Let’s celebrate magnificent failure (mine)

Let’s celebrate a magnificent failure (mine, we’ll get to that shortly).

We in America don’t celebrate failure enough — we love to celebrate success, of course, and should. But failure is harder, so much harder, that for simply living through it we should heap recognition on those who’ve made it through intact, spirit unvanquished.

You’ve likely known failure — and even may be acquainted with failure in some aspect of your life right now. You know that failure is lonely, except for AA (and NA, and DA, and SA, and OA . . . perhaps it’s not so lonely afterall; I didn’t realize until writing this sentence it had become so clubby).

Let’s start with me and Ann: We tried to keep our core gallery personnel employed throughout the financial crisis — and failed magnificently. Yeah, we made it a certain distance, more than many others in my industry, who shed their personnel the way Pamela Anderson sheds clothing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that Pamela.)

I feel like we almost made it through to the other side, but just couldn’t . . . quite . . . get there. We couldn’t quite make it through to the other side keeping our staff employed (especially, especially one person, you know who you are).

It was an agony to go through, to let people down you care for so intensely.

But enough of the crying (Ann), and enough of the what-else-could-we-have-done (me).

Today I’m celebrating the intent behind the failure. We made payroll for two and a half years after the luxury sales implosion. It was as if New York City somehow survived 30 months of an invasion by Alpha Centaurians with weaponry bordering on wizardry.

We did that. We are those New Yorkers.

And we continued to sell artwork for our artists in the most difficult time since the Great Depression. And pay our vendors. And freelancers. And taxes. And our staff up until a month ago. All those little payments that circulated into a hundred households or more.

So today I’m choosing to celebrate the sheer distance we made it past impact. Today I’m thinking of it this way. A fisherman admires the prey with the most fight, who endures the longest. Today we are that fish. Today we are the prize fighter who should have gone down a long time ago.

Just how do you celebrate failure?

Here’s one way to celebrate failure. If you know someone who’s going through a bitch of a time, call them, assist them, anonymously or not. Be in touch with them.

Say hey, I am awed . . .

. . .  by your ability to take repeated punches to the gut.

. . . you’re still showing up every day for your commitments.

. . . that you don’t give up!

. . . by your example in the world.

. . . that you smile through the turbulence.

. . . by your spirit . . . your character . . . your cojones . . . your chutzpah.

Success attracts a crowd. Success delivers pats on the back. Today let’s pat someone on the back who really deserves it — someone experiencing a failure and living up to it. That someone could even be you.

One final note

We’re also the fish that got away. Maybe the hook tore out a section of a vital organ, but we’re the fish that got away. And we’re swimming with a limp to better waters.

We’re also the prize fighter who went the distance.

Watch out!

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The Coconut King: From the ruins, success

Here’s a story of encouragement for all who face the destruction of a treasured dream. It’s also the story of resurrection, literally from the debris left over when the dream failed.

When I first met Gilbert Finesilver years ago, all he could talk about was this idea he had for whipping up frozen desserts and shipping them overnight to clients and restaurants throughout the land. These would be specialty sorbets and other frozen delights, delivered in coconut shells.

When Gilbert went off to tackle this business venture, we all cheered him on.

Skip forward a year or so.

The next time I heard from Gilbert the venture had flopped — the logistics were impossible, keeping the desserts chilled was difficult, getting them to their destination without mishap was dicey, costs overran income.

As he succinctly sums up now: “It was more pain than it was really worth.”

If you’ve ever begun a business venture or a dream you’ve harbored, you can feel for Gilbert. The difficulties are great. Success is not guaranteed, no matter the effort.

So there Gilbert was, the dream venture in ruins, left with a garage full of coconut shells.

For the fun of it, let’s just skip ahead to the end 

Gilbert now runs a successful business from out of his home office. (Getting to the end quickly feels good, eh?)

He now says:

“It’s a blessing.”

“I’m so fortunate. I do it out of my house.”

“Now I’m generally done by 2 every day, after FedEx comes.”

Back to the middle, if you care

Faced with a garage full of coconut half shells taunting him every day, Gilbert decided to put up a simple one-page website to see if he could sell off all his coconut shells.

The very first order was for 50,000 coconut shells! Far beyond what he had. Suddenly, Gilbert Finesilver became The Coconut King, supplying quality coconut shells to restaurants and businesses throughout the land.

Not that it was easy. He went through various suppliers and distribution hurdles — but here he is now, living the life he’d hoped for in an easier way than he’d even imagined when he started.

Can you imagine the hard work and logistics and employees and fulfillment that would have been called for on a daily basis if his original idea had somehow sputtered above the break-even point. It would have been arduous, day in, day out. And Gilbert’s a Florida boy — all that working with frozen items would have taken their toll in freezer burns.

Since then Gilbert has branched out into other natural, related products — keeping it simple. Things like coconut shell drinking cups . . . and bamboo straws for environmentally-safe drinking on beaches and other public spaces.

(He got this idea while on vacation and they wouldn’t give him and his wife straws for their drinks on the beach, because they could harm the beach creatures.)

I love Gilbert’s story, because it shows there are opportunities unimagined, even in the destruction of a dream.

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Don’t what if, just do

This post was inspired by Kris Boschee.

The other day Kris and I were driving to a client’s home when he brought up his new attitude about life. It was simple:

Don’t what if, just do.

Not only did the concept clear the path so he could move ahead, it cleared away worry. Which made everything lighter.

He said that he’d been stuck for some time and realized he was what iffing every idea, and consequently had lost the impetus to doing anything. Because every potential idea — and it’s action follow through — had vaguely understood consequences, he’d been doing nothing.

Since he began Don’t what if, just do, he’s been energized. It made it easy to focus on the inspired next step — and then the next one — and the next — and the next one . . . .

But not all at once.

This insight was articulated by Kris as a way to remind himself to:

dive in
get in motion
just do it
take a step
do something

and enjoy it

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The great Caruso shouts down throat issues

This past week I began re-reading a mind-power classic by Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. If you’re not familiar with it, you should be. It is one of the all-time great treatises on mental potential.

Written in the 1960s it became Dr. Murphy’s most famous work on the extraordinary abilities we have, and how to gain conscious control over them through simple techniques.

I’ve read a number of his books and they all employ the same method. He will speak to certain principles and then illustrate them with real-life tales, generally plucked from the lives of those around him or who studied under him.

Because he developed a huge following, he was able to reference an endless stream of these tales of mental derring do — which makes for thrilling reading.

These real-life transformations are what make a Joseph Murphy book so compelling! They are the apps that make it useful. And because he is liberal with the stories — the way my Dad is with salt — you come across one every couple of pages.

Caruso’s tale

Early on in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, I came across this passage below that I have to share with you:

Most of the great scientists, artists, poets, singers, writers, and inventors have a deep understanding of the workings of the conscious and subconscious minds. One time Caruso, the great operatic tenor, was struck with stage fright. He said his throat was paralyzed due to spasms caused by intense fear, which constricted the muscles of his throat. Perspiration poured copiously down his face. He was ashamed because in a few minutes he had to go out on the stage, yet he was shaking with fear and trepidation. He said, “They will laugh at me. I can’t sing.” Then he shouted in the presence of those behind the stage, “The Little Me wants to strangle the Big Me within.” 

He said to the Little Me, “Get out of here, the Big Me wants to sing through me.”

By the Big Me, he meant the limitless power and wisdom of his subconscious mind, and he began to shout, “Get out, get out, the Big Me is going to sing!”

His subconscious mind responded releasing the vital forces within him. When the call came, he walked out on the stage and sang gloriously and majestically, enthralling the audience.  

Caruso’s reaction to his plight is instructive to the ninnies of the world. (Here I am speaking only to myself — the ninny I am when I allow fear to intrude. Please don’t feel I am slighting the other ninnies of the world.) Caruso deserves an operatic song in praise of his boldness in attacking what would have set many another performer back.

He did several things that beg to be noted —

  1. He refused to accept it!
  2. He spoke to the problem directly — in front of other people! He could easily have stifled himself for fear of ridicule from those around him.
  3. He addressed the issue as you would Mini-Me, Dr. Evil’s clone (Austin Powers).
  4. He invoked his Greater Self (Big Me).
  5. As a grand finale he finished by shouting out his intention! (Again, in front of people — this fearlessness to address his throat spasms as an internal struggle, regardless of what others would think, impresses me to no end.)

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I’ve been in your burned-out soul space

. . . and conceivably should be still.

This post is for those going through crisis, who feel they are coming unhinged by the enormity of it all.

To you I say: subside.

To you I say: visit your hollowspace.

To you I say: there are resources beyond understanding available to you.

To you I say: go silent, go limp.

As many times a day as you can. For a minute, for ten minutes. Wherever you can. Whenever you can. Go silent. Go limp. 

Contemplative connection

There is nothing that can’t be improved by contemplative silence.

Many say to watch your thoughts and let them go. I’ve found that to be useless advice unless you’ve already been practicing meditation consistently. But love does work. It sounds Sixties silly, it sounds New Age nonsensical, but it works.

I’ve found — when in silent attention — mustering love toward an object of anguish is a powerful disintegrator.

I know what it’s like to be faced with situations so dire you don’t know how you’ll make it through the week. Even the night. I heard from others that Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Then I found out it’s true.

There is something about streaming love into an agonizing issue that dissipates the fear. If you let that love stream through you into your problem — for as long as it takes — believe me, you will find peace. It may not be forever, but you will find peace. Here, now, in the minutes to come.

I’ve sat in stillness for an hour or more — in the mid of night — to receive and enjoy that peace. Once there you will want to bask in the playful glow . . . .

Though often it may take only minutes to dissolve anxiety around an issue, if it is something ongoing — be it financial or with your health or with a person prominent in your life — some issue that strikes dread into your heart — then it is worth whatever time it takes to love that fear to pieces, till it quite literally breaks apart in your mind and drifts off.

Remarkably, afterward, you may find the situation resolving itself in surprising ways, without additional effort.

Remarkably, something from out of the possibility field may zap the issue — the solution may come like a thunderclap, like the gods setting something aright in a Greek play.

Even if not, you have a powerful weapon to assist you in the coming days as you face it down. I’ve gone there as often as possible when in crisis. And because the peace is so sweet, so cleansing, I’ll stay there rapt in that attentive sitting stance till long after my legs have gone numb.

Not that I notice till I get up and fall over.  

Love by association

When I couldn’t find love to give toward a vexing subject, issuing love by association has been effective.

Immerse yourself in an object of love — in my twenties that would have been myself! — and then transfer that feeling to your issue. You’ll feel a softening almost immediately.

You may need to go back and forth a bit, like carrying water to douse a campfire.

There are many ways to back off the precipice. This is the simplist and most effective.

Love is the answer and you know that for sure.
Love is a flower, you got to let it, you got to let it grow.

— John Lennon


The love-by-association concept from this article was inspired by Jeannine Perlman, who first brought this technique up in a Dreamers Club meeting. Thank you Jah-Woman!  

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Level up: in 15 minutes a day

A month back or so I realized I hadn’t been meeting my weekly commitment to exercise. I know this because I track it in my planner. 

When I flipped back through the pages I was surprised — ahh, maybe not so much — that I hadn’t been keeping up. Since my world can be highly irregular, there are some weeks where I’ll drop below the commitment level, but I always more than make up for it by exceeding that level in subsequent weeks. 

Until then — I’d been slacking and the record showed it. My body felt it. I felt it — the incipient bloat, the creeping ennui, the shriek upon seeing myself in the mirror stepping out of the shower . . . .

My current commitment is a minimum of 3.5 hours of varied exercise (as opposed to many years ago when I rebooted my sedentary life with a monomaniacal focus one form of movement only, a 4.5-hour-a-week minimum walking commitment).

This exercise comes in many forms. It could be walking, or bicycling or yoga or swimming or treading water or working out or stretching or even hard yard work.

It was time to level up again.

Leveling up

This terminology is instantly familiar to gamers.  I’ve learned it through my eight-year old. Listen in on Zane’s conversation with himself as he sat at a computer screen next to me while we were at work. 

He wanted to tell me something about a difficult game he was involved in, but I was on a deadline to get some information to an artist concerning payment we’d just made via wire transfer.

So Zane said to go ahead and work but did I mind if he talked out loud to himself because he needed to.

That boy went on a jazz riff. Some of the things he uttered were so pertinent to psycho-spiritual growth that I have to include them here.

“Some things can be impossible but you don’t know till you try.”

“You’ve got to try and level up. It’s the only way to get better.”

“You know how you think it’s hard and you try it and then it’s not so hard after it was hard and then you level up? It could be like that.”

You can level up in 15 minutes a day. Travis Thomas does it in less.

Life coach and multi-dimensional personality Travis Thomas learned to juggle, among other things, by committing to 10 minutes a day. Ten minutes gets me panicky, too tight a time frame, so fifteen-minute commitments work better for me.

(Travis has a 50% faster processing speed than I do, he’s got a newer model, upgraded CPU. This makes him a speed level upper, and a damn good life coach to boot.)

You can tackle anything fifteen minutes at a time.

Getting back to my exercise commitment level required an additional 15 minutes a day a few times a week. As I check back over the past month I see that those additional 15 minutes a day inspired even more movement, more action — so that I happily went beyond my minimum weekly commitment level into a new zone. I can stay there or throttle back, as I desire.

If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to level up on in your life, consider a 15-minute a day commitment as your starter kit.

You’ve got 15 minutes in your day somewhere — why not consider a commitment to leveling up? Anywhere that inspires you. Could be a thank you note a day, connections with distant friends, play time with puppy.

An accountability partner in leveling up (till it’s no longer necessary)

My next 15-minute leveling-up commitment is going to involve a co-conspirator.

My sister and I’ve been challenging each other — loosely, too loosely, the serious minded might not call it challenging at all, just kvetching — to get caught up on home-office backlog stuff. You know that stuff, the non-urgent papers and articles and letters that drift in like snowflakes. Seems light and frothy and harmless at the time until you’re socked in.

Char — expect a call — we’re leveling up chiquita.

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To enjoy an e-letter from The World Is Freaky Beautiful once or twice a month, click here.


Universe, God, Spirit and other nicknames

As you read through these blog articles you will find that I can’t settle down and reference the Ultimate in any one fashion. I don’t use consistent terminology, such as God or Yahweh or Spirit or Energy or Singularity or Stardust or Infinite Intelligence . . . I can’t even end this sentence I have so many pet names pouring out of me!

Is it because I’m indecisive? Irresolute? A Gemini?

Well, yes, I am those things, though those qualities have nothing to do with not choosing one term above all for the All.

It is because my reference is entirely experiential — meaning that I only have the totality of my quite finite experience from which to tease out understanding of the Immeasurable. See? There I go again.

Knowing that whatever I think or articulate is (massively) incomplete, gives me the freedom to speak to any aspect of the Divine I desire when a name is required to give a sentence meaning.

You’ll see I prefer capitalizing a word to emphasize its stand-in for some flavor of the Infinite. In fact, I really really love capitalizing two words and squishing them together: SpiritFlow! GodSpirit!

An exclamation point never hurts either. Enthusiasm, as you’ve probably heard ad nauseam, comes from this root: en-theos, in God.

Nauseum, you may not be aware, comes from this root: nauseous museum of Latinate words.

Essence du Creator!

Nah, that doesn’t work — why? Three words, two of them French.

But you get the drift. To use only one term is limiting the Unlimited. To choose only one viewpoint is finite-ing Infinity.

My favorite term for God is You. When alone, I am constantly addressing my Source as You. You serves many functions. It is personal, the way I feel when immersed in Spirit. You can be All That Is, or You can refer to my Greater Self, that wiser, eternal Self who sees further than I do. Context allows You to be as big or as intimate as I need it to be for the moment.

You is also devoid of history. There’s no dogma attached to You. I can’t get chained down in You. But, my God, I can swim in You. I can delight in You. I can — and do — flow in You.

And you — dearest reader — are You to me.

I don’t know why I think this, but if you liked this post, you might enjoy


Empty mind: From a kid!

Yesterday Zane and I were on our way back up the driveway from dropping off the trash and recycling. Normally I pull him in the all-purpose, four-wheeled cart we have (for yardwork, for trash and recycling hauling). We live in the semi-country now and it’s a long driveway!

This time he was pulling me. He was doing OK until we got to the little hill near the house — I lifted up and started to push with one leg out to help, he was straining so.

“Daddy! Get back in there!” Zane’s stern voice rang out. He was determined to pull me up but wasn’t going anywhere.

What happened next is what this post is about. He closed his eyes, his previously straining face relaxed, and inch by inch he backed up the incline, pulling me.

“Zane, what are you doing?”

He kept his eyes closed and muscled to the top.

“Zane, what were you doing there with your eyes closed?!”

“Empty mind,” he sang. 

That was my eight-year-old son saying this. I hadn’t taught him this term.

He has seen me meditate many a time, yet I’ve explained little of the various meditation practices because I’m not seeking to indoctrinate him. I answer his rare questions, and when he occasionally wants to try it I’ll give simple suggestions . . . but no theory, no doctrine, and certainly no phrases pertaining to a meditation practice.

I was simultaneously jazzed and incredulous.

He explained that when he couldn’t get me up the incline he had to go to Empty Mind to be able to do it.

You know where he learned this? Not in school as I thought. Not from other, better parents.

Scooby Doo!

Yes! The cartoon. In a Scooby Doo film where the gang goes to Japan and tackles a feral Samurai, Scooby and Shaggy went to the Empty Mind zone to defeat the dude!

So this is where Zane went when all else failed. And it worked. His version of it gave him the pulling power he couldn’t muster in his most intense, straining state.


To see your kid tap into the power of his mind . . . non-mind. And it came from a cartoon.

What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?

— Performed by Elvis Costello, written by Nick Lowe

This is how pervasive the shift in consciousness is societally, and it’s thrilling to behold. Somewhere in cartoonville the creators of this film decided to include something they had researched — maybe even experienced first-hand.

Of course they did it in a cartoony way, but they did it! And an eight-year old tried out his version of it when it seemed he was at the limits of his abilities.

All throughout the culture the extraordinary powers of the mind are being celebrated. Visualization has moved from its roots in affirmative prayer to sports technique to business-minded folks.

When you say mantra now, it doesn’t only mean a phrase you utter to yourself in meditation — no — it also suggests a personal mission, a personal motto you focus upon so frequently it burns into your existential heart. And from the intensity of repetition flows more meaningful action, and ultimately a more engaging experience in the world.

Love and forgiveness are breaking out.

Tolerance and inclusiveness are going viral.

Yoga is here. Spirit is in. Putting it out there is part of the linguistic landscape.

Letting it go, goals without attachment to the outcome, surrendering . . . are part of the conversation.

There is a great mixing of slipstreams of thought.

Contemplative prayer.



Zippity doo da day!

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You innately know

In honor of the theme expressed earlier this week (Time without teachers), a tidbit of insight from my interview a few months back with Lori Saitz says it all:

“Last year I gave it up. I was done. I was done!”

Lori (www.zenrabbitcookies.com) was referring to both spiritual and life teachers. Like many others she’d consumed years of books and products until exasperated by the advice avalanche. It had become too much and she needed a break from it all.

“You innately know! . . . The answers.”

For Lori, the best teachers reminded you of this. They helped you uncover this deeper, knowing self. She was fond of Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch for this reason.

(And what she found especially irksome was how many self-help items in recent years have been marketed as if the one crucial ingredient for success is known only to the author, and you too can know the secret to the universe if you get this product now!)

Can there be anything more profoundly simple?

  • The best teachers help reveal the magnificence you already possess! 
  • You have the answers you seek!

And to have this stitched into the seams of your soul . . . is the ultimate gift from the Giver.

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Play time!

Regarding work, sometimes it becomes obvious that the only thing to do is not to do anything. There’s only one course of action: play time.

If you’re like me, by the time you’ve hit this zone of aching eyeballs and synaptic meltdown, you’ve already skirted many an internal sensor going off telling you — begging you! — to take a break and do it now.

So I’m thinking about this and I run in to tell Zane that we’re going on a bike ride in 40 minutes. Then I log into The World Is Freaky Beautiful to start this very article — and I can’t get in. There’s something nefarious going on, subterranean. Maintenance they like to call it.

So apparently I am being told by the network . . . to play.

Most of you know you should. Most of you want to, more often. So for those who need a reminder — or permission — just do it: Go out and play!

If it’s electronic it doesn’t count.

I’ve long understood this, that people who have playful lives are more fulfilled. I’ve watched my brother do this for years. Even when he’d be working hard, say demolishing a wall in a house, he’d make it fun. And like Tom Sawyer, get others to join in. He’ll give a kid a sledgehammer and let them at it. 

While rehabbing our home we did the same thing with Zane when we took down a wall — let him at it — which he attacked with ferocity — until exhaustion (and asbestos).

Think of Richard Branson. Or Oprah. (But not together! Ewww.) Don’t they feel like they’re getting jiggy with the game of life? Or the Rat Pack. Those boys had fun.

A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moment, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life.

— Abraham-Hicks

I know this. But I don’t do it nearly enough. So today I am — the universe has spoken.

See you on the playground–