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Living An Authentic Life

authentic livingThe greatest advice most of us have ever received is to simply be ourselves. But what does that actually mean? How do we be true to ourselves, and what does it mean to live that truth in today’s world? How do we live an authentic life?

Coming to Understand Authenticity

Authenticity is such a personal, subjective idea that it can be challenging to define. It is something that can actually only be lived, like love, trust, and other primary qualities of humans. But we can explore what some philosophers have said about authenticity to begin to understand it for ourselves.

Existential philosophers defined authenticity as the ability to live in alignment with one’s true self at all times. This connection to one’s self should remain even at times when it would be inconvenient, unpopular, or dangerous. It will probably trigger a sense of separation from the external world. Authenticity requires reconciling what we know to be true about ourselves with how we are conditioned to believe the world works.

Other philosophers defined authenticity by what it is not. They would refer to the many ways humans can be inauthentic as a way to understand authenticity by its opposite. Then authenticity becomes not pretending to be someone else or lying about our needs and desires.

The essence is to be true to yourself, no matter what. Do not hurt other people or the Earth. But do not pretend to be other than you are, hide, lie, or try to “fit in.”. Do not define yourself by what other people tell you is true or healthy. Discover and live your own truth. Continue Reading →

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How To Forgive Dad

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” 

—Mahatma Gandhi 

forgive dad

I was estranged from my father all of my childhood and most of my adult life. We all experience rejection throughout our lives but being disavowed by your father can do a number on your psyche during your childhood and adolescent years.

I was his first born child and carried both his first and last name but he never visited me or called. He was a no show for all of my birthdays and to watch me play sports. He failed to attend my graduation from high school and college. He did not celebrate my wedding nor the birth of his grand daughter. He was a deadbeat dad that never sent a single child support payment.

When I was 35 years old I made the pilgrimage from Charlotte to Wilmington to face my dysfunctional past with a parent who couldn’t care less about me. I named my trip to see him “the forgiveness tour” but it was more complicated than just being about forgiveness. I hoped for a face to face conversation that would address my scarred internal world that left me feeling unwanted. I hoped for a confrontation with him that might silence my unabating question of, “Why am I an unwanted son?”

Forgiveness. It’s fragile, and it’s complicated. Continue Reading →

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Inner Peace and Wonder

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. -Albert Einstein

When I first arrived at the dumpsite outside of Manilla, Phillipines the group guide admonished us not to complain about the smell and stench of this 2,000,000 ton garbage heap, known as Smokey Mountain, the waste disposal area for Manila.  I was a part of a U.S. group who’d come to deliver some dignity, to the 30.000 dumpsite squatters.

being gratefulThe Manilla dumpsite got its name from the continuous decomposing waste and refuse fires. I don’t remember the smoke and fires as much as the encounters I had with the residents.

By the end of the one-day tour I was in tears. No living thing on this earth should be sentenced to live in this hell of undignified existence.

But that wasn’t why I cried. My emotions were sparked by the beauty I saw inside these forgotten outcasts. I saw within them a simple awe and intrigue as we walked among their shanties delivering simple goods. I expected to see a helpless survivor demeanor but instead I saw gratitude and curiosity.

No matter if you’re living in palace royalty or in abject third world poverty, within each one of us resides a sense of wonder, a spirit of intrigue for our surroundings. But we’ll miss the miracles if we don’t really pay attention to the awesomeness that is all around us.

We humans have to work at not falling into complacency. If the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Then the opposite of awe is apathy. Continue Reading →

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Conscious Listening

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

~Ernest Hemingway

StillnessHi, my name is Ron, and I’m a recovering unconscious listener. For most of my life, I’ve had a difficult time listening to others. I’m not talking about adult attention deficit disorder (AADD) or pigheadedness but rather just plain inattentiveness to others when they were speaking.

There have been so many embarrassing times in my life when someone would say to me, “You weren’t listening, were you?”  Continue Reading →

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Why My Girlfriend’s Kitchen Should Be Rated in The Michelin Restaurant Guide

Simple foodWould you consider traveling to another country just to eat at a famous restaurant?
If so, you aren’t alone. It appears culinary travel is growing by leaps and bounds.

According to Travel Weekly, “Over the last 10 years, the role food plays in the world of travel has evolved from cast extra to starring role.” Eric Wolf, founder of the World Food Travel Association in Portland, Oregon, estimates that food tourism has grown into a $150 billion industry annually.

The Michelin Red Guide is the oldest and most respected fine dining guide in the world. Their 1,2 and 3 starred rankings are only given out to the finest dining establishments in the world. If you are awarded the revered 3 Star rating then it means the food is of such high quality that you should consider traveling to that country just to eat at that restaurant!

Last night I had a luscious dinner at my girlfriend’s home. Although, I’m relatively certain eating at a Michelin 3-star restaurant is a near orgasmic foodie experience worthy of the price of airfare, the single-item dinner with my girlfriend should at least get an honorable mention. Together we planned and prepared a simple, single-dish meal in her kitchen. And it appears we are jumping on a trend with our one-bowl creation, since according to 4 Seasons Magazine in a recent article on culinary trends, “Single-dish restaurants are on the rise” and gaining ground in cities around the world. Who knew? We just saved ourselves the price of a ticket and created an experience that would be hard to duplicate at any 3-star rated restaurant in the world. The food was exquisite, but there was so much more that made this meal a memorable event.

We sipped a wonderful Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc as we worked side-by-side talking, laughing, chopping, dicing and bringing together all the required mouthwatering ingredients. It was a perfect compliment to this light, summer fare. Those moments of food preparation togetherness were fun and bonding as we teamed up to create a scrumptious whole wheat couscous spinach and feta recipe. (I’ll share the recipe with you later in the post.)

High Quality Simple Meals

What I found remarkable about this shared experience was the joy and high energy that resulted from our connectedness in the kitchen. We shared in all parts of the culinary experience, from preparation of the meal to the after-dinner clean up. Simply stated, we were present and fully conscious with the tasks required for this simple recipe. The ease and low stress of dine-in simplicity,along with the level of attention to each other, made for an exceptional evening for both of us. And we didn’t sacrifice a bit of the taste or quality of the food. Eckhart Tolle reminds in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, “In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.”

This conscious, alert attention is a key to living a purposeful, happy and simple life. Alert attention builds intimacy in relationships no matter what the shared experience.

Conscious alertness in eating has many benefits as well. First of all, with conscious eating you’ll take time to plan higher quality more nutritious meals. You’ll also eat less and recognize your fullness sooner if you are conscious of each bite.

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