Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning to PowerLife--Mental Attitude

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Chaka Kahn has gotten the attention of the media recently because her healthier life-style is working. In interviews she describes initially following a juice fast for several months, and then eliminating meat and dairy from her diet. She also shares what motivated her to start turning her life around from living with type-two diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure to a healthier way. Reporters quote her as saying that being responsible for rearing her granddaughter was her main motivation to change in the beginning.

Her journey toward better health is important to us for two main reasons. First, her story highlights the importance of mental attitude when working to recognize and claim your Power. Second, having a strong reason that your mind can hold on to is crucial to initial success when you are working to become free of life-long habits.

Try this simple experiment. Tomorrow as you start your day, tell yourself:
I am beautiful. Life is precious. Everyone I meet can see my positive light. These are not meant to be platitudes, so please take them seriously. Know that the three statements are true in your heart without question or exception, no matter what happens throughout the day. Later, in the evening, make an assessment to see if you notice any difference.

The first time that I did this exercise I was shocked at just how different my day seemed. People smiled more than usual. I had several short, pleasant exchanges with strangers. In addition, at the end of my day, I felt energized and relaxed rather than overwhelmed and exhausted.

I was also surprised, as I made the conscious effort to keep my positive mental attitude throughout the day, at how many negative thoughts I had in a 24 hour period. I was surprised at how many times people with negative comments or behavior got and held my attention. This is when I understood on a practical level how important having and keeping a positive mental attitude was to living a healthier, happier life.

Living your PowerLife means refocusing your mind so that you can find and hold on to the attitude that lets you see what is positive, strong, and honest within you and every interaction that you have. Once you have refocused your mind, you can then recognize when you are facing negativity, weakness, and dishonesty in yourself and the interactions that you have with others. Knowing the difference on a conscious level helps all of us adhere to the people, places, and actions that lead to success while we avoid the rest. I will share some information about myself as an example.

For years I had the mental attitude that allowed me only to see friends or foes. Everything was about me, and I quickly assessed whether people were friends or foes based on my perception of them. If I determined that they were friends, I would relax and spend less time focusing on what they did or said.

If I decided that they were foes, however, I became vigilant and focused a great deal of time and energy toward understanding or countering what they said or did. I lived by what some people, including myself at the time, called the King of the Hill mentality. With this approach to life, there was only one king atop each hill and I was determined to be at the top. Sounds crazy right? 

Well, it was crazy and that mental attitude brought more craziness and drama in my life than I could possibly handle. You see, when we look for fights behind every curtain, that's exactly what we find; fights and people who like to fight. It wasn't until I felt that the world was against me, and I became weary of the fighting and the angry people that I looked inside for guidance on how I approached life. There were several things working against me and they all came from within.

First, in my mind, everything was about me; there was no room for the possibility that events beyond me were affecting what I was experiencing.

Second, I left no room for the possibility that I might be wrong; once I made up my mind, the deal was done even when everything that I heard and saw contradicted my decision.

Third, there was no room for the possibility that some people change; in my few minutes of assessment, if I decided someone was a friend, that stuck no matter what happened later to challenge my decision.

Fourth, I left no room for the possibility that people were not always honest; because I was honest almost to a fault, I believed what other people said with little question.

Fifth, I left no room for the possibility that not everyone had my set of morals; I lived believing that if I would not behave a certain way, the people in my circle of friends, family, and colleagues would not behave that way either.

The key word in the above list is possibility. I left nothing to chance in my mind at the same time that everything was left to chance. I was naive enough to firmly believe that I knew. I knew who was my friend. I knew who was my foe. I knew who loved me. I knew whom I loved. In retrospect, I had no clue.

I had no clue about who had my back and who did not. I had no clue about what might happen if I stopped and listened to my inner guidance on this issue. Beyond my immediate family, I had no clue about who loved me and who did not. In addition, I certainly did not know the person whom I loved at the time. The result; I was blown left, right, up, down like a leaf. My life was in the hands of chance or anyone who presented well, and that was not good for me.

In the Welcome post I introduced the concept of switching your thought process from binary to triad. I wrote that part of claiming and living your Power included turning away from thinking in yes/no, right/wrong terms solely, and toward yes/no/progression. 

When we think in binary form, we see black or white, good or bad, friend or foe. There are times when binary thinking is necessary. Sometimes an action is simply wrong, and this is so because of the effects the action has on others. Many times, though, binary thinking blinds us and keeps us from bringing what is possible to life. This is why I now think mainly in yes/no/progression terms.

This means that when I am assessing my life or simply making a decision about what to eat, I first ask, is this something that I want? If the answer is yes I then consider possible effects if I follow through. In other words, will the effects of what I have decided that I want to do put me closer to where I want to go in my life? 

If the answer is still yes then I follow through. This is where possibilities that I may not experience come to fruition. Doors open. People come into my life. I experience spiritual, physical, or mental growth that I would not have otherwise.

Conversely, if I decide that the effects will not bring me closer to my goal, then I examine why I want to do something that puts me at at odds with what I want to accomplish in my life. Again, what is just possible becomes real because self-exploration on the issue brings about a deeper understanding of what motivates me to act.

A quick example: An opportunity to learn to tango comes my way. I first need to decide if this is something that I want to do. The answer is yes. Next, I need to determine if taking dance lessons will move me in the direction that I want to go which is living a healthier, fuller life. The answer is still yes. I follow through and take the lessons, and what was once only possible becomes real. I meet people that I would not have met. My body is more flexible than before. I move with even more confidence and fluidity.

If the answer is no taking lessons will not bring me closer to what I want to accomplish, I explore why I want to do something that counters obtaining my goals. I do this through meditation, and possibly dream interpretation. In the process, what is only possible becomes real. I may learn that I am very uncomfortable with one to one interaction. On exploring this about myself, perhaps I learn that I was betrayed in some way that was connected to intimacy. This is all conjecture, but I hope you can see that my yes/no/progression approach to life creates win/win choices. Either way you win because you become a better person.

Let's begin exploring your mental attitude.

Take one week to keep track of every time you have a negative thought about yourself. Forget about what you think of other people  or what they may think about you. Right now, just keep track of the times that you tell yourself that you shouldn't, can't, won't, haven't, will never, don't have, won't have, can't stop, won't stop.... Write down what you say to yourself verbatim, and briefly describe the situation you are in at the time. If you are aware of other people around you, make a note of who they are and what relationship they represent to you.

Include your feelings as well. When you look in the mirror, jot down how you feel about your looks. What emotions do you feel when you see your reflection? Do you smile? Frown? When you look at a picture of yourself, what is your reaction? At work, try to keep track of when you admonish yourself, or tell yourself that you are not good enough, or compare yourself to another.

As with all of the things that you write, keep them private. This is information about you for you that will be important to having more insight into what motivates you and what gets in your way later on.

If you find this blog helpful, I ask that you let others know by using the google and Facebook links to tell your friends. Thank you.

From my PowerLife to Yours,


2012. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Learning to PowerLife: Physical Springboard

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With the admirable efforts of the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and reality television programs such as The Biggest Loser, the fact that Americans are suffering from illnesses that are directly connected to obesity is more visible. In addition, we have become more aware of the emotional and physical struggles that overweight people experience in their lives. This is important for two main reasons
  1. Messages of wellness and the importance of exercise coming from our leadership inspires us all to set goals. 
  2. Watching the struggles of The Biggest Loser contestants from week to week highlights the fact that we do not gain or lose weight in a vacuum.
Consider this: How often have you set a goal for yourself, made a promise to someone, or just tried to turn things around in your life? How often did you keep going until you succeeded in obtaining your goal, keeping your promise, or turning things around? What worked for you? Now, consider this: How often did you stop before you succeeded? What did not work for you? 

There are times when we succeed, and there are times when we stop. Living your PowerLife means understanding some of the reasons why you succeed and why you do not. I will share some things about myself as examples for this.

There was a time in my life when I drank far too much alcohol. I drank when I was happy and sad. When I was bored, I drank. I drank alone and with friends. At one point, I drank every night and fell into a drug induced stupor that I called sleep. Then one of those nights of too much drinking while I was driving home, yes driving, I started seeing double. 

That's right. Before my drunken eyes, the two white lines that were marking my driving lane suddenly turned into four, and I had no idea which two were real and which were not. With the protection of God and my angels, I was able to make it home without hurting myself or someone else. That was the same night I promised to stop drinking. I promised that I would live my life without alcohol, and proceeded to search for the discipline to fulfill my promise.Ten years later, I was still drinking.

Another time in my life I smoked cigarettes. At my highest, I smoked one pack a day. Salem Menthol was my choice. When I could no longer fool myself about how harmful cigarettes were in general, I played a head game and switched to Salem Menthol Lights. Somehow the added word of Lights helped me shoot myself a line of bull about what I was doing to my body. 

Then one day I had a scary sign that I could not ignore. I was sitting cross-legged in a chair with my feet under me and I noticed that my upper body was slightly rocking, front to back, without me doing anything. This had never happened to me before, so I got curious about what was going on. My medical background kicked in and I realized that my body rocked in time with my heartbeat. That was some scary s#*t! 

I had just finished one of my many cigarettes and realized that the blood pressure in my aorta (the largest artery in the human body) must have been high enough to move my body forward slightly with each heartbeat. This time, I did not make a promise to stop--too scared, I guess--I stopped. The pack I had at the time was my last. I threw it into the trash. To this day, I have yet to smoke another cigarette. That was 30 years ago. 

So what made the difference? Why was I unable to keep my promise to stop drinking but able to stop smoking? Experts say that quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, I stopped without meetings, counseling, or patches. At the same time, I did not stop drinking and the difference can be summed in one word: connection. With alcohol, I just focused on stopping without facing the reasons why I drank too much. With cigarettes, I took the time to examine why they were so important in my life.

Have you ever tried to get rid of something by focusing on what you want to eliminate? I have. I tried focusing on taking alcohol out of my life and all I could see was scotch, beer, wine,... You try this with a simple task now. Turn your phone off, if you can, for one hour. Whatever happens, DO NOT turn your phone back on. 

I will bet that the minute you turn your phone off you will become distracted with thoughts about what calls/texts you might miss, or what emails you will have waiting for you in an hour. You will probably think about your phone even more that you do when it is on. This is what happened with my promise, and I stopped before I reached my goal. I stopped because I was not connecting when I drank and why I drank to what I needed to do to heal.

By the time I realized that I needed to quit cigarettes, I understood the importance of making connections. As I worked to obtain my goal to stop smoking, there were times when I wanted a cigarette more than I could say. There were also times when I reached for one from habit. During these times, I had to consciously think about what I was doing and why. 

I had to explore why I smoked. I had to take into consideration the fact that I was harming my body. Each day I made the choice not to smoke. My choice was supported both physically, as I looked for and found different things to do with the time that I spent smoking, as well as mentally during meditation exercises where I explored my reasons for smoking in the first place.

In the Living Powerlife Springboard--Spiritual post, you were introduced to the disciplines of meditation and keeping a dream log. If you have not had a chance to read this post, I encourage you to do so to begin your comprehensive approach to living a fuller, happier, and healthier life. What you learn about yourself through meditation and your dreams will help to support your work as you change whatever living habits are getting in your way. In other words, meditation and dream logs will help you make the connections that you need to ensure that you do not stop before you succeed.

Your physical springboard needs to include food, exercise, massage, hydration, and rest. This post begins with food. Start a simple list of what you eat over the course of one week. Do not make judgments about, or allow anyone else to judge, what you eat. Write down everything that you eat and drink including water. For each thing that you eat or drink, answer these questions:

  1. How were you feeling before you ate/drank?
  2. Who, if anyone, was with you?
  3. When was the first time you remember eating/drinking this in your life-time? 
  4. What was going on around you?
  5. Where were you when you first wanted to eat/drink that day?
  6. How did you feel after you ate/drank.
  7. How much/many did you eat/drink?
  8. What did you eat/drink?
  9. Where did you eat/drink (if this place is different from where you first wanted)?
This  may seem like a lot, but the information will be very useful during meditation and as you consider which foods are best for your body and which are not.

If you find this blog helpful, I ask that you let others know by using the google and Facebook links to tell your friends.

From my PowerLife to Yours,


2012. All rights reserved. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome! Bienvenue!

If you are tired of carrying the mental, physical, and spiritual baggage that is keeping you from happiness, and peace this is where you belong.

One of the ways that I succeeded in turning my life around is by switching my thought process from the binary yes/no, right/wrong, black/white, win/lose to the triad yes/no/progression. I will write more about the importance of this thought process switch in later posts but the following will get you on your springboard to you. There are three main statements that ground my philosophy:
  1. The only relationship in this world that is completely mine is the one that I have with myself. 
  2. The only thoughts and actions over which I have power in my life are mine.
  3. The only person who can stop me from envisioning and obtaining my goals is me.
I recite this every day, and invite you to do the same starting now. Following these simple assertions, gave me the motivation to get out, train for, and complete my first half-marathon in 2009. With these three assertions, I found the strength to get back up after being slammed down by people whom I loved, and trusted in 2010. With these three, I learned to have power with solitude in 2011. 

I found the focus to lift weights and lose weight. I went from squeezing into size extra-large sweat pants to wearing loose medium. I no longer have bouts with my intestinal health, because I no longer carry the anger of other's as though it were my own. Today, my swagger is not based on how much money I earn, whether or not I have a lover, what groups claim me as their own, or which institutions gave me their rubber stamp

My confidence comes from the fact that I have done the very difficult work that empowered me to envision and accomplish goals that I did not believe that I could before. Living PowerLife is where you can get the information, guidance, and support you need to do the same. In addition, by contributing comments that describe your successes and challenges, you can help give encouragement to others who are also struggling to live better lives.

You can find the person for whom you long. You can build the body that you treasure. You can live a life of power, truth, and wisdom. Reading this begins your journey back to you. The journey that will teach you how to switch your thoughts from binary to triad. The journey that includes you joining and helping to build a community of people who are living PowerLife. 

You are a miracle. I am a miracle. Yes, there are miracles in this world today. We just have to be open to making the changes that bring them about, and ready to see them when they occur. 

From my PowerLife to yours,

Learning to PowerLife: Spiritual Springboard

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Recently, Fox News published an article about a Texas pastor who made a commitment to lose weight in front of his congregation. At the time of the article, the pastor had lost about 50 pounds with just minor adjustments to his lifestyle. I mention the article here for three reasons: 
  1. It begins to explore the connection between spiritual dis-ease and obesity. 
  2. The author writes about issues that are seldom addressed in religious institutions such as gluttony, obesity, food addiction, and the neglect of one's body.
  3. The article highlights the reality that the more intolerant the religion, the more likely its followers will be obese or engage in some other form of unhealthy lifestyle.
For many years, in my roles as chaplain, pastor, and social justice advocate I have seen how detrimental ignoring spiritual distress is to living a healthy, balanced life. In addition, throughout my personal life, I have experienced how spiritual distress affected my overall well-being in negative ways. 

For instance, when I was most invested in adhering to a religious dogma, when I was least able to tolerate religious traditions that differed from my own, when I was most eager to be accepted by individuals, or recognized by a particular group, my general health suffered the most. 

Part of why I suffered was because I valued other people's thoughts and beliefs over my own. Indeed, rather than developing myself, and listening to the source of the power that was meant only for me, I was constantly looking for the right group, right person, the special place that I could call my home. The consequences were major; I almost died several times.

In 1999-2000, I suffered a massive blood clot in my upper thigh. Before my body could recover, part of the clot separated and traveled to my lung. 

Around 2007, I was rushed to the ER, unconscious and near death because my doctor at the time prescribed far too much high blood pressure medication (I was taking high doses of three different medications). 

Throughout all of this, I suffered from asthma like symptoms because I had, and still have, a severe allergy to all dairy. In addition, at my worst, I weighed close to 300 pounds.
My body was slowly dying, as I continued to allow my spirit to be stifled by people and institutions that meant me no good. 

In retrospect I was fighting to conform using my precious life force. I fought for acceptance in seminary. I fought for recognition in churches. I fought for respect within communities made up of people who were only interested in co-opting my gifts and talents their own aggrandizement. In addition, I fought to stay in a relationship with a person who was emotionally abusive to me. 

Everything in my life was a fight. On all fronts, I was fighting my own instincts and spirit to conform in places where I would never be accepted. The fight was killing me. It was not until I made the commitment to stop fighting to conform and start finding myself and who I was meant to be that I gained the practical application that is contained within this blog.

The connection between spiritual and physical health has been well document. Everything, from prayer, meditation, message, and chants, has been explored to help the healing process. What I do through Living PowerLife is make the link practical and give you the means to build a spiritual discipline that is not dependent on membership, group acceptance, or the truth of another. Instead, your spiritual discipline will be grounded in love for self, respect for others, and understanding that honesty is the key to fulfillment.

From reading the Constructing Your PowerLife Springboard post, you should now have a quiet place to meditate, pen, and two composition books (one to journal your thoughts and one to log your dreams). Now you will begin to practice meditation and prepare to learn about some of the things that have previously been a challenge to fully accessing your power.

NOTE: you may need help processing some of the feelings or memories that come up during meditation. If that is the case, do not hesitate to ask for help. This is your journey, but you do not have to make the trip alone. In the past, when things became more than I could process alone, I sought the same help. It is important to give yourself permission to rely on people who spent years preparing to give the kind of support that helps us get past being overwhelmed. 
Also, know that at any time you can email me.

Go to your quiet place, and find a comfortable sitting position. Remove as much distraction as possible such as radio, TV, music, etc.... At first, it's important to try to have the same time every day, and set aside no more than 15 minutes. This helps you to:

  1. Remember to meditate.
  2. Build a life-long discipline rather than practice a short-term fad. 
  3. Maintain focus because the time is shorter.

Close your eyes and feel your body. Feel where there is tension while you slowly breathe in and out. Release the tension that you feel in different parts of your body as you breathe out. Do this for no more than 10 slow, deep breaths. 

Once your body is as relaxed as it can be, focus on how you feel inside. Are you Excited? Nervous? Angry? Sad? Happy? As these feelings come up, try to note if any places or people--names or faces--come to mind at the same time. This is where you will make your first practical connection--the one between your emotions and particular places or people. Continue until about 5 minutes before time to stop. You will need to have at least that much time to bring your meditation to a close.

As you begin to close your meditative sessions down, switch your focus back to your body. Take slow, deep breaths again and feel your body as it sits. With each breath, notice your feet touching the floor, and your body pressing against the chair. As you come back to where you were, recite the following aloud three times: 

With God, the Universe, and me miracles happen. 

Open your eyes, sit quietly for a few seconds. Bring your breathing back to normal and jot down any thoughts, feelings, or impressions in your journal.


  • Your mind may jump around from thought to thought. That is to be expected, so do not try to stop this process. 
  • You may have difficulty identifying where your body holds tension. This is okay. As you continue, you will find this easier.
  • Unexpected feelings or people from long ago may spring to mind. This is good. Remember to jot down these impressions in your journal.
  • You may start to remember your dreams if you did not before. This is good too. Just keep your dream log and pen by your bed and write as much detail as you can as soon as you awaken.
I strongly recommend that you use your dreams. Dreams are your brain's way of processing emotions, and events in your life. They are full of symbols that mean something to you. This is why, when I try to gain insight into myself using my dreams, I always ask: what does this mean to me? Rather than: what does this mean to others? For example, if I dream about an eagle, I explore what eagles mean to me. What do I think about, feel, remember, expect... when I think of an eagle? From there, I continue to interpret my dream.

The format is simple. Just remember to date--month, day, year--each journal. Do this even if there are multiple entries for the same day. Write legibly so that you can read your entries later. Keep your journal and log private.

My next post will focus on obtaining and maintaining physical health.

From my PowerLife to Yours,

 2012. All rights reserved.

Obesity in the church link