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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Doug Larson

"More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse."

Anniversary Time


20 years ago today I gave my oath to my friend before my God. At the time I had no real measure of the commitment I was making. I had no idea of the meaning behind the words I uttered that Saturday afternoon. Today I have a solid measure of what those words mean. That measure is found in the eyes of my Bride.

When I was a young man I asked an old man who had been married for some 75 years what the secret was. He told me two things. One, never quit! He followed by "that does not mean you will never feel like quiting", "just don't". The second seemed to be a riddle at the time. He said " to much sunshine makes a desert". Today I realize that it is the storms in a relationship that bring depth and meaning. Yes, I have often wanted to quit during the storm, but I have not as of yet, and do not intend to.....ever!

To my friend, lover,and wife I say thank you for hanging in there with me. I love you and cherish you more today then when I said I do.

Content with complacency and married to mediocrity.

I have a garden. In that garden is 100 beautiful orange poppies. One poppy grew taller than the rest. This left me with a dilemma. I like things to be even and orderly. I tried to grow the other poppies taller, but that was taking too long and consuming too much energy. So, I just cut the tall one off and now I have the rest the same height. This poppy problem is called "the tall poppy syndrome".

Society seems to be content with a certain level of mediocrity that only complacent behavior can produce. Do not fall behind and do not move ahead. Stay in the middle and you will do just fine. Our social infrastructure is designed to reproduce this mediocre lifestyle over and over again. After all, we need people to do the simple jobs. We do not need people thinking that they all can become important, right? Who would clean the public toilets, pick up my trash, pump the cesspool, or any other job that "they" look down on?

What gets me is how many of us stand in line with a more than willing attitude to jump in and live a mediocre life. Do not pursue higher education, international experiences, or venture out on any endeavour that may expand your horizons. After all, I need some to boss around as I climb the corporate ladder. But please stop grumbling because you choose complacency. Stop whining because your money does not go very far. Do not blame the "haves" for what you have not. After all, at least in this country, you can become that which you dream. So go on, dream small and live small, it limits my competition at the top of the food chain.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Josh Billings

"It's not only the most difficult thing to know one's self, but the most inconvenient."

Cognitive Reconstruction

The practices of self evaluating, internal change, and personal growth have been riddles mankind has tried to champion throughout history. Gaining the power to rewrite our destiny and become the person we envision ourselves to be is no simple feat. However, it is a possibility, although we often forfeit this possibility through compromises founded on our belief that we are not good enough to be great.

Dr. Albert Bandura's work on this matter has earned him the title of "The Father of cognitive behavior". In 1994 His work on self-efficacy was published. This work has left us with the terrifying realization that success can cause more fear within us than failure. Change is not easily done, especially from within. Dr. Bandura's discoveries leave us with some huge questions that challenge the very convictions we live and die for. One of those questions is " why do we believe in what we believe?"

If our foundational beliefs are compared to a concrete foundation of a house, dictating what kind of structure is built on it, who designed, or engineered, our belief foundation? Charles Cooley established in his 1902 work called "Human Nature and Social Order" that our belief foundation, our self concept, is designed or engineered by the authority figures around us when we are between the ages of 0 - 5 years old. As babies, we absorber all feed back from those caring for us and translate it all into who we are supposed to become. We guess what all the feedback means and form who we are, as babies. Although I believe this does happen, I am forced to realize that there is a huge area for error in my early perceptions. "Why do I believe in what I believe?" This realization that, as an adult, I can chose to reject many of my childhood beliefs that have limited my potential has been extremely liberating for me. I have the ability to re-construct who and what I am. I can rewrite any believe I chose to. Think about that for a moment.

I do realize some of my beliefs are gender based and some of my abilities are genetically based. I'm good with that. What I struggle with are those beliefs that cause fear to rise up in me during certain situations. Those beliefs that seemed so tied to emotional disequilibrium that they limit my potential. It is these believes that I have chosen to put "under construction" and re define, redevelop, and recreate into who I truly want to be. Change what I can, accept what I can't. So where do I start in the cognitive renovation project? For me, the simplest model to apply to my project has been the Franklin reality model.



We all have the same basic needs. For whatever reason, we were made that way. Abraham Maslow proposed the "Hierarchy of Needs" in 1943. Franklin Quest simplified these needs into four basic categories, "To Live, To love and Be Loved, To Experience Variety, To feel Important". There is no changing these needs, we all have them. But things get wild when we start taking a look at our belief window. We form our beliefs based on the idea that these beliefs will some how help us meet one or more of our needs. I do not like mean people because they make me feel unimportant and unloved. The behavior that this belief manifests is the physical avoidance of anyone I think is mean. How do I define mean people? Well, that gets into another line of beliefs. Once we realize how our needs drive us, and how we vicariously form beliefs, and how those beliefs manifest into behaviors, we can begin to reconstruct some of our beliefs to get the behavior results we want.

Redefining our beliefs however involves another challenging area of ourselves; our emotions. If we have formed or beliefs from our education and experiences (memories) then recalling them in an effort to rewrite those beliefs means we will have to face the emotions associated with those memories. This has been the hard part for me. Some events were difficult to deal with at the time they occurred, I struggle with revisiting them. I compare these moments to smashing one's fingers with a hammer when building a house. Why would I do that intentionally? Well, because I want change, ant that is just going to be apart of my growth process. So far, for me, the more I redefine, the less finger smashing I do.
I am constantly reassuring myself that I am a good person who can become great. The more I hear myself say this, the less the negative history echos in my brain. I can achieve and I will achieve. I have gone back into my past and demolished the areas I intend to remodel. I am becoming the person I want to be. More to come.......
Thoughts?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Carl Gustav Jung

'The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.'

A great quote posted in a recent comment from PJ. The words highlight the struggle ahead for those who seek acceptance.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chasing Normal?

Can anyone tell me what a normal life is? What is it that we, society, considers to be the norm? What are the desired parameters of normalcy? Is it simply that greatest representation of common behaviors? Does each generation discover their "normal"? If this is true then "normal" is a constant shifting perception. How can anyone conclude that we can achieve a so called normal life when the very definition of normal is constantly changing? More importantly, why do we use this term as a watermark of socially accepted behavior? Do we not tend to shy away from things, or people, who are defined as "not normal"?

The pursuit of normal seems to be a fleeting and self limiting endeavour. Why chase something that is going to change into something we do not want to be? How many of us look back and realize that we have compromised much to fit in with few? Why is it so hard for us to stand alone, uncompromising and unaccepted by the "norm" ? Why is it that standing outside the socially accepted norm feels so cold and lonely, even when we realize that most of those inside the circle of normalcy want out?

It is here, in this crazy place of chasing a normal that I don't even want, that I find inspiration for the next several posts. It is here that I intend to explore the building of self and the ability for us to redefine ourselves as solid persons who stand on our convictions regardless of which circle of "normalcy" we find ourselves traversing. It is a place where we can learn to accept all who journey their own path around us. A place founded in love and acceptance. A place void of the terms of conformity and compromise. I challenge us to erase from our vocabulary terms like; "I do not fit in", I am not good enough", "I can't", "no one likes me", "I fear rejection", and so on. Yes, I am chasing a new "norm" that embraces diversity, individualism, and creativity. I am chasing acceptance by giving it. I am chasing my potential by helping others achieve theirs.

My question to you the reader is this, "is this a place that you long for as well?" Or, are you satisfied with the norm?

Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

28

As the world awakes for another attempt at achieving sanity, it must do so without the life of yet another iconic personality. Heath Ledger has closed the final scene of his life. The house lights fade to black and a young girl is left with many questions about her father. Closing time tomorrow will bring more news of the tragic end to what appeared to be a special life. My heart goes out to those left behind and the magnitude of their loss. Such a short life to have touch so many. We miss you Heath, God's speed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winston Churchill

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.

Pleasantly Pissed off at Peace.

Not too long ago I read a quote from, I think, President Eisenhower. The quote went something like this, "Justice and peace are opposite sides of the same coin." The quote is short and sweet but conceals so much agony in the middle. Lets explore the two sides of this complex coin Dwight D. was talking about.

As children we complain about so many things not being fair. We somehow grow up thinking that life is supposed to be fair. Why is that? I think a fair and just world only exists in the imagination of children. We may desire things in our life to be fair to a point. But no one complains about unfairness when they get the better part of it. And we have a hard time looking at what it takes to make things just. Another quote I have heard goes like this, " If you like justice and sausage, do not watch either one being made." The fact is most people do not have the stomach, nor hardness of heart to get the justice they think should exist. Justice is the absence of things like mercy and grace. Justice dishes out what we deserve fast and furious. When justice is feared, peace is realized. This is because we do not want justice looking our way and serving up what we have coming. We may not realize internal peace, but certainly social peace, or at least I think so.

So what about the side of the coin Dwight D. calls peace? What is peace anyway? Has anyone out there really found or experienced anything resembling social peace or internal peace? That place where all of our worries are not existent. Have we found this elusive peace in our experiences with love? Life and love is just one big, on-going conflict. Where is this peace the President was talking about? We commit our lives to a person, job, project, faith, or anything else really and from then on it is one big conflict. A long list of conflicting issues is revealed. Some of us resign ourselves to the fact that "that is life" and we march on like good little soldiers. We give up on our childhood idea that somewhere out there is a place called peace. Instead we move into that place called conflict and set up shop. Christ himself even forewarned us that he did not come to bring peace but conflict. So why do we sell this crap to our kids about peace?

Once we realize that this place called peace is not for us to know, then we turn the coin over and are forced to wrestle with justice once again. Who's justice will be served up. Historically it has been the justice of the wealthy majority. And I think we all know how just that really is. Power and strength is the root of justice. Peace is nothing more than a fairy tale. So where does this leave us? Where does it leave the weak and battered? I wonder what is on the two sides of the coin they look at?

Thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Please give God a call.

While I was younger and instructing wilderness adventure courses regularly, A friend and I came up with this slang saying. When we would pray as a group, I would say to the other instructor you dial and I'll hang up, anyone wishing to say hi just jump in. Anyway, it is time for me to make a call for a family member and I would love it if some of you jumped in and gave a shout out for Crystal to the Big Guy in the Sky.

Crystal is my BIG brothers daughter, or we just say she is my wonderful little niece. Well, yesterday while I was at work, my brother calls and I get the sense that things are not good right away. His "baby" (she is grown and has children of her own) was rushed to the E.R. for extreme pain in the head. Long story short, she has a tumor that caused a vessel to rupture. The bleeding has caused swelling and hence the pain. The Docs are going to make a decision on Friday on what to do, operate or treat some other way. I am pretty sure brain surgery is no easy feat, so I am giving God a call and seeing if He can pull some strings and allow this whole thing to come out good for all. If you would like to jump in and say a few words of support please feel free. Thanks for your willingness, TB.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)

"One must be a god to be able to tell successes from failures without making a mistake."

Self promotion, Self denial, and Self destruction.

I am constantly amazed at how much of our childhood teachings we carry into our adult life.
As a child I was taught that bragging, boasting, and the act of self promoting was something "bad" people do. An honest man should not have to embark on such self serving behaviors. To this day, I have difficulty passing any kind of oral interview where I need to "sell" myself. To be honest, I am angry at this behavior of mine. I have realized that in order to get ahead in this dog-eat-dog world you have to be able to promote yourself. However this fact angers me as well.

My parents raised my siblings and I with the old fashion mindsets that you win when you put in an honest day's work for an honest day's wage, work as if you are working for God himself, never be deceitful in any way, and your work will speak for itself. Are these mindsets dead today? This battle between self promotion and self denial is enough to bring about self destruction or, at least I think so. I work hard, yet I never attain the heights that the deceivers do. I become tempted to join them in their tactics which creates an inner conflict with my "old fashion" morals. This internal struggle goes on day and night for me. Either choice means I must compromise something that I do not want to compromise. I want to stay true to my convictions but I also want to be successful. For the life of me, I can find my way clear of this moral maze. Lie and win, be honest and lose. I am starting to think that no one really cares about this struggle. "Get ahead in life no matter what it takes" seems to be the party line these days. I can not do that. I continue to sacrifice my needs and choose self denial. I am constantly "sucking hind tit" so to speak and therefore am resigned to remain the runt in life, or at least that is how I feel. So I guess the choice is to be a runt that remains founded on conviction, or become a corn feed pig that selfishly pushes others away.

The choice sometimes is easy. Especially when I see the corn feed pigs go to the slaughter house of cooperate world and be consumed by their own vices. Greed, selfishness, mean spirited, low self image based behaviors seemed to always catch up with its users. The pursuit to the top only ends up with one direction, down. And when that time comes for the descent, what is left for those who sold out for the pursuit? Why do so many sell out and compromise so much for something that they can not hold onto? Why do we debase those who choose wholeness and self denial. Why do so many piss on the ones who value those old fashion traits we all act like we value?

It seems to me, that at some point both paths will have to face the demon of self destruction. The self promoters will face this demon when they finish the race with an empty chest that once held all that was good in them. The self denial crowd will face this demon constantly as the world spurns their efforts to do the right thing for the right reasons. Those who have compromised internal value for achievement will chase away the guilt they are faced with when they look at those who refuse to compromise such internal values. Those who have held tightly to those internal values will chase away regret when they are faced with the achievements of the others. Maybe I am just a "ding" and I am the only one with such a struggle, but I fear that this is not the case. I have no idea which path I will choose tomorrow, but I do know that the choice ahead scares me.

Thoughts?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Walker Percy

"The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair."

Alfred Lord Tennyson

"I am a part of all that I have met."

Kindness, hope, and weakness.

Why does it appear that those who live by the concepts of kindness and hope also seem to be strong in the traits called patience, perseverance and commitment? I have my own opinion, which is not shared by some of the other writers here at SBH. My view, for the moment, is that those who utilize the concepts of hope and kindness are victims of the progressive crowd's ruthless antics of self promotion. This constant victimization produces an internal strength that sows the seeds of patience and perseverance. Those who do not put much stock in such noble traits as hope and kindness may see this victimization as weakness and naivety.

I find myself caught in a vicious struggle. A struggle that threatens to consume one side or the other of my self perception. A part of me values kindness and hope. The other finds these things useless and weak. I hear people hope for things that they can simply just make happen if they really wanted to. This part of me sees hope as a term based on the foundation of predisposed failure. I think I will fail at this or that, but I hope that I just might achieve it. I think NIKE got it right with their ad campaign "Just Do It."

However, the other side of me thinks that hope and kindness are like the turtle in the race between the turtle and rabbit. These concepts will win out, if you have the fortitude, perseverance, and patience to endure the constant belittling, victimization, and constant humiliation to see the course through. But this type of fortitude I often doubt that I have.

When the anger wells up inside I find it hard to be that gentle kind person founded in hope. My family motto is " If not peace than war." And I often feel the urge to wage war rather then enjoy peace. In the early years my wife would constantly remind me that "nice guys finish last." Most of my life's path has been grinding down that niceness my childhood sowed in me. Meanness produces results that are respected by most. So how can we hold onto any aspirations of being kind and patient in a world that values mean and immediate?

Thoughts?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Richard Carlson

"Choose being kind over being right, and you'll be right every time."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rubber Tanks, Cardboard cars, and lousy leadership.

This post is dedicated to Dr. Fitch and "Dr." Dulla, Two of my mentors who continue to challenge my way of thinking and cause internal growth.

What do these three things: rubber tanks, cardboard cars, and lousy leadership have in common? First of all we all need to have the same concepts or ideas pictured before we can answer this riddle. During world war two, the allies made up an entire division of rubber tanks and placed them in a strategic location to fool the German intelligence. From a distance, the tanks looked real and no one was allowed to get close enough to realize that they were in fact rubber models. In the late eighties, a law enforcement agency did not have the money to hire new officers, so they created cardboard silhouettes of police cars and placed them in high crime areas to ward off criminal activity. As for lousy leadership, well I think we all have some form of experience we can pull from. So, what do these three things have in common?

Well, lets see. They are all hollow, they are not approachable, they are useless in a conflict, and they only serve a limited purpose for a limited time. They are items that have a limited finish and no substance. Mr. Fitch and Mr. Dulla asked me today what is the single most important trait of good leadership? I said the ability of a person to admit that they are wrong about something. These two fellas started writing down my answer in their little book and I was a bit puzzled. Then they told me that they were going to use my answer in some article they are writing. Anyway, I started to think about this question on my way home tonight, that is when I came up with the rubber tank and cardboard car thing. I also think that about the needed mindset of a good leader. Why is it that as leaders, we must make choices with limited understand of massive situations? Why are leaders often times forced to make a command decision that will have an huge effect on many lives with only a small piece of the picture to work from? I came up with another crazy concept, "Phractional Leadership"(misspelled on purpose). A good leader must develop the mindset that they only see a fraction of the whole. That their perspective can in no way be complete to start with. This mindset creates what in the leader? I think a leader that can achieve this mindset will develop a leadership style that is approachable, honest, seeks input, willing to listen to all around them, and will remain humble. This mindset would be like owning only one slice of the whole pizza. A leader would need to understand what was on the other slices before he/she could make a decision about what the whole pizza looks like, or should look like.

Phractional leadership is about understanding that life is made up of many parts. It seeks to understand how all these parts work together and against each other. It is a very simple concept that creates a unique picture in one's mind. I do not know as much as the whole knows. What is bigger than me is not bigger than us. It allows leaders to stop acting like they know everything. It allows leaders to stop making stupid choices because they more afraid of looking stupid than they are of being stupid.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Weathering the Storm

How do children learn to weather life's storms? I know that I was not taught how to withstand the onslaught of life until I found myself in the infamous Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Unfortunately, my foundational beliefs were already in place. As I watch my own children grow up I continue to try and teach them about the many different storms that are on their horizons.

I pray that I can equip them with character traits needed to not only weather their storms, but to come out the other side standing humbly tall and courageously strong.

Some of my staff and I had a conversation today about facilitating people through the storming phases of life we call disequilibrium points. This unbalanced place is found between complacency and panic. It is the place where most learning occurs in life, or at least I think so. We are presented with some form of stimulus that rattles us enough to create an unbalanced picture of reality. It is here that we begin to seek the change that will return balance in our perceived realities. As a facilitator, I explore options of stimulus that create disequilibrium. I create the storm. But as we discussed today, a good facilitator will also create the safe harbors for the forming, or re-forming phase. The return to balance. This is a life long process, norming, storming, and forming. Relax, struggle, and grow become our goal. Through this model we can learn that life has struggles which we can learn from and grow. No storm becomes to big for us to weather when we have hope in tomorrow.

How do children learn to weather life's storms? By weathering the storms with them. By teaching them to stand tall during those struggling hours and facing change with hope draped upon our shoulders. We must model that behavior in face of our own storms, and let our children embrace us in our own moments of doubt and fear. After all, it is not the storm we fear, it is our own self doubt that cause our souls to take a pause. We will either bend with the tempest and strength our resolve or we will be broken like a twig in the hollowing wind.

Thoughts?

Photo by Talking Bear (My 10 year old daughter realizing that snow covered tress can be a warm place to rest, after she just came off of a 45 mph wind swept, near sub zero (F) degree mountain top. Her comment "This aint so bad".) 12-27-07

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

John Williamson

"Anyone can hate. It costs to love."

To a New Year!!!!

The staff and families here at Sleepy Bear Hollow wish all of our readers a Happy New Year!! May our journey through 2008 be full of delight, challenge, and growth as we learn more about ourselves and how we can grab hold of our potential.

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