Extraordinary Love -The Path to Personal Development.

 

“Extraordinary love flows from those who do their life’s work.” AD

A few years ago, when I took an intensive HarvardX edX course called Immunity to Change™, I was so surprised by the emphasis on love in the introductory lecture by Drs. Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey that I paused the video and rechecked the course information, thinking, wait…this is Harvard not, the church right? Well, I came away with some insights about how the love of self and of others factors into our personal development and growth.

Our culture and humanity are suffering deeply from the deluge of outrage and violence, so much so, that our aggressiveness towards one another has become the order of the day, the headline news, and the click-bait. We have leaders who are proudly amoral, children and families traumatized by senseless gun violence, and metrics of materialism and false perfection that ascribes worthiness. We also, risk becoming inured to the revolving door of acts of hatred and divisiveness that pervades our communities.

Still, I am hopeful because almost everyone has the same reaction to the sight of a baby in the arms of a parent. Our hearts give way to love, which in its purest form, is emotion free of judgment and expectation. If the child is crying and uncomfortable, we are immediately concerned. Concern and consideration are how love translates into action. And so, we make funny faces, we ask the parent if they need help, or we share an understanding smile. It is no accident that the most revered people in history were generous and empathetic  – think Jesus or Mother Teresa – they were moved by compassion.

In contemporary times, we’ve seen examples of extraordinary love and philanthropy from those who have also excelled in their life’s work – Bono, Oprah, Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Li Ka-Shing, Andrew Carnegie, etc. Okay, these are prominent people, but they all did not start at the top – but at some critical point that propelled them forward, they discovered their natural talents and intentionally applied these principles of love that I culled from my course, towards their personal growth and development:

  • In life’s work or vocation combine the two strong and grounding forces of belief and values.
  • Change expansively with compassion for yourself and others. Generously forgive yourself and others.
  • When faced with challenges, view them as opportunities that require growth, new tools, and strategies.
  • Meditate and dig deep within. We all have an internal “cheat sheet.” The answers always precede the problems, and our posture should not be that of trying to dig out from a stuck place. Think in abundant terms.
  • Acrimony and hatred deplete and dim our lives. Love liberates us from self-torture and limitations.

Our personal growth is directly tied to positive shifts in our thinking, to evaluating our choices, and by taking small behavioral steps to reach what Oprah calls the “best version of ourselves.” We’ve heard people say, “I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love.” or “This does not feel like work.” That sense of enormous gratitude comes from doing and excelling at our life’s work and opens up the heart. So, it’s worth finding and following our calling and passion. The most crucial self-development goal is to daily commit to becoming extraordinary lovers of ourselves and others. Let’s go be phenomenal!

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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The Aftermath – What Remains?

 

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Credit: Pixabay

The shaking is intended for certain heartbreak and our fainting.

How do we deal with the aftermath?  The consequences of a significant unpleasant event lingers like a bitter aftertaste. It is the rumble left behind when our foundations are jolted out of alignment by an unexpected earthquake. It is when embedded chains even invisible to us are brought into full focus and we have to deal with our new reality. Are we going to stay bound or break free from false foundations? Anything that can be shaken should not have been trusted in the first place.

I would not confuse
the bogus
with the spurious.
The bogus
is a sore thumb
while the spurious
pours forth
as fish and circuses.  (An excerpt from Spurious by Rae Armantrout.)

We hold fast to wrong  foundations as the definition of our core identity till a slip-up exposes the hollow circuses  we’ve allowed to define and be responsible for our happiness. I held on to the love of a certain boy long ago, whose lopsided smile took my breath away till fishes and circuses rained on my parade. It was a fantasy interrupted by a rude rap on my door.

Who goes there?

Rain.

I’ve been a Californian for so long –  I don’t know how to behave in the presence of rain.
Especially a torrent propelling me down fury’s road of liquid drama featuring three deranged and frazzled people needing Dr. Phil’s intervention. Metaphors are always adept in helping me manage painful realities. I closed my eyes and refused to see rain – messy, distressing and unwelcome.

Marriage, friendships, job or career, beauty or charm, money, wealth, sexual orientation or even race, make pretty wobbly foundations.  I’m not sure race should even make the list but in the context of self-worth for some pathetic folks, it is an over-aching standard.

Still I refuse to give up on family and children – pain and joy comes with the territory and privilege of loving and being loved by others. I found out through my experience that only faith can withstand the tremors and earthquakes.  Faith is what remains. God is able to turn what was intended for our unravelling for some sort of good – like stripping us from clutches, laying a new foundation of greater faith and exposing our false gods.

“When you connect your purpose to your perspective, nobody else holds your keys.” Pastor  Steven Furtick 

The venom of anger and hate would only serve to shackle my future to my past. Praise is the only tool powerful enough to break every chain. Indeed life is so much more than these disappointments that now loom so large but in a few years will be so insignificant when compared to God’s greater vision for our lives.
May each aftermath find you and me standing in faith, with hands raised so high the chains are broken. There is only One worthy of our trust because He will always be faithful in His love for us.

Peace to all our broken pieces.

 

The Only Truth Worth Telling.

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“Truth is such a rare thing; it is delightful to tell it.” Emily Dickinson.

This week the San Bernardino shooting made us pause and hunch over for just a moment to dig beneath the shiny objects shoved in our faces. Here in LA, the fame monster has subtly terrorized our psyche and lulled us into a false sense of security. After all, this is the city of Angels and the Kardashians, the Housewives, the Über falsetto, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 tearing down PCH by a guy with prepubescent tendencies flashing a business card promoting ‘Robotic Entertainment.’

Darn it! This is supposed to be the place of dreams, of stars paved into Hollywood Boulevard, a sanctuary city, or as James Frey writes, the city of the “Bright Shiny Morning.” So when something as primal as a couple with a voracious appetite for human blood, fueled by misguided ideologies and armed with automatic rifles and pipe bombs go hunting in an office building, our glamorous sensibilities are jolted.

It reads like a bad commercial on Hulu, an unwelcome interruption. Only this is real. People died. People were wounded. Communities and families are devastated, and a six-month-old boy was left behind before being adequately weaned off his mother’s milk. Now we seek the information like it’s air, and news channels are pumping us full of every detail and nuance. We want to know everything we can about this same couple that we would have ignored if they were shopping in our local Ralphs, probably put off by her hijab or burka.

The solid foundation of God stands, “The Lord knows those who are His.” And we are known for the love we accept and then extend. The truth of love has strayed away from many religions. Profane babbling and messages of hatred spread like rabid cancer, and we have no clue who has been infected. We, as vessels all look the same.

Vessels are made, some for honor and some for dishonor, and we get to chose which we want to be. My prayer is for those who have been deceived to imbibe a religion of death, that “they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having being taken captive to do his will.”*

The Truth: God is love. A powerful God will not condone or inspire the slaughter of innocent people. A true God is not edified by the heartbreak and suffering inflicted by senseless violence and terror. He does not need anyone to kill, nor maim nor hurt us, people He lovingly created in His own image.

God wants us to live and not die. When these perpetrators of violence say, God willing, it is obvious they have confused their hatred with God’s will that “we prosper, be in health even as our souls prosper.” Jesus the Son, the Prince of peace, was crucified to put an end to every form of sacrifice, humans or animals alike. Proverbs 29 reminds us that “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless; the upright seeks another’s wellbeing.”

Anyone who hates his brother or sister in his heart has disobeyed the highest calling of humanity because strife and hatred are twin petri-dishes for every other evil. Love is a commandment, a living truth that’s so beautiful, it should be told and reflected in all we do.
May the God of all comfort, console those who mourn. May those left behind reject any root of bitterness and may we respond to this assault on our city with grace and love.

Image Credit – Pixabay, *2 Timothy 2:26.

 

Loving His Passion and His Body.

valentine-185944_640, Loving His Passion and His Body

Loving His Passion and His Body.

Love is here, there and everywhere!
We burrow deep into our dusty lockers, to find the rose-colored glasses that’s needed to bear this Valentine Day. To love another human, (especially one who shares your body) is an almost impossible quest.

If you think you are in love…think again. Most of us are in love with HOW our partner makes us feel. How in love are you when you are upset? This day reminds us of the benefit of curbing the urge to kill that “person” winking at you when they goof badly.
Sure the guy (or gal) is so-fine-he-blows-my-mind  but what about what they did just last week?

There is a lot of frustration and resentment in loving a human is because some people refuse to grow. Even those who are forward-thinking and vision-minded still cannot grow at your pace. We all come out of life’s birth canals in our different and unique pace. The pangs you feel is because while you are evolving, they cannot reach you.

Loving His Passion and His Body

I hope we cling to the passion and to the one who loved us enough to offer his body. He left it hanging on the cross till love’s mission was accomplished and it wasn’t the nails that kept Him there, LOVE DID.
He could have come down at any minute, but He saw the joy of us running to Him, when we are in pain, in grief or just when we want to snuggle up and His love for you and me kept him there.

I am grateful for the love from family and the people in my life and I am happy to add my few dollars to the billions spent by the world on chocolates, perfumes, dinner and rose flowers for loved ones today. But I know that without my Lord, Jesus who first loved me passionately, deeply and unconditionally… and is forever smitten with my smile, I could not love them back.

HAPPY LOVE DAY!!

Thirty-One Summers and Counting – Poem

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Credit: Pixabay Commons

Thirty-One Summers and Counting  – Poem
by Ama Danesi

In your hurry, you left bones behind
and the heat of thirty-one summers.
Sunset’s not the end of time –
interrupts the rendezvous of a carved image.
I feel your light upon my waters,
I know you are in His.

I pray your heart healed as
it caught up with the Sun.
Stalled timeline, memorialized on Facebook.
Now we live and die on full display
You no longer appear as People-I-Know.
I miss reminders of your birthday – like today.

———————————————————————

Happy Birthday to my little one, Imah-Obong-  who is resting above.