Tuesday, April 30, 2013

 

Express Yourself/Free Hugs

I dare you to watch this video and not smile:



The first time that I heard this song, I thought that James Brown was the lead vocalist but "Express Yourself" is actually a 1971 hit (peaking at #3 on the Billboard R&B chart) by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

"Express Yourself" played in the background of one of the all-time classic NBA commercials--an episode in the Nike "Barbershop" series featuring Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell and Charles Barkley:

The Dunk, the Commercial--and the Aftermath

Words to live by from "Express Yourself":

You don't never need help from nobody else
All you got to do now:
Express Yourself!


Some people have everything, and other people don't
But everything don't mean a thing if it ain't the thing you want

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Friday, April 19, 2013

 

Don Miguel Ruiz' Five Levels of Attachment and Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz' The Five Levels of Attachment poses a key question: "Are you using knowledge, or is knowledge using you?" His grandmother asked him this when he struggled to translate her words and it took him a while to grasp the full import of her message: he was imposing his own meanings and preconceptions on what she said. Ruiz writes, "This is a simple example of how we narrate life--explaining it, but, more importantly, justifying and judging it. Instead of taking an experience for what it is, we create a story to make it fit our beliefs. During Madre Sarita's talks, I had to completely shut down my thoughts, because if my mind's commentary got in the way, I would miss out on her message. With this simple process, my grandmother showed me that if we only see the world through the filters of our preconceptions, we are going to miss out on actually living. After much practice, I eventually learned to close my eyes, shut out the world that existed outside my head, and translate every single word she said accurately."

Frank Herbert's Whipping Star contains an interesting quote: "If you say 'I understand,' what have you done? You made a value judgment." Assuming that you understand what another person is saying involves an act of interpretation that may not be correct. As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker, "You must unlearn what you have learned"; sometimes knowledge can be a prison if that knowledge is used to form preconceptions that prevent us from looking at the big picture.

After reading The Five Levels of Attachment, I researched some of Ruiz' earlier work and I came across his 1997 book The Four Agreements. Those agreements are:

Be Impeccable with Your Word

"Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Impeccable means 'without sin' and a sin is something you do or believe that goes against yourself. It means not speaking against yourself, to yourself or to others. It means not rejecting yourself. To be impeccable means to take responsibility for yourself, to not participate in 'the blame game.'

Regarding the word, the rules of  'action-reaction' apply. What you put out energetically will return to you. Proper use of the word creates proper use of energy, putting out love and gratitude perpetuates the same in the universe. The converse is also true.

Impeccability starts at home. Be impeccable with yourself and that will reflect in your life and your relationships with others. This agreement can help change thousands of other agreements, especially ones that create fear instead of love."

Don't Take Anything Personally

"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

We take things personally when we agree with what others have said. If we didn't agree, the things that others say would not affect us emotionally. If we did not care about what others think about us, their words or behavior could not affect us.

Even if someone yells at you, gossips about you, harms you or yours, it still is not about you! Their actions and words are based on what they believe in their personal dream.

Our personal 'Book of Law' and belief system makes us feel safe. When people have beliefs that are different from our own, we get scared, defend ourselves, and impose our point of view on others. If someone gets angry with us it is because our belief system is challenging their belief system and they get scared. They need to defend their point of view. Why become angry, create conflict, and expend energy arguing when you are aware of this?"

Don't Make Assumptions

"Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

When we make assumptions it is because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling. We believe we know their point of view, their dream. We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences and have nothing to do with what others think and feel.

We make the assumption that everybody judges us, abuses us, victimizes us, and blames us the way we do ourselves. As a result we reject ourselves before others have the chance to reject us. When we think this way, it becomes difficult to be ourselves in the world.

Take action and be clear to others about what you want or do not want; do not gossip and make assumptions about things others tell you. Respect other points of view and avoid arguing just to be right. Respect yourself and be honest with yourself. Stop expecting the people around you to know what is in your head."

Always Do Your Best

"Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from doing what you like in life and having fun, not from how much you get paid. Enjoy the path traveled and the destination will take care of itself.

Living in the moment and releasing the past helps us to do the best we can in the moment. It allows us to be fully alive right now, enjoying what is present, not worrying about the past or the future.

Have patience with yourself. Take action. Practice forgiveness. If you do your best always, transformation will happen as a matter of course."

***************

Many elements of Ruiz' Agreements are similar to the Jedi philosophy; Yoda counsels Luke Skywalker to avoid attachments and to simply feel the Force, to become one with the way that the Force binds all life forms together. The three epigraphs in my article about Garret Kramer's Stillpower also express this outlook:

Luke Skywalker: "But how am I to know the good side from the bad?"
Yoda: "You will know...when you are calm, at peace, passive."--Dialogue from "The Empire Strikes Back"

"In war, as in life, there is a wrong way and a right way to compete. Avoid danger and greed. Embrace concentration and awareness. And when it becomes inevitable--let go."--Kwai Chang Caine, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"

"Colors blind; Sound deafens; Beauty beguiles; the enemy of stillness is desire. Eliminate desire, and the truth will become clear."--Kwai Chang Caine, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"

Before Luke Skywalker made his fateful walk into the "domain of evil" cave on Dagobah, he asked Yoda what was in the cave and Yoda responded, "Only what you take with you." The world sometimes seems like a "domain of evil" but ultimately we each find what we take with us: if we take with us anger, fear and weapons then we will find strife, despair and conflict. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never attack, and that is how each of us should use our own powers and gifts; fight for what is important--be willing to die for it if necessary--but do not fight for the sake of fighting or turn every situation into a struggle when it is possible to take a less confrontational approach.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

 

Words of Wisdom

A picture may be worth a thousand words but a few well chosen words are priceless, for such words can offer wisdom, comfort and humor. Here are some quotations that will help you fill your "Jim Valvano daily quota": Valvano, his body ravaged by terminal cancer, provided a great perspective about a well-lived life when he declared, "To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."
 
"The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude."--Voltaire
 
"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs."--Pearl Strachan

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."--Mother Teresa

"Time and words can't be recalled, even if it was only yesterday."--Yiddish proverb

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."--Maya Angelou

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked though the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread...This offers sufficient proof that everything can be taken away but one thing: the last of the human freedoms--to choose one's attitude, to choose one's own way."--Viktor Frankl

"Peace is not God's gift to his creatures. It is our gift--to each other."--Elie Wiesel

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."--Guillaume Apollinaire

"To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will."--Sugar Ray Robinson

"The man who has no imagination has no wings."--Muhammad Ali

"Never let yesterday use up too much of today."--Will Rogers

"Wisdom is knowing what to do next; skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it."--D.S. Jordan

"Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now--always."--Albert Schweitzer

"Liars need to have good memories."--Algernon Sidney

"Never try to tell everything you know. It may take too short a time."--Norman Ford

"A problem stated is a problem half solved."--Charles Kettering

"A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work."--John Lubbock

"Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant."--P.T. Barnum

"True affluence is not needing anything."--Gary Snyder

"The brighter you are, the more you have to learn."--Don Herold

"Learning is a treasure for eternity."--Unknown

"Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know."--Daniel J. Boorstin

"Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers."--Tennyson

"To profit from good advice requires more wisdom than to give it."--Churton Collins

"No man loves life like him that's growing old."--Sophocles

"Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute."--Unknown

"Please all and you will please none."--Aesop

"Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to."--John Ed Pearce

"Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."--Rabbi Hyman Schachtel

"The significance of a man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain."--Kahlil Gibran

"What is easy is seldom excellent."--Samuel Johnson

"Happy creatures do not know a great deal about life."--Anatole France

"Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take many small steps."--Helmut Schmidt

"I can live for two months on a good compliment."--Mark Twain

"Correction does much but encouragement does more."--Goethe

"The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong without comment."--Theodore H. White

"Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."--Mark Twain

"Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience."--George Carlin

"Think of how stupid the average person is and realize half of them are stupider than that."--George Carlin

"There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do."--Freya Stark

"To have joy one must share it."--Lord Byron

"Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length."--Robert Frost

"A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be."--Frank A. Clark

"Just as there are no little people or unimportant lives, there is no insignificant work."--Elena Bonner

"Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out."--Michael Burke

"Your expression is the most important thing you can wear."--Sid Ascher

"A smile is a gently curved line that sets a lot of things straight."--Unknown

"We can't help everyone but everyone can help someone."--Ronald Reagan

"True patience is waiting without worrying."--Charles Swindoll

"Count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don't have."--Chiara Fucarino

"Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones."--Unknown

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Life is not a having and a getting but a being and a becoming."--Matthew Arnold

"Our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall."--Oliver Goldsmith

"Happiness is the sense that one matters."--Samuel Shoemaker

"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving."--Oliver Wendell Holmes

"He is strong who conquers others; he who conquers himself is mighty."--Lao Tsu

"Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength."--St. Francis of Sales

"One man with courage makes a majority."--Andrew Jackson

"For the uncontrolled there is no wisdom, nor for the uncontrolled is there the power of concentration; and for him without concentration there is no peace. And for the unpeaceful, how can there be happiness?"--Bhagavad Gita (quoted in the epigraph to Jerzy Kosinski's Steps)

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."--John Ruskin

"Friends are relatives you make for yourself."--Eustache Deschamps

"Skillful listening is the best remedy for loneliness, loquaciousness and laryngitis."--William Arthur Ward

"If you love someone, let them know it."--Unknown

"The best way to know God is to love many things."--Vincent Van Gogh

"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."--Bern Williams

"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."--Marlene Dietrich

"The longest day has its end."--Irish proverb

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

 

Whatever Happened to Tevin Campbell?

Tevin Campbell's debut single, "Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)," topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart in June 1990 and was featured on Quincy Jones' Grammy Award-winning album "Back on the Block." Campbell was just 13 years old but he did not have to wait long for his next hit: "Round and Round," written and produced by Prince, reached number two on the Billboard R&B chart and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Round and Round" was the first single from Campbell's 1991 debut album "T.E.V.I.N." and it was also featured on the soundtrack for Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain. The lyrics are playful, yet confident--quintessential Prince:

I say, nothing comes from dreamers but dreams
I say, sitting idle in our boat while everyone else is down the stream
Nothing comes from talkers but sound
We can talk all we want 2, but the world still goes around and round
Round and round

We go round and round and round
And what we're looking 4 still isn't found

 
Can u tell me when we gonna get 2 it
I'm tired of fooling around I said I wanna do it (go 4 it, get 2 it)
I learned my lesson young, I said if u want to have fun (go 4 it)
And when u win say, "I go 4 it" (go 4 it, get 2 it).


Campbell hit just the right notes with his delivery and showed off some smooth dance moves as well:



"T.E.V.I.N." contained two number one R&B singles: "Alone With You" and "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do":



Campbell's second album, "I'm Ready," came out in 1993 and achieved double platinum status, peaking at number five on the R&B chart. It included the title track "I'm Ready" (which peaked at number two on the R&B chart), "Always in My Heart" (which peaked at number three on the R&B chart), "Don't Say Goodbye Girl" and "Can We Talk" (which topped the R&B chart and is still Campbell's biggest hit):



Campbell released his third album, "Back to the World," in 1996. It did not crack the top 10 on the R&B chart and only yielded one top 20 R&B single--the title track, which peaked at number 16 and is Campbell's last top 20 appearance on the R&B chart.

Campbell's self-titled fourth album came out in 1999; he has not produced any albums since that time and he has largely been out of the public eye except for a few guest appearances on TV shows and some theater performances (first on Broadway and then in Australia) as Seawood J. Stubbs in the musical "Hairspray."

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