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Just For Laughs . . .

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Snapshots Of Serenity

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“Etched Salmon” peony by Steve Johnson

Send your Snapshots of Serenity to The Phoenix for publication. Email high rez photos to juliaedelman@gmail.com and receive a free subscription to The Phoenix Spirit!

Don't Just Stand There - Do Nothing!“He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not sometimes do nothing.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman lawyer and statesman; 1st century BC

The letter confirming the August 1986 10-day retreat in California’s high-Mojave Desert contained the usual details about weather, suitable clothing, facility, housing, and this: “During the conference, there will be no television, radio or newspapers. Office telephone is for emergency use only. Please ensure that all matters at home – family, pets, job, etc. – will be taken care of during your absence so that you can devote full attention to the work of the conference.” Continue reading

John CurtissAs I pulled into the driveway at The Retreat in Wayzata on a rainy, weekday morning, I quickly discovered every parking spot was taken. As I squeezed my not-so-compact car into a not-so-legitimate parking space, my curiosity grew. “Who are all these people here? Why is it so busy? What exactly does this this place offer?” My questions would soon be answered by the caring, enthusiastic staff at The Retreat.

History Lesson from John Curtiss Continue reading

Attitude Of GratitudeWhat does it mean to feel gratitude? More than just being thankful, a feeling of gratitude can help you connect with the people in your life and the world that surrounds you. Learning to practice gratitude as an adult is often deliberate action, but if we can show a child how to feel gratitude, they would gain an invaluable gift for a lifetime.

by Monisha Vasa

My brain knows that gratitude is important. I know when I am in a state of gratitude — aware of my blessings, small and big, I feel happier and less alone. I feel more connected to the people around me, and my life experiences. I feel in my body a life force greater than myself. Continue reading

John DriggsImagine living in a world where no one is capable of understanding anybody else’s feelings. In such a world, someone could grasp how you feel only if he or she had exactly the same experiences you’ve had. If they hadn’t had those experiences they would have no idea what you are talking about. Consequently, you’d likely feel all alone in your solitary circumstances. Of course then you would have no way to feel loved since the experience of true love is about someone else accepting us as we really are and not for how we match up to their expectations. Such a world would be grim and lifeless even though our basic needs are met. We would likely wither and die in such a world. Continue reading

Mary Lou Logsdon “Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” Marcus Aurelius

Where do you go when life gets to be too much? When your days overflow with tasks and decisions? When resentments simmer and bubble while violins sing woeful laments? Where do you go?

Life ebbs and flows. As tasks overcrowd my hours, the elasticity of a day stretches only so far before it snaps back. Some days everything goes according to my plan and I confidently step out on the ledge of arrogance thinking, Continue reading

Daniel Maurer curates the blog "Transformation is Real"When I first got married, my wife and I moved to a tiny hamlet in eastern Montana. It was her hometown and she had a job at a local community college teaching public speaking. My job was at a rinky-dink bank playing customer service rep and twiddling my thumbs in the back room pretending to work with the computers. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not a dream job. At least I had plenty of time after work to drink when wifey was off teaching in the evenings. Continue reading

Emily Roiphe CarterI am not a woman naturally drawn to serenity or stillness. I am often tangled in the trees and quite unable to detect the shape of the forest. I do not tend to meditate, or exercise with the kind of disciplined regularity required to make up a healthy habit. There is however, a place I can go to escape the world and myself. It’s on video and it’s available in abundance of YouTube.

At night, in bed, before I fall asleep, I watch a story about a humble, blind masseur wandering through Edo period Japan: my own personal Jesus—Zatoichi, (Masseur Ichi). Of course he is, as someone points out at least once an episode “no ordinary masseur”…. His adorable, bumbling demeanor conceals his deadly, almost miraculous swordsmanship. The sword is faster than the eye is the series’ tagline, and you can look as close as you like but all you will see is Zato, not drawing, but Continue reading

Creativity270x186

create art!  make music!  explore!

It was the holiday season, my day off, and I was up to my eyeballs with things to do. So when my daughter phoned inviting me to make baked dough ornaments, I thought I just don’t have the time. But I really wanted to spend time with her so I happily put tasks on hold. I figured we’d hang out together, make a few ornaments and I’d get back to my to-do list. I arrived to a warm, sunny kitchen where she and a friend already had the first pan out of the oven displaying a few traditional cookie cutter shapes – stars, trees, angels – and some interesting one-of-a-kind creations. My daughter had inherited her father’s prodigious artistic talent so I was not surprised. My own drawing never got much beyond kindergarten mode — a cat made of circles, triangles and squiggly lines. Continue reading

“It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worthwhile? But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of harboring resentment is infinitely grave. For then we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit”
—Bill W. in As Bill Sees It

I’m a person who is easily pissed off.DanMaurer149x209

There . . . I said it. And it’s true. Let me give you an example . . .

Just yesterday, I got a call from a friend. He’s a guy I don’t see much, because he lives a couple hours north of me. Continue reading

CherylStrayed324x487 An Interview with Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild: Life Lessons from the Wilderness

Cheryl Strayed is a Minnesota native, and the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is the journey of Strayed’s 1,100 mile, three month solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and the personal struggles that led to her hike, including the Continue reading

john driggsIn all of our lives there certainly are those times when it is very healthy to live only for ourselves. If we are just about to give birth to a child, if our recovery in a hospital from a lifethreatening illness like alcoholism is at stake, or if we are powerless over another family member’s out of control behaviors, it’s rather wise and necessary to focus only on ourselves and our well being. Detachment with love has an essential place in our lives.

However, what if we are just going about the business of living and only want to focus on our own needs to the real exclusion of care about others? We might say to ourselves, “I am not my brother’s keeper” or “Every man for himself.” Are we living a healthy life with such attitudes? Continue reading

maryloulogsdon2I t was the fall our eldest started college. Once we had heard the parent pep talk and were summarily dismissed, I could hardly tear myself away – the excitement of choosing classes from endless possibilities, the beauty of the autumn campus, the opportunity to form fast friendships. I came right home and registered for The Artist’s Way, a class based on the book by the same title, authored by Julia Cameron.

I’d never considered myself an artist. I’m from a long line of non-artists. Julia Cameron says, “… creative recovery (or discovery) is a teachable, trackable spiritual practice.” I was willing to be taught. To participate in this adventure I committed to writing three journal pages each morning and going on a weekly artist date. Continue reading

HollyTapani476x639A lot of people claim that they can’t sing. Maybe at some point in their life, someone told them they couldn’t carry a tune. Maybe they were told that they were being too loud or obnoxious. Maybe they started thinking that singing wasn’t cool, or that it was only acceptable in a karaoke bar under the influence of alcohol. At some point, they just decided to quit singing.

I say “quit,” because anyone who has been around young children knows that they are not nearly as shy about sharing their voices with the world. At some point, though, it seems that a lot of people in our culture quit singing. We start to think that singing is for professionals, and we giggle at Continue reading

From an early age I had low self-esteem partly as a result of being criticized unrealistically by my mother. I was a perfectionist and struggled with anger, frustration and tension. Besides that I felt like my parents were smothering me with over protection. College graduation coincided with a break up with my boyfriend, dashing marriage plans and leaving me lost and dejected. Mom said, “I told you so.” That just made things hurt more.

I moved to a faraway state to try and escape my parents and the feelings of failure and guilt that I had, but things only got worse. I was painfully depressed, lonely, and practically anorexic when I moved back home a year later. Having me home again made my mom depressed, too. Too afraid and ashamed to ask for help, I was blessed to encounter people who encouraged and helped me along the way. It took years, but with determination my mood eventually improved.

Continue reading

Accepting Reality

I see myself on the high-speed motorbike
with skin-tight leather jeans
and long shiny hair
and the looks of an angel.

I see myself acting in a movie.
The movie wins an Oscar,
and I have all that I need
and cherish as an actor and author.

I see myself being a great leader
whose speech touches the hearts of  millions,
who brings victory to mankind
and kills all ignorance.

I see myself writing books
and shifting the mass consciousness
and see the creativity inside me
to publish these best sellers.

—Vidya Gargote from MUTE: Poems That Saved My Life!

QUOTE: “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” — Cavett Robert

With the weather finally heating up (goodbye snowpocalypse!) it’s that time of year again when we layer down and show some skin. For those of you who didn’t exactly get that body you’ve been hoping for during this year’s hellish winter… don’t stress.

From running to biking to cooking, here are some apps that will get you in tip-top shape in time for next winter:

1.MapMyRun – For all the runners out there, MapMyRun allows you to record your workout details including the time span, distance, pace, speed, elevation and calories burned. It uses the GPS in your mobile to see the exact route you’ve traveled on the map and lets you view your workout history. Available on iOS and Android (Free)

2. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker – As the weather gets hotter, our lives get busier with a flurry of outdoor activities and adventures taking over our schedule. By counting calories for you and creating a personalized diet Continue reading

On the bus recently I overheard a woman on her cellphone. “I’m so depressed,” she told the person on the receiving end. Later that day, I was on the receiving end as I listened to a friend from across the country explain that it’s been hard to get out of bed in the mornings. I knew what she meant. I, too, had been having a hard time getting and staying motivated and upbeat.

While the term “depression” might commonly be used as a general descriptor to convey, I feel bad emotionally and I don’t know how to relieve it, depression itself is not an emotion. “Depression actually occurs when we become stuck in a painful or uncomfortable emotion and we don’t know how to step out of its grip,” believes Joey Klein, a meditation and personal growth expert. “In overcoming depression, we must begin to feel the emotion that we are stuck in.” Harvard University has determined that the neurological lifespan of an emotion is 90 seconds. An emotion can only survive longer than 90 seconds if it is fed. The food that feeds and sustains emotion is our thoughts. Therefore, it is the way that we think that keeps an Continue reading

EmilyCarter149x169“Think you’re different”? read the tagline on the poster my first C.D. counselor would point to the second a new patient entered his office. The words, printed in a cheerfully comic balloon-lettered font scrolled over a depiction of thousands of densely massed European lady bugs, bright red with big black polka dots.

“I’d relate better” I said “if they were cockroaches” I said.

I understood it, though; I was already getting the idea: Find the common ground.

Whether in treatment, or in the “rooms,” addicts come together from Continue reading

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