On Love, Respect and Our Dark Side

There is a wonderful part to each of us – as well as at least 200 pounds of psychic toxic waste burying that wonderful part. It is necessary for us to learn to draw nourishment into the core of all that – into what is wonderful – and slowly cultivate it and allow it to emerge.

dark-side

This will happen as we operate in an environment of love and respect. It requires an attitude of service, which in no way depreciates us.

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Rather, it uplifts everybody because we are clear-headed, practical and coming from and understanding of the unity of life.

Excerpt from

Will I Be The Hero of My Own Life?

Swami Chetanandanda

 

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Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

-Muhammad Ali

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Featured art work

William Blake (1757-1827)
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
c. 1803-1805
Watercolor, graphite and incised lines
43.7 x 34.8 cm

. . .
A Truth thats told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent 
It is right it should be so 
Man was made for Joy & Woe 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro the World we safely go 
Joy & Woe are woven fine 
A Clothing for the soul divine . . .
William Blake’s true God was the Human Imagination. He did not need to be saved by Christ. Rather, through the salvation of his own imagination, which allowed him to engage in right-thinking and proper actions, he was his own Christ. While Blake was a scholar of the Bible, he was a highly original thinker who created his own mythology and his own human-centered religion.

Overcoming Distractions & That Overwhelming Feeling

Distractions keep us from focusing on our mission. If you don’t have a mission, that’s okay, think of your mission as anything you say that you really want to “focus” on if you had the time, the money, the resources. You know, your hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

ellar

Everything feels like a distraction at times, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed especially when distractions are inviting and enticing.

Do what Adam Robinson does. Ask yourself this question – my notes from Tribe of Mentors.

Where should I be focusing my attention right now?

Mission

 

Art by Russ Mills

https://byroglyphics.co.uk/

How to Get Those Haters to Help You Grow

We all have a voice in our head that is critical, judgmental, and disapproving of ourselves. Rarely does it ever champion you onward or applaud you for good work. Typically it sounds like the voice of one of your biggest haters.
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Now, that voice can be soft and it can be loud and sometimes we choose not to listen.  We may hear it in specific situations (triggers) or with specific people. Sometimes, however, that inner voice is constantly giving us unsolicited commentary and incessant chatter, becoming part of what Buddhists would call our Monkey Mind.
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When you begin to listen to your inner critic what you will hear is a voice with messages composed of ideas, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts that try to manage your experience by telling you when we’re doing something right or wrong.
But this morning, I had an idea. It was inspired by a book that I am reading, Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul.
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The inner critic is acquired and internalized as young children and as we grow, and it continues to develop throughout our lives. Read more on GoodTherapy.org.
My idea involved listening to my inner critic because I wondered if she has some valuable things to share. Not everything, but maybe some pearls of wisdom to help me grow.
For example –
Voice of my inner critic (sometimes my mother, father or grandmother):
You are rushing and your work is so sloppy.
My interpretation:    Maybe I should slow down and pay attention to the details?
My inner critic (my daughter Aja):
Your voice is so annoying. You sound so bossy and bitchy.
Translate to:     Why don’t I slow my speech and soften my tone a bit so others are more responsive?
Inner Critic (my bat-shit crazy ex): You’re too serious and intense for people. You’re no fun.
Well, how about I lighten up a bit and stop trying to control everything around me?
Listening doesn’t mean agreeing with what the critic says all the time. Accepting it doesn’t mean taking on its criticism. Embracing it doesn’t mean believing that its judgments are fair or accurate.
grow
Art by @brookeshaden

Why Keeping an Open Mind and Heart is The Healthiest Thing You Can Do

Having had my fair share of stressful and painful experiences, I am intrigued by studies that explain how negative emotions manifest as physical pain in our bodies. I am specifically interested in the role of stress and the condition of our heart because even though our heart governs most of our decision making, we truly take for granted one of the most magnificent masterpieces of creation.

Negative Emotions

 

A New Type of Heart Attack in this article from Harvard’s Heart Health Newsletter.

Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying — hence the name “heart attack.”

But over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand another form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. The disorder was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”

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Purifying Your Heart

In the yogic tradition, so-called heart blockages are caused by unfinished and unprocessed emotions. They call this energy, Samskara, which in Sanskrit means “impression”. You know, the things that make either a good impression or bad on us that we can’t seem to get “over” – those things that cause our mind to ruminate on horrible or remarkable experiences that have happened to us. The heart and mind playing an important role in making us feel inspired and loving or apathetic and victimized.

Lao

Our heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few of us come to really appreciate. The heart’s energy flow (referred to as Shakti, Spirit or Chi) plays a very important part of our lives and experiences.

The heart controls our energy by closing and opening. For example, you can experience great feelings of love for someone until they say something negative towards you. Vascilating between open-hearted and closed. For deeper reading on The Secrets of The Spiritual Heart, a chapter of the book I have now read five times, I recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

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So science is also demonstrating that volatile emotions like anger and hostility are bad for heart health. But studies have shown that some of the quieter emotions can be just as toxic and damaging.

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“Study after study has shown that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are many times more likely to get sick and die prematurely – not only of heart disease but from virtually all causes – than those who have a sense of connection, love and community,” Dean Ornish, MD, tells WebMD.

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Author Michael Singer explains that we have spent a lifetime of storing up unresolved conflicts which can lead to a heart that is shut down and closed for business. But all is not lost. We have a choice.

We can simply allow the experiences of life, whatever we label as good and/or bad — from falling madly in love to experiencing the death of a loved one —  yes, just simply allow those experiences to move right through us.

Will they be joyful and painful experiences? Yes. But the clinging and resisting and wrestling you do with these emotions will no longer distract you from living fully in the moment with an open mind and heart.

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

Art by Turkish artist and graphic designer Aykut Aydogdu, based in Istanbul.

The indomitable will of our soul burns on even during the downward spiral of our destiny.

 

Generating Good Vibes & Why You can’t afford Another Negative Thought

This is probably TMI and I never told anyone outside of my family this, but here you go. . .
I have been emotionally drained this past year (wait, my entire adult life) with a very unstable ex-husband who is non-compliant with his medication. The father of my four darlings, this charismatic dude is lashing out and vibrating at a super, super, super angry and rage-full frequency.
He comes with the complete package – bipolar, borderline personality disorder, substance abuser and quite frankly a big, no, forgive me HUGE pain in the ass. Yes I knew he had this disease and yes it has been an extremely rough road, yes we had some great times in-between, but the biggest problem I have right now is he is displacing his pain, resentment and rage on his  own grown children.
Thank God they are strong enough to see through the manipulation and self-pity.
Look, I know he is sick and yes I have been compassionate, but as anyone involved with someone who has untreated bipolar that is exasperated by drug and alcohol abuse will tell you – it is just horrifying to see someone self-destruct when they know very well that there is medication and healthy ways to manage this illness. To make matters worse, he had an incredible nine years of wonderfulness in-between episodes. I am grateful to have had that time with him, BUT. . .
bull shit
I just see way too many people with manic depression and mental illness struggling to take care of themselves while broadcasting their lives on YouTube and blogging about their daily challenges. It seems extremely selfish for him to at the very least try to commit to lifelong mental health.
What a beast of a disease.
So, I search for solutions. Not for him, for ME now. I am done with trying to fix someone who doesn’t want help. Disease or no-disease, there comes a time when you have to protect and care for yourself. Shout out to all you amazing caregivers out there.  I feel you.
Where do I begin?
Right now I feel like I need to wash, no SCRUB off the toxic and at least try to vibrate on the highest level I possibly can.
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Help. I’m looking for the blessings. Sure it could be worse, but damn.
The quote that keeps me hanging on lately –

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

Please someone help me see the possibilities.

Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.

Energy
I use to smile a lot. I smiled because I was genuinely happy inside. Then somehow life started to feel like an uphill battle, a long, arduous climb. The thing I like about smiling is that if feels like the boldest statement you can make, without saying a word.
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Strangers would comment about my smile. Out of the blue, I would be walking down the street, on the train, at work, “what a contagious smile you have”.  Great smile, they’d say and they’d smile back.
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My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.

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I remember once my father asked me when I was smiling one morning “what the hell are you so happy about?” It was as if he was accusing me of being phony, fake, a poser. It crushed me for a while. But I kept on smiling.
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I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.

I want to dance, sing, celebrate, love, kiss, hold, run, laugh, swim myself back to that state of being – that sweet inner bliss –  for no apparent reason I just glow.
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I understand it’s about raising your vibrational frequency. Or at least that’s what the people say on the internet :). Look, there is even a vibrational emotional scale that someone put together. I have no idea if this is true, but I know I want to be in the blue/violet zone even the turquoise.
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The funny thing about those smiley days,  it wasn’t as if my life was any better than it is now. Perhaps it was full of what I perceived to be more promise and hope. There were dreams, visions and ideas. Sometimes, I think it’s about getting back to your original story line.
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How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes

So the story goes that watching my thoughts can lead to better emotions which will then dictate improved behavior and possibly upgrade my vibrational frequency.
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My plan? 
Stay away from people who are low energy, negative thinkers, complainers, whiners and of course just downright mean. Mean people just suck.
Track my emotions during the day and use them to inform me of what I need to fix.
Also, do more to improve and increase my vibrational state –
Meditate
Listen to music
Drawing & painting
Dancing
Outdoor Bike riding
Cycling
Long walks and hikes
Watch inspirational books, movies
and listen to some of my favorite podcasts and spiritual teachers
Use aromatherapy while sleeping and at the desk
Stay outdoors, one with nature, as long as possible
Swimming the waters
Living in a state of appreciation
Dedicate myself to doing what makes me happy & relaxed.
flow

The Expensive Cost of Feeling Safe & Secure

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.

The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.   – Agnes de Mille.

demille

I have always felt very uncomfortable the moment I began to feel even slightly comfortable.  Some of my dearest friends have called me out on this. They say I have “commitment issues”. Maybe. Who knows. I just like the momentum of daring, trying, risking – smartly. Exposing myself and my mind to something new.

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Today’s post is a passage taken from week seven “Recovering a Sense of Connection” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The passage below resonated with me. Why? Because I fool myself daily because while I think I am taking risks, I am not taking big enough risks. The type that will catapult me to the next level of living adventurously.  Here we go. Let me know if this rings true with you as well.

We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining. The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action. This brings us squarely to risk. Most of us are practiced at talking ourselves out of risk. We are skilled speculators on the probable pain of self-exposure.

I’ll look like an idiot,” we say, conjuring images of our first acting class, our first hobbled short story, our terrible drawings. Part of the game here is lining up the masters and measuring our baby steps against their perfected craft. We don’t compare our student films to George Luca’s student films. Instead, we compare them to Star Wars.

We deny that in order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly. Instead, we opt for setting our limits at the point where we feel stifled, smothered, despairing, bored. But yes, we do feel safe. And safety is a very expensive illusion.

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In order to risk, we must jettison our accepted limits. We must break through “I can’t because. . .” Because I am too old; too broke; too shy; too proud? Self-defended? Timorous?

Protect your magic

Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.

artists

life is either

Wise Advice for Waking Up to Your Life

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Here’s a Damn Good Recipe for Failure & Unhappiness, for a life of misery.

Be self-righteous, wallow in self-pity, drown the day in fear and complacency. Look at your life and others with anxiety, jealousy, and hatred.

Disability

Now here’s a More Delicious Recipe for Harmony, Peace & Happiness, for an extraordinary life.

Take it on the chin. Be flexible, resilient, forgive more. Work smart and hard and always look at life with confidence and gratitude.

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The Waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

When life feels like . . . .

life

Repeat this little prayer. . .

a prayerRight now I am frustrated because I am not taking better care of myself. Which got me wondering about the payoffs I experience for staying stuck in my progress. For not waking up more and doing what needs to be done to change what I don’t like about my life.

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Dig deep for the payoffs for not moving towards your goals today. Ask yourself some BIG questions.

  • What am I avoiding? Hard work maybe? Self-discipline? A little pain now for bigger gains later?
  • Who am I punishing by staying this way?
  • Am I avoiding the true expression of my emotions? Are they too frightening to feel?
  • What if I am waiting for a guaranteed miracle? Who will bring it to me?
  • Perhaps being stuck is really manipulating myself and others?
  • Maybe I am looking for special attention? Wallowing in self-pity?
  • What will I miss most if I do succeed?

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Understand the difference between I will try and I will find a way  “Results are a function of your commitment. Most people are unaware that where they are is exactly where they want to be.”

 

 

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The Rhythm of Life Unfolding

Trying to figure out why certain things happen in life is like attempting to piece together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession.

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You cannot fully understand the present situation using the logic of your finite mind. Just know that a bigger picture exists, even though it is not possible for you to see it at this time.

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Trust, for all that is happening is an act of love; ultimately you will discover the blessing. Have patience! You will look back on this period of your life and be thankful for all this is occurring now.  The Matrix card from The Magadalene Oracle

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Respecting the “timeliness” of an action. 

Welcome to “Indian Time.”’

It’s not easy to explain what Indian Time is. It’s more complicated than assuming everything will be late (though, that’s often a safe bet). I’ve heard Indian Time described as “the time it takes for moss to grow on a stone,” or as one elder put it “the time it takes to do things in a good way.”

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It’s an enigmatic idea based on a uniquely cultural relationship with time. Simply put, things happen when they happen. There are not 24 hours in a day. Time is unlimited, impossible to cut up into chunks. 

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If something is to happen at 11 am, it might happen at 11:01 am or 12:26 or 1:11 pm. It will happen when it will happen. The universe has its own heartbeat, and who are we to speed it up or slow it down? To some, it’s an excuse to be late. To others, it’s a way to avoid ulcers.

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“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
Dalai Lama

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Every single moment gives us an opportunity, a choice. Close the gap of what you are capable of doing and what your actually doing. Be the best you, right now. How do we live consistently as the best version of ourselves?  Read: The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly

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Inspired by human potential thought leader Bryant McGill author of Simple Reminders

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Minding What Really Matters

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Observing what happens around us without filters or prejudice. Now that’s something to soak up. A life skill worth practicing.  Try rewiring that into your brain. How often we get frustrated because life is not suppose to be this way or that way?  As if it was always our call.

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It’s so easy to get mad when things don’t go our way. It’s even easier to sleep walk through our days. On autopilot, we just cruise through the hours without even taking notice of the small things that need real care.  The tiny pain points that pop up, that if we just focused on now, would never get out of hand.  The things that really matter. Perhaps this is how bigger events and problems suddenly catch us by “surprise”.  When we avoid the smaller, seemingly “meaningless” things in life. We shrug them off. “It is what it is.” “She’s just like that.” “I’ve been meaning to take care of that.”

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An important skill to learn is to know how to sniff out the unexpected before it scares the hell out of you. It starts with paying attention to your life.

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I am sure you realize that more often than not, there are usually many warning signals before something goes surprisingly wrong. It’s just that we were so distracted at the time.

To detect early warning signals, you need to build up your curiosity. Paying attention involves asking many questions and developing a wide network of friends and family willing to tell you the truth, even when it is spiked with anxiety and panic.

Collect all the rumors and paranoia that blow around you and your life and then separate the signal from the noise. Now, that’s paying attention.

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Paying attention also asks that we ask the important question –

“What can you do today that will make a difference, not only in your life but in others?”

Becoming a More Attentive & Thoughtful Human

Encourage yourself to grow with quick and easy learning (YouTube), and create a personal mindset that allows you to make well-intentioned mistakes while paying attention. Taking notice, trying new ways of problem solving and staying awake at the wheel of life – it’s all a skill.

Don’t let your mind turn into a black hole where bright ideas go in but nothing useful ever comes out. Be an idea-driven human that values fresh thinking and doing.

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Understand your strengths and weakness which will show you where your vigilance is strong and where you are vulnerable. That’s paying attention to yourself.

Minding What Matters

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‘What actions can I take that will benefit not just myself, not just my  family, not just my community, not just my work, but all it’ – that’s when you start to see possibilities for greater freedom.”  That’s when you start paying attention to what matters. Inspired by “Leading the Life You Want“.

Happy and successful people focus on what really matters and who really matters to them. And then they take actions that are consciously and deliberately designed to make things better for them and the people around them.

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Find meaning in mundane tasks while playing on your strengths. Apply skills you have in one area of your life to another.

Act with creativity and courage—and continually experiment with new ways of getting things done. An exercise for enhancing your skill in being innovative is called Scenarios. Identify a goal in any part of your life, and describe the results you want to achieve. Be as specific as you can. Then identify three alternative courses of action that would achieve the same results. For each potential path, list the resources you will need, the people whose help you’ll draw on, and how much of a stretch beyond your comfort zone this would be for you. By taking time to think through different options, you increase the flexibility of your thinking. Brainstorming about creative possibilities puts your focus on the goal, or results, rather than on one way to get there.

Inspired by Leading the Life You Want and 18 Questions that could change your life

 

 

 

Dismiss What Insults Your Soul

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“Life requires of man spiritual elasticity, so that he may temper his efforts to the chances that are offered.”

Viktor E. Frankl

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“Change is essential for survival. All life forms must adapt to their fluctuating circumstances. All form of life result from the process of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. The universe is in a constant state of chaos. We each have chaos implanted into our bones. Nature wires all of us for change.”

Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

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“One of the most remarkable of man’s characteristics is his capacity for becoming used to conditions of almost any kind, whether good or bad, both in the self and in the environment, and once he has become used to such conditions they seem to him both right and natural. This capacity is a boon when it enables him to adapt himself to conditions which are desirable, but it may prove a great danger when the conditions are undesirable. When his sensory appreciation is untrustworthy, it is possible for him to become so familiar with seriously harmful conditions of misuse of himself that these malconditions will feel right and comfortable.”

F. Matthias Alexander, The Use of the Self

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“Set patterns, incapable of adaptability, of pliability, only offer a better cage. Truth is outside of all patterns.”

Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do

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“There’s no such thing as a mistake, really. It’s just an opportunity to do something else.”

Ralph Steadman

 

A snake doesn’t mourn when it is time to shed it’s skin.

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Featured Illustration – Walt Whitman