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Facing Fear, Exercising Will

   From a distance of 12 miles or so, the fire looks like an afternoon rainstorm. It's not.

From a distance of 12 miles or so, the fire looks like an afternoon rainstorm. It's not.

There can be no exercise of will when there is fear. Fear traps you …  If you ignore your fear there is no way for you to activate your will … You cannot afford to go through life fear oriented. You will not be in control of yourself and your life. …You operate beyond negativity when you are in control of you and not attempting to control conditions. Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Awareness – July, 2009)

I’m in the midst of facing a long running, perhaps life-long, fear at a new deeper level: fire and possibility of my home being destroyed as a result.  I’m prepared to take any action required as events warrant (and I’ve kept a ‘go kit’ and prep lists at the ready for several years). But this week I experienced a lack of readiness to exercise my will to be calm and positive. I found myself on the edge of a feeding frenzy of fear, and I don’t want to step over the edge or into the frenzy. Yet, I know that our safety requires keeping informed and being vigilant. Let the dance with self begin.

I needed to step back, breathe, and look within. I needed to face the fear beyond the level of physical preparation. I needed to remember who I am and what I believe. Beyond remembering the crippling and negative impact of fear, I needed to remember consciousness, that part of me beyond the physical.

We live in an ocean of consciousness that is boundless. All things in the ocean have available to them the same things. All of love, happiness, and freedom are available in the ocean of consciousness. … Your consciousness is connected to the Universe is the Universe! G.Tiffen

Beyond remembering, I now need to let that knowing sink into my being. Simply being present to my own senses and keeping abreast of relevant information about the nearby Spring Fire is providing daily practice in doing just that.

We’re not in any immediate danger. As the crow flies, the fire that has raged for eight days and as of yesterday has burned over 95,000 acres is 30-40 miles away. But pillars of smoke are visible daily just beyond the mountains to the south. This morning there is a thick haze over the peaks here. Peaks to the south and west are totally obscured. Overnight I heard doors and windows rattle as strong winds blew smoke into our community. I smell the smoke, and I feel the heaviness when I step outside. At times this week, I’ve tasted fear – my own and the fear I witness in others.

My senses remind me to be observant and to tap into the energy flow of consciousness, directing my own energy to operate naturally and easily no matter what – that’s a full time job in itself.

In the midst of readiness and awareness, this seems to be a time for extra kindness to myself and others, for listening, and for responding to opportunities to serve. It’s also a time to imagine gentle rains falling on the parched earth, protecting, healing and nourishing our planet and all life.

   A river respite along the Rio Grande, 30 or so miles from the fire.

A river respite along the Rio Grande, 30 or so miles from the fire.

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The Grace of the Universe

   Shadows Fall at Day's End in the Sangres

Shadows Fall at Day's End in the Sangres

You live by the grace of the Universe interacting with you. You do not live by yourself alone. … The Universe always magnifies your action. Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Change – May, 2009)

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness. Dalai Lama

The grace of the Universe presents the challenge of our times. May we rise to meet it in kind.

Whether we are aware of it or not, the Universe is interacting with us 24/7, magnifying each and every action we take in its own way.

Think about that. Let it sink in for just a moment. Everything you do is magnified. EVERY THING!

Say a kind word, offer a smile to someone experiencing challenging times, listen deeply to another view, share an uplifting post on social media. MAGNIFIED!  Take action on a project; choose to eat healthy, nourishing food; call or write your elected representatives. MAGNIFIED!

The Universe is benevolent (at least that’s my belief), but it is not selective in what it magnifies (everything – remember?). We humans were given the gift of free will, the power of choice that the Universe did not keep for itself in this grand design called Life. Make a snarky remark. MAGNIFIED!  Engage in an act of violence. MAGNIFIED!  Protest in anger toward others. MAGNIFIED!  Shut down in fear. MAGNIFIED! 

I’ve been reflecting on this law of magnification in terms of what I want more of in my life as well as the kind of world that I’d prefer to live in.  That reflection brought me right back to where I live, the simple choices I make each day. If I want to be a writer, WRITE. Give the Universe words strung together into ideas and step back to allow the magnification. Know that magnification is happening even when I don’t see it. I’m making adjustments in how I create each day to do just that.

If the world I envision is one of peace, kindness, compassion then my responsibility is to choose thoughts, words, and deeds that are peaceful, kind, and compassionate. Give the Universe THAT to magnify.

Of course, the Universe does not magnify alone.  We are its agents, little magnifiers one and all. My words each week are a magnification of something I read, experienced (usually both!), or am in the midst of considering. You read those words and are inspired to make a change in your life, or to share the post with others, or to delete. Whatever your choice, your action magnifies mine and it offers your own to be magnified.  

The meadowlark sings its cheerful song each morning in the meadow where we walk. The president tweets. Both are magnified by a Universe that magnifies everything. But we, you and I, have the freedom and the power to choose what we magnify. Imagine a world where the meadowlark’s song or the Dalai Lama’s quote is the ‘breaking news’ of the day, and the president’s tweets go mostly ignored. Do the words peaceful, kind, compassionate come to your mind’s eye?

That world is possible if we have the will to choose to put our attention on peace over conflict, kindness over anger, and compassion over judgement. It’s already emerging daily in the thousands (perhaps millions) of thoughts, words and deeds that are peace-filled, kind, and caring. May we choose that path – moment to moment, when the choice is easy and, especially when it’s not.  The grace of the Universe presents the challenge of our times. May we rise to meet it in kind.

   Old Tree Greets Another Day

Old Tree Greets Another Day

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Bucking the Culture Ain't Easy

   Of whims and harmony ... that is our way.

Of whims and harmony ... that is our way.

In silence, man and shadow met face to face, and stopped. Aloud and clearly, breaking that old silence, Ged spoke the shadow’s name and in the same moment the shadow spoke without lips or tongue, saying the same word: ‘Ged.’ And, the two voices were one voice. … Light and darkness met, and joined, and were one.  Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

The truth of the matter is self-honesty in all things. Gregge Tiffen, Open Secrets: The Nature of Feminine Truth (March, 2011) 

Practicing oneness requires the self-honesty acknowledge the darkness within.

Slowly the light is returning. Soon the day will be equal in its light and darkness, and the darkness will give way to more hours of light. A cycle: one of many cycles within cycles that is the natural order of the Universe.

We humans though think we know better than the order of the Universe. We create tools of separation and control: calendars, clocks, daylight savings time and build a culture that honors such tools over the wisdom of the Universe.

This week, though I sprang my clocks forward, I chose to ignore them as much as possible. As is generally my habit, I’ve risen upon waking and allowed each day to flow from there. Even with few timed commitments, I found myself noticing the time and correcting thoughts about being ‘late’ as I went about my day. The exercise reminded me how deeply imbedded ‘time’ is in our culture.

Our culture also holds ideas about how we ‘should’ use our time. Since closing the B&B, I’ve felt a strong pull, guidance if you will, to ‘read, write, connect more deeply in nature, and empty’. I’ve followed that guidance less than I’d like to admit. After all there are taxes to prepare, firewood to stack, and – oh, yeah, shouldn’t I be doing something to generate income?

But these little things (yep, in the grand scheme they are but tiny blips despite how I allow them to interfere with my peace) pale in comparison to bucking the violence that pervades our culture. Violence is monetized (and, not just by the ‘war’ machine, but also in medicine, pesticides, and more). It is deeply imbedded in our language and our history.  Sadly, our cells know much about violence.

I’d like to believe that I’m not a part of this violence. But alas, there is a mirror that, in Oneness, reflects right back to me. In that mirror I see the justifications that I claim for my own acts of violence: if I don’t kill the mice, they will …; my blood type is ‘O’ so my body needs meat; my curiosity takes me to violent movies like Black Panther and Star Wars; mosquitos carry disease (and are sooo annoying!). These are only a few of the mindful choices I make. Sometimes I squish a spider before I’ve given it a thought.  And, so it is in our culture.

Creating a new culture requires facing up to my contributions to the culture we have. Practicing oneness requires the self-honesty acknowledge the darkness within.

As I look to the courageous students who walked out of schools yesterday calling for an end to gun violence, I’m filled with encouragement for the world they envision and the world that is theirs to create. I’m proud to march with them whether in spirit or body.  And, yet I wonder if I have the will to buck my own violent habits as a contribution to ending violence on our planet? For if I don’t, how can I expect others to do the same?

This is the challenge of our oneness with all things and with one another. I am all the beauty and the light in this world.  I am also the darkness. I am That, I am.

   A Hazy Mountain Morning

A Hazy Mountain Morning

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Step By Step

   On The Road ...

On The Road ...

Whatever step you choose will take you closer to where you want to be.   … Creative force is the energy necessary to begin a new experience. … Energy is always in motion.  Gregge Tiffen – Life: The Staircase of Many Steps – January, 2008

Happy New Year! The page has turned, and here we are with the blank canvas of a new year to paint. 361 more days to engage in life - to live, to love, to experiment, to learn, to grow - before we complete the cycle of this calendar year.

Traditionally we set goals, make ‘resolutions’ and plans, to start a new year. And, all too often ‘life’ steps in with other ideas. Or, resistance in some form rears its head.

Overwhelm happens when we forget that all we need to do is take a step. Then another and another, continuing on step by step allowing each step to reveal the next.  When we do this moment by moment, day to day we have the potential to make huge progress on our journey.

   The Beauty of Exploration - Hoar Frost on The Palouse - Pullman, Washington

The Beauty of Exploration - Hoar Frost on The Palouse - Pullman, Washington

It’s oh so simple, yet from time to time most of us find ourselves stopped, stuck, resisting anything resembling movement.  For me, that’s the time to remember that my body doesn’t give a hoot about love, life or learning. It sees the new, the adventure, and growth as dangerous threats to its sole concern – survival.

Clever in its ways, the body throws out all manner of reasons to not participate in life.  I’m tired. It doesn’t matter. It’s not worth it. I don’t know how. These are the cloaks my body wears to hide what I’m coming to understand is simply resistance. They are clues that I need to step up, challenge, and command my body to MOVE, to take a step, to be in action.

In responding to these clues I’m strengthening my ability to call forth my will.  It helps me to remember that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with turning on the ignition and that the journey is complete mile by mile. The 2656 mile road that I took in December is a fresh reminder as I look ahead to what I want to accomplish in 2018.

I also find that engaging curiosity counters the lethargy of resistance. The simple shift from ‘I don’t know how’ to ‘I wonder how/what I can learn’ is powerful fuel for moving into action.

As I practice these skills, I notice that the creative force needed to engage in new experiences comes forth more naturally and that a gentle flow of life’s events seems to emerge. Step by step through these events I live, I love, I learn, I grow.

Step by step we can accomplish much in this year that is just beginning. May we each step fully into the energy that is always in motion!

   Almost Home ... Sangres in the Distance

Almost Home ... Sangres in the Distance

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Changing the World

   Evening Moon in the Woods

Evening Moon in the Woods

Every thought we have has an effect on us and our planet as well. We can be mindful of our thoughts. Every time we indulge in a negative thought, we produce disharmony on both the non-physical (or non-visible) level as well as the manifested level. Our effect is enormous. Commuting negative thoughts to positive ones would begin to change the world from what it is to the place it was originally intended to be – a place of graciousness, compassion, harmony, and beauty.  Gregge Tiffen (Life in the World Hereafter – The Journey Continues)

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.    …  I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s easy to become angry, discouraged, hopeless and more in the wake of the chaos and disorder in our world. Massive storms, flooding, fires, displacement, famine, wars are occurring around the globe.

We like to place blame for these events on governments, politicians, corporations, and the like. That’s easier than taking responsibility for the part we play through our thoughts and the words and deeds that follow them.

Through our thoughts, we’re creating this world. And, through them, we can change it. (Yes, action is required, but first we need new understandings and new thoughts to guide our actions.)

Angry thoughts about current events, current leaders, indeed ANYthing, only serve to create more of the same. Blaming ‘them’ – whoever they may be is not the issue. I am. You are. Each of us bears some responsibility for the chaos and discord in the world.  Who among us has not railed about the despicable behavior of others? Who among us has not reacted in fear to some event? Who does not feel some degree of angst about the future? These are all thoughts that contribute darkness rather than bring forth light.

What if indeed our thoughts matter as Gregge suggests? What if they never die, but rather continue to exist in the cosmos FOREVER?  What about my thoughts about the things and people I fear? What about my snarky comments – the ones that come in reaction and ‘seem’ to disappear in a flash as if they don’t matter?

They matter.  They matter a lot. Current events are rooted in our collective thinking. Surely I – and we – can do better than this. Surely we can create a world where light prevails and where compassion and harmony drive our choices. At least we can begin to turn the tide. We ARE that powerful.

In quiet moments I envision a world where dominion is expressed through care for the planet and all of her creatures. I envision a world where we hold a common understanding of how the Universe operates so that we can operate in concert with rather than opposition to Universal law. And, in those same moments, I wonder if I have the courage to accept responsibility – without guilt, without blame - for my part in the state of our world? Do I have the will to be more mindful and diligent in my thoughts so that my contributions are toward a more positive future.   

 

This week I’m aiming for my activism, in whatever form, to be grounded in care and compassion. As I share my opinions about the decisions of our leaders, I’m going to hold them in light and remember that, like me, they are here on a learning journey that is unique to them. And, I’m going to take time to send thoughts of care to and harmony with the planet into the cosmos. Join me?

   Morning Moon Over the Valley

Morning Moon Over the Valley

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Will

   The Sangres from the valley floor

The Sangres from the valley floor

There can be no exercise of will when there is fear. Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Awareness – July, 2009)

When fear is used to control us, love is how we rebel. Rivera Sun (The Dandelion Insurrection – love and revolution)

As the month that we in the U.S. celebrate ‘independence’ comes to a close and as I observe the chaos of our current public discourse, I’ve been thinking about the source of freedom and about what stands in the way of creating new systems that are true to that source.

Freedom, justice, equality – key principles and qualities upon which the United States was founded – cannot be sustained where fear is present. And, today we live in a culture of fear – overt and covert. I see fear in the reactionary systems aimed at controlling ‘the other’. And, I see these systems breaking down. These breakdowns can feed fear as well where we have not made peace with the idea of not knowing. The tighter we grasp to save them, the faster systems move to their breaking points. Many are fearful of what lies beyond. We see this throughout our culture, not only in the U.S. but around the globe.

When fear is present we lose our ability to think clearly and to recognize the reality of the conditions that are present. We defer to the will of others. Yet, one by one, step by step (with some stumbles along the way) we are waking to realize that free will is not granted (and, thus cannot be taken away) by government (or any person or system). Free will and the will to use it are gifts from the Universe. These gifts are our opportunity to discover the unique ‘I’ that each of us is as an individual cell of the infinite Universal whole.

And, from our individual journeys of discovery, collectively we hold the opportunity, the potential to advance freedom, justice, equality for all.  Free will is a gift that grows when exercised and nurtured with love. Not gushy, ‘roses are red’ romantic love (though that is one form of expression) but love without conditions; love that is curious, thoughtful, and pure.

We make countless choices daily, each an opportunity to choose whether to exercise our will or to submit to the will of some other. Fear is what stands in the way of consistently exercising our will.

When I reflect on the chaotic conditions throughout the world, I see a world that has lost the moral compass of free will and uses fear in an effort to control. That approach doesn’t seem to be working so well. History teaches us that revolution based on fear may change conditions on the surface, but that any change will be temporary.

Lasting change in our systems will come – indeed IS coming – from those with the courage and grit to move beyond their fear and to act from a deep knowing that the source of free will is not any government or system or person. They recognize that free will is entrusted equally in each and every one by an infinite Universe.

Up close and personal, perhaps it’s time for each of us to take a look at our own exercise of will. In that spirit, I’m asking myself these questions:

Where is my will lacking?

What fear(s) have me (knowingly or not) defer to the will of others?

What is possible when I surrender my fear, remembering my source is not the world but the infinite Universe of which this world is just a tiny part?

   A Chorus of Morning Clouds

A Chorus of Morning Clouds

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Conspiracy Theories

   Beauty in the Broken

Beauty in the Broken

You cannot separate yourself from the Universe, period! You just cannot do that and nothing can. That is the Law, and that is how the Law operates. The premise is that you are not different from the Universe from which you are drawn. Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Polarities – February, 2009)

So there. That’s that. You are the Universe. You are all its qualities. I am too, along with 7.125 billion humans scattered over the planet. In Universal terms none is greater or lesser than another. Oh to see one another through the eyes of the Universe, and then live from that perspective. I aspire, but I’m no saint. Yet my aspiration has offered up new insights this week.

The world constantly yaps that we are separate and, thus, should live in fear of one another. Some of those messages are overt and obvious. We hear them and recognize that we have a choice about whether to accept or reject. Others are more subtle and insidious. We may not even be aware that messages suggesting “that’s just the way things are” are swirling about. Hence, we don’t clearly see that we have a choice. We go along to get along. Both are messages of a system that puts power in the mundane, fame, fortune and seeks to control based on fear. And, both are erroneous.

In my quest to discover beauty in every thing last week (http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/an-atmosphere-of-well-being), I found myself going beyond the five senses to find beauty in those ways of the world that I abhor. Yet, beauty I found.

I discovered beauty in the vast learning opportunities our chaotic world is offering moment to moment, day by day, 24/7. Perhaps the greatest learning of all is to remember that we are at the very core of our being all of the qualities of the Universe from which we can and of which we are a vital part.

  •         We are beauty. Learn to BE that beauty.
  •         We are harmony. Learn to BE that harmony.
  •         We are abundance. Learn to BE that abundance.
  •         We are peace. Learn to BE that peace.
  •         We are power. Learn to BE that power.
  •         We are joy. Learn to BE that joy.
  •         We are light. Learn to BE that intelligence.
  •         We are life. Learn to BE that life.
  •         We are love. Learn to be that love.

I found beauty in unexpected places because I was making the choice to see beauty in those places. I was reminded to remember my Source and to choose THAT as my expression in the world.

   Love on the Road!

Love on the Road!

And, I discovered that the qualities of Source (or the Universe, if you prefer) are inseparable from one another. Where I found beauty I found each of the others.  No matter which is the focus or the lead, when I found beauty, love, peace, joy and the others easily followed. Then, just beyond I found the gift of gratitude.

So, while some conspire to conquer and control others, the loving Universe seems to have a conspiracy of its own: granting us the opportunity and privilege to learn along with the power to make that choice.

While our individual choices may separate us from the pack, choosing to learn offers something the pack can never offer: strengthening awareness of our connection to the Source from which we came and of which we are forever a part. That learning becomes wisdom to carry with us into the great beyond. 

Last week I conspired with beauty to take the lead. This week, I’m choosing joy. What about you?

   Elephant in the Woods (can you find it?)

Elephant in the Woods (can you find it?)

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Director of My Thoughts

   Beyond Harmony & Caprice, Autumn is Coming to the Sangres

Beyond Harmony & Caprice, Autumn is Coming to the Sangres

I find most people will simply not monitor their thought processes. It’s as if they allow the thought process to deal out to them anything the thoughts want without realizing that the thought process itself is the direct extension of their own will.  

Thoughts are energy being transmitted through your nervous system unimpaired and unhampered. Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: One Original Thought, September, 2011)

To Gregge’s first comment above, I plead ‘guilty as charged’.  The evidence, as suggested in the second quote can be found in my physical body in the form of effects caused by rampaging thoughts going where they go until I step up and impose my will. The opportunity is to observe, experiment, practice using the free will that was gifted me by the universe.

I’m discovering that observing my thoughts with the awareness that I have the authority and the responsibility to manage them to my benefit is a full time job.  This is especially true when I’m in the midst of a challenging situation where thoughts about ‘it’ and ‘them’ rush in and reinforce the illusion that we are separate from one another.

I’ve had lots of practice opportunities over the last couple weeks as I aim to glean all the learning that I can from the events. I’m challenging myself to not dwell in the stories or even in what I see as the solutions, but to be at choice about what thoughts have my attention. Required ingredients: awareness, discipline, will.

Awareness requires that I observe where my thoughts are dwelling in every moment and remember that I am the director of my thoughts (cool new title eh? Director of My Thoughts!).  Discipline asks me to be consistent in my awareness and to practice, practice, and, yes, rinse, repeat and practice again. Will demands that I live into the power of being the director of my thoughts and that I deny access to wasteful, energy draining, disempowering ones and choose to bring forward thoughts that are productive, generative and empowering.

The reminder that ‘thoughts are energy being transmitted through the nervous system’ asks that the Director of My Thoughts observe my physical well-being and respond by giving it the care and protection it requires. My body signals with tightness in my chest, tension in my neck and shoulders, and, on occasion, a rumbly tummy.  Luke’s interaction with me offers a gauge to how my thoughts are moving into the environment.

I can use these signals as warning signs that suggest ‘Thoughts off-track. Reboot with new ones please’.  And, I know that nature and my five senses provide a path to that reboot, to restoring me so that I can engage different, fresh thoughts.

I breathe. I see and I invite the visual beauty of the landscape where I live to sink deeply into my cells.

I breathe. I hug a tree and I invite the strength that I feel to nurture me.  I breathe. I hear the soft gurgling of a nearby creek and I invite it to carry away those thoughts that don’t serve me. I breathe. I smell the freshness of a gentle rain and I am simply grateful. I breathe. I taste the sweetness of a tomato just picked from the vine and I know that I am nourished. I breathe.

I notice my thoughts and am ready to engage anew. What about you?

   Here Comes the Sun!

Here Comes the Sun!

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Shifting Sands, Shifting Focus

 Another beautiful sunrise in the Sangres

Another beautiful sunrise in the Sangres

The minute you can get your gaze, your attitude, and your focus off someone or something you don’t like, the influence is gone. Will is the only tool you’ve got.  Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: One Original Thought – September, 2011)

I don’t know anyone who isn’t experiencing shifting sands in some form or another.  If not in our own personal experience then perhaps in someone close to us and most certainly in our society as a whole.  Change is life. 

I’m in the midst of some influences and experiences that I don’t like. They remind me that I’m not in control of them and that it is my choice to what extent they control me.  That reminder is a gift.

They call on me to choose how I will apply and use my will. Where will I put my attention?  How long will I dwell in the negative event, beating up myself and perhaps others with my thoughts?  When will I put my gaze elsewhere? 

Now, in this moment I shift my gaze.  I didn’t get here as quickly as I would have liked. I inhabited the negativity of an event and opened the door to later events that seemed to pile on.  I started the shift enjoying a glass of wine and conversation on the deck with a lovely B&B guest.  I noticed how easily I could step into a conversation about what I love about where I live.

A bit later as I felt the negativity come creeping back in (okay, honestly it was rushing!) I reached for one of Gregge Tiffen’s September booklets, took a breath and asked ‘what do I need to see right now?’  Voila! My gaze landed on the above. The shift in my cells was palpable as the frequency of my energy began to shift. I also noticed how easily it slipped in that instant when my gaze didn’t have a clear focal point. 

I read a bit more and shifted my thinking to this week’s post. That’s a luxury usually reserved for Thursday mornings, but I felt inspired by the words and the experience.  Writing is a place to focus that shifts whatever is influencing me.  And, selecting photos from this week’s stunning landscapes provided yet another soothing place to land my gaze.  My will to shift the energy is taking root.  The lightness I feel contrasts where I dwelt earlier in the day.  With that lightness I feel gratitude and a hint that in this event the answer to a seemingly unrelated question is being revealed. How cool is that?

Memo to self: When shifting sands feel as if they are about to drown you, shift your gaze, your attitude, your focus and see what new frequency you can muster.  Then, be tenacious in maintaining it.

   One of several stunning sunsets this week.

One of several stunning sunsets this week.

   Morning Moon

Morning Moon

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