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Fulfillment

Fulfillment

Today I would like to share some thoughts about fulfillment. When I was much younger I was looking for happiness, or whatever I thought passed for happiness. Actually I think I was seeking money, position and love. What every red-blooded American guy wants, right?

Now as I enter my 7th decade, I’m more interested in fulfillment. For me the term fulfillment means to be filled up, fully satisfied. Fulfillment means

  • Scratching my furrball Toby’s belly when he rolls on his back or
  • Watching my granddaughters catch fireflies as the sun drops down under the horizon or
  • Drinking coffee with my friends John and David

Life is more precious to me now, as I acknowledge my days are coming to an end.  Over the years, my life has been informed by my Zen practice; I’ve sat zazen with more than 20 Zen teachers, founded or co-founded three practice centers, and received permission to serve as a chaplain for the dying and their families. I no longer feel isolated and alone. I experience my interconnectedness with the whole of life and the Great Mystery that permeates throughout the Universe.

While occasionally I can still be hard on myself for decisions made, actions I regret, I can let go of the past. I accept the past. I accept the future. I cannot predict what will happen five years from now, one year from now, 10 minutes from now. Past, present and future are all one continuous NOW and I flow within the current.

I’m now more able to accept myself as I am. I know it’s not selfish to serve myself while serving others. The great key to fulfillment, it seems to me, lies in my hard- won willingness to surrender to just this moment, to open to that and to serve as a channel for helping others. Whatever we call that, be it God, Buddha or the Divine Feminine, doesn’t seem to matter. What matters is that we drop our agendas and listen to the voice within us.

Please see see John Craig’s video on fulfillment below, featuring myself.

Fulfillment, by John Craig

Nuns Can Be Groovy, Too

By Tim Hayes

Over the course of my elementary education, I sure met a lot of sisters. The kind with habits. And veils. And rosary beads. And an approach to discipline that certainly felt unshakable, unalterable, and unbelievable to me and my fellow “disciplinees” along the way.
Sister Dorothy, Sister James Ann, Sister Esther, Sister Joachim, Sister Frederick – we crossed paths with them all in our eight glorious years at dear old Saint Joseph School. The school’s no longer standing, and even the parish has been subsumed into a merged conglomerate of Catholics. Kind of sad, really. All those students over all those years, creating all those memories. And that’s all they are now, just memories.
Most of those recollections remain positive and happy, whether a matter of selective amnesia or not. As with anybody, some rough days happened, of course. But they fell into the minority of experiences.
One teacher stood out from all the rest, though. A teacher who really “got” her students. Who ran a tight ship, but also a fun ship. She loved her job, loved her faith, and loved her students. And we loved her back.
My fifth grade teacher, Sister Ruth Ann. The grooviest nun I ever met, or ever would meet. She was a lot younger than most of the other nuns at St. Joe’s. She wore a black veil and dress, but the dress came to her knees, not the floor-length habit the others wore. And if Sister Ruth Ann had a rosary on her, we never saw it.
Remember, now, when kids hit fifth grade, they’re starting to not be kids anymore. It’s a weird time. The first whiff of hormones get carried on the breeze. Girls begin to cluster and get mysterious and moody. Guys assume more of a young-buck attitude. It’s not full-blown adolescence, with its accompanying pain-in-the-arse drama and trauma, just yet. But it’s peeking over the back fence in fifth grade.
Sister Ruth Ann understood this, and created a classroom environment where learning – for the first time in our academic careers – took on less of a lecturing flavor and more of a participatory slant. She had us up and out of our cast-iron and wooden desks every day. She instituted class officers and activities, with yours truly winning election as vice president, the safest job (or so I thought). She even took us outside for classes, which may have been an excommunicable offense in 1971. I’d have to check Canon Law on that one.
I can remember Sister Ruth Ann helping us to plan a class party to celebrate some collective achievement, whatever it was. Knowing that a party stood at the end of whatever instructional path she had us on absolutely did the trick in getting our class – even the deadwood kids who never seemed to catch on – motivated, working together, and enjoying our school time together.
When the classmate in charge of bringing a stack of 45s to provide the music for the party really dropped the ball, showing up with “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies – and nothing else – it didn’t matter. Sister Ruth Ann danced along with us as those three minutes of pure bubble-gum played over and over. We had a blast. She was so cool.
Late in our fifth grade year, Sister Ruth Ann’s brother passed away unexpectedly. The class voted that their vice president should represent the group at the funeral, which I was sort of terrified to do. But when it came to helping Sister Ruth Ann during a sad time, one rose to the occasion as class vice president, no questions asked.
I have no idea where Sister Ruth Ann is today. Truth be told, I couldn’t even tell you her last name. But wherever she is, I hope she’s loving life the same way she did way back when, veil swaying, eyes smiling, dancing to “Sugar, Sugar,” having a ball, and proving that nuns could be groovy, too.
Copyright 2014 Tim Hayes Consulting and Transverse Park Productions LLC

Stick to Three Minutes

By Tim Hayes
I weep for the future.
Recently, a story on Jimmy Fallon preparing to become the next host of the “Tonight Show” ran on the Internet. In it, Fallon said he had spoken with the outgoing host, Jay Leno, about the job and asked Leno for advice.
In reply, Leno told Fallon to make his monologues longer than the three-minute segments he had been doing. When Fallon asked why, Leno said, “You need to talk more about what’s going on that day, because the monologue is where people get their news.”
Good Lord. Let me reiterate: I weep for the future.
Leno, sadly, makes a strong case. Surveys of young adults state that a majority of that demographic indeed gets its news from Comedy Central programs like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
Comedy Central? Really?
The argument in favor of this trend says that such shows are not beholden to the standard rules of journalism. They don’t have to be objective. In fact, their intent is to poke fun at newsmakers, and in the process inform their viewers about important people and events happening right now – albeit through a fairly opinionated lens.
The slant to such shows may tilt more left than right, and the argument there says these programs serve as a counterweight to right-leaning opinion programming, such as “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity” on Fox News.
The point here is not to take sides as to which approach is correct or better. They all have a place on the spectrum. Bill O’Reilly has his point of view that he advocates strongly every night, and Jon Stewart is pretty damn funny as he picks apart the lies and hypocrisies spewed by those in power.
No, the point to be made is that when people – especially young people, who someday will be in charge of our companies, our government, our families, and our society – rely on these types of openly and admittedly biased sources for their daily intake of news, we may be headed for trouble down the road.
The function of journalism is to present current events in a fair, balanced, and objective manner, reflecting all pertinent sides of a story, so that the consumers of this information can make up their own minds and form their own opinions.
When news gets delivered already shrink-wrapped in an outer coating of opinion, that robs the consumer of the fundamental right, duty, and responsibility of people living in a representative republic like the U.S. to think for themselves.
So, Jimmy Fallon, if you’re still accepting advice about taking over the “Tonight Show,” keep your monologues at three minutes. Be a comedian, not an anchorman.
Copyright 2014 Tim Hayes Consulting and Transverse Park Productions LLC

A Relationship Broken

Contemplating the end of a relationship (what has more traditionally been called marriage) is one of the most stressful of all life events. Regardless of whether one makes the decision to leave, or one is told by the other that s/he has decided to leave, the experience is wrenching. It can be no less wrenching if the decision is mutual.

One is savaged by feelings of anger, betrayal, grief, and loss. There is emotional devastation. Will one ever experience solace, much less happiness? Is there life after divorce? There must be.

We are aware that in the 21st century divorce is commonplace. According to the National Bureau of Health Statistics, no less than forty-two percent of first marriages end in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of second marriages end in divorce and seventy-three percent of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.

How do the challenges of mid-life contribute to the break-up of relationships? How can relationships be renewed and strengthened?  What are your thoughts and experiences?

Mid-Life Transitions II

As we enter mid-life, we enter a new phase of development where we are challenged and often find ourselves in seas of transition.  We are concerned with raising and maintaining a family, finding and strengthening a career path, laying a foundation for financial security, taking care of our more critical health issues, and nurturing our aging parents.

Are we satisfied with our partners and our family lives? Does work bring fulfillment or frustration? Will we have money enough to retire? Will our relationships with our parents allow honest communication about their health and care?

Our ability to navigate the waters of these transitions will largely determine how much meaning, fulfillment and abundance we are able to discover in mid-life.

Mid-Life Transitions

In mid-life we experience many transitions. We may be leaving a marriage, seeking a better job, looking for answers to raising our kids, or dealing with a serious illness. If you feel you are in transitions, Encores! was created just for you.

One of the core intents behind the development of Encores! was to create a community for those facing mid-life transitions to come together and share their experiences with one another. Encores Brochure to learn more about our program. Better yet, contact me and let’s get together so I can understand your needs and share how Encores! can enhance and support your life.

Beginnings

In our beginnings all things are fresh and new. There is the hope, the excitement, the anticipation of moving forward, taking action, the creation of something new.

In mid-life, however, our lives often take on the sameness of routine, a dullness of vision, apathy, ennui. We feel weighed down by our responsibilities, our obligations.

Can we shake ourselves out of the trance? Is it possible to renew and redesign our lives? In order to create a new beginning, we must take up our intention; we must commit ourselves to embracing the process of change. Indeed, it is possible.

Stopping

“Stop moving and there is no motion;

Set what is at rest in motion and there is no rest.

Just stop. That’s all. Just stop.

All of the tendencies and habits that are restlessly pushing and pulling will just go on and on if you don’t stop.

So stop. Please.

Then just don’t stir yourself up. Just rest in this moment.

Just sit up straight and be without difficulty.

Please, this evening, enjoy yourselves.”

Jianzhi Sengcan

How often we rush through our lives. Where are we going? Do we realize the price we pay for this rushing about? Try stopping. See what happens.

You Are Not Alone

There is a way to experience how each of us is inextricably connected to all sentient beings and the universe itself. At the end of each day, sit down and ask yourself, “What have I received from others today? What have I received from the universe?” It may initially be difficult because we take so many things for granted.

Listen to this observation from Gregg Krech, the author of A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness:

“The other day I had to drive to a restaurant in the city of Ottawa, Canada. I am not very familiar with Ottawa. I was able to find my destination, in part, thanks to the efforts of those who put up street signs and highway signs along the way. That took a lot of effort, time and money. Without such signs I would surely have been lost. Too often I benefit from street signs without considering the efforts of those who put them up…Too often we take the simplest things for granted.”

Who designed and produced the glasses we see out of? Who designed and built the cars we drive? Have we noticed the help the woman at the supermarket checkout gave us?

Do we acknowledge the rain that waters the crops we eat? Do we acknowledge the wonders of nature that provides trees that shade us and gives us the wood to build our homes?

So you might want to take time during the evening hours of the next few days and simply note the many gifts the universe and the people within it have given you. You are not alone. You are supported in many ways. Take heart and cultivate gratitude.

Do You Feel Isolated?

In mid-life many of us feel alone and isolated from our friends and family when confronted with the difficult challenges we encounter during this phase of our lives. We are so preoccupied with addressing the issue or fixing the problem, that we hunker down within ourselves and lose touch with the very people who can support us.

Encores! is designed to bring us together so that we can develop a road map for our lives and share our stories with our fellow men and women. Please Encores Brochure to learn more about a program created just for you!