mislead. Did the warrior monks kill people to hide secrets of deceit and misrepresentation?

Where does all of this leave us, the searchers, in this quest for true and pure faith? I do not know. I do however, think that we must start our quest from deep within our very souls. We must start asking ourselves some very hard questions. Find a mountain top, and as you gaze across the earth upon your feet, tell me that there is no God and that he did not make this thing we call life. Just maybe we should become warrior monks, if we dare, and first conquer the region we know as ourselves; our own greed, anger, selfishness, pride, and arrogance. We must conquer these things that we have allowed to build massive fortresses deep within us, preventing the truth from entering our small fortified kingdoms!

Mark Twain

"It is curious—curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Friday, November 24, 2006

A prayer for our warriors!

I received this tonight as one of those "pass it on chain "emails. Instead I will post it! The prayer below was part of the e-mail. There is a side to our American Military that holds true to its faith. I am sadden however, that our country often times is seen in a not so good light by many around the world. America is the melting pot for all cultures, religions and creeds, this is the freedom that our military protect. May God bless them and protect them!

"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they
protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they
perform for us in our time of need. Amen."Prayer Request: When you receive
this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the
world. There is nothing attached. Just send this to people in your
address book. Do not let it stop with you. Of all the gifts you could give
a Marine, US Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & others
deployed in harm's way, prayer is the very best one."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, U.S. Poet, essayist and transcendentalist (1803-1882)

"It is not length of life, but depth of life."

Robert Fulghum

"Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, something you give away."

The secret hidden in the struggle

The secret hidden in the struggle lays within our soul! What greater drive is there? What else could beckon us to leave the safety of the valley floor and pursue the grandeur of the mountain tops? Why do we push ourselves to the brink of destruction, only to do it again tomorrow? What are we in search of. Salvation? Salvation from what or who? What do we think is so valuable that we face tremendous fear, agonizing pain, and body trembling exhaustion to find or posses?

How is it that a chuck of rock, dirt, ice, snow can make a life changing impact on our self image? I think that the secret is in the struggle. Just as a forge creates the opportunity to change the shape of iron, the struggle creates the opportunity for change within us. But, opportunity for change does not mean change. This exposes a watershed of choice. I can choose to simply experience life and apply none of it to my soul, or I can choose to apply all of it! To me, that is the difference between life in two dimensional black and white and life in three dimensional technicolor.

If you are bored with life then you have not experienced life! Every inch of each struggle holds a gift. A gift that is meant to be given to some one else once discovered. Every moment I take a breath is a gift. Are we big enough or strong enough to treat every breath we take with the same excitement as a child when they get a gift at Christmas? Can we unwrap every moment, eager to see what is inside? If we can, then the struggle, no matter how tough the wrapper, becomes exhilarating. Lofty? I am sure it is. Because sometimes life does in fact suck. But what a way to try and live our lives. Embrace the struggle, suck the nectar out of every moment. Go to sleep with no regrets from that day. When we wake up the next morning we just might find our salvation!

Robert Kennedy

"The greatest truth must be recognition that in every man, in every child is the potential for greatness."

Group Therapy

Some how, a nice tight group always makes me feel better about things! However, tight groups just don't happen by themselves! One has to have mastery of ones person and ones environment!

Controlling yourself; your body, your mind, and your intentions is key to positive group therapy. Understanding how you respond in various environments is also extremely important. The interaction within an environment dictates how well a therapy session turns out.

For example; one would use different approaches at night time then at day time, In cold weather opposed to warm weather, high altitude opposed to low altitude. Your environment definitely effects your therapy sessions.

Now that I have painted a picture using a target, and drawn you into an assumption that I am talking about shooting weapons, let me expose my true target. I am talking about how we interact with our life's daily environments. If you let life just happen then you are not experiencing life as it was meant to be experienced. Controlling yourself; your body, your mind, and your intentions are details that either make life happen to you or for you, your choice. Mastery of your environment; understanding how you interact within various social groups, knowing how social groups behave at night time or day time, and knowing how nature effects those social groups becomes paramount to positive group therapy.

We do not pull a gun out and just start waving it around. People get nervous. But we constantly pull our mouths out and wound people. Imagine our tongues or mouths as a weapon. How often do you put nice tight groups right where you wanted them on the prescribed target? Or, do you just throw rounds down range hoping life just happens for you?

We have the power, with our words, to create nice tight groups or to completely miss the target and hit some unintended sensitivity. Personally, I love it when I hit the target with a nice tight group. I love to see some one come alive by a comment I make. I love it when others see the possibilities that their life contains. On the other hand, I feel sick when I miss. Hurting or destroying another persons hopes and dreams is unacceptable for me these days. I am learning how to gain mastery of myself, as well as, learning how to be affective in my various environments. Our comments, mere words, become bullets. We get to choose if they are bullets of healthy healing power or bullets that destroy others self images. Choose wisely and master your weapon!


“Seek not good from without: seek it from within yourselves, or you will never find it”


“In order to please others, we loose our hold on our life’s purpose.”

The fabric of man

Have you ever thought about what makes you "tick?" What are your morals, principles, values and where did you get these extremely important foundational beliefs from? Can we really articulate the difference between these beliefs? We should be able to, they make up the core of who we are, dont they?

The dictionary says that morals are; Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior. That would leave me to believe that a moral is something acted upon, hence the behavior.

The definition of a principle is; The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments. OK, so now we have a collective of morals that produce behavior.

The definition of a value is; A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. So this would bring us to a belief structure that produces behavior/s that are deemed worthwhile and desirable. So, what are yours? And more importantly, I think, is where did they come from? Does your foundational beliefs really direct you to a positive, worthwhile, or desirable behavior/s? I would wager that you, like me, have developed these beliefs based off of the level of acceptance you get when you act on them. If this is true, then the social crowd we hang with dictates these beliefs more than we do. So, who is leading this bandwagon of acceptance?

Historically, we can see that men and women who have stood their ground and faced the possibility of rejection became tremendous leaders. Taking a stand, reaching out with acceptance becomes tremendously powerful. But many of us have low self images and would never see our self in such a spot, not really if we were honest, I think. Therefore we set out on a quest to define or prove ourselves to ourselves. This quest has taken the form of adventure risk for many. We throw ourselves into an impossible mix of variables that come with some level of personal cost or risk and we begin our journey of self discovery. We define the threads that make up our internal fabric. But, do we ever take a moment to think about what we want that fabric to look like? Should we sew with threads of humility or arrogance, integrity or deceit, selflessness of selfishness, and so on.

Here lays much of our foolishness. We do not take the time to ask ourselves who we are and who do we want to be. We leave these to others to do it for us. We "guess" or surmise on how others will accept us and then we began to create a fabric. Many times we compromise our foundational beliefs, if we even know what they are, to create a life of remorse. Spend some time, by yourself, and define your foundational beliefs. Create how you want your fabric to look and start defining that character. Not the character that you think someone else wants you to be.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The American Holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!

The leaves are falling off the trees, the temperatures are dropping, and the holidays are here! I think I should go to the Indian casino and have lunch with an Indian to make this whole endeavour realistic. The "old" pictures all have Indians in them, but not the pictures we see today. To really understand the importance of this event we must take a look back at the previous year. Not our previous year, the pilgrim's. They sucked at farming and hunting here in the new world. In fact, they were on the "holy crap we need food diet." So they got over what ever issues they had about the differences of the locals. Hey you, "stands with corn in his pocket" wannabe friends? So the new friendship paid off and the locals taught these new and odd people how to survive ( what a mistake?). So the pilgrims grow and thrived. They created a special day to thank God and their new friends, Thanksgiving. Fast forward a few hundred years to today. We have killed the percentage of Indians, and God is good when we need something! Unbelievable!! Well, I am thankful for the kind hearted Indians that helped out. I wish we saw more of them and their people this time of year, after all they made the difference for us on this day! Different languages, different colors of skin, different worlds collided together and friendships were made and lives were changed forever. Today, for me, it is not about food and family, it is about the condition of our hearts. Can we embrace difference, nurture it, make it grow and can we stand in the gap to protect it?


" “Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.”"

Monday, November 20, 2006

How does adventure effect us?

There are several positive effects adventure has on one's self perceptions. Paradigm busting is a constant when one is engulfed in an adventure. The world becomes bigger and more obtainable in swift brush stroke. Exposure to the elements makes one extremely aware of just how big nature is. And the exposure to such forces brings one to the conclusion that "anywhere" is possible.

But I think the biggest paradigm to break is that of one's self definition. I remember climbing in Yosemite Valley a long time ago. (the picture is not of me, nor of the referred climb, it is of another dude having a paradigm shift I'm sure) I knew that I could not climb 5.11 routes. Why did I know this? Because I told myself this and I believed it. I was out climbing with some friends. We had roped up on a climb that I had no knowledge of, and they would not tell me about. It came to my turn and I struggled all the way up this small crack. I was having fun just climbing. When we were all done my friends told me that is was a 5.11. I did not believe them off course, because I can not climb 5.11. When they showed me the guide book I was shocked. I had a paradigm shift. I took this a step further and asked myself, what else in life have I falsely limited myself too. Now I was no regular 5.11 climber because I did this one route. But I learned that I could be. I never shied away from 5.11 routes based on the "I cant" belief again.

Adventure risk sports have taught me that exploring one's limits can, and is, healthy when done within safe limits. Pushing my own preset limits and learning that I have set these limits way below my abilities, has opened up many new horizons for me. Difficult does not mean impossible. Telling myself "I cant" leads to I wont! Sacred is apart of growing, and growing is sometimes painfully beneficial. Redefining who we are and what we can accomplish, weather it be out in the wild or in the boardroom is very liberating. Not trying is worse than not succeeding. These are just some of the tips of the ice bergs, so to speak, of why I pursue adventure!

Jack Welsh

"Control your destiny or somebody else will."

2000 years of "was up wit you"

"In short, if we observe, we shall find that the animal man is pained by nothing so much as by that which is irrational; and, on the contrary, attracted to nothing so much as to that which is rational. But the rational and the irrational appear such in a different way to different persons, just as the good and the bad, the profitable and the unprofitable. For this reason, particularly, we need discipline, in order to learn how to adapt the preconception of the rational and the irrational to the several things conformably to nature. But in order to determine the rational and the irrational, we use not only the of external things, but we consider also what is appropriate to each person. For to one man it is consistent with reason to hold a chamber pot for another, and to look to this only, that if he does not hold it, he will receive stripes, and he will not receive his food: but if he shall hold the pot, he will not suffer anything hard or disagreeable. But to another man not only does the holding of a chamber pot appear intolerable for himself, but intolerable also for him to allow another to do this office for him. If, then, you ask me whether you should hold the chamber pot or not, I shall say to you that the receiving of food is worth more than the not receiving of it, and the being scourged is a greater indignity than not being scourged; so that if you measure your interests by these things, go and hold the chamber pot. "But this," you say, "would not be worthy of me." Well, then, it is you who must introduce this consideration into the inquiry, not I; for it is you who know yourself, how much you are worth to yourself, and at what price you sell yourself; for men sell themselves at various prices. "

What is amazing to me is that Epictetus wrote this in 101 A.D. He was exploring the idea of self concept and cognitive behavior a long time ago. Choices, how do we arrive at them? What is worse, hold a bed pan for someone or being whipped? Rational and irrational choices are determined by who? What is our belief structure based on? Can I choose what I believe, or is it dictated to me by my environment? Can I choose my environment, or am I subject to the environment chosen for me?

Why do we choose to be victims? Why do we choose to be offended? Why do we value the opinion of others more than our own when it comes to our self concept? I have a choice, and so do you! Who you are, or how you see your self is a choice! Loser or winner, victim or victor, weak or strong are internal choices that we make. Choices that dictate what we become in life. We desperately need to get a grip, grow up, and start living the lives we have dreamed about living.

Catherine Pulsifer

"Those who wait to take action until they find themselves in a desperate situation face more difficulties than they need to. "

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why I cry at night!

I am not sure why I feel motivated to share the following stories, but I do. I talk a lot about perceptions and beliefs and adventure risk, maybe I feel I should talk about some of the events that have shaped some of mine. Events that have shaken the very core of my belief structures, as well as, touched my heart in ways words can not express.

I am sure most of us have at one time or another cried ourselves to sleep. Have you ever had to drink yourself to sleep because the pictures in your mind were so disturbing that sleep became your tormentor? When I was a young man I had to go to a home and notify a young mother of three children that her husband had been killed and was not ever going to come home again! I did not know that she had a preexisting panic disorder. Her screams and Lamentations chilled my soul. She asked me to tell the children. I had to go home that morning and answer my wife's question “so how was your day?" I could not sleep for three days straight. If I closed my eyes I could hear that widow screaming and her children asking me what was wrong with mommy. In fact in the quite, as I write this, I can see it as if it happened this morning! I try to spend as much time as I can with my own three children , but it is never enough!

I walked up to an open garage door of a nice middle class family. I can see the mother seated to the back of the room, crying. I can see her older son to my left crying. I can see her younger son lying in front of me with paramedics frantically working to bring him back to life. This young man was gone. By his own hand over a lie told to him by another child. I soon found myself crying and had to retreat to my vehicle and regain my composure. Answers to this tragedy? There were none!

On a dark night, on a dusty dirt road, I walked up on a young lifeless body dressed in dark clothes. I was the first one to reach this child. A 12 gauge shot gun blast pattern covered his back. Shot for stealing change out of a car. Quarters, dimes, and nickels is what life was worth that night. He lived because a helicopter just happened to be available to fly him to a trauma center which was over an hour away by land.

A loud parking lot in front of a pool hall on a Friday night. A 19 year old boy lies on the cold pavement in front of me. His friend is trying to stop the bleeding from his chest. As paramedics start to work on him, he leans up slightly, grabs the paramedic's shirt and pleads for help. Those were his last words here on earth. Killed over who had the best looking car!

I can’t look at burnt chicken anymore without getting sick. It reminds me of an 18 month old baby boy. Killed by his parents. The details I will not share here.

I arrive at a car wreck. I had to pull a mother away from her teenage daughter who was pinned inside the car. I knew the girl was gone! The mother begged me to tell her that her daughter would be ok. Oh, how I wanted to lie, it would have been easy however cruel.

These are only a few of the events that are burned into my history. Moments that have chiseled at my surface, shaping me, bending me. How the hell do life's philosophic concepts hold up when life becomes bloody? I think these are the moments that define our commitment to life itself. We can choose to let these moments keep us pinned to the floor, or we can struggle back to our feet and keep fighting for what we believe in!

We (society) have allowed life to become cheap and meaningless. We complain about stupid stuff. We are no longer appalled by the meaningless deaths around us. We pay for entertainment that makes us callous to death and the value of life. I personally longer cry for the lives we have lost. I cry for the lives we are about to lose. These lives, I value more than the ones actually living them. We can make a difference if we dare to care. We must become more committed to valuable life then the many are committed to being content with value void lives! Save a life, reach out and let someone know you care! Let them know that they matter! Let them know that their life has great value.

Sir Winston Churchill

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. "

Edgar Watson Howe

"Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives, and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist."

Phyllis Bottome

"There are two ways of meeting difficulties: You alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them. "

Achievement, what the hell is that?

"The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it." Epictetus

Achievement, can any of you define this word? More importantly, would any of the definitions mean the same thing? Most likely not! Unless, we are on some team fighting for the same goal, even then there will be slight variations to what the goal really is. We set out to define such words of meaning based on our own views and values. A man on wall street would see this word as meaning something completely different than a woman in Iraq.

So why then, do we continue to judge others based off of our interpretation of achievement? Why do we "look down" on the achievements of others that just do not measure up to ours? Why to do persecute ourselves when our achievements do not measure up to others whom we allow to judge us? Is this not absurd?

Why do we blame everyone or everything else for our choice to live a life with unrealized achievements and limited glory? That is the tendency when we are not happy with our situation, is it not? When another person does better at something when tend to tear them down. How dare they make me look bad? Well maybe they are not the problem. Maybe it is our own choices that prevent us from achieving what we want out of life!

If we set our own interpretation of achievement, than the meanings of words like glory and difficulty are just as ambiguous! So then, I submit that the difficulties in our lives are our own making. Or more importantly, The affects of those difficulties are ours to own by choice. If we tell ourselves that I can only achieve a certain level, and I believe myself, than I will never experience the glory found at another level. The term glory seeker has always seemed to have been a negative to me. But maybe it is a positive attribute that makes one seek greater difficulties in life. Maybe it contains the drive to push past the "I can't" barriers and discover a new realm of freedom. A freedom that embraces ownership. An ownership that shows us the probability of a dream realized. It is your choice. Define the meanings as you will. Just remember that your interpretation will define the limits to your success!

Epictetus, c 200 AD

"People are disturbed not by things but by the view they take of them."

My many Masters

After reading a post on a blog called Adventure Risk about Mr. Barrett's trip to India, I started to think about the paths that we create with money. Where our money comes from and where it goes once it leaves our hands. I wonder what stories the dollar bills in my wallet would tell me if they could talk. I wondered about what heart aches would be felt from the stories about a dollars journey. I wonder if our compassionate giving creates more damage then good to those who we think we are helping?

I can remember a conversation I had with a fellow world traveler while I was staying in a youth hostel in Europe in 1989. The fellow was named Gavin, an Australian who was on a very long "walk about." He told of unbelievable things he witnessed in India during his time there. He told me of parents mutilating there children to make them better beggars, generating greater compassion from tourist and therefore generating more money. As I thought about all this I began to create a story line based off of a dollars journey, It went something like this.

The dollar is printed and sent to a bank. From there, the bill's journey threads several lives together. The journey takes the bill from hard workers to dope dealers. All the while the bill tells of the emotions it feels and sees as it makes its way. A business man gives it to a starving girl who takes the bill home to show her parents. Parents to take it away to pay for street medication (drugs) to subdue their own failures. The drug dealers give it to bone breakers to rough up a drug user who owes. The journey would take this bill in and out of the positive and negative lifestyles found in our communities.

It made me think about how and where I spend my money. I might not be able to stop many of the negatives in the world but I can make some efforts to limit the in-direct support of such activities! I wonder if it even matter to make such an effort. What do you think?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A little humor!

I have not posted any humorous type stuff so I will venture here.

Mans definition of a movie,

Two hours where a women won't talk and a man does not have to!

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

Make me one with everything!

Diana Rankin

"Instead of thinking about where you are, think about where you want to be. It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success."

Soren Kierkegaard

"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming."

The stranger in the mirror!

Have you ever woke up and walked into your bathroom, looked into the mirror, and said "who the hell is that?" I have! In fact I have done this on many occasions. The first time this weird event happened to me was when I was still a teenage boy. I was a scared and insecure young man who had just graduated from the Marine Corps boot camp. The image I saw in the mirror of a young confidant Marine dressed in dress Blues did not match the boy I felt inside. I stared into the mirror in disbelief, wondering what would become of this person I was looking at. Of course, like always, I became accustomed to the stranger in the mirror. Little mirror anomalies would occur from time to time as I made rank. Then another ground shaking stranger showed up in the mirror. A groom! The first stranger was bad enough, but this guy scared the crap out of me. Responsibility, security, stability was written in what few wrinkles he wore on his face. This stranger was going to kill my free spirit, my last minute road trips to the local climbing mecca, and my laid back approach to house keeping. Who the hell did he think he was?

Well, I became used to him as well. As time went on and as seasons of life have changed there have been these moments spent with new strangers in the mirror. Some I have greeted with the statement of "about time knuckelhead." While, others have been a shock to say the least! Where did he come from and why. As I look back and see the list of strange faces in the mirror I realize the growth each one has brought me. I do not fear the new strangers to come. In fact, I have learned how to dictate them!

Here is a little exercise I do these days to help me achieve or dictate what stranger I will see next. I picture an image of what I what to see in the mirror's future. I see this image, I own this image, I become this image. I first tried this when I developed a desire to be a business owner. I started to picture myself as a successful confident owner. I become used to that image. I began to act like the image in my virtual mirror. And before I knew it I owned a business and was doing good. My new stranger is a large land owner. I guess we will see how that turns out. I know this may sound corny, but it works! Actors use mirrors to develop character behavior. This is much the same, but you are developing your own destiny. Give it a shot, you just might become that which you dream!

Baruch Spinoza

"Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy 231st Birthday Marines

"You're making the wrong assumption that a Marine by himself is outnumbered."

General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wrestling with weakness?

Strength and weakness have always been a part of my struggle in this life. I have always wanted to be strong and appear strong. However, I have always seemed to feel weak and perceived that I appear weak! Nowadays I imagine the truth is somewhere in between. I have had jobs that take great internal and external strength. But these jobs have not helped my struggle to understand, nor to obtain that which I think I want.

There is a verse in the Bible that has always perplexed me. The passage can be found in the book of 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, versus 10. The writer (Paul) is writing to a Church (Corinth) and there is some discussion about Paul not coming to this church in person. The passage that has caused me much contemplation is " .....;for when I am weak, then I am strong." I used to believe that this was about humility, but not anymore. I used to think it was about teamwork because we all know that weak people work in groups where limited strengths are multiplied, this too has fallen away as an understanding. I think there is two concepts that have shed some light on this issue for me. One is Mercy. This alone is another elusive concept for most of us. The best explanation for this dynamic word is this, "Mercy is not receiving what you deserve." Basically you have a whipping coming and some one lets you off. The second term is Grace. Grace, in simple terms, is getting what you do not deserve.

I have been in situations where I have received both, as well as, I have handed out both. It is in the reflection of these situations that I think I have gained some insight on this passage of Paul's. I have gone on and on about perceptions, both internal and external, and the dynamics of basic cognitive behavior. All of this plays out here. Strength and weakness has a bi-layer composition. The external layer, where most of us spend much of our cognitive time, consist of a physically strong person. I used to picture this buff dude acting weak and giving mercy to his opponents. Kind of like Maximus the Merciful does in the movie Gladiator. This is all well and good, but I think we miss Paul's point here. The real gem of Paul's, is the internal issue related to strength and weakness. A person who has internal strength, knowing that God is in control of all things, does not have to busy about trying to appear strong. Once we realize that we have the internal strength to persevere all things we then become strong. We do not have to "fluff" ourselves up, nor do we become offended so easily! We are also much more willing to see life's issues from a more open point of view. Arguments of right and wrong become a meaningless endeavour. This, I think, is where Paul wanted the church of Corinth to grow. I can not help but picture Asian martial arts masters; great internal strength housed in a very humble soul.

As a supervisor I know I have the ability to hammer subordinates, but why? This is only a just effort if I want to appear strong while I know that I am weak inside. No, I will take the slow-to-anger and the apparently-weak approach, in an effort to mercifully allow them to grow into the champions I see them as; regardless of their self concept. As Paul said " Therefore I am well content with weakness..." I think that I am starting to see his point finally. What do you think?

Thanks to Alan Bennett Andre Gide

"The thing I am most aware of is my limits. And this is natural; for I never, or almost never, occupy the middle of my cage; my whole being surges toward the bars."

The war within

I have always been mystified by the power contained within a cloud. So much energy hidden in a benign vapor. Energy that can be good if harnessed, or horrendously destructive when left wild and unchecked. Lightening reminds me of our inner most being. That place where we wage a silent war day in and day out.

The war within is the most brutal battle field of all mankind. This constant struggle, like lightening, can be good when harnessed and controlled or extremely destructive left unabated. The internal conflict has the clouds of desired self image and the high energy of true self perception or self concept. These very fluid and every evolving, highly energetic vapors of self often clash within us every minute of our lives. I want to be, yet I think I am, therefore I do not! I fear the not, therefore I create the "I am" that "I want to be." So how do I become the "I am?" I once had a good friend, who I have always respected greatly, say this to me, " I have all finish and no substance." He had become a master at creating a vapor of who he wanted to be without investing in the energy of making or building the I am. He went on to tell me his impression of me. He stated that I was all substance with no finish." I had become so invested in the "I am" that I had ignored the finer points of the want to be. The external perception definitely did not match my internal self concept. In fact that was true for both of us and I would venture a guess that it is true for all of us.

We engage in so much nonsense proving to ourselves that we are not how we see ourselves! We are constantly seeking external validation in an effort to reassure the fact that the real me is not leaking out into the external me. And the war within goes on for another day!! The sad thing is that we can control this war. We can become that which we want to be. We can end this bloody, self defeating conflict and move into an internal cease fire. What is amazing is that we choose not to!

Sir Edmund Hillary, first to summit Everest (1953)

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

Monday, November 06, 2006

There is no brotherhood without pain.

The concept of brotherhood generates emotions of strong belongingness in many of us. Fraternal orders, military Esprit De Corps, unspoken lifelong commitments between individuals beckon to our inner most desire of gaining acceptance and validation. Coaches try and build it into teams, executives try and create it in the corporate environment, and we long for it within our family structures. But how we obtain such noble and honorable thing as brotherhood? This bond, once established, is stronger than any other bond on the face of the Earth. It will transcend race, religion, gender, age and even time itself. This concept appears to have origins in the ancients' world. When small bands of warrior tribes came together to accomplish extraordinary feats.

Why is this high level of acceptance so coveted and yet so elusive? I think it is because it dwells in our emotional paradigms. A place that we fiercely guard and dare not to venture into, unless, we are thrust into a situation that creates tremendous internal conflict. Warriors often display such unity. Those who have ventured way past their zone of comfort often find themselves sharing such emotional ties with those they ventured with. To face great odds and prevail as the victors seems to consistently create such brotherhoods. Some might say that pain, discomfort, and out right fear are the fiery ingredients found in the forge of brotherhood; I would tend to agree with them. Maybe adventure risk takers push themselves so hard in an effort to prove themselves worthy of such brotherhoods.

Unfortunately, most organizations train for missions that are never realized nor created. And this prevents many from earning their rightful place in the band of brotherhood. Their metal remains untested and unfired in the fiery forge. The Apostles were excellent models of such adventures. They faced unthinkable adversities and accomplished missions, even in their deaths. Today we struggle to find such worthy and noble efforts, so we create adventure risk sports to prove ourselves. We search for character definition in the morally benign efforts of sports. Martyrdom is elevated to heroism. Heroes have been redefined as successful gang members and drug dealers. The concept of one risking everything for the greater good of the masses, proving their worth in the historic pages of brotherhood, is all but faded into the journals of history and the pages of yesteryear. Today's heroes are all about risking the greater good of the masses for the benefit of one. There is no true brotherhood found in today's heroes.

The safer we make life the more elusive true brotherhood will become. As for me, I prefer the risky opportunities found in the pursuit of self-validation and acceptance of the brotherhoods of my forefathers.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Response time in .00001 seconds?

The diagram to the left is of a picture I call the wheel of knowledge. It represents all knowledge in the universe. It is here that we could make a overwhelming argument on the importance of education and experience. The color key explains the color variance of the pie slices. The light blue is that universal knowledge that we know we know. This is where most of us remain , feeling safe and comfortable. Risk takers appear to feel claustrophobic here and will force themselves out into the unknown. But, this post is not about that.

This post is about a space of time I call the choice base. This fraction of time is where we make our decisions based on our totality of universal knowledge which we have garnered through education and experience. We tend to rush through this choice base without any real cognitive effort once we are presented with stimulus. It is here where we tend to paint our portrait of self concept for the perspectives of others to judge us. This is where we can control not only our responses, but, how others perceive us and thus our own self-concept.

Once we encounter a stimulus our minds should rip through all of our cataloged knowledge and come to a response conclusion. However, we tend to unconsciously teach ourselves to only list the first few options of our choice base inventory. It takes a cognitive choice to SLOW DOWN our response time and carefully pick the best response given the situation. In our fast pass society we tend to rush into response and fail to utilize what little of the universal knowledge we have. Have you ever noticed that educated individuals tend to make better choices? Our that uneducated individuals tend to repeatedly commit to responses that did not work the first time? And it is here in this fast pace, dog eat dog, world that creates a need for this kind of understanding. How do I grow my universal knowledge base so that I may become what I dream about?

Gaining knowledge is the key. But it is a key that only works in the lock of application. This key will unlock a warehouse of choices. Choices that can ultimately produce the life we dreamed of having as children. There are many reasons why we do not build a bigger knowledge base. Many reasons are based in the emotion of fear. What is it about the unknown that generates so much paralyzing fear in so many. Why are we so in tune with the fear based emotions and the negative self concepts that steal our dreams from us? I would venture to say that it is because we limited our choice base down to such a small depth of options that we can not conceive of winning in the unknown arenas of life. One of the biggest areas of knowledge people do not know they don't know is that they have the ability to control or cognitively manipulate the filters that define our choice base. In simple terms, you have a choice to choose your destiny!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Doc Childre

"We have to become more conscious of our feeling-world. By learning to identify the "emotional baggage" and manage our feeling-world reactions, we can view life based on current information instead of being held captive by our past. However, since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart."

Re-defining the term "winning"

Here is another work e-mail I received. It redefines the meaning of winning. Often times it is easier to see the right thing than it is to commit to it.

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: "When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child."

Then he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning." Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously
ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball ... the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay" Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! Shay, run to third!" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, "Shay, run home! Run home!" Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team. "That day", said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world".

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

"Teufel hunden"

America is the World's 911. Well, at least in America's eyes. And in America when the going gets tough, really tough, she calls on the Marines. I am pretty sure, that is a global perspective. The United States Marine Corps is, and historically has been one of the World's premiere fighting forces. Ever since that November night in Tunn's Tavern, 1775, the few and the proud have stood in the gap. Their call to service is to protect the American fabric we call freedom and liberty.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to visit MCRD San Diego (again). I watched Drill Instructors mold the minds and bodies of new recruits. I took a moment to stop and stand at the edge of the infamous grinder and seized the moment. I heard the cadence of a passing platoon, the echoes of platoons responding to their leaders' direction. I felt the cool San Diego breeze on my face. I breathed in the once familiar odors of this incredible training facility. A facility that has produced men who have consistently been willing to stand in harms way against great odds and fulfill their mission. A mission that is often obscured in philosophy and politics. Protect our flag and the ideas that make up it's threads and colors. I reflected on the fact that this small base is one of two, that our country has, where drill instructors hold in their control a belief of an entire country. The Marines will stand their ground and keep the planet's first mega-power safe. They will fight as they did in every conflict of our country. They will strike fear in the hearts of those who oppose them.

In a place long ago, a group of young Marines, in a moment of chaos picked up their rifles and stood their ground. This place was called Belleau woods. The 4th Marine Brigade, 2nd Mar Div, defeated the German offensive that day against tremendous odds, while being greatly out numbered. The captured German General had never seen men fight so hard. He asked his captors " Who are you, you fight like 'Tefel Hunden.'" The term stuck. The German had given the Marines the nickname of "Dogs from Hell." Today we know it as "Devil Dogs." In honor of the Marines the French officially renamed Belleau wood to " Bois de la Brigade de Marine."

That moment of reflection by the grind became a time machine for me. I was whisked back a quarter of a Century. I was back at MCRD as a recruit. Various emotions began to wash over me like the sea crashes onto the sandy beach. The realization that these kids have no idea of what their lives will hold. As I laid in my rack at the age of 18, I had no idea of what was in store for me. I would never in a million years, have been able to foresee my place within the American machine. These kids will be the leaders of tomorrow. They will have unbelievable opportunities of greatness. A greatness that history often times stops and recognizes. I would have loved to share these thoughts with these kids working so hard to become men. Men with huge expectations placed on their shoulders from a country. Men of duty and honor. Men we call Marines!

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