Michael Brandon Hill walked into Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, an elementary school just outside Atlanta, Georgia, armed with an AK-47 type weapon and an ammunition stockpile of an estimated 500 rounds. From outward appearances, one can only assume that the intentions of this man were not what we would commonly term “pure.”
None of us can be exactly sure what Hill’s ultimate plan was, but one thing that he surely did not plan on taking place on this particular day was meeting Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper who works in the front office of the school, an encounter that would change everything. Not only would this unexpected relationship significantly change his life, but it would alter the lives of every other person who would be touched in some way, to some degree, by the events that ensued as a result of it.
You see, Antoinette had some quick and important choices to make when Mr. Hill came into the room she was in and began firing his gun at the floor. Even though she had been trained in how to react in this kind of situation, she didn’t have the luxury of thinking about it for a while or making a “pro” and “con” list or weighing out her options. No. Her next choice and her next action had to be made almost instantaneously and simultaneously.
What Mr. Hill did not expect was to come face to face with someone like Ms. Tuff, someone who drew upon her own struggles in life to be able to see through his pain and, in spite of her own fear, offer him an opportunity to make a better choice. She did not run or scream or attempt to defend herself with some level of physical or verbal force. Instead she reached out to Michael Brandon Hill with calmness, understanding, and love….yes, love. She was able to talk the gunman down and bring the situation to a peaceful resolution without anyone getting hurt. By sharing her personal challenges in raising a severely mentally disabled child, a husband who left her after 33 years of marriage, she convinced the suicidal gunman to surrender.
“I told him, OK, we all have situations in our lives,” Tuff said. “It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could, too.”
And in what may be the most incredible moment captured in a 9-1-1 recording — one that comes after Tuff has convinced Hill to surrender and shortly before the police come in — Tuff tells Hill that she loves him: “It’s gonna be all right, sweetie,” she says. “I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing. You’ve just given up. Don’t worry about it.”
You can listen to the full 9-1-1 recording here:
Stories like this one are deeply moving to me because they are such a clear demonstration of what we are all capable of, the depths to which we can draw upon not only in our day-to-day happenings in life, but in times of turmoil or upset.
This particular scenario could have turned out much different had Antoinette Tuff chosen to flee or if she had allowed fear to dictate her next choice. The challenges she was facing in her own personal journey up until this very moment allowed her to demonstrate herself as clarity, as wisdom, and as strength in a moment of significance.
In the powerful messages contained with the Conversations with God books, God said, “I have sent you nothing but angels.”
The moment will come for each of us to consider these very words and to make a choice, as Antoinette Tuff did, to embrace them…or not. We may not find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun, as she experienced. But we will have the opportunity on more than one occasion to see the Divinity within someone whose expressions or actions make it challenging to do so. We will also have the opportunity on more than one occasion to experience our own Divinity once again after our own expressions and actions cause us to forget. And we will have the opportunity to see someone like Michael Brandon Hill as an angel sent from God when all outward appearances speak to the contrary.
It is in these moments when we most fully understand and experience what it means to create our life anew. And if Antoinette Tuff can demonstrate that this is possible in an extraordinary situation like this, imagine the infinite number of possibilities we all are being given all the time.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
There is so much sadness and suffering in the world, and anyone who believes in God and defines it as the Source of Pure Intelligence and Perfect Love would have to ask: Why?
Why in the world would God place sadness and suffering in the world? And what tools, if any, has God given us with which to deal with sadness and suffering when we encounter it (as surely we will during our life)?
The answer, as I have come to understand it, is that God has not deliberately placed sadness nor inserted suffering into our world, we have brought it into our experience of our own free will.
This is difficult to believe or embrace, I know, and so it requires a little exploration and explanation.
Sadness and suffering are responses, both emotional and physical, to particular situations, circumstances, and events that manifest or occur during our lives.
FOCUS: The Nature of God and Life/an exploration of critical importance in our time
PART IV of an ONGOING SERIES
Because they are responses and not events in themselves, they are entirely within our control. Because they are entirely within our control they are created by us, not foisted upon us.
There are some who have said that God has imposed sadness and suffering upon us as a punishment for our so-called evil deeds. Yet my understanding is that sadness and suffering are not punishments, they are consequences. And consequences of what? They are consequences of our thinking.
Thinking is the tool that God has given us with which to deal with life events and circumstances, situations and occurrences. Yet why do events and circumstances, situations and occurrences that ordinarily might be reasonably expected to produce sadness and suffering within human beings even have to arise?
Ah, that is an even larger question — and on humanity’s answer to that question hinges the future of the entire human species. We will explore that question in the upcoming entries in this series. But for now, let us go about this investigation step by step. Let us look at this business of our thinking, and the role it plays in bringing sadness and suffering into our experience. We’ll take that first step in Part V of our series here.
No matter if you are in college, high school, or even middle school, there is one thing that you will find in every one of these fine educational institutions. It’s not a library, a gym, or a cafeteria, but it’s a student doing something on their cellphone. Consider it the most basic cultural norm for our generation.
From our generation’s perspective, cellphones have simply become a way of life. Whether it’s a productive or destructive use of time, our phones have become a part of Who We Are. Just think about leaving your phone at home for a single day. If you think or know you would feel lost or confused, then you have officially experienced the twenty-first century. With a cellphone, friendships are being made across the world. With instant access to quick communication, friendships never got closer.
While cellphones have brought the world closer and ever more connected, they have also helped to drive us apart. With such fixation on our phones, we seem to forget everything else that is around us. This has become such an issue in society that even our popular culture has coined a term for it. On UrbanDictionary.com (in the true spirit of being a teen), the word “Nocializing” literally means “the act of being out in a social public setting and only spending time on your mobile device, not the people with or around you.” But why is this?
Why is it that we need to always seem as though we are busy in communication, or at least pretend to be? Are our egos so insecure that we can’t look vulnerable to new people and new ideas? Our fear to be alone, or at least look alone in such a connected world of today, is actually driving us apart. Through our egos, we desire to look like we have friends, and look like we belong in something. But, by using that façade, we actually stop ourselves from getting to know that random person on the bus or waiting in line ahead of you for lunch. Chances are that you have more in common with them than you think. So, maybe try and put down your phone for three minutes. The texts WILL still be there.
Through campus and beyond, it’s become very clear to understand just how our cellphones – which have, basically overnight become instantaneously infused in our schedules – have made an impact on our lives. Finding security in your own beliefs, not in other people’s impressions of your statuses, will work for you whether you are always on your phone or barley even touch it at all. Whether you are a phone fanatic or an avid texter, don’t stop what you are doing because an older generation tells you it is ‘bad’. BUT, just remember that there are more ways to make connections in life. So, whether you choose Facetime or actually talking face to face, make it aligned to your style.
(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)
We have been exploring in great detail in this space over the past several weeks the topic of how to introduce your child to the concept and reality of God. That series continues with Part VII, here.
The main question is, of course, how to do it. How can we best introduce our child to the idea and the existence of God? The answer begins with a willingness to assume and accept that your child may be far more attuned to Larger Realities than you might think. Therefore, talking about God in matter-of-fact ways will feed right into child’s already-present inner knowing.
True, your offspring may not know the words to describe that which they sense must exist and must be true, but they will readily and easily accept the notion that Something Larger is “out there” if they see their parents readily and easily accepting it—just as, in the area of sexuality, they will readily and easily accept the differences and the wonders of their bodies if they observe that their parents readily and easily accept these differences and the wonders.
We have touched on this matter-of-factness about God before, encouraging casual and off-handed mention of “God” in everyday conversation around the children. One easy and natural way to do this might be through the age-old tradition of “saying grace” before meals. If this happens from the time a child is old enough to hear, the child will have encountered the notion of “God” long before they ask for a fuller explanation, making that fuller explanation much easier for the child to absorb.
Is it okay to personify God?
One of the questions I am most often asked by parents is: “Is it okay to allow our children in the early stages of understanding God to think of God as a ‘person’, even if we, ourselves, don’t really think that this is what God is?”
My answer is always yes. A small child will may find it difficult to grasp oblique or inexplicit concepts such as “Essence” or “Energy.” If offering thanks at meals to The Essence seems challenging for your 3-year-old, allowing the child to personify God is perfectly okay. Indeed, as an adult I personify God all the time.
The dialogue in Conversations with God taught me that “God” is The Essence and The Prime Energy of Life Itself; the Source of all Love, all Wisdom, all Power, all Intelligence, and, indeed, everything in the Universe. This Essence can form and shape itself into any appearance or embodiment It desires, and has done so—including the form and shape of a wonderful, kind, gentle, caring, compassionate, understanding, unconditionally loving and incomparably wise woman or man.
I encourage people, in fact, to use the terms Mother/Father God and Father/Mother God interchangeably and as often as possible when referring to The Divine. This helps to remove the traditional male gender identification that so many children often attach to the idea of God in the early stages of their lives.
Here is a possible Grace that might work in your home:
Dear Mother/Father God…We thank you for the food we are about to eat, for the love that we feel at this table, and for all the wonderful gifts of life that we share. And thank you, too, for the good days and wonderful times that are still to come for the rest of our lives. We promise to share all good things with all those whose lives we touch. Amen.
I love this little prayer because it introduces the concept of Sharing as well as the idea of God to the mind of the child.
Nightly prayers and morning prayers are another sweet way to place the concept and the reality of God before your little ones. Here is a wonderful, short nightly prayer for children…
Dear Father/Mother God…Thank you for this day, and everything that happened. Even the ‘bad stuff.’ Because I know that all of it helps me to be a nice person, and that’s what I love to be! See you tomorrow…your friend…Neale.
And here is a morning prayer I’ve been saying myself for many years.
Dear Mother/Father God…Thank you for another day, and another chance to be the very best Me I can be!
Invite children’s own CWG
If the “prayer” idea doesn’t feel that it would work for you, you can encourage your children to have their own conversations with God, and to develop a positive attitude about life in the process, by inviting them to talk to God for one minute every night about The Things I Liked Best About Today.
Here’s one way that could look…
PARENT (just before bedtime): Let’s play the One Minute Game!
PARENT: Okay, we have one minute to think of what we liked best of all the things that happened today, and tell God about it. If we can think of at least two things between us, I think God will be very happy. I’ll go first…
“Hey, Mother/Father God…the thing I liked best about today was…the really neat time I had with all my kids and with Mommy, playing that game after we had dinner! I just wanted to say ‘thanks’ for all the good stuff! You’re neat, God!” (Or…“that I didn’t have to put away all the groceries by myself, because my little sweetie helped me!”) (Or…”How nice my little sweetheart Madelyn was when she didn’t make a fuss at Daddy when nap time came…”) (Or…”Making a super dinner for everybody that they really liked, because they told me so. It feels so good to do stuff that makes other people happy! Thanks, God!”)
You can’t even begin to imagine the many messages you can send to a 3, 4, or 5-year-old with a nightly tradition such as this—without seeming to “preach” to the child at all. They’re just listening to Mommy or Daddy talk to God!
In addition to setting up a positive attitude, this creates the habit of your children having their own conversations with God on a regular basis. That habit will extend into adulthood, I promise you. Especially if, later, when your child grows older…of if the child has had an especially rough day…you can model for her or him how to talk to God about that, too…
Well, God, things didn’t go so well today, as I’m sure you know. So thanks for giving me the help to get through it—and thanks for making everything better…which I know is what is going to happen! I’m glad you’re hear, Father/Mother God. I’m really glad you’re here!
I think nothing could be more important than the time you spend with your child in this way. (Something could be equally important, but nothing could be more important.) And why? Because, if you will suffer me making the same point repeatedly, what your children come to understand about God and how they experience God through you will stick with them all the days of their life.
Childhood imagination and childlike faith
Do not discourage childhood imaginings. That is one of the biggest pieces of advice I offer to parents. Most parents would not discourage this anyway, but I try to make the point with them that they are on the right track in not doing so.
I have been told by a number of people that I have a child-like faith in God. (An important note here: child-like and child-ish are not the same thing.) I suppose I do. And I am glad of it. I have a childlike faith in all of Life, in fact, not just in God. I have faith that life is on my side. I have faith that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have faith that things will always be okay with me, and that all things work out for my highest good in the end. I have faith that God loves me completely, without condition, reservation, or limitation, and that I am never alone, or outside the embrace of God. I have faith that I will be Home with God when this physical life ends.
Maybe I am imagining all of these things. Maybe I need to (as some of those who have observed me have said since I was a child) “grow up” and “face facts” and get my “head out of the clouds and feet on the ground.” But I believe that my childlike faith has served me. It has given me strength when things did not seem to be going my way. It has brought me comfort in times of loss, optimism when I might have been tempted to feel hopeless, and enthusiasm for tomorrow even if my “today” made it look as if my future might not ever be bright again. In short, it has kept me in a positive frame of mind the majority of the time.
More often than not I look for the solution when others see problems. More often than not I see molehills where others make mountains. More often than not I go for the gold when others are willing to settle for the bronze—or no medal at all in the Olympics of life—not because I need or want to be a “winner,” but because I hold quite naturally the idea that we are all intended to be winners, that life was made for us to be happy, and that all we have to do to get to that place is understand who we are and why we are here…and, of course, that God and Life are on our side.
For more on this I strongly urge you to read—or if you have already done so, to re-read—Happier Than God.
I could, in fact, be imagining all these things. But if I am, I must say that my imagination seems to be a very effective mechanism, a wonderful tool used in the fashioning of life. And here is my point; here is the reason I am bringing this all up now:
My parents encouraged me to use my imagination as a child. And they did not discourage me when my imagination ran wild. Rather, they simply coached me to notice when my imagination served me (that is, made me happier or gave me confidence) and when it disserved me (that is, made me scared or tentative or sad or took my confidence away).
If they saw that I was imagining something that made me scared or tentative (“There’s a monster under the bed!”) (“I’ll never get the part in the school play, so why bother even trying out!”), they would gently demonstrate to me that what I was imagining was (A) not helping matters any, and (B) probably not true anyway, if I just explored it.
If they saw that I was imagining something that made me happy or confident (“I’m Superman!”) (“I’m going to try out for the play and I bet I get the part!”), they would gently smile and demonstrate that they loved all ideas that made me feel better about myself—whether I was imagining all the good stuff, or talking about actual reality.
In this way, the line between Good Imagining and Good Reality began to blur, and as I reached 10 or 11 I began making a connection between the two. By the time I’d hit 16 I had a reputation in our family: “Neale has all the luck! He always seems to get what he wants.”
What I am saying here is that I think there is a direct connection between positive thinking and positive outcomes. And I am very clear that the way my parents worked with my imagination, and the way they encouraged it when my imaginings were positive, even if unrealistic, made that connection real for me. (“You know, son,” my father once said to me, smiling, “in a lot of ways you are Superman.”)
If you don’t take away a child’s dreams, you guarantee that he’ll keep dreaming. And what does all this have to do with introducing your child to the concept and the reality of God? Well, imagination is the tool of God. Dreams are the stuff of God. Great visions for tomorrow create excitement today—and nothing makes a dream more exciting than knowing that God is on our side to help make them come true. And this is what my Mother always encouraged me to feel.
“If that’s what’s best for you, God will help you make it happen. And if it’s not what best for you, God will bring you something better,” is what I would say to children from the time they are old enough to understand that idea (which might be a lot younger than you think).
“Thank you, God, for this or something better” is, by the way, another wonderful prayer to share with children (and adults, for that matter).
Stories and books are terrific tools, too, of course
I know this is obvious, but just as a reminder….Story Time provides another wonderful opportunity to introduce your children to God. Some parents merge Story Time with Bed Time, so that children will look forward to, rather than revolt against, bedtime. Others like to create Story Time in the afternoon, or after dinner in the evening.
It used to be difficult to find children’s books in which, if God is mentioned, the story and “the moral of the story” didn’t emerge from a Traditional Idea About God. This is perfectly okay, of course, if what you hold, and what you wish to share with your children, are those traditional ideas. If, on the other hand, your ideas about God lean more toward what might be termed New Thought concepts (such as the concepts in the Conversations with God texts), it was not always easy to find children’s books that reflected those values.
I am happy to say that these days it has become a bit easier. The CWG4Kids program has been gathering resources now for quite a while, and I think you’ll be impressed with the number of children’s stories that are out there—as well as short audio programs on CD, and even some animations on DVD.
For instane, there is a wonderful animation that a professional film company made of the CWG children’s book, The Little Soul and the Sun, as well as an audio enactment of the story with original songs that kids love. The second book in the Little Soul series, titled The Little Soul and the Earth, offers another resource straight out of the Conversations with God cosmology, as does the very special Christmas story Santa’s God, in which a little girl asks Santa the most important question of all time: Who is the real God? Who does Santa pray to?
The answer that Santa gives is exactly what you would want your children to hear if you, yourself, have embraced the message in CWG, yet it is placed before children in a way that is neither “preach-y” nor “teach-y,” but is presented in language and through an example that all children can easily understand.
And there are other wonderful children’s books and resources out there as well—and that’s what the CWG4Kids program is all about. It is about helping parents to introduce their children to the concept and the reality of God in a way that aligns with how they would like their children to start out on their own search for inner truth.
Do you believe the sentence handed down to Bradley Manning was appropriate? If so, why? If not, Why?
“I am in need of some advice, hope and guidance. I have read all of the books in the Conversations with God series which are truly remarkable. The trouble I have is I have hit the proverbial rock bottom in every part of my life, except my beautiful wife and daughter. I decided to leave my job after 19 years in a large company where I had worked my way up to the top because my boss was not the man I thought he was and had become greedy, money and power driven. This was at the expense of employees, clients and staff’s families. I decided that I had to make a change and moved out with the support of my wife and family. Shortly after I wrote a book geared towards helping others and gave public talks to empower people to live their true nature and find their own passion and purpose. The challenge is 6 months later it is not taking the way I expected and I am running out of money to pay the bills and support my family. I feel like I have failed my family and myself. I am feeling despondent and lost and I don’t know how not to be at this point. Please help as I truly wish to make a difference in the world with people, and the last thing I want to do is give up on my dream. ”
First of all, I’d like to applaud you for your integrity in making the choice to leave a toxic work environment, and choosing to listen to and act on your own truth in that situation. I’d also like to commend you for taking the opportunity to hone in on your purpose and boldly take it to the world – a very courageous act, and I get that you are very good at what you do.
I also get that it’s scary to take such a risk, especially when you’re not seeing the results you’d like as quickly and you’ve got a family depending on you. And it’s hard when you feel lost, confused, and unsure of what to do next. With that said, I have some thoughts for you, some directions to point you in.
When we find ourselves in a place of deep worry, fear, anxiety, doubt, etc., it is impossible to find/create a viable solution from that place – in other words, you can’t solve a problem from inside the problem. In order to access the answers that are inside you, or from God, for that matter, you need to raise your vibration a bit, get connected and in alignment again, which means stepping away from the worry. Worry is like praying for what you don’t want, and although it’s certainly understandable why we as humans do it, it is completely unnecessary in that it serves no purpose. So, what I would suggest regarding this and before you make any major decisions, is to take some steps to get quiet, reconnected to that place inside of yourself that knows. That place inside of you that wrote your wonderful book. What that looks like depends on you, but a few suggestions are meditation, practicing daily gratitudes, and journaling. Another hugely impactful practice that in my opinion is vastly under-utilized is making room for play, fun and enjoyment every day. Often times those of us who venture out on our own, whose priority is to serve others, forget to implement this part on a consistent basis and experience burnout, which leads to worry, fear and anxiety taking the lead. And that isn’t good for anyone.
However you decide to do it, connecting within is something that is vital to do regularly, as in every day. Because the fact that you show up for yourself in this way each and every day provides the space for you to go within and connect to the truth of your being, and has the added benefit of making you less “shakeable” to external circumstances and allowing you to stay clear on your path more often than not.
The other thing I want to point you to is in regards to the story you are telling about yourself and your life. I sense that you still have some strong feelings about what happened with your former boss, that there may be some unfinished business there that could be holding you back. What can you do to release that story, the story of your horrible boss doing unspeakable things within his company, to you and to your fellow employees? The story of you as the victim and he as the villain? That’s not to say that it isn’t all true, or to discount the pain and struggle you experienced within this context. It’s to point to the fact that it may be time to tell a new story, a new truth, one where there are no victims or villains, and where you are truly in control of your experience. As you probably already know but may have temporarily forgotten amidst the intense circumstances of the past months and maybe even years, our thoughts and words are creative, and as long as we keep having the same thoughts and using the same words about the experience we are not happy with, they’ll keep coming. Here’s a wonderful exercise I learned from another CWG Coach to help you do this:
~ Write a letter to your boss, one you will never send, expressing everything you feel without censoring it or holding back, because it will never be sent. Write a second draft, where you can do some “editing”, choosing the language and sentiments that accurately convey how you’d like to feel about the whole thing. This second letter is the opportunity to heal the issues and move on.
And finally, don’t give up on your dream, your purpose. We need people like you in this world. And although 6 months may seem like a long time when you’ve got so much pressure to succeed, it is too short of a period of time to give up. Your priority as a light-worker, as someone who is clearly here to serve and assist others on their life journeys, is to maintain your inner being, your alignment, your connection to All That Is. It is in the focusing on your “being” first and allowing the “doing” to follow that the key lies. The rest will come, and in the meantime there are many ways to access/create income now; get into alignment first and I’m willing to bet some ideas will pop up for you.
I’ll leave you with this: remember that before every break-through, occurs a break-down. That is, a breaking down of old systems, beliefs, and patterns that no longer serve us, so that they may be re-built to support the next highest version of the grandest vision you ever held about Who You Really Are. The light is coming, Edward.
(Nova Wightman is a CWG Life Coach, as well as the owner and operator of Go Within Life Coaching, www.gowithincoaching.com, specializing in helping individuals blend their spirituality with their humanity in a way that makes life more enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling. She can be reached at Nova@theglobalconversation.com. )
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to: Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)
I haven’t talked much about food here on this blog because — well — I don’t consider my food consumption to be anything to brag about. I do not eat perfect by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. I also feel terribly uncomfortable discussing what is “good” and what is “bad” in regards to diet. But I do want to speak about how and why we eat what we eat, as well as what is going on behind the scenes, which could be extremely helpful to those who are seeking better health and more happiness.
When I was younger and still in my active addiction, I began having indigestion problems. I know, hard to believe that a person drinking himself into oblivion every day would have an upset stomach every now and then, but I digress. My heartburn was pretty severe, and I was convinced to go see a doctor to have it looked at. His words were very simple and have stuck with me to this day: “Kevin, it’s not what you eat, it is what is eating you.”
At that time in my life, I didn’t think about what I ate or why I was even eating. The only thoughts I had were “I’m hungry” and “what is available?” The truth be told, it has only been a few years that I have placed much consideration into what my diet was and how it could be affecting my health. The results of my looking into the connection between food I was eating and my health could not be denied.
My diet prior to this awareness is quite startling when it is seen in black and white. In the morning, I would have a huge cup of coffee, sweetened with the “pink stuff” (Sweet ‘n Low), and diluted with half-and-half. I followed the coffee up with two everything bagels. Mind you, this was an everyday meal of mine for 20-plus years! There were random variations from this breakfast, but not much.
Lunch was either a whole sub sandwich or fast food, preferably from Mcdonald’s as I had found that Burger King didn’t sit well in my stomach (go figure!) Either of the choices would have included a large Diet Coke and chips or fries (large, please!)
Now, somewhere between lunch and dinner would be a mandatory stop and a 7-Eleven for a Super Big Gulp of Diet Coke and 1 or maybe 2 packages of Twinkies or the equivalent Hostess-type snack. Dinner would typically be a meat and potatoes variety meal with the occasional substitution of fish or pasta. Most days a nice big bowl of ice cream would conclude this daily battering of my body.
Please note that water was not part of any of the above meal plans.
You would think with a diet like that I was most likely obese. Think again. I was about 20 pounds overweight, but I carried it fairly well. You see, I was really active. My job was physically demanding. I live in a hot tropical climate so I would burn a lot of calories. This kept my weight pretty consistent.
What didn’t stay consistent was my health. In 2007, I started to have trouble with tingling fingers on my right hand. I lived with it for a while, and then my left hand started to go numb as well. I started seeing a specialist, who would give me steroid shots. These worked at first for a few months. Then I would slowly start losing the feeling again. The diagnosis was carpal tunnel syndrome. I dealt with this the best I could for a few years, and the doctor finally told me that the only thing to do moving forward would be surgery. I didn’t elect that option as I was worried that I may lose the function of my hands. I was a trim carpenter, and without the use of my hands, would find myself out of a job. So I decided to just live with it.
In March of 2011, I developed a new problem. From what seemed like out of the blue, I couldn’t raise my right arm up and hold it level to the ground. If I lifted up with my left arm, it would fall right down as soon as I let it go. I was urged to go to a neurologist to get it checked out, and the resulting diagnosis was three herniated discs in my neck. I was devastated, afraid, and depressed.
Just three months earlier my wife had convinced me to go to yoga with her. Yoga, for me, was love at first try. I felt at home in the yoga room and went to class no less than 5 times a week. I was feeling good about myself and my diet had drastically changed from what it was above.
I was drinking roughly a gallon of water a day and rarely had diet soda anymore. I was incorporating more salads into my diet and red meats virtually vanished from our meals. My sweet tooth had gone into remission and I had melted off 35 pounds in those 3 months of yoga. I continued to use the “pink stuff” in my coffee and didn’t think too much about it.
The damage from my unhealthy diet was done prior to the herniated discs. My MRI showed bone degeneration in my C3 thru C5 vertebra. All was not lost, though, and this was just the beginning of a very cool journey for me.
The day I was told of my herniated disks, I drove to my yoga studio to let my teacher know I wouldn’t be able to do yoga anymore. I was an emotional mess and felt my joy and passion were taken from me. My yoga teacher then told me of this doctor who was literally right across the street and how he had helped her get through a similar issue. My despair was turned to hope in the blink of an eye!
This injury turned out to be the biggest turning point in my life since I had become sober. I began to see the signs that my soul was sending me. I not only saw them now, I paid attention, I listened, I asked for more signs, and learned to express gratitude for them.
Within 3 months, I not only had regained full strength and range of motion in my right arm but my hands were also completely healed of the numb, tingly sensation that had plagued me for the last 4 years. I had eliminated the “pink stuff,” “yellow stuff,” and any other harmful chemicals completely from my diet. I replaced sweeteners with raw honey or Stevia. My morning breakfast was a giant serving of fresh fruit smoothies blended right in my own kitchen. This way I had full control of all the ingredients.
Health and nutrition for me become synonymous. I also caught on to one other thing about eating. When I was conscious about my food choice, I felt really good about myself. Is it raw or organic? Does it contain artificial sweeteners? Does the food I am eating contain words I could never even pronounce? I have become aware, conscious, and full of intent with my eating. Be it “good” or “bad,” I am aware. I make the conscious choice and I remind myself of the consequences.
I am the last person to judge someone on what they are eating. I will never do that. I will be the first person to share everything I have come to know with those who seek the knowledge. I believe we are what we eat and I no longer feel like I have Twinkies for fingers! There is a connection between consciously choosing our food and a happy, joyous, and free life. My body told me for many years in a variety of different ways that what I was putting into it was harming myself. It took a big scare for me to wake up and listen.
In our Path to Peace Recovery Retreats we look at nutrition very deeply and examine healthier ways to eat without sacrificing fun and flavor. As a matter of fact, the food I eat now and the manner in which I eat is extremely satisfying on all levels.
You see, I am a recovering addict. My disease does not know the difference between alcohol, pot, cocaine, heroin, meth, food, sex, power, or victimhood. The disease of addiction is a brain disease that runs rampant when left unchecked. The results are always the same: negative consequences or recovery. With support, recovery is a path to peace, joy, and freedom like no other.
In June we kicked off our first in a series of CWG on recovery retreats. A small group of people all shared a life-changing event. If you are in recovery and not experiencing great joy and freedom or are still suffering with addictions, please consider giving yourself this experience. Our next retreat will held in San Jose, California, Sept 19 -22nd, 2013. On October 24 – 27th, 2013, we will have another retreat in Orlando Florida. Click here for more information on these life-changing retreats.
(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen. You can visit his website here for more information at To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@TheGlobalConversation.com)
Even just a cursory exploration of this website reveals the extent to which sadness and suffering inhabit the human experience. It is impossible to be alive on this planet without encountering both. The question is not whether you will encounter it, the question is, how much of it will you encounter?
Behind that lurks another, more important question. When you do encounter sadness and suffering, how will you deal with it? What tools will you have. More to the point: What tools do you have? I mean, as human beings what tools are we given? And by whom?
I believe there is something larger than myself, something larger than all of humanity, something larger, even, than the entire universe. I call this something “God.”
I believe that God exists and that God is the Supreme Intelligence behind and in everything. When I say “in” everything, I mean to assert that the Thing that I call Divinity is manifesting Itself in, as, and through all of Life. It is the underlying aspect, the foundational energy, of all that exists, in any and every form.
Using human language (which I understand is very limited), I call this energy the Divine Essence. It is That Which Is, manifesting in a million-billion-trillion ways that ultimately form everything in existence, both physical and non-physical, visible and invisible. It is part and parcel of All That Is, and nothing that Is can be in any way other than, or separate from, It.
FOCUS: The Nature of God and Life/an exploration of critical importance in our time
PART III of an ONGOING SERIES
I believe this Divine Essence has intelligence — indeed, is Intelligence in its Purest Form — and that the degree to which this Intelligence manifests Itself is related to the level of Consciousness evidenced or present in any Life Form.
Further, I believe that Consciousness is expandable when it is Aware of Itself. That is, when a Life Form expresses the quality of Self-Consciousness, it is said to be Aware of Itself, and is thus labeled, in our language, a Sentient Being.
I believe that Sentient Beings are the Ultimate Expression of Divine Essence, and that the Pure Intelligence of God is accessible to all Sentient Beings. Indeed, I believe it is the purpose and underlying intention of all Sentient Beings to fully express Divine Essence.
I define Divinity as The Sum Total of All Essential Energy. Using the limited language that is available to me, I describe this Essential Energy as Pure Intelligence and Perfect Love.
I see this Essential Energy as the Totality of All That Is, and in my understanding it is from this Totality that All That Is emerges and expresses.
This is another way of saying that it is in God that we live and breathe and have our Being.
If any of this is true, then why is does sadness and suffering exist? What form of Pure Intelligence or Perfect Love would will for Itself this kind of experience — and why? And what kind of tools does Life provide for its various Expressions in the moments of their encountering this experience?
To answer this question we must inquire into the nature of sadness and suffering itself. And we will do that, precisely, in our next entry here.
The situations facing Humanity today seem daunting. So much so that they can feel pretty overwhelming on an individual level. Some days I experience the certainty of my role in effecting positive change. But some days I find myself questioning my ability to make much of a difference, much less a significant change, in the world in which I live. I have even been tempted in certain moments to believe that my perceived “lack of ability’ means I should just leave the “heavy lifting” to someone sitting in a more powerful or influential position.
Have you experienced this sense of powerlessness? Does your heart and soul yearn to be part of the solution, yet your mind doesn’t know where to even begin?
The good news is that we are all powerful. We all have the ability to create change. We all are in a unique position to influence the way life is lived on our planet. And the even better news is it doesn’t require financial abundance or a large team of brilliant philosophers nodding in agreement with you. It doesn’t require a captive audience or a best-selling book. And you don’t even have to be a spiritual master.
It simply begins with your next choice. It starts with a decision to choose in accordance and in alignment with your beliefs. It unravels from the expenditure of your energy into actions that support and foster the type of world you wish to live in.
Maybe today you will begin using paper bags at the grocery store instead of plastic, a non-negotiable decision to protect the well-being of our planet.
Or perhaps you will locate the local farmers markets or co-ops in your area and begin purchasing your food from the people who farm organically right in your own backyard, so to speak.
What if you stopped buying bottled water and began to filter your own?
Might it be possible that you could do without Starbucks for a day or two and instead give that $5.00 or $10.00 to someone who could really use it?
Would you be open to initiating more conversations with the people you come across in your day-to-day affairs? The couple waiting in line behind you at the movie theater, the delivery man in the elevator, the lady ringing up your purchase at the convenience store?
Are you willing to consider an entirely new way of thinking about why you are even here in the first place, on this planet, right now? If your ideas about that changed, how might that impact the choices you make in your relationships with other human beings, the animals, the plants, the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, the land you walk on?
Are you prepared to try something new, maybe one thing, and take one small step in the direction of the larger global objectives placed before us?
Yes, some of these are simple ideas. But, hey, who said changing the world had to be complicated? Who declared that it has to be all or nothing? Maybe you have some ideas, thoughts, or opinions you are willing to share right here with the visitors who come to this website, ways in which we can all contribute to the abundance and health of our planet and the well-being of all human beings who share this space we call home. I urge you to feel free to express them. After all, we are The Global Conversation.
I part with the practical and loving words of someone very wise, my own wonderful mother, who once said to me: “I want to leave the world a nice place for my grandchildren to live in.”
That is the kind of world I want to live in.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)