Monday, April 30, 2007

How We Prevent America's Youth From Becoming Mature Adults

For many of the earlier years of my life I had no reason to be concerned about whether or not I was sharing my worldly goods with others in a positive, healthful way. As a financially challenged single mother, I didn’t have any excess goods to share. But when my children grew up and started their own lives, discretionary income became a reality in my life.

I started to question how other parents and grandparents negotiated the line between actually helping rather than harming their loved ones. I soon learned from friends that most of them never even thought of what, when, why or how they gave to their children and grandchildren.

Many of them were so hooked on the emotional rewards of always being the wise parents who solved the problems, kissed all the boo-boos and made everything all right, that this just continued as a familiar routine. Some were fueled by a desire to give their children and grandchildren everything they didn’t have growing up. Others were locked into the role of being friends rather than parental figures, and didn’t want to give up the ego boost they received from this type of indulgence.

Despite knowing that something was lacking in those approaches, it still took a lot of searching for me to come to grips with my own motives and to try to find a wiser way. I discovered that part of my underlying motivation was due to the residual guilt associated with being a single parent.

Later I realized that the challenges I faced had pushed me to grow up, take responsibility for myself and function on my own as a mature adult. It was a hard struggle, but the gift in it was priceless. I didn’t want to rob my loved ones of this life-enhancing achievement.

Eventually I developed enough insight to realize that it isn’t wise, healthful or desirable to give monetary support to anyone when it is something they should and could be doing for themselves. It actually robs them of the character-building lessons to be learned, the wisdom to be gained and the wonderful sense of empowerment that comes from being a mature adult.

I also learned that it isn’t healthy for anyone concerned if you give from an unfulfilled emotional need of your own such as guilt or your own inadequacies. I now ask myself two questions before I intervene: Am I doing this for myself? Is this something they should be doing for themselves? The answer isn’t always clear-cut or easy.

Yet, this is so important. Bill Gates and his wife have made sure that when their offspring realize their inheritance it is not going to be such a tremendous amount that it will take away their initiative and rob them of the healthy desire and natural urge to achieve.

One of the obvious byproducts of our affluent society is the over-indulgence by parents and grandparents of the younger generations. This fact is highly evident in the sense of entitlement young people have regarding designer clothing and high-tech toys.

I feel the same push-pull of wanting to make life easier for my offspring and grandchildren. But I am also aware that in thoughtless acts of self indulgence I could rob them of the very life lessons that enabled me to become a mature adult.

Instead of being part of society’s problem, I want to be part of the solution. While I know the antidote won’t bring me instant gratification or ego rewards, I will take solace in the fact that I am contributing to building healthy mature adults. This is a much more desirable and longer-lasting legacy than the latest iPod, Sony PSP, Game Boy or Blu-Ray Disc.
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Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from Amazon.com, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What School Tragedies and Other Violent Acts Tell Us About Our World

After hearing about the recent school tragedy at Virginia Tech, I wondered about the message this violent act holds up as a mirror for the world. Such acts of violence regardless of where they take place in the world or what country of origin is represented by the perpetrator(s) are horrifying in themselves. We need to look deeply into these events and ourselves for insights that will help us understand this now universal phenomenon.

I recalled some statistics I recently read about depression being a major problem in some developed countries. It was estimated that more than twenty million Americans [18 and above] have major depressive disorders, and preschoolers and young children are the fastest growing market for antidepressants. These statistics only reflect those who are being medicated. It is depressing [pun intended] to contemplate what addictive behavior the millions of other undiagnosed and non-medicated people, including teenagers, are adopting to cope with their lives.

These are indicators of the spiritual health of our country. Another measure is greed, which evidently is the new morality, and our government and many leaders defend it and go along with it. It is also apparent in the lack of morality in the entertainment and news industries. Our traditional cultural paradigm is now on life-support.

As a friend noted recently, “Not only has Elvis left the building, virtually all the role models and arbiters of sane behavior have also decamped.”

In our Western culture it has been obvious for a long time that greed, overworking and rushing through life is not the answer to our problems. Religion has not been the answer either, at least not in the form embraced by our U.S. political leaders. Crime is on the rise, as well as prescription and illegal drug addiction, which are also evidence of a spiritually ailing society. It seems the addictions are needed by some to cope with what we have created in our culture. Maybe this is part of the message being mirrored for us by these violent events here and around the world.

Maybe such acts of violence are desperate cries expressing the inconsolable soul sadness that seems to be reaching pandemic proportions around the world. I believe it is a nonverbal plea for humanity to look at a lack of meaning and faith in life, the disconnectedness with self, each other, and the earth. When hope is lost, despair enters in and then life—theirs, yours and anyone else’s—has no meaning.

The challenge is huge. It won’t be solved in our country by a specific candidate we elect from either party. We’re on a slippery slope that has been eroding for a very long time. It will require a major retooling and redirection that may not even be possible at this stage.

I believe the core of our problem lies within the heart and soul of each of us. As individuals we lost touch with our spirit, our soul, and in a cause-and-effect action, our government and the nation lost its moral compass.

The only way to resolve this is through becoming aware of and reconnecting with the inherent spirituality in humanity. Spirituality is a way of living that will allow us to evolve and reach the full potential of the spiritual human beings we were born to be. Science has proven that we are one with the earth and everyone and everything on it. The small and large choices we make each day make a difference and affect the entire planet.

Can we live each day in loving kindness, in truth and integrity, in compassionate tolerance for others and their beliefs, honoring life, each other, the earth and our personal commitments?

These are the standards of spirituality. This is the key to curing the ills of our planet. No one said it would be quick or easy.
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Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from Amazon.com, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Can Happen When You Follow Your Heart ...

I have always believed in following my heart as a wise and valid way to further the cause of good in my life and the lives of others. The result of doing so, however, sometimes took so long to become apparent that it was no longer possible to identify or even recall what thoughts or actions of mine had led to the positive results.

In a recent experience, I had an opportunity to be fully aware of the process and the outcome.

After the death of my dear friend, the internationally known author and lecturer Dr. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, I wrote a tribute for her memorial service titled “Tea With Elisabeth.” A week later during meditation, the fully formed concept for a book of that same name came to me.

The idea was to create a more complete picture of Elisabeth, the iconic figure who brought death and dying out of the dark ages and into the light of reason and compassion. It was also to share the personal side of this woman who followed her heart and made great sacrifices in order to fulfill her commitment to humanity.

The concept that came to me was to request essays from her prestigious colleagues, bestselling authors who knew her, her associates, family members and friends that would be published as a book.

I never questioned my ability to take on a project of such magnitude, or the possibility of “Tea With Elisabeth” not being successful. I had such a heart connection with Elisabeth that it seemed the most natural thing in the world to follow it through.

Natural, yes, but not easy, so I asked Rose Winters, another one of Elisabeth’s friends, to join with me, as well as Elisabeth’s son, Kenneth Ross, and without hesitation they both agreed.

As a writer I work from my home, which at the time was undergoing an extensive remodeling job and it was like living in a construction zone. In addition to that, a recent back injury made any movement extremely painful, and this continued for a number of months. I remember the pain I experienced when I had to crawl to the computer and turn on the CPU with my big toe in order to fulfill my responsibility as executive editor and keep the project going and to meet deadlines. I was definitely motivated by following my heart.

I rejoiced as the impressive roster of contributors grew to more than fifty individuals, including: Muhammad Ali; Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; bestselling authors Raymond Moody, Stephen Levine, Caroline Myss, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Doreen Virtue, Marianne Williamson, Drs. Bernie Siegel, Gerald Jampolsky, Gladys McGarey and C. Norman Shealy.

Their intimate, powerful, humorous, inspirational and sometimes life-changing descriptions of their encounters with Elisabeth confirmed the value in this endeavor and reaffirmed my commitment to follow my heart.

A German edition of “Tea with Elisabeth” has been published, a Japanese edition is in production, and it is being shopped in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is wonderful, as it means Elisabeth will be widely recognized as the great heroic soul she was through the memories of those who shared her life experiences.

In following my heart, I fully lived my gifts and abilities to honor a fellow human being. The feelings just don’t get any better than that.
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Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from Amazon.com, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes& Noble and Borders.

Monday, April 9, 2007

What the World Needs Now ...

While all the challenges that face our nation may not be the worst in recorded history, they seem so to many of us. This is a time of great division, confusion and politicization of issues, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone on the horizon anywhere who is capable of resolving the problems we have brought on ourselves.

Many still believe that the only way in which change will occur is by revolutionary acts against the powers that be. It’s not far fetched to ask those people to look at what is happening in the Middle East and answer a question that goes begging. Elaine on the Seinfeld television show may have answered it best when she announced [sadly, albeit erroneously] that the original title of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” was intended to be “War: What Is It Good For?”

Throughout history warriors with swords have been the instrument of change—for both good and bad. This method of ushering in change has simply been going on for so long that it has become accepted as the norm. We must stop this crazy cycle.

Waging war as a form of conflict resolution isn’t the answer – and many people in the civilized world recognize that fact. The obvious challenge is to find different, peaceful and humane solutions. I believe that once this awareness is widespread humanity will evolve past this primitive and irrational mentality.

In the meantime, the world is facing a time of momentous change and we need the brightest and best to guide our country. After many passionate conversations with knowledgeable and thoughtful activist friends, they ultimately and wearily voice the same hope that many Americans hold—that someone will emerge who can show us the way. The challenge is they don’t believe that this hoped-for warrior of change will come from the political arena.

I began thinking about our country’s early history and remembered a famous writer from that period. Thomas Paine had a grand vision for society and wrote “simple facts, plain arguments and common sense” to further the good of our fledgling nation. Perhaps what we should be seeking are word warriors who will courageously bring forth sane solutions to our problems and help create a new vision for our nation so that the U.S. can truly be a benevolent agent of change in the world.

I know there are millions of like-minded Americans who yearn to feel their hearts soar with pride when our country renews its commitment to fulfilling the great potential that was the dream and vision of our founding fathers.

It is time for each of us to become the leader we have been waiting for—in our homes, schools, neighborhoods, communities—anywhere there is a need!
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Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from Amazon.com, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Are You Really Ready to Live Your Dreams?

I had dinner with a longtime friend the other night, and she told me she had just attended a wonderful workshop and learned another technique to assist people in achieving their heart’s desire. She described the process and offered to teach it to me.

I asked her if she had made the technique a part of her life, was living it and, if so, was it working for her. She didn’t answer the question and the conversation took a different course.

Later I recalled an experience with another friend who was one of my closest confidantes during my single-parent years. Since we also had full-time jobs, we had little time for anything else other than reading ourselves to sleep at night.

Each week we would read several self-help library books and then on the weekend we would switch and read each other’s books. After several years of this routine, we were having lunch one day and naturally talking about our mutual life situations, which were improving but not that dramatically or that much. I posed the question: We’ve read every self-improvement book there is, why aren’t our lives better? We laughed about it and then the conversation took a different course.

I never forgot my question and eventually realized the answer. No matter what you learn about changing your life for the better, unless you take the information in, make it part of your life and actually live it, nothing happens.

I also learned that once you have found the information that speaks to you at a deep level, you must be committed to staying focused and never giving up or giving in until you are successful. Another vital ingredient is a willingness to clear yourself of any energy you hold around invalid thoughts, life patterns, beliefs, attitudes or emotions that can block your attempts at any life-enhancing actions. You must also be aware that your goal/desire must come from love and reflect the highest and best for you and for others. And, finally, you must be willing to do whatever you are led to do to be successful.

It is no longer surprising to me that so many people are not able to fully understand the process, which requires great desire and commitment. It is possible to achieve a more desirable and meaningful life if you are willing to step up and take responsibility for your part. It isn't "pie in the sky" or magic and it won't be zapped on you as you sit idly by. It isn't a secret nor has it ever been. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

I chronicled what I lived and learned about realizing my heart’s desire in the book “The Heart Knows the Way.” I also believed the information was so important that I also wrote a full-length article about it. For that purpose I also synthesized the widely-known and time-tested information into two condensed lists: “Ten Proven Steps to Fulfillment of Your Heart’s Desire” and “Clear Now and Create the Life You Desire.”

It was obvious from my experience many years ago that you have to be ready to open to the information, to trust it, to take it within and live it. If you are ready, the two lists are available on my Web site: http://www.fernstewartwelch.com/
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Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from Amazon. com, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble