First time I heard Marianne Williamson speak, she stood at a podium in front of about 1000 people who wanted to commemorate what was said to be the birth of a new era. 2012 was about to end. Excitement about the new-ness of so many things was everywhere. Awareness of the potential for so much more awareness was unspoken but almost palpable. And we applauded speaker after speaker with hope and faith.
Then Marianne was introduced. About two minutes later, everyone present was on their feet, not just applauding, but loudly, emphatically, intently roaring in passionate agreement with what she had to say.
Marianne’s message strikes a chord with people who are living and leading a revolution in consciousness that’s undeniably taking place and growing fast. She’s a beacon of light in that awakening as she stands at microphones and reminds us what we already instinctively know: that, worldwide, peace and prosperity are within reach, and that there’s no doubt people can now create it together.
When she finished, as the standing audience was bringing down the roof with applause and shouts of support, I stepped into the lobby. A moment later, I unexpectedly found myself standing next to her, and had the enormous pleasure of expressing to her my heartfelt thanks, respect, and praise. She humbly, and genuinely, asked “Did that come off all right?”
Second time I heard her speak she was running for U.S. Congress. Her presence there – or anywhere — will be like a rising tide that lifts all the boats, or the transition from black and white to full living color, or a gentle rain on a parched garden.
Marianne Williamson is speaking the truth of ideas whose time has come. As Victor Hugo said, that is something all the armies of the world cannot stop.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson in her book A Return to Love.
Through the ages, in every corner of the world, people have paused to put tools aside, stand with others, celebrate the cycles of the earth and skies, contend with the mystery, and humbly honor the Creator with elegantly structured expressions of what we could not otherwise ever hope to express.
Then, not long ago, we moved by the billions, from ancient rhythms in farming, survival, and awareness, to modern life, where so many of these sacred rites have faded into faint distorted memories of elders’ memories, and out of the weave of everyday life.
But here among us in this tool-busy world is someone who did not forget.
For over 30 years, Amshatar Ololodi Monroe has been bringing people of highly diverse cultures very much together—in retreats, conferences, rituals, seminars, ceremony, workshops, coachings, great conversation, and other events—and empowering them to excavate, understand, restore, preserve, participate in, and celebrate universal traditions of our elders and ancestors.
Her work is about the earth-based spirituality found in indigenous cultures. It reveals, among many other things, that the ancient ways still run deeply through all modern spiritual paths, and that universal points of connection include (to name a few) invocation, prayer, song, honoring of elders, drumming and rhythmic sound, music, circle-gathering, and recognition of One God in a myriad of forms. And it speaks to the awakened and awakening among us, stewards of our blessed planet, from prominent leaders and wealthy business owners to quiet laborers and silenced prisoners, as we hammer out the patterns of human life in every possible way.
Amshatar (pronounced “am-sha-TAIR”) brings to our communities not just immense knowledge, a lifetime of motivating experience, and a sort of grandmotherly love, affection, and understanding, but also a lightness of spirit that is so comforting, participants say they find themselves able to imagine living possibilities with fresh insights and to dialogue with other people from new perspectives. Beginnings are often created that can be profoundly life-altering.
It was, in fact, during a ceremony based on ancient African tradition that Amshatar herself experienced one of her own first awakenings. Afterward, conscious of it for the first time, she accepted the spiritual charge that’s been given to her—of bringing together diverse people, on diverse paths, to embrace, in ancient traditional ways, our seeming differences and honor, connect, and celebrate “the One-ness of Common-Unity.”
Among other love-leading deeds, Amshatar embraces every path to and sincere interpretation of what might be called divine essence or “the Word.” She has practiced the spiritual practices of the modern and pre-European Americas, Africa, Europe, and the Middle-East; discipled under such Sanskrit-sourced disciplines as transcendental meditation, yoga, and breath mastery; cultivated and inspired traditional African and Native American spiritual culture and spirituality; and internalized the soul-full teachings of both traditional and non-denominational Christian ministries—starting with the sounds, wisdom, and spirit of the Baptist church she and her brothers grew up in in Washington, D.C.
Her musician parents grew up in that church too, became deacons of its music program, and filled the loving, worshipful Monroe home with an endless stream of musical guests. And that’s when the daughter of this large loving family started “wondering what I could actually do so the Circle might be Unbroken.” Tapping her foot, clapping her hands, and singing along in her Sunday dresses, this little girl was already consciously thinking about how to build bridges across canyons that sometimes appear to divide people. Classmates remember her as “the ‘mender’” who would bring everyone together on one “team”—at the rec center or playground, in clubs and cliques in high school, and especially with the kids who might have been least likely to get along.
Which was a perfect foundation for later earning a B.A. in Business Management and an M.A. in Arts Management from The American University, training and experience she applied for years as a cultural and events specialist in Washington, D.C. and Georgia. For over 20 years after that, she was producer/manager of arts and special events, and providing professional services in non-profit and academic executive management positions.
The mid 1990’s is when the scope of her work expanded. She started researching the primary and indigenous origins of humanity’s spiritual history. That led, inevitably perhaps, to a deep relationship with the eight-thousand-year-old, now-international Yoruba religion. In West Africa, the United States, and elsewhere, Amshatar learned much about the origin and substance of the many variations of Yoruba around the world, became one of its 100-million members, and was initiated as a Yoruba priest. She says, “I’m deeply grateful for these shoulders I’m so blessed to stand on.”
In 1997, Amshatar founded a company called SACRED SPACE: Where Indigenous Paths Meet, to educate and bring people together at the four cardinal times of the year—the solstices and equinoxes—and at other cyclical points. The events and activities of SACRED SPACE were the primary result of her efforts at that time to fulfill her spiritual charge.
“I remember my mother often saying: ‘Small minds talk about people. Mediocre minds talk about things. Great minds talk about ideas.’
I would add: Enlightened minds envision, strategize, and co-create evolutionary shifts in consciousness!”
In 1998, she was awarded a fellowship from the Fetzer Institute, a research organization in Michigan that “advances love and forgiveness as powerful forces that can transform the human condition.” This opportunity (she has called it “an unquestionable gift from God”) allowed her to further her inner work of spirit and her outer work of service, and required that she undertake what sages of all times know is the most challenging human undertaking of all: authentic introspection. With an open and humble heart, she stepped into this very demanding inquiry. The unexpected magic she encountered and the greater expansion of her already masterfully diverse lessons and teachers became a pivotal point in her growth and development. It transformed her view of the magnitude, significance, and interrelatedness of the work she is called to do—for others, and for the endless journey of self-inquiry and understanding that true leaders never stop pursuing.
In the 1970s, she founded a community-based non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, called L.O.V.E., Inc. (Light, Oneness, Vitality, and Energy) through which she led a number of retreats and community gatherings that fostered health, healing, and spiritual cultivation. One of the members of her Board of Directors, Rev. Randolph Wilkinson (now an honored ancestor), told her, “Someday, this work you’re doing will especially be for women!”
No one knew at that technologically-dawning time how that might come to be, but in 2008, she launched Women of Spirit Online. This refreshingly unique “online sanctuary” is a foundation by which its founder extends and will be further extending her vision of Common-Unity by means of sound healing, video, inspirational products, a forum, educational articles, a network for youth, and sacred invocation. It includes exceptionally beautiful original music and downloadable audio recordings that are superb.
And she is blessed to have created a bridge to the future as a proud woman, mother, and grandmother of a beautiful daughter and “four precious angel-baby girls.” This bridge just might be the one that gives her the most pride and gratitude of all.
Today, Amshatar is teacher, speaker, scholar, author, panel-member, priest, producer, and humble off-stage community leader. But what happens at the personally-designed events she’s been known to call “gatherings” can’t always be delivered in the form of lesson, lecture, book, presentation, sermon, performance, or speech. They have to be experienced, just as they’ve been experienced by indigenous communities all over the world for thousands of years. Miraculously, and in-person.
As was, perhaps, the way you came upon this invitation to step into the now steadily growing Circle.
From someone who did not forget.
by Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and all that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son! [have a lot of fun!]
Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, to British parents in Mumbai, India, and spent the first six years of his life there. In 1871, he was taken with his three-year-old sister to live as a boarder in a foster home in England. His parents then returned to India. Rudyard was moved to a boarding school when he was about 13. Biographies say he was severely near-sighted, sickly, and frail; bullied and abused in both places; and that he longed to return to India, which he did when he started making a living as a journalist at age 17. He wrote prolifically for almost the rest of his life, and died in 1936. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Do you think he would ever have written “If,” “Captain’s Courageous,” “The Just-So Stories,” “The Jungle Book,” and so many of his other great works if his childhood had not been so hard?
The clear, bright sound of brass penetrates the rooftops, windows, and walls of every house in a tropical neighborhood just north of San Juan. It’s Soñando Con Puerto Rico, a song many of the island’s inhabitants have been singing by heart since childhood, radiating from the home of Humberto Ramirez – the prolific trumpet and flugelhorn player who’s headlined with such jazz greats as Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, and Paquito D’Rivera.
“I can blow my horn like a crazy man,” he says, “and my neighbors don’t mind.”
Ramirez is somebody who performs nights and records days for weeks on end. A while back, the day after the final mix of his Portrait of a Stranger CD, his calendar was booked solid. He flew from San Juan to L.A. to squeeze a performance into a 17-hour stay, then was off to Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Cleveland, sometimes also magnetizing impromptu appearances by other pros in town.
Four years of arranging and trumpeting with Willie Rosario’s Orchestra in Puerto Rico led to a 1986 Grammy nomination for the work he did on Rosario’s album, Nueva Cosecha. It also led to steady business with tropical jazz musicians, including Cheo Feliciano, Roberto Rohena, and Luis Enrique, and Latin pop artists such as Danny Rivera, Lucecita Benitez and Jose Feliciano, among many others.
Awards include Gold and Platinum Records, Apex Golden Reel, and a 3M Visionary for producing. Back in 1992, he went to Sony Music with his own, independently produced Jazz Project—the title of the CD and the name of the band he still works with—and was the first artist signed to their then-new label, Tropi-Jazz, followed by Tito Puente, Giovanni Hidalgo, and others.
A composer, Ramirez was, so to speak, born with a brass trumpet in his ear. That is, his father’s house guests and colleagues were the likes of Chino Gonzalez and Tito Rodriguez. Musical Director of the San Juan Orchestra, Humberto’s dad dashed his son’s dreams of reaching stardom in the NBA by taking the boy, who would one day grow to a towering 5’8″, with him to work. On his twelfth birthday, Humberto went to his father and asked for the flugelhorn that had been promised to him whenever he was ready. At age 14, Humberto performed professionally for the first time with some of the members of his old man’s orchestra. “What I am today,” he says, “what I know, what I have accomplished, is because of my father.”
Portrait of a Stranger, strangely enough, features some very familiar Caribbean pieces: Felipe Rosario-Goyco’s Madrigal and Bobby Capo’s Sonando Con Puerto Rico, Ramirez’s original jazz arrangements of traditional Puerto Rican folk songs.
He makes no secret about who the “stranger” in the portrait is. “Inside of every human being is someone strange,” he admits, not excluding himself. “There will always be things you can’t know about yourself.”
Portrait of a Stranger was the first time Ramirez included vocals. One was by Latin pop star, Lunna, the other a duet by Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tony Vega. Ramirez also orchestrated for big band, which he loves, with a tribute “To The King,” Tito Puente, and an arrangement of the American standard, My Funny Valentine.
Guests on Portrait of a Stranger include Dave Valentin, Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets, Mario Rivera, Ignacio Berroa, Oscar Cartaya, and Willie Rosario. The remaining performers are “Jazz Project,” the musicians who played on both of Ramirez’s previous CD’s, so they’re no strangers to Ramirez’s style, including the almost pioneering effect of combining strings with standard Afro/Latin/Caribbean sound. The strings on another one of Ramirez’s CDs, Aspects, are so lovely, they get you thinking he might be tapping into the time he spent studying film scoring at the Dick Grove School of Music.
If you can get out to the big city any time soon, chances are you’ll be able to hear what Humberto Ramirez is working on live. If not, you just might hop over to the island instead and catch a sound that couldn’t be more at home than the clear, bright soul of a native son’s trumpet. The neighbors “don’t mind.”
Fans of Humberto know this is an old review and that “Portrait of a Stranger” is not a recent release. So if you can update us on Humberto’s latest, please leave some comments, or log in and post.
See that photo? It’s a picture of success. Your success. Because you might say your success is Lorna Riley’s business.
The world discovered Lorna’s sales talent when she was in the middle of a career in education and raising a family. She was put to work – first on a sales team, and then, when she broke all records in closing deals, in managing that sales team.
So, a trained teacher, Lorna did it “by the books.” That is, taught the way she’d been taught to teach. Break it down into elements, spool it out in rational order, start with the fundamentals, prepare thoroughly, speak clearly, and keep it interesting.
What resulted was a massive collection of original training material, and Lorna flying around the country delivering fun, funny, intensive, and effective week-long courses in sales, customer service, and management.
She designed coordinated systems on those topics, with extensive (over a hundred or more) sets of modularized lessons on each, and used them in:
- in-person training (which earned her a CSP, the most prestigious certification in the country for professional speakers),
- published audio recordings (about such topics as time and memory management, and the three most important skills for creating success), and
- a series of books (like 76 Ways to Build a Straight Referral Business, ASAP!, Quest For Your Best, and Off the Chart Results for Organizational Development).
And that was just the beginning!
Lorna has now turned the whole spectrum of that knowledge, experience, and educational material into an online training system, enhancing it with all the added benefits of the internet.
Lorna wanted to provide people on sales, customer service, and leadership teams not just with a way to learn the training skills they need to succeed, but also with a systematic plan that enables you to take responsibility for that success. Your own, and the entire company’s. (Clear proof of her management experience, isn’t it?) So hundreds of Lorna’s carefully crafted lessons are structured into what’s called a Managed Accountability Plan. They can be watched, tracked, assessed, and reviewed on line.
“Chart Learning Solutions delivers high-impact performance results that train & retain sales, customer service, and leadership talent. Through our unique blended solution, we build a culture of continuous improvement, common language, guarantee accountability, and foster meaningful dialogues between employees and managers to ensure skills and behaviors meet business objectives. Chart’s Sales Cycle “Managed Accountability Plans” (MAPs™) saved GMCR over $3.5M and are required for all their “AFH” sales people. With our on-demand on-line courses, we create continuous learning accountability, enhanced employee/manager relationships, build a common language, integrate a unified sales, service, and leadership process among a geographically dispersed workforce, reduce costs, and produce measureable results. This is achieved with Chart’s blended eLearning multimedia tutorials, online quizzes, Application Activities, Accountability Application Meetings, Goal Action Planners, on-line reporting, coaching guides and live Coaching.”
Any description of Lorna Riley would be completely unfinished if it didn’t include a bit about one of her one-of-a-kind works of art: The Movie Lover’s Cookbook aka Reel Meals. It’s a coffee-table cookbook with page after page of photographs of unforgettable eating scenes from world-favorite movies — next to the recipe for what they’re eating in each “reel meal”! (What comestibles did the Marx Brothers clobber each other with in Duck Soup? What hors d’oeuvres did Audrey Hepburn dine on in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?)
Lorna wrote and produced this gem pre-internet, when specific photos from specific scenes in movies were really hard to get your hands on, and even harder to get legal rights to use. Tragically for lovers of cool things, it’s a classic that’s out of print now. Just had to mention it because it might be the best example, beyond her success as a success guru, of the brilliant creativity Lorna cannot keep a lid on.
Baby Rock-Star Drummer!
Name: Howard Wong
Age at time of recording: 3
Howard Wong is Chinese. Or at least that’s the language his parents were speaking when he was about a year and a half old, sat down at a drum set, started accompanying his parents on tunes like “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” and was knocking out rock and roll standards like Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” soon after that.
We’re told that in the video below, Howard is performing at the Sunway Carnival Mall in Penang, Malaysia, as Wong’s father plays lead guitar for the band. The family will probably post new video of Howard Wong when they’ve adjusted to and prepared for the potential of this overnight sensation.
We’ll update this SpotLight as soon as we get new news about Howard Wong.
Self-Enquiry: The Direct Path to Self-Realization
26 Minutes To A Powerful Tool
In an ingenious distillation of ancient and modern wisdom (including that of Sri Ramana Maharshi), Duart Maclean gifts us with articulate insights that lead to a very powerful tool for spiritual discipline.
To listen to it, go to http://www.rebirthing.ca/conferencecalls.html and click on ‘Self-Enquiry: An Introduction.‘ Be prepared to wait a minute or so for the MP3 to download.
Duart is a genuine yogi, highly respected spiritual teacher, and accomplished master of enlightened living. He and his wife Lyse LeBeau are Canadians who journey to various parts of the world learning, discovering, and humbly sharing their awakened state.
Two of their books are available here: http://www.rebirthing.ca/
“This awakening to the Self is not something conceptual. It comes with a letting go of our limited and erroneous notions of what we are and a complete surrender of our egoistic tendencies. Such a transformation is a complete internal revolution, which touches every fiber of our being; it cannot be obtained by reading books, although books can be useful allies on the path. It also cannot be reached by changing the external circumstances of our life. Abandoning our families or quitting our jobs to lead a monastic life is unnecessary, because the real work is entirely internal. ” -Duart Maclean on Self-Enquiry
David Kaestner is more than an excellent mechanic. He is thorough, reliable, and extremely busy. He did not give up on my old car until he fixed it. He solved an enormous ongoing problem for me. And I could afford what he charged! Highly recommended.
David Kaestner In A Flash
Background: Worked as a mobile mechanic in the San Diego area before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he worked as a mechanic on army vehicles. Has a lot of experience in construction and carpentry. Works as a volunteer firefighter on weekends. Grew up in the San Diego area.
Current: Highly recommended mobile mechanic services in San Diego, and sometimes beyond.
David can provide references from a long list of loyal customers. (Add your comments to this SpotLight!)
Vince: Volvo, Head Gasket
Brian: Sentra, Brakes
Jeff: Golf, Brakes/ Bumper Repair
Ayza: Camry Odyssey, Brakes
Lona: Civic, Brakes, Fuel Pump
Lorin: Civic, Brakes
Greg: Extera, Safety Inspection
Kathryn: Mitsubishi Diamante, Brakes
Yaakov: Astro Van, Brakes and Body Repair
Jeremy: Sonata, Brakes
John: Eclipse, Brakes
Nicole: Jetta, Brakes
Roy: Lexus, Brakes/Lines
Dan: Audi, Radiator
Kelly: Civic, Head Gasket Replacement
Dan: Honda, Element Brakes/F- Oil Pan Gasket
Meric: Honda, S Brakes, Trany Flush, Oil Change, spark plugs, fluid change, check engine light
Chris: Scooter Idle Ajustment
Andrea: Saturn, Brakes, Check Engine Light Diagnostic and Repair, Oil Change
You step into another world at Small Wonders, the amazing educational toy store on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Rolling Hills, California. The place is a work of art that’s a world of toys, as unique and spirit-lifting as its owner and creator, Bernice Baird-Browning, who researches and discovers fun treasures from merchants all over the world.
Every inch of every shelf of her store is brimming with uniqueness and quality. Up near the ceiling, a colorful miniature train chugs along on a wooden railroad that somehow winds around or tunnels through every item in the store’s densely-stocked alcoves. Puppets and marionettes from faraway places smile at you as you pass by. You see boxes full of wooden trains and miniature construction sets from Scandinavia. And from Germany, kits for building colorful fire engines and taxis, or grand cathedrals and skyscrapers. Musical instruments and finely carved pull toys come from Poland, Italy, and Czechoslovakia. Delicate French dolls beg to be pampered and primped, but they’re tomboyish enough to be bathed in a washing machine!
Bernie married a doctor before the age of 20, and raised two brilliant kids who’ve launched successful careers of their own. So she’s also a grandmother-made-in-heaven! (Can you imagine dashing over the meadow and through the woods to such an enchanting place?)
And just as in a fairy-tale, Bernie met—or rather re-met—her current husband Ralph Browning at a high-school reunion in the late 1990s, and they’re living, traveling, and prospering happily ever after!
The source of Bernie’s passion for joy and fun and letting kids learn as they play might come from having started school in first grade. She longed for kindergarten ever since, so maybe skipping it was the twist of fate that led to the blessing Small Wonders is to the world. There, where everything has been so carefully searched, selected, and displayed by a mother, grandmother, businesswoman, and grownup kindergartener, you’ll find yourself warmly embraced in quality, charm, and just plain fun.
Fun, in fact, sums up Bernie Baird-Browning in a word.
Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so deeply that you have become jaded about the enormity of the grace it confers. So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to being born. If you’re smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness.
Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection. The spirits of allies who’ve left this world continue to send their tender regards, as well. Do you “believe” in angels and other divine beings? Whether or not you do, I can assure you that there are hordes of them beaming their uncanny consecrations your way. You are awash in torrents of love.
As tremendous a gift it is to get love, giving love is an equal boon. Many scientific studies demonstrate that whenever you bestow blessings on other people, you bless yourself. Expressing practical compassion not only strengthens your immune system and bolsters your health, but also promotes self-esteem, enhances longevity, and stimulates tranquility and even euphoria. As the scientists say, we humans are hardwired to benefit from altruism.
What’s your position on making love? Do you regard it as one of the nicer fringe benefits of being alive? Or are you more inclined to see it as a central proof of the primal magnanimity of the universe? I’m more aligned with the latter view.
Imagine yourself in the fluidic blaze of that intimate spectacle right now. Savor the fantasy of entwining bodies and hearts and minds with an appealing partner who has the power to enchant you. What better way do you know of to dwell in sacred space while immersed in your body’s delight? To commune with the Divine Wow while having fun? To tap into your own deeper knowing while at the same time gazing into the mysterious light of a fellow creature?
A lot of us are lucky enough to get hit with occasional strokes of genius. Not too many of us follow through and put a brilliant idea into form. And almost nobody:
- ceaselessly sees truths that habit and culture make most of us wholly blind to,
- leads revolutions in thought and lifestyle that (if we’re lucky) actually have the credible potential to transform us all into a species of happy beings,
- magnetizes an entire community of like-minded truth- (and beauty-) (and joy-) seekers who, like little lost lambs from a scattered herd, have been wandering, nameless and leaderless, for years,
- commands superior talent not just in literature but also in music,
- and prolifically — every single day — churns out art and philosophy of the highest quality.
But Rob Brezsny does.
It’s true, too, that genuinely unique beams of original light have been known to be overlooked by most of their contemporaries, praised by some, and scorned by others (maybe people who have either never attempted to do anything difficult, or have tried, given up, and, whining all the way, settled for the mediocrity Brezsny’s genius inspires us all to free ourselves from).
Rob Brezsny is one of the most talented, far-sighted, creative people of our day, and we wouldn’t be surprised if what he’s doing proves him to be one of the most creative, admirable, joy-inspiring people ever.
More power to you!
Scott Magers, former professional baseball coach and highly successful CEO, introduces Action Heroes, the world’s most powerful internet marketing training team. According to YouTube, it’s “an extensive, intensive, detailed, broad, deep education in every aspect of internet marketing. Continous training, not just a weekend seminar. Dedicated experts and fellow students are working together to monetize the internet!”
Scott Magers is a father, husband, personal trainer of star athletes, and very successful businessman. Now, as the co-founder of PitchIn, an international on- and off-line social/business/charity network, Scott is also busy creating “a world that works for everbody, with no one left behind.” Read more about this amazing guy here.
Strong Qi, Gentle Flowers
Kayoko Yoshikai is one of those people who’s always running into her pals when she’s out and about. Even in big cities like San Diego.
And not only is she a friend to many, she’s also a business owner, an athlete (judo expert), a mother, a daughter of zen-master flower arrangers, a descendant of Samurai, uncommonly wise, and extremely busy.
Grownups used to tell her she was a “strong-qi” child. Surrounded by flowers, she’d transform her parents’ garden and the living creatures she met there into adventurous companions and playmates. (Some things really don’t ever change.)
In the same way still waters run deep, she’s quiet. So when you pause to listen to Kayoko, delightful stories about her remarkable life start to unravel. Conversation with her will probably be enhanced by some excellent, gently-imparted suggestions from her knowledge of health, wealth-building, and spiritual teachings.
To network with her is to increase your community by big numbers. One of her current projects is helping to pioneer a large, extensive, international on- and off-line business/charity/social network, which is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2009. (I’d ask her about it if I were you.)
This just in: THE WILD SIDE OF KAYOKO YOSHIKAI!!!
After a very successful career as a veterinarian with charisma and intuition his four-legged clients couldn’t resist, Herb Tanzer was tapped by major TV networks in New York to host a show about animal care. Instead, he became a life coach. Herb wants, and actually creates, a world that works for everybody. Now he lives for doing whatever he can to let you, help you, and show you how to be the cause of a life your unique brilliance deserves. Like no other coach, Herb Tanzer brings a broad understanding of spirtuality to the mundane task of everyday success strategy. Herb’s web site.
Herb dares you to dream:
Naturally, I want a blog. So I get a WordPress account and…
Well, welcome to another new universe. Heavy case of get-a-new-electronic-thing-syndrome where the user manual weighs more than the device and you have to read and understand it even though it won’t count toward a degree of any kind. Not even one as worthless as my Master’s.
An entire year goes by and I still don’t have a blog. But content and ideas are piling up, and life is racing by. So I buckle down and start tangling with WordPress. No fun. I can’t find a theme that really fits. I don’t know how to change them. Sick of researching every little thing I want to do. How to get my own graphic in the header. How to change the name of a category. Change the font-size of all the headings. Make the dang thing look right.
I waste about three more weeks. Make some progress, but so slow I’m cancelling appointments and making enemies out of everybody I was hoping to someday show this blog off to. I decide to endure WordPress newbie Hell for one more week and if it doesn’t kill me, I’ll pay for help. I’m thinking maybe for $500, I can get something that isn’t embarrassing.
Then I discover this thing called Artisteer. The ads say it’s supposed to be a really easy way to make your own free WordPress themes. No coding. No PHP. But every review is good, which makes me particularly skeptical.
I decide to download the free trial version and give it a go.
Suddenly I’m in WordPress heaven. Really. It’s that big a difference. Everything is done with drop-down menus. That’s how you set the font, font size, headings, colors, background, custom graphics. And just about everything else. Some things I thought I couldn’t do were just on drop-down menus I couldn’t find.
One definite drawback: as of June 3, 2010, it doesn’t have a way to make global changes for things that really should be globally changeable. Artisteer says that might be a feature in a future version. Sure hope so. In the meantime, when you want to change the type style of your headings, body text, bulleted lists, and etc., you have to do them all one-by-one. All the links, hovered links, and visited links too. Artisteer is wonderful, and when it saves so much time and increases quality so spectacularly, it’s really a big disappointment that so much time saved goes back into having to do all these head-achey tweaks one-by-one.
It has a suggestion feature, Artisteer’s true blog-in-one-hour (or less) machine. But I’ve never used it. As you click a button, it changes whichever elements of the theme you ask it to and serves up a new suggestion. You can conjure up zillions of them. And they can look pretty canned (don’t have to). Even so, the suggestion tool gets you used to how Artisteer works. And in about 15 minutes, you’re customizing a theme. Changing fonts, font size, font color, sidebar position, and colors and gradients of the menu bar and tabs. Down to every detail, like changing the color or width of borders of blocks in the sidebars. Inserting custom graphics (jpegs, gifs, etc.) into the header. Taking icons out and putting them in. Etc. Etc.
You do all this as, of course, you have an uncomfortable feeling that it’s not really going to work.
What you do is save the Artisteer file (artx) to your computer, and click a button to export it into zip format for installing into WordPress. After you upload it to WordPress by clicking Upload from Add New Theme and browsing to where you saved it on your computer, you activate it.
And once the theme’s done, you can concentrate on creating content.
You’ll be able to look at your blog — with the custom WordPress design you did all by yourself — in your browser.
I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to use it with WordPress plugins. But, what do you know… They thought of that. My plugins and widgets all work perfectly. In fact, I emailed tech support a string of questions (some of which didn’t make sense because I asked them before I had the hang of Artisteer), and they answered them all within a few hours. They were even polite.
With a recent upgrade you can even add a Flash animation to your theme’s header
It’s is a complete WordPress WYSIWYG editor. Costs $49.
I like mine. I’m keeping it.
Other things you can do with Artisteer. 1) Design free WordPress themes, put thumbnails of the screenshots on a blog, and let your readers download them. 2) Quickly design a whole catalog of unique free WordPress designs to freshen up your blog, or give away entire free WordPress theme sets . 3) Link to blogs who use your WordPress designs.
Oh, and besides being an excellent WordPress theme generator, there’s a more expensive version of Artisteer that’s a template-generator for Joomla and Drupal. But that’s a good subject for some other day. (Two or three years from now?)
Artisteer is a WordPress WYSIWYG that actually works.
Note: To make the zip file, choose Export. Don’t attempt to upload the Artisteer artx file. It won’t work in WordPress.
A WordPress WYSIWYG editor. That works. Not free, but almost. $49. And a free trial (“money-back guarantee”). Thousands of dollars’ worth of saved time.
Immortality Made Easy
Even though it was only two months away, no one thought Jack Kamen would live to see his 85th birthday. His son, Rick, found himself wondering, “Why would Dad want to stick around? He’s not having fun.”
Which gave him an idea. Maybe, somehow, that’s exactly what he could give his father for an early birthday present. Fun.
But what’s fun for elders? Rick figured gerontologists, caregivers, and loving children of aging parents must ask themselves that question a few times every day. It’s easy to create fun for kids. Give them toys and teach them games, and they have fun playing. Adults keep right on playing, albeit with toys and games that cost a lot more.
And elders? What do they do for fun?
Rick mulled over that puzzle for about a week. He watched elders, and thought about what it’s like to be 80 or more years old, searching for clues. And then one day, he saw a wise old soul smiling. What do you think that elder was doing?
Rick got it. That’s how people who’ve lived a while and seen a lot have fun. They reflect on the beauty of their pasts, and they tell their stories.
It’s also how they help people who haven’t racked up as much life experience. Not by lecturing and teaching and instructing and demanding, but by anecdote and fable. By gentle example that lets the listener infer the moral of the story and do with it what they may.
Rick remembered that elders naturally tell stories, and that in the culture and custom of many societies, storytelling and storylistening happen naturally. Was there a venue for this in modern U.S. culture? Rick didn’t think so.
He did know his understanding of what fun is — for all people, at all ages — had changed forever. Fun, Rick realized, is that good feeling people get when they’re engaged in certain behaviors that are programmed into human beings for a very good reason: to help the entire species.
Fun, Rick proposes, might be what motivates us to do the things we do that help humanity.
Kids help humanity by learning, so play is fun.
Adults help humanity by being productive, as well as reproductive. So those behaviors are fun for them.
Elders help humanity when they distribute wisdom – especially to kids. So that’s fun for elders.
Not to mention that exquisite silver lining around the cloud of growing older, namely that even though we lose many abilities as we age, storytelling is one that improves as the years go by. And who doesn’t love to do things they’re good at?
So that’s how Rick gave his father the gift of fun. Storytelling. It was the perfect early birthday present.
Rick called his dad up, as he often did. But this time he steered the usual conversation about the usual stuff in a new direction. “I know you grew up in a world that can’t happen anymore. Why don’t you tell me some stories from those days? I’ll write them up for the grandkids.”
Without even saying, “Okay,” Jack launched right into a story.
The story was wonderful, Rick recalls, but even more wonderful for him and his family was seeing the the joyful impact storytelling had on their beloved patriarch’s mood. His voice and spirit sounded ten years younger. As he shared the highlights of his life, Jack was having fun again for the first time in a long time.
That first story led to another, and then another… and eventually a book called Heirloom Stories from the Harnessmaker’s Son.
Jack lived another seven years. Seven precious years that let him leave a legacy of written stories that will entertain and educate his descendants for centuries. They would have carried his genes into the future, of course. But thanks to Rick’s gift of fun, Jack’s descendants will also carry with them Jack’s own thoughts and images of the life he led. That’s as close to immortality as you can get.
When he died in 2005, Jack didn’t know that, even more than the priceless stories, Rick cherished the additional years some genuine fun had given his father. The health benefits of storytelling were profound.
So Rick didn’t stop there. He gives the gift of fun to English-speaking elders anywhere in the world by interviewing them by phone, putting slices of their lives in writing, and preserving some Heirloom Stories® for their descendants.
Learn more about Heirloom Stories® at http://HeirloomStories.com or call Rick at (858) 273-1111.