Thursday, May 25, 2017

"How They Really Want It To Be"

“The Valley of Despair: Seeds of Light”

“The Valley of Despair: Seeds of Light”
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

“Even in our darkest times, there are seeds of light within ourselves, we need only call them forward. Anyone who has walked through the valley of despair and come out the other side knows that even in that darkness, seeds of light can be found. Often their tendrils reach out of the gloom and into the daylight alongside the journeyer who emerges from that deep sorrow.  When we find ourselves in a place of despair, it can help us to know this, so that we don’t give up. We can stop, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that we will find ourselves on the other side of this troubled time, and that we may even emerge with something new to offer.

It seems that despair has been around for as long as humans have been able to express themselves, and many of the great artists, teachers, and visionaries have labored through times of depression and hopelessness. Their words, images, and lives can serve as beacons in the darkness, even if they can’t always immediately lead us out. In the end, we must find our own way, and this is why despair often overwhelms us when it comes; we doubt that we have the resources to contend with such a formidable presence all by ourselves. This is when we must come to our own aid and know in our hearts that we have what it takes to keep moving forward in the general direction of the light.

Even though we must ultimately rely on ourselves, this doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help. Our friends and families can help us, as can our inner guides and helping spirits. They can serve the purpose of a fire that burns throughout the night, keeping us warm, and providing a light by which we might see the changes we may need to make in order to move forward. In addition, there truly are seeds of light inside us, however small, waiting to unfurl their green shoots, if only we will give them the time.”

“The World Is Too Big For Us”

“The World Is Too Big For Us”
by Living Life Fully

"The world is too big for us, too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It's a constant strain to keep pace... and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen rapidly, you're out of breath trying to keep pace with who's in and who's out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can't endure much more."
- Atlantic Journal, June 16, 1883

"I love the passage above. Rarely have I seen such pessimism, such clearly illogical thinking, such a focus on the negative aspects of everyday elements of life. If you read the passage closely, you'll see a person who has allowed him or herself to become overwhelmed by everything that's going on, and who then has generalized their own feelings to everyone else.

How often have you seen things in your life or at work or in the family as going very well, only to have a discussion with someone who sees things as going poorly? We leave these conversations feeling somehow that things are going wrong, no matter what we felt to start with. And so what if scientists keep announcing their discoveries? I'm certainly not going to "stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment." I'd much rather read or hear about them and say, "Wow, that's interesting," and then get back to focusing on my life.

Life always offers us much more to focus on than we need to focus on or than we're able to focus on. It's important that we choose carefully just what we allow into our minds on a deep level, and what we keep on the periphery. If we allow our neighbor's family problems to preoccupy us, then we're adding a new set of worries to our lives. We must let others do what they do and be what they are, and we must be ready to step in and help a situation when necessary, but we also must keep a clear idea of just what belongs in our minds. Usually, if it's something we can't control or something that's out of our realm of influence, we're much better off not letting it be something that will get us out of breath or that will overwhelm us.

The last 134 years since this article was published have proved not only that human nature can endure more, but also that the world hasn't changed as much as we think it has. How we live our lives is up to us and the way we react to input, and which input we consider important enough to worry about or to focus on strongly."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Musical Interlude: 2002, “We Meet Again”

2002, “We Meet Again”

Eckhart Tolle, "The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment"

"The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment" 
by Eckhart Tolle

"A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?" "Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger. "No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold. I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself."
by Marc Allen

"Perhaps once in a decade, or even once in a generation, a book like "The Power of Now" comes along. It is more than a book; there is a living energy in it, one you can probably feel as you hold it. It has the power to create an experience in readers, and change their lives for the better.

"The Power of Now" was first published in Canada, and the Canadian publisher, Connie Kellough, told me she heard repeated stories of positive changes and even miracles that have happened once people got into the book. "Readers call in," she said. "And so many of them tell me of the wonderful healings, transformations, and increased joy they are experiencing because they have embraced this book." The book makes me aware that every moment of my life is a miracle. This is absolutely true, whether I realize it or not. And "The Power of Now," over and over, shows me how to realize it.

From the first page of his writing, it is clear that Eckhart Tolle is a contemporary master. He is not aligned with any particular religion or doctrine or guru; his teaching embraces the heart, the essence, of all other traditions, and contradicts none of them - Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, indigenous, or anything else. He is able to do what all the great masters have done: to show us, in simple and clear language, that the way, the truth, and the light is within us."
Download "The Power Of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,"
 by Eckhart Tolle, In PDF Format here:

The Economy: X22 Report, “Warning Signs Are Everywhere Even From The Central Banks”

X22 Report, “Warning Signs Are Everywhere Even From The Central Banks”
Please, listen and understand this. So many triggers...
We're rapidly running out of time, folks...

Musical Interlude: Brule and Airo, "Dream Shield"

Brule and Airo, "Dream Shield"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Almost every object in the below photograph is a galaxy. The Coma Cluster of Galaxies pictured above is one of the densest clusters known - it contains thousands of galaxies. Each of these galaxies houses billions of stars - just as our own Milky Way Galaxy does. Although nearby when compared to most other clusters, light from the Coma Cluster still takes hundreds of millions of years to reach us.
 Click image for larger size.
In fact, the Coma Cluster is so big it takes light millions of years just to go from one side to the other! Most galaxies in Coma and other clusters are ellipticals, while most galaxies outside of clusters are spirals. The nature of Coma's X-ray emission is still being investigated."

"Life Is Never Fair..."

"Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."
- Oscar Wilde

“Trump’s Budget: All Hat, No Cattle”

“Trump’s Budget: All Hat, No Cattle” Introduction
By David Stockman

"We were treated to Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion spending proposal the other day. Let me just announce it now: The Trump budget is DBA (dead before arrival). Not that there aren't many elements that have plenty of merit. First and foremost, by hook or crook (mostly the latter), the Trump plan gets to a balanced budget by year 10 (2027). But this represents what might be generously termed the triumph of hope over experience. 

It's been so long since the GOP has even uttered the words “balanced budget” that restoring the principle of fiscal rectitude is worth a one-handed clap. I’d give it that much credit even if the Trump plan does not have a remote prospect of actually getting there. The budget proposal is festooned with $3.6 trillion of “cuts” to various domestic spending items over the next decade. 

The scare quotes because in the alternate accounting universe of the Imperial City, any reduction in the rate of spending increases counts as a cut.  That is, if they originally planned on a 5% spending increase but only budget for a 3% increase, it counts as two-percentage point “cut.” Even though it’s still a 3% increase.  “Cuts” only slow the rate of growth. And under Trump’s budget, projected 10-year spending on entitlement programs would get less than a light 8% haircut.

Regardless, by the time Congress and the armies of K Street lobbyists are done working it over, Lord only knows how many reductions will remain. There’s no way Trump will be able to ram any meaningful cuts through the congressional meat grinder, no matter how fiscally sound. The Dems and their media accomplices are already denouncing the Trump budget for shredding the safety net and attacking the poor. Congress, including most Republicans, will not go along with cuts in Social Security disability or over $600 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next 10 years, just to name some of the proposed reductions.

Team Trump’s budget is also grounded in the dubious assumption that the economy will grow 3% per annum over the next 10 years, a level of growth unseen since the pre-crisis year of 2005. That is, it assumes the current expansion, which began in June 2009, will proceed without interruption until December 2027 - an assumption that would make even Pollyanna blush. That’s an unprecedented 222 months of expansion. Needless to say, it’s not likely to happen, and I say that with confidence. 

The coming months will be interesting to say the least, as the Imperial City descends into political combat and ongoing scandal surrounding the Comey firing. "There will be blood," as they said in the movies. That is, a fiscal bloodbath over continuing resolution battles and debt ceiling crises is ahead. That’s the exact opposite of the ballyhooed Trump Stimulus and pro-growth agenda that until recently (last Wednesday!) was supposedly "priced into" the market averages.

I haven’t even mentioned the market's blind denial of epic troubles brewing on the macroeconomic front both at home and in China, where the Red Ponzi is fast coming unglued. Yet despite the obvious cracks forming in the economy, the stock market hovers near record highs.

In this era of Bubble Finance, the stock market is no longer a discounting mechanism or even a weighing machine. It's become a pure gambling hall dealing the Fed’s funny money. But as Washington descends into partisan chaos, the casino will soon get a harsh lesson in reality it won’t likely forget. Below, I show you why the Trump budget is “all hat, no cattle.” Read on."

“Trump’s Budget: All Hat, No Cattle”

"Who said Donald Trump is a political amateur? Back in the day I was always miffed when the White House political staff wanted to put some "distance" between President Reagan and some of our more controversial budget cuts. But with his first overseas trip as President, it looks like the Donald got the memo and put 6,000 miles between himself and the entire budget enchilada. That's just as well, of course, because the Trump budget is DBA (dead before arrival) anyway. There’s a lot to unpack here.

Trump’s budget assumes strict revenue neutrality on tax reform. It wouldn’t add to the deficit, that is - and that's entirely commendable given the $20 trillion of debt America already has. And that’s before the $30-$35 trillion already built in over the next decade under current law.

By 2027 the national debt would be about 140% of GDP before one dime of the Trump tax reforms or other priorities are added to the equation. So the "payfor" approach to tax cuts rather than assuming that tax cuts will pay for themselves is a definite step forward.

At the same time, this disciplined approach to tax cutting is the real newsflash that Wall Street dip buyers seem to be ignoring entirely. Until now the Trump approach has implied at least short-run deficit financing for the tax cutting plan, which had Wall Street tickled pink because free fiscal lunches are what the gamblers down there mean by "stimulus."

To be sure, this sudden lapse to pre-Reagan GOP orthodoxy on taxes is a case of all hat and no cattle. It’s short on details and just states that big rate cuts will be accompanied by a commensurate broadening of the tax base and elimination of "tax expenditures." But the 15% tax rate for corporations and some other businesses would cost $4.2 trillion over the next decade. Less than 10% of the Trump business tax cut can actually be financed under the revenue neutral guidelines of the Donald's own budget.

Under the Trump budget guideline of revenue neutrality, there are probably not enough politically achievable loophole closers to fund even a 30% corporate and business tax rate. And even that would leave no room at all for personal tax cuts such as Trump's proposed doubling of the standard deduction and the collapse of the current seven tax brackets into three brackets at 10%, 25% and 35%. That's all to the good relative to the nation's headlong drift toward fiscal bankruptcy. But when fully understood, it will come as a complete shock to the Wall Street partiers who believe they are entitled to a giant Trump Tax Stimulus - even if the ultimate cost is shuffled onto unborn taxpayers.

That being said, the overwhelming share of the Trump cuts are long-overdue and well justified. But they don't have a snowball's chance in the hot place of being embraced on Capitol Hill by more than a small group from the House Freedom Caucus. Even then, the proposed cuts amount to just 6% of the $52.5 trillion Federal spending baseline over the next decade. So despite all the initial arm-waving by the Dems, K-Street lobbies and their media megaphones, the Trump budget cut is not all that draconian.

The problem, of course, is the programs Trump won’t touch.  That is, most of the above massive spending baseline - about $40 trillion - consists of programs the Donald and/or the GOP mainstream promised not to touch or to actually increase. These include defense, Social Security, Medicare, net interest, veterans, border control/walls, law enforcement and other priorities. Consequently, the big Trump budget cuts come crashing down on a tiny corner of the budget. And even there the resistance is thick on the GOP side, while the screams of unfairness from the beltway constituencies and media will be deafening.

Consider one that already has the lib-labs (liberals and labor) howling with outrage. I’m talking about the $72 billion in cuts to the social security disability insurance (SSDI) program over the next decade. They are screaming that this betrays Trump’s campaign pledge not to touch Social Security and that it hammers people that can't work and have no other means of support.

Nonsense! What they aren't telling you is that under current law the SSDI program would cost $1.8 trillion over the next decade, and the proposed savings amount to just 4% of that astounding total. Moreover, the SSDI program has been growing like wildfire owing to drastic liberalization of eligibility during recent decades. The caseload has soared owing to alleged "bad backs" and psychiatric conditions that shouldn't be allowed in the first place. These have caused total outlays in inflation-adjusted terms to more than triple during the last 25 years.

Needless to say, the House GOP's fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget will water down Trump's completely justifiable eligibility reforms to the vanishing point and the Senate GOP will deep-six them entirely.  But when you add to SSDI the cost of social security retirement and Medicare - where Trump has honored his unfortunate pledge - the built-in baseline for these three core entitlement programs is $23.5 trillion over the next decade.

Folks, the problem is that's 45% of total Federal spending of $52.5 trillion over FY 2018-2027.

And when you add to that another $6.5 trillion for defense, where the Donald wants $500 billion more; $5.5 trillion of interest expense, which he has to pay; and $4.5 trillion for Veterans, homeland security, law enforcement and assorted other Trump priorities - he’s put a fence around $40 trillion of spending over the next decade.

Like Senator Everett Dirksen famously said, pretty soon it adds up to real money. And in the interim it amounts to 76% of total baseline outlays, and 93% of the entire $43 trillion of Federal revenues from all sources projected to be collected over the next ten years.

So where does Trump's $3 trillion of more or less legitimate savings come from then? The answer is from a $750 billion per year safety net which is bulging with excess and waste and which now funds more than 110 million recipients. And from about $700 billion per year allocated to the everyday functions of the Federal government. These include health research, education, farm subsidies and economic development, among thousands of others.

While all of these cuts are more than justifiable, they also constitute a giant fiscal "poison pill" from the vantage point of the legislative process. What I mean is that they will prevent any FY 2018 budget resolution at all from being adopted - meaning, in turn, no reconciliation instruction and no tax reform bill, either.

At the same time, this budgetary poison pill will so completely polarize the legislative process that the already insuperable odds against raising the debt ceiling from its current $19.8 trillion frozen level will become utterly impossible. Meanwhile, the certainty of numerous FY 2018 continuing resolution shutdown crises has been enormously increased.

Thus, consider that the built-in baseline for the major means-tested programs for the poor - Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, family support, child nutrition and the earned income tax credit - is $8.1 trillion over the next decade.  The Trump budget proposes to reduce these programs by about $1.2 trillion over that period. That's about a 15% reduction overall, and nearly 30% for food stamps, where proposed savings total $193 billion out of baseline outlays of $675 billion.

From a purely policy perspective, that's all to the good and fully justified, too. In fact, Team Trump found almost all of these entitlement reforms in the vaults at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where I left them 36 years ago. Since they had been summarily rejected by a bipartisan consensus even back then. That is to say, there's no way to accomplish even a fraction of these savings in today's world - or likely the next. The mainstream GOP gave up on shrinking the welfare state long ago, and has not been remotely interested ever since Dick Cheney pronounced in 2001 that Reagan proved "deficits don't matter."

Actually, they very much do matter in the year 2017, but in a different sort of way than that implicit in sound economics and fiscal rectitude. I’m speaking of the practical matter that unborn generations of taxpayers are at least partially protected by a 100-year old relic - the public debt ceiling mechanism first enacted in 1917. The Trump budget will cause the GOP coalition of factions to completely shatter, making fiscal governance impossible.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Thanks for stopping by!

"We Are All Tattooed..."

"We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them."
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes,

“When Conspiracy Theories Become Facts”

“When Conspiracy Theories Become Facts”
by Oliver Donaldson

"Of course not all conspiracy theories are true. There are so many out there. However, sometimes they turn out to be true. The following is sourced from Jake Anderson’s recent Anti-Media article, “10 More Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Became Conspiracy Facts.”

1. Operation Ajax, the CIA’s Iranian Coup: A 1953 Iranian coup that ousted the elected Mossadeq and reinstalled the monarchical power of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi ultimately resulted directly in the 1979 Iranian revolution that  created an anti-West Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah Khomeini.

2. “Nayirah,” the False Pretext for the first Gulf War: The First Iraq War involved a fictitious testimony from a 15-year old girl, Nayirah, which involved testimony about Iraqi troops tearing babies from incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals. This story was fabricated by a PR firm named Hill & Knowlton and it was just revealed that the Pentagon paid another PR firm Bell Pottinger $540 million to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq.

3. Operation Paperclip: Plan ushered in about 1,500 Nazi scientists at the end of WWII that gave American identities to war criminals and according to Ynet, the Nazi-CIA scientists helped develop chemical weapons for the U.S. and worked alongside American scientists to develop LSD, which the CIA viewed as a ‘truth serum.’

4. Operation Gladio: Anti-Communist False Flags in Italy: Lasted two decades and included CIA-coordinated terrorist attacks in Italy. Vincenzo Vinciguerra, who was involved in the operation and is serving a life sentence for murder, stated that Gladio was designed to psychologically coerce the Italian public to rely on the state for security – a textbook “false flag.”

5. Government uses insect and rodent drones to spy: The government has the technology to do so and are using this in military applications. In 2007, this theory took shape when anti-war protesters reported strange buzzing insects. Multiple witnesses reported erratic dragonfly-type objects hovering in the sky. The very next year, the U.S. Air Force announced its intended use of insect-sized spies ‘as tiny as bumblebees’ to infiltrate buildings in order to ‘photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.’

6. CIA assassinations and coups in foreign countries: The CIA has been busy subverting other governments around the world. The most common instances of CIA meddling in foreign elections and governments include: South Korea (late-1940s); Italy (1948-mid-1970s); Guatemala (1954); Congo (1960), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964); Uruguay (1969); Bolivia (1971); Chile (1970-1973); Argentina (1976); Australia (1975); El Salvador (1980); Iran (late-1970s); Grenada (1983) Haiti (1986); Panama (1990) Nicaragua (1990); Czechoslovakia (1990); Peru (1990-2000), and Yugoslavia (2000). But even this is just a small sampling…

7. Mainstream media is the propaganda branch of the State Department: The media is an echo chamber for the government. Operation Mockingbird first revealed this – a conspiracy involving the CIA conscripting journalists, American news agencies, and major broadcasters to become domestic propagandists and spies. Eventually, this CIA/media symbiosis included journalists from all the top news organizations. This continued through the Cold War and the CIA finally began to restrict its use of journalists in 1976, but many believe it has since transmogrified into something far more powerful, nefarious, and ubiquitous today. During the 2016 presidential election, Wikileaks further exposed a number of disturbing revelations showing collusion between the media and political operatives  — the DNC and the Clinton campaign. And now, the war on fake news is growing out of hand as censorship becomes the norm and any unwanted narratives or stories are disposed of via Facebook’s or Google’s news algorithms.

8. The Deep State (or the conspiracy theory formerly known as The New World Order): The deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda is very much operational in what a number of insiders call the “Deep State,” which is finally coming into the light. Everyone from alt-left socialists to alt-righters now agrees there is an unelected cabal of elite neo-conservative corporatists and crony lawmakers running the geopolitical show. The Deep State threatens our constitutional government.

9. CIA used psychics to infiltrate the Soviet Union during Cold War: A recently declassified trove of hundreds of thousands of CIA files finally confirmed not only that psychics are regularly used by police and other law enforcement agencies, but also that the government actually weaponized psychics during the Cold War to try to infiltrate the Soviet Union and gain information.

10. CIA monitors U.S. citizens via their smart devices: Early in 2017, Wikileaks began releasing their post-2016 election cables with a series of explosive data dumps regarding the CIA’s cyber hacking abilities and exploits. It is called Vault 7 and its contents confirmed that: The CIA can break into Android and iPhone handsets and all kinds of computers; the agency has the ability to hack into Apple iPhones and Android smartphones and actually assume full remote control of the device; the CIA can access consumer smart TVs to listen in on surrounding conversations; the agency looked into ways to hack into cars and crash them, allowing ‘nearly undetectable assassinations, and the CIA concealed vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers from other countries or governments.”
John Perkins, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”

Oh, you didn't know? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!
No I'm not... you were never supposed to know.

"Isn't It Strange...?"

Calvin: "Isn't it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humor? When you think about it, it's weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it's funny. Don't you think it's odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?"
Hobbes: "I suppose if we couldn't laugh at things that don't make sense, we couldn't react to a lot of life."
Calvin: (after a long pause) "I can't tell if that's funny or really scary."


Free Downloads: The Works of Rumi

"You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings,
Learn to use them, and fly."

 "What in your life is calling you,
When all the noise is silenced,
The meetings adjourned,
The lists laid aside,
And the Wild Iris blooms
By itself in the dark forest...
What still pulls on your soul?"

- Rumi (1207 - 1273)
"Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi was a 13th century Afghan poet and philosopher who heavily influenced both eastern and western poetry. His poetry is divided into categories: the quatrains and odes of the "Divan," the six books the "Masnavi," the discourses, the letters and the "Six Sermons." Rumi's major poetic work is "Matnawiye Ma'nawi," a six-volume poem, considered by many literary critics to be one of the greatest works of mystical poetry ever written. Rumi's prose works included "Fihi Ma Fihi," "Majalese Sab'a" and "Maktubat." His prose work largely contains sermons and lectures given by Rumi to his disciples and family members. Following Rumi's death, his followers founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the "Whirling Dervishes."

Free downloads:
Freely download " The Divan" here:

- Freely download "The Masnavi" here:

"How It Really Is"

And whom do you suppose will be the recipient of that?

"Banish Mediocrity From Your Life"

"Banish Mediocrity From Your Life"
by Cheryl Wright

"Are you satisfied with just getting by with the minimum of effort? But where is the deep-down heart-swelling satisfaction in that? Mediocrity is a life-stifling mindset that affects both the young and the old. We can only be successful if we rid ourselves of the tendency to perform at a mediocre level in all areas of our lives. It is only when we push ourselves and give our best can we appreciate our achievements and enjoy the benefits they bring.

Success in life depends on the self-discipline that comes from approaching any project with enthusiasm and an eye towards success. Naturally, if we start from a standpoint of half- hearted interest, we will make only mediocre efforts and can expect mediocre results or failure. If we say that we want to succeed in life we must be willing to do not just some of the work, but all of it. We must be willing to push ourselves that little bit further, run or swim one more lap, read one more book for your research, add that second row of stitches to strengthen the seam, etc.

Most times, we start out with the best of intentions. We shoot out of the starting gate and head down the straight. But many of us falter at the first hurdle. When the journey becomes arduous we surrender to the pressure, run out of steam and stumble half-heartedly to the finish line content with second or third place or just to make the “also ran” list. Even worse, some of us pull up short, give up and crumble on the sidelines while everyone else continues to the end. Often it is in hindsight we acknowledge that with a little extra push, a pause to catch our breaths and a final sprint down the home stretch, we could have shot through the finish line and earned the prize, our goal, our dream.

Of course the people who are successful don’t just rely on pushing themselves. They have a strategy and are willing to be flexible because they know hurdles litter the runway. We have to be able to adapt to these unexpected happenings when they occur and not get bogged down. We have to take them in our stride, skip around them and continue in the race. Use these strategies to help you banish mediocrity, develop and infuse the dogged stick-to-itiveness that separates the successful from the unsuccessful.

Don't Give Less Than Your Best: Regardless of the size of any project or goal, put your all into seeing it through successfully. Even when you think you are giving it your best shot, pause and ask yourself, “Could I improve?” There is no way to avoid obstacles. But being flexible and willing to brainstorm and breakthrough blockages will help to throw off the cloak of mediocrity or at least keep it at bay.

Don't Follow The Crowd: Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves trapped in the claws of mediocrity because we are afraid to be different. Are you so petrified of standing up and being true to yourself or your beliefs that you play the chameleon, mingling and adopting the look and practices of those around you? Maybe you don’t dare to be different because you are trying to meet other people’s expectations. But living someone else’s life is a wrong way, a sad way to live yours. Why should you miss out on the opportunity to live a better, more fulfilling and successful life because of what other people say? Don’t be bound by other people’s rules. In fact, let your convictions guide you to write your own.

Don't Ignore Your Dream: Having a dream sets you apart. If you don’t you are running on the steam of mediocrity. Maybe you haven’t heard the voice of your dream because you’re too busy to sit still and listen or too afraid of what you might hear. This is the right time to heed that voice. If however, you have found your dream, don’t sit on it. Doing what matters to you is a sure way to excellence since you will do it with all your might, passionately, even in the face of doubt, ridicule and inevitable obstacles.

Don't Play It Safe: Choosing the safe and easy way to accomplish anything is a copout. It speaks of laziness, fear and yes, mediocrity. Surely you don’t want to be a member of the ‘I regret…” crowd. Work and live in a way that whatever the outcome, you could be proud of the fact that you took the risks, did the work and gave it your best shot. Life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity and more of us can succeed and excel in school, at work and in life if we beef up our resolve and rid ourselves of the mediocre mindset. If you suspect that you are swirling in the midst of a mediocre life current, adopt these strategies to help change your mindset and steer you to achieve excellence in all areas of your life."

"Not a Good Place for a Heart Attack"

"Not a Good Place for a Heart Attack"
by Bill Bonner

"Have you ever wondered what you would do if you had a health emergency in a remote location? We never thought about it... until last week. Then we found out.

Place at the end: Up at the ranch…five hours from the nearest emergency room…your editor began having symptoms of what seemed like a heart attack. Our heart was racing, pounding, and fluttering. We gasped for air. Hmmm… Drought…Indian attacks…and now this!

This was not a good place to have a gimpy heart. Suddenly, we saw black crepe hanging from the ceiling beams and a group of women keening in the living room. Gualfin means ‘the place at the end’. The name was beginning to look like prophecy. Our eyes misted over. We began composing funeral orations…selecting dirges…and imagining the combination of expectation and chagrin that our sudden departure might entail.

We considered the practicalities: Did we forget to tell anyone that you need to pump the gas three times to start the old pickup? Did we tell anyone where we hid the silver dimes? Will anyone remember to close the barn door properly, so the wind doesn’t take it off its hinges?

Poetic relief: Then, between gulps of air, we saw our dear readers, tears in their eyes, as they got the news. We wondered how to put the news to them, softly, without sounding absurd. People today say that someone has ‘passed’. But the word lacks meaning…and drama. Passed what? To whom?

We wondered how to phrase it better. We wanted the message to be clear and unambiguous, and also to offer mourners a little poetic relief. ‘We’re sorry to report that your editor is no more. His stock has ceased trading. He has moved on…to where he will receive his last bonus, or penalty, such as it is. He will not be renewing his subscription to the Financial Times. He will not be checking his email, if you know what we mean. His wife is a widow. His children are fatherless. His lawyers are rejoicing and drawing up plans for vacation homes.’

Tombstone ditties: We were thus engaged in reverie when Elizabeth talked sense: ‘You’re probably fine. You know you’re a hypochondriac. But rather than staying up here and composing ditties to put on your tombstone, let’s go to Salta immediately and get it checked out.’

So we drove down to the city and went to see a cardiologist. Then, after days of scanning and photographing, measuring and recording, he pronounced judgment: ‘Your heart is healthy. Nothing to worry about. It must be the altitude that is causing problems. Your ranch is at 9,000 feet above sea level. That’s pretty high. Some people react badly.’ ‘What can we do about it?’ we asked. ‘Don’t go up that high,’ came the sage advice.

For those interested in medical treatment in foreign countries, we found the whole procedure efficient and simple. But it helps if you have friends who know how the system works. Argentina operates a free public health service. ‘Oh…but you can’t go there,’ a friend explained. ‘It’s terrible. You’ll die before a doctor ever sees you.’

Emergency measure: So we went to a private clinic. We paid cash for each procedure - X-rays, ECG, CAT scan, blood tests, and ultrasound. The whole kit and caboodle, including three consultations with doctors, cost about $800. After we got our diagnosis, the next few days were taken up with wondering what to do. The local guy proposed a drug. But when we asked our Baltimore-based doctor for a second opinion, he was emphatic: ‘That will never work.’

We ended up going back up to the ranch after promising to visit a specialist at Johns Hopkins when we get back to Baltimore. In the meantime, we will continue to write our Diary…and we will keep the electric cattle prod near the bed…just in case.”

The Universe

“Let's go back in time. Way back. Before there was even a you. Good. Now further back. Before there were mountains. Right. Now before there were oceans. Cool. Now before there were planets. Bravo. Now before there was time and space. Wow.

What's left? Right, there was only me, Universal awareness. And what is awareness, but thought? Love it.

So, if where there was only "thought," there are now suns and moons and planets. Mountains and rivers and oceans. People and places and pets. What must they all be made of? Right.

And look who's thinking now... You? You are thinking now? Are you sure? But if "where" there was only me there's now you, who must you really be?”

“Nice roots,”
    The Universe

“Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!”

The Poet: Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear The Mask”

“We Wear The Mask”

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,-
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!”

- Paul Laurence Dunbar