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Remembrance of Faith

“Dwayne … don’t ever loose your Faith.”  Uncle Carl Dobranski

Like most people, I have been Blessed with some very influential people in my life.  Some of those people are bigger than life itself.  Uncle Carl Dobranski was one of those guys.

He was a big strong man with a deep voice and huge hands.  Hands that you never wanted to be on the wrong end of.  Strong, confident and a good honest caring person.  He grew up on a farm, and raised his family on a farm.  Our farm was just down the road from his farm.  He was one of those guys you always wanted on your side, and you never wanted to let him down.  Just like he never let all of us down.

Uncle Carl served overseas during World War II.  From what I understand, he served for most of the war, signing up early and staying until the end.  When he came back he was like most that came back, he lived not to tell about it.

I used to enjoy sitting down and having a sip or two with him.  He would share stories and we’d laugh.  I loved the fullness of his laughter.  He would tell me how much he loved my Dad, and how much he missed him.  It was good to know someone else felt like I did.  He would always make sure that I left a little bit smarter than before we sat down.

On one of those visits, after a couple of sips of course, he opened up for the first time to me about the war.  He never went into any of the horrible memories that he must have had.  All he did was tell me in his deep voice that through all the hell, chaos, turmoil, confusion, despair and the feeling of vulnerability, he never lost his Faith.  He told me the only thing that got him through all that hell was his Faith.

He then looked at me and said … “Dwayne, don’t ever loose your Faith”.

I remember the feeling I had of never wanting to let him down.  I felt the pressure at that very moment when I wasn’t sure if I could make that big of a promise to him.  The confusion that I also felt, as the wheels of my mind were turning, wondering how on earth he could have maintained his Faith in what I could only imagine was total hell.

Uncle Carl passed away in 2000 at the age of 83.  It was an honour for me to be one of the six individuals to carry Uncle to his final resting place, next to his loving wife Auntie Mary.

I often think back to those words that Uncle taught me … “don’t ever loose your Faith”.

For a long time I believed that the meaning of having Faith meant going to Church to prove that I have Faith.  And when you are there give generously, that always proves you have Faith.  Be sure that everyone knows just how much Faith you have!

But what I am beginning to realize is that the Faith that Uncle was talking about wasn’t these secular types of beliefs.  Sure he believed in going to church, and in Christianity, and his Faith in Jesus Christ was an extremely important part of his spiritual beliefs.

What I am realizing is that Faith is not a tangible item that you just show up for.  Tangible Faith beliefs, are beliefs that are created by us humans who are challenged by our own personal valuation of Faith. Just like all of us are from time to time.  There must have been times that even Uncle Carl must have had his Faith challenged.

I believe that the lesson Uncle Carl was teaching me that day was to have Faith that God loves me.  That my Family loves me.  And that I have to love me.  Without Faith that you are loved, Faith is very easily lost.  At the same time that we find it difficult to love ourselves, we loose Faith in ourselves.  When we don’t love ourselves, we make it difficult for others to love us and have Faith in us.  Yes, even God must be challenged to have Faith and to love some of us some of the time!

On the battlefields of Europe, where it was so difficult to find love, those that survived had Faith that their Higher Power, their God, loved them.  That was what got many of them through those dark horrible days.

At this time leading up to Remembrance Day let us give thanks to those who have served.  Take time to honor those who have never let us down.  Express our heartfelt gratitude for their giving.

Let us have Faith that love will always prevail over evil.  Let us have Faith in each other.  Let us have Faith in our Higher Power, your God whoever that is to you.  Let us always have strength to love the you that you are.  Lest We Forget.


Complete the following to contact Dwayne.


In Flanders Field the poppies blow…..


 

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Roots

Knowing where you came from … where your roots were planted … where they were originally allowed to grow … allows you to go farther than those without an understanding of their roots.

Your language, traditions and core beliefs originated from those roots.  While those roots may not be perfect, from there you grow your own roots.  Be proud of those roots … they are yours.

Keep your own roots firmly and deeply planted, even while others try to dig them up and pull them out.  Those that attempt to do so, only do so out of their own weakness, their own evil, their own rotten roots.

Be proud of the knowledge that you possess as a result of those roots, whether that knowledge is good or bad.  Learn from that knowledge and apply that knowledge to the growing of your own roots.  The roots that your family will grow from.

Be kind to those roots, protect them and defend them.  It is from those roots that a successful life’s journey is dependent upon.

Enjoy the Journey!



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The Sacrificial Marriage

Have you ever heard the saying that ‘in order to have a successful marriage you must make sacrifices’?  How about ‘In order to appease the other partner you must make sacrifices’.  Or ‘to make your partner happy sometimes you must sacrifice what makes you happy in order for the other person to be happy’.

This kind of sounds like relationship requirements of the dark ages.  Back when the man controlled the relationship and the woman was there to appease the man.  A relationship that really wasn’t a relationship – it could be considered more of an ownership.  ‘You will honor and obey your man until death do you part’, pretty heavy commitment!

Is that really what it takes to have a successful relationship?

I had the great honor of being the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for my sister’s 25th Wedding Anniversary.  My sister and her husband are a great couple.  They haven’t always had it easy, but they have worked hard to become very successful.  When I say very successful I don’t mean they have become financially wealthy.  They have become wealthy in the true sense. They have a solid relationship, great career and business, strong spirituality and  they have three wonderful children.  They lead a very balanced life and it comes through in their relationship.

Following the traditional speeches, toasts and kind words it was time for me to close the ‘ceremonies’ so we could get to the dancing and celebrating part of the evening.

In my closing remarks I couldn’t resist but ask the 200 plus attendees to answer this question by a show of hands.  The question – ‘In order to have a successful marriage do you need to make sacrifices?’  Roughly 75% to 80% of the people put up their hands in agreement.  Yes you MUST make sacrifices.

I found this very interesting.  Especially after listening to the speeches and the accolades that everyone made about the couple that we were there to celebrate with.  None of the speeches talked about the sacrifices that they had to make in order to have a successful marriage.

Everyone spoke about the value of the friendship the couple possessed.  How they worked together to raise such a lovely family.  How proud their parents would be of them for what they have accomplished.  How they have accomplished so much in the past 25 years together.  And yet after all these comments the attendees felt very strongly that you have to make sacrifices in order to have a strong relationship.

Earlier that day I saw a poster that was completed by the Catechism class in the Church that we celebrated a renewal of their marriage vows.  A Catechism class is made up of young children. Across the top of of the poster it said ‘What is Love?’.  Then it had a few points below that defined Love in the minds of those children.  Some of the points were – Caring, Sharing, Helping, Fondness, Adoring and Respect.

Interesting that the word sacrifice was not on their list of how to define love.  Is it not love that is needed to have a strong relationship?  And if it is love, and if sacrifice doesn’t define love, then why do we feel that we must sacrifice to have a strong relationship.  Marriage is a Sacrament – sacrifice is not a Sacrament.

There will always be give and take – give and take is required to reach a common goal.  Give more and take less.  A strong relationship is 100/100.  Divorce is 50/50.

The common goal should be a strong loving relationship.  Not a relationship where you must sacrifice your core beliefs just to make the other person happy.  Nor should you demand that your partner make sacrifices so that you can gain what you want out of the relationship, in order to fulfill your selfish desires.

A relationship that is built on how the Catechism class defines love will always be stronger than the relationship that is built on sacrifices.


Dare you to Follow Me!

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Impermanence

 Go Marauders!
Go Marauders!

Practice makes perfect – now there’s a saying that has been drilled over and over into everyone’s head over the years!  

The problem is that ‘perfect’ isn’t possible.  To achieve perfection in anything would in fact stop progress.  

So, why do we practice to be perfect?  Why do you want to stop growth?  Why is there this goal to stop progress?  If perfect isn’t possible then aren’t you practicing to achieve something that is not achievable?

We do not make something perfect by practicing the same thing over and over and over.  Practicing should be an attempt to make something better, and better,  and better, not make it perfect.  If your goal is to be perfect, then go ahead and keep practicing, maybe you will get there.  Wherever there is! 

But if you want to live and to grow then you gotta make new.  You need to view things with the mindset of impermanence.

What the heck is impermanence – was what I silently asked myself the fist time I heard the word.  I didn’t want to seem naive and ask for the definition.  That would be like asking for directions to get somewhere.  A real man never does that!  Especially when it’s your daughter using this fancy word!  So I did what every brave man and father now does – I Googled it!

Turns out impermanence is in fact a word.  Who knew!  And it’s a good word.  No wonder I didn’t know what it meant! 

Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines and a part of three marks of existence in Buddhism.  I have never purposely studied or practiced Buddhism. I have no idea yet what the three marks are.  But thank you Google and Wikipedia for helping me define impermanence! 

Impermanence, according to Wikipedia, is the belief that all things, whether material or mental, are compounded in a constant or continuous change of condition.  All things are subject to growth, decline and destruction.  All physical and mental events, state’s Buddhism, come into being and dissolving.  Human life itself is in a constant state of change.  As are our relationships with others, and with ourselves.  Everything we possess or own.  Our belongings and our space.  All things in the universe are in a constant state of change.  Makes sense, kind of like the Big Bang Theory!

Enlightenment comes when we realize that what appears to be permanent really is in a continual state of change.

Enlightenment comes when we realize that no matter how hard we practice to be perfect, we never are.  That’s because each of our definitions of perfection is in a constant state of change.  Even our relationship with perfection is in a constant state of impermanence.  Everything is impermanent, even permanence.  

Some of us spend our lives practicing to be perfect at something.  And because we are never able to reach that level of perfection, we are continuously letting ourselves down.  What failures we are for not being perfect! 

Get over it!  Humans were never created to be perfect.  We were created to be unique.  And through that uniqueness we are allowed to be impermanent.

The other truth, or enlightenment, is that by practicing to be perfect does not make new.  It just attempts to perfect something that already exists and is likely deteriorating.  

To continually attempt to make something that is impermanent perfect, is like wearing your old high school football jersey to your grandson’s prom.  The jersey likely no longer fits.  The numbers are falling off.  And the emblem on the front that you idolized in high school likely isn’t in the same condition as it was thirty or forty years ago!  No matter how many times you wear that jersey, and relive that big play in your senior year of high school, it likely still isn’t exactly how it was drawn in Coach Rink’s playbook.  The play you practiced over and over to make perfect, after all these years, still isn’t perfect. 

If your goal is to be perfect, then keep practicing, maybe you will get that touchdown yet!  Even though the game is long over.  

If you want to live though, well then you gotta make new!  You gotta move ahead with your own unique imperfect self.  Take pride and ownership in the creation of that special imperfection you call you.    

Because if you’re not moving ahead, Buddha says you are declining and self destructing.  And that picture ain’t so pretty!

 

In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

— Buddha

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0 comments on “Money is the Devil”

Money is the Devil

 

Can you recall an experience in your life when an individual, or a group of individuals like politicians, have either received allot of money or gain the control of others money. More money than they have ever been used to being in control of.

Does the new found control of this money seem to put them out of control.  Do they loose control.

What happens when the money is gone and the wheels fall off?

Spending the money with no control or direction on how it may affect their’s or your well being. Or your knowledge. Without control the money is quickly depleted.  All the shiny pretty stuff no longer has meaning. The spending was just a crutch. And when the money is gone the crutch is ripped away. The individual or individuals fall hard.

If it was a group of people they may fall even harder and start blaming each other. They fight and they argue.  They have a negative affect on their families and their communities.  Lawyers soon get involved so that each person can prove that the other is wrong. The lawyers take what’s left of the money, and maybe even more.

The individuals end up losing more than the money. They have lost a part of their well being. Their health deteriorates.  Their friendships and loved ones disappear.  Whether the lawyers prove them right or not the reality is they have likely lost more than the money could buy.

The most important asset of all, time, has slipped past them like a thief has broken in when they weren’t paying attention and took it away from them.  Time can never be repurchased.

Yet they focus their negative energy on the money that was lost. And then they call the money evil. Or the devil.

Some people say that money is the root of all evil. They say that if it weren’t for the money they would be happy.  The reality is that money is money. It is a thing. When people give things life, without having a way to control it, the thing begins to control you.

How do you maintain control of things?  By practicing awareness and measuring the impact that the thing has on your health and well-being.  The well-being of your family and the wisdom that is gained through the benefit of having the money, or the thing.  And how you impact the lives of others through your generosity.  That’s how you maintain control.  That’s how you keep ‘the thing’ from controlling ‘the you’.

When controlled and measured by its impact on areas of importance – the money will just be a thing. It’s impact will last indefinitely if utilized and controlled as a thing.

Money is not the devil – those who loose control of it are…


0 comments on “What’s in your jar?”

What’s in your jar?

With Valentine’s day behind us by a couple weeks I am assuming that the roses are no longer red and the violets are no longer blue.  And the box of chocolates from the pretty heart shaped box are showing their love by the extra notch we now need in our belts.  Maybe that’s how the body part above the belt got the name ‘Love Handles’.  

Valentines after all is ‘the’ day to express your love.  Usually by spending money on things that don’t last too long.  Unfortunately, all too often it seems like it’s ‘thee’ only day some people take a moment to express their love.  

This past week I asked a close personal friend of mine a question.  The question was – what color of rose and how many roses does it take to tell someone that you love them.  Without a moments thought she replied ‘NONE’!  She continued to say that ‘roses are a nice gesture, almost everyone loves getting roses, but the real way to express your love is how you give of yourself, not how many roses you give, or what color they are’.  

She also jokingly said ‘besides her favorite flower is Orchids, not roses’!  At least that’s what I think she said, like a typical man I don’t always hear what someone else is saying!

The definition of love is an intense feeling of deep affection.  If your intense feeling of affection for someone is real, then the reality is the roses must be given everyday.  The roses in this case are not of the flower kind – but of the gesture kind.  It’s the way in which you treat those you love.  The priority that you place on those that you love compared to the things you may or may not love.  Things like work, chores or day to day life.  Sometimes life does get in the way of truly expressing your love on a daily basis.  We’ve all been guilty of this.  But this really shouldn’t be.  Making time for the expression of love shouldn’t be an exercise that you have to go through each day.  You shouldn’t have to place a booking in your smart phone calendar with a fancy reminder sound so that you don’t forget to follow up on that love thing!     

This past week I was staying in a motel room in a small Saskatchewan town.  It was the standard highway motel with a bathroom, a place to hang a few clothes and an old cube television.  Like most it had a space heater because the old boiler doesn’t always keep up with the heat demands of a cold prairie evening. And most grateful as always a clean bed!  This room, like most, was big enough to turn around in without bumping my elbows on anything. Definitely not the Hilton, but really it is everything a person needs for a night away from home. 

In the corner of the room sat a jar with some rocks and some ugly plastic roses in it.  Placed as a decoration or an ornament at one point in time and probably never thought of much since. The picture attached to this blog shows their ‘beauty’!  I didn’t even notice it the evening that I got there.    It was the next morning when I was doing my headspace exercise that they caught my eye and reminded me of an old story … the story goes something like this.

Imagine your life as a jar.  It begins empty and as we grow we add different experiences to our jar of life.  Those experiences will also include relationships.  And each of those experiences and relationships affect each other and they affect our jar.  

Now think about your relationships in a way that they are either big rocks, medium sized rocks, small rocks or pebbles.  You need to decide for yourself, but I would hope that those closest to you, your spouse, children, parents are the big rocks.  And then as the relationships get more distant they slowly become smaller rocks and then pebbles.  

The difficulty we humans have is that we spend too much time filling our jar of life with things other than rocks.  ‘Things’ like our jobs or professions, our chores, the demands we artificially put on ourselves, those expectations of all the so called really important things in our life.  Take a moment to think about those things in your life that get in the way of the gesture of love to the rocks in your life.  You know what they are.  Let’s imagine that those ‘things’ are sand.

Where we tend to run into trouble is we fill our jars of life with sand and then we try to squeeze our rocks into it.  And if the rock doesn’t fit we try to grind through the sand to make room for the rock.  Then in time the sand pushes the rock out of the way. Perhaps because there was no room for the big rock in the first place, or maybe you kept adding more sand.  Even though there was no more room for the big rock.  

And you keep doing that over and over and over, until the rock is tired of being pushed out of your jar by your sand and the rock finds another jar.  If the big rock was your child, maybe they begin hanging out with jars you don’t like, jars that lead them down the wrong path in life.  If the big rock that gets pushed out is your spouse – well you know you won’t like the jar that replaces your’s.  Of course none of this should concern you, after all now you have more room in your jar for more sand, just what you wanted – right?  

Let’s take this one step further.  The sand is extremely abrasive and after a while the sand will grind your jar thin.  It starts slowly but as it continues to grind your jar gets thinner and thinner until a grain of sand is able to pass through your jar through a hole.  Then two grains and then three grains.  Let’s imagine the hole in you jar as illness.  Or maybe old age.  Or some other time of importance in your life.  

Let’s say that the sand is your job.  And you become ill to the point where your jar can no longer hold the sand and the result is that you loose that job.  Or maybe you become the old man in a rocking chair that no one comes to visit.  Or the old lady in the kitchen always waiting for her children to come home for Sunday supper, the Sunday supper she never had time for while those rocks were in her jar.  

As the sand is emptying from your jar you realize that there are no rocks in you jar.  It’s not because they didn’t want to be there – it’s because you never made room for them.  And now they have another jar.  

Perhaps the best gesture of love that we can make is to place what is important to you in the jar first.  There should always be room for the big rocks.  Then there will be room for the small rocks.  And for the pebbles.  And the sand will always fit around the rocks, there is always room for the sand.  But there isn’t always room for the rocks.

And now let’s imagine that you are the rose in this picture … and maybe, just maybe – as the rose gets older and is not as vibrant anymore the rocks will still be with the rose, long after the sand is gone.  

        

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Are You Growing Among Trees or Mushrooms?

As human beings we all want strong relationships.  Relationships that grow over time with people that we can become close to.  Those that we are close to become our ‘community’. People within that community may consist of your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends and your business relationships.  

Similar in some ways to the prehistoric days when humans had to develop packs to be strong to fight and survive.  In modern days belonging to a strong community, or pack, allows us to live longer.  We become healthier if our community grows our happiness.  We grow stronger and live longer when our communities bring us happiness. 

Your community is where you find strength in bonding with others.  A strong community will allow you to grow your knowledge of your profession, or of your well-being.  Your overall life will be better and the end result will likely also be a higher financial worth. 

Your community will be there to support you when you well-being is being brought down as a result of illness or perhaps of a death of someone within your community.  

Your community will also be there to celebrate with you when you achieve new successes.  When you’ve worked hard and studied hard to complete a challenge in your life.  A challenge like attaining a higher level of education.  Moving up in your profession.  Entering into a life long relationship.  Or the amazing fulfillment of becoming a parent.  Having a community to celebrate the successes in our life are a key part of desire to grow and achieve new wins.  It’s no fun to party alone!  

Do the communities that you belong to bring you happiness.  Do they grow your well-being, or do they decrease it.  If the goal of belonging to a community is to bring you strength, does it?  If it doesn’t then is it a community to belong to?  The outcome of wallowing within a community that is not bringing you the positive results that you are looking for will always result in a ‘you’ that cannot grow.  Moving on though is scary, especially when you’ve belonged to that community for a long time, maybe even your whole life.

 In order for a tree to grow it needs the sun to shine – mushrooms need darkness.  Trees live for a long time – mushrooms only survive for a few days.  Do you want your life to be a life of a mushroom?  Or that of a tree?