Gratitude or pride?

At fifty-one years old, I own three businesses, have written three books, played in an award-winning country band, and am blessed with having more “enough-ness” than any man could ask for. Rewind fifteen short years ago, and I was down and out. “Scarce-ness” was the watchword of the year. My wife asked me once, “Don’t you feel proud of all you’ve accomplished, considering where you were back then?” I didn’t really know how I felt until she asked me. But I do now. I can honestly say that I don’t feel as much pride in those accomplishments as I do gratitude. Why? Well it’s certainly not because I’m some morally superior, worldly-wise specimen of humility. It’s just that I’ve been lucky enough to see the truth: That people much smarter, capable and skilled than I have ended up far worse. There is undoubtedly a connection between where one ends up in life and one’s skill, education, and perseverance. But I know that just as often the difference comes down to one or two little choices we make; a little bit of “being in the right place at the right time,” or what appears to be divine intervention that spells the difference between fame and obscurity, skid row and middle class—even life or death.

So in my less enlightened moments, I might engage in a bit of “back patting,” being only human after all. “Look at me! Look at how far I’ve come!” But on most days, at any given moment, you’re likely to find me thinking how grateful I am, how I couldn’t have asked for more and that I certainly have more than I deserve, if there’s really any such thing as “deserving.” Gratitude is pretty cool. It beats pride any old day. In fact, pride is number one on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins! Here is how one website defines it:

Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise.

If that doesn’t say it all…

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Choosing the path with heart: Being ourselves

Many of us fantasize about what we’d do if we could go back to an earlier age, but retain our current memories and knowledge. I think I’d work on some skills, habits, and character traits (after buying a certain list of stocks of course.) One character trait that I really wish I had now is the ability to be myself completely. To be and act 100% from my core personality without worrying about what people think. The term “being yourself” has always sounded a little “fishy” to me; a bit gray and undefined, but I still find myself wishing I could be more of that “kid” that didn’t fit in when he was a youngster. Continue reading

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Lack and Limitation: Our Drug of Choice?

As seekers, we often use the tools of exposing commonalities–common denominators or underlying similaritie–as a means of uncovering the “truth” about “things.” What do A, B and C have in common? What always happens after X,Y, or Z happen? What does this tell us? Continue reading

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‘Honey Do’ list for a man for his marriage

If you’re anything like me, you stop and wonder every so often what your “job” is as a husband and how you’re measuring up at that job. Can I do more? Am I doing too much? Am I becoming too domesticated?? Do I still wear the pants in the family or am I whipped beyond recognition? (Hint: If you think “wearing the pants” is sexist, you’re probably whipped beyond recognition). Being married to a woman is tricky. Just when you think everything’s running on all cylinders, she seems unhappy about something. And being men, we tend to think it’s something we did–or didn’t–do, and need to fix. Again, if you’re “anything like me”, the ONLY way you know the answer to the question “how is my marriage doing?” is by asking your wife! So what follows is a sort of “checklist” of things to do in your marriage or long term relationship so that you know whether you’re doing your job or not. Let’s get started… Continue reading

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Some things a man needs to do before he gets married

Before any man gets hitched, ties the knot and settles down, there are a few things and man should be, do or have before he does so. These “pre requisites”, in various forms, can be found throughout the earliest societies on earth. Continue reading

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Are you a feminized man?

What is feminized behavior in a man? It’s often misunderstood to mean “feminine” behavior but there’s a distinct difference. My personal definition of feminized behavior is any “thought, word or action implemented by a man in a style usually displayed by a woman”. Continue reading

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Law of Attraction F.A.Q.

I had some questions a few months back about the law of attraction and just how it “all worked” – here’s some of that conversation below: Continue reading

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A man’s REAL value to other men.

What purpose do you serve in other men’s lives?

Friendship? Competition? Watch each other’s back? Continue reading

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Merry Christmas 2018

My underlying mission here is always the same: Excavate & dust off some “bit of God” that’s become buried under our bustling lives. Illuminate something about Christmas that explains why it’s so much more powerful than just another hour at Mass or another bedtime prayer.

What comes to mind this year is this: I think maybe there’s a veil that we weave around us … year by year, using all our hands, working diligently on many looms. The thread of our veil is made from the distraction & accumulation of things we don’t need, the fatigue of working twice as many hours as we ought to–or want to, holding grudges & passing judgments, (even on ourselves), wallowing in self-pity or regret. Even the best of us are guilty of partaking in a bit of this “weaving” from time to time, and as we add layer after layer, this veil begins to insulate us like a big heavy quilt. But…instead of keeping us warm, it keeps us cold; insulated from the warmth & healing of God’s touch; his big impossible “smile” that literally yanks tears of joy from our eyes. We keep our brows furrowed, heads down, and jaws clenched, thinking there’s a “finish line” that we’re nearing. We just forget that overused, hokey cliché that’s just dripping with truth: The journey not the destination.

So, let’s leave behind that metaphoric mess, and wrap up our analogy with a bit of brightness: As Christmas time nears, it’s like the whole season is a village, built upon a thin patch of this veil we’ve woven. A place where our thread doesn’t quite hold up. This is where God lives, and just maybe we get a little closer to him around his “Birthday”. His light and love shine and burn through those threads we’ve woven like a torch on a cobweb. And on some level, we recognize this and a piece of us is pleading, “Don’t let me forget! Oh PLEASE Father, I want to stay here where it’s so warm and bright all the time!”

But despite this yearning, most of us “return home” after the holidays…back to the loom. But still others may decide to stay in that big bright beautiful village. If you’re reading this, then maybe you’re one of them? We “stay” by way of being grateful for something every day, even if it’s something “ordinary” like the sound of your wife’s giggle, hitting 3 green lights in a row, the hiss of the school bus brakes as it drops your child back home again, or your favorite sports team coming back from certain defeat. We “stay” by checking in with that friend that seemed a bit “off” the last time we saw them. Sacrificing a comfortable evening at home to support a friend or donate a few hours to a cause. Forgiving someone who hurt us, apologizing for something stupid we said or did, or telling someone how we really feel about them, knowing how vulnerable it leaves us. I sure hope my family and I are among those who stay…and I hope we bump into all of you “around town” from time to time. Maybe we can have a coffee together and talk about what we’re grateful for!

So from our family to yours, we hope you have the very brightest Christmas you’ve ever DREAMT of having. May you stay happy, healthy, and enthusiastic all of your days, and may your veil never get so thick that you can’t see that big bright light. Merry Christmas all.

The LaVoie Family: Ken, Deb and Elissa Rose
Central Maine Web ~ Southern Angel Properties

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How to really see a woman. A response to “Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son”, by Nate Pile

I came across an article shared on Huffington Post, about the objectivization of women by men. This post summarized a conversation a father promised to have with his son if he ever caught his son looking “inappropriately” at a woman. The article should still be linked here:

I believe this article had fantastic intentions, that being to help “raise up” a young man’s view of women as “equal human beings” and not objects to be leered and whistled at. But I think a little differently about all this and I’d like to share it here for your thought:

First, I express this alternate view with an open hearted love for women as a species, being a happily married man (actually head over heels in love married) with a teenage daughter, both of whom I’d feel privileged dying for 1,000 times.

I believe that the very nature of any male / female relationship is sexual first and foremost. By this I don’t mean necessarily centering on the sex act. What I mean is that there is a powerful sexual polarity between the male and female energies. We men, as vessels of masculine energy, are inherently attracted to vessels of feminine energy.

I believe that to teach a boy to “rise above” his nature, and to only look at a woman’s eyes (i.e. “I’m up here!) is a travesty. It is not a “rising up” or “graduation”, it is a denying of his very masculine sexual essence, his nature, and denying it does a grave and profound disservice to him and whatever woman he comes in contact with. I would teach a son to really see the woman as she is. This beautiful fountain of feminine energy. Not to be leered and gawked at but to be appreciated it. The essence of the interaction (not necessarily spoken) might go something like this: “Wow, you’re so ***** beautiful. Look at you! Did you come into this room just for me? Thank you for showing up so radiantly. That you for letting me enjoy your breeze for a minute.” And so a woman should be looked at, seen as a WOMAN first and a HUMAN BEING second. Looking at her eyes in the context of avoiding looking at her curves is being “neutral”. When a man tries to be neutral, he becomes “neutered.”

One of the most common observations men (and women) of Central & South America make upon spending time in North America is that men are “feminized”. Instead of embracing their male sexual essence, they are buying into this new notion of not “objectifying” women. God help me for opening my mouth and claiming I know what a woman really wants, but here goes: Women want to be seen. Fully. Completely. They want to be celebrated. And they don’t necessarily want us men to only look them in the eye and see them as a neutral human being or “equal”.

We are focusing too much on “what we have in common.” I say to you all: What makes us different is just about ALL that counts between men and women. It’s the difference that make the magic and creates the polarity. Anything else is just dangerously interesting conversation.

A man can appreciate and really “check out” a woman without it being inappropriate or “cheap.” For me a feminine woman is like a warm breeze. She doesn’t’ even have to be “beautiful” or “hot” in the standard sense, as long as she’s feminine. I love my wife and would never cheat on her or do anything to make her feel uncomfortable or jealous or insecure. But I love being around women because it’s like sitting on a rock on the ocean’s shore on a blistering day and having this wonderful cool breeze wash over me. I deny that when I just look in her eyes and refuse to appreciate the artistic expression of her curves, her radiant feminine shine, the way she tilts her head, and shows the graceful curve of her neck. I love their giggles and unfocused energy. I love to try to be a strong enough vessel, and provide solid enough “riverbanks” to allow their energy … their torrential flood of femininity to shine, to flow, to play like little girls in a sandbox in the warm sun and my God, that is so rejuvenating. We sin when we allow that appreciation to be focused only on thoughts of bumping and grinding, or the opposite: feeling like we’re not being enlightened men because we let our eyes stray south of her neckline. My own wife, faithful to a fault, often says, “Hey, we’re married but that doesn’t mean we’re dead.” She appreciates the dance of these energies as much as I do, and doesn’t apologize for it.

If every man looked at women like this, first and especially his own wife or girlfriend, we wouldn’t dream of having talks like this with our sons.

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Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah,

I decided this year to write about something that has always struck me as beautifully perplexing.

That is, how so many elements of Christmas stay the same year after year. We’re flooded with new styles, new leaders, newer and more terrifying problems to worry about. But I’ve noticed a resistance to change when it comes to Christmas. Oh there’s changes, but they’re slow and reluctant. For example, there’s only a handful of Christmas songs and movies that come to mind: It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street, and for the little ones there’s Rudolph, Frosty, and a few others, (although National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is our family’s personal favorite!) How many new Christmas songs have you heard the last few years? Very few that aren’t remakes of the classics like White Christmas, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, etc. It’s as if we’ve found something perfect, some divine time & place…and are trying to preserve it.

Maybe it’s got something to do with our desire to be or stay young & carefree. What is it about growing up that mercilessly mutes the energy of youth? We just have more important things to do than play games or jump for joy. As I’m writing this, a certain song comes to mind, and although it’s not a Christmas song, it singlehandedly illustrates my point. It’s called “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. Here’s a piece:

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
(And may you stay…forever young)

And there it is … “May you always know the truth, and see the light surrounding you.” Those are some heavy, haunting, beautiful words. I think of how seldom I see the light surrounding me, at least the way I imagine God does. I’m not sure I could even bear it if I did.

So maybe our efforts to keep things the same is our way of trying to connect with God, by soaking up a little youth and innocence. The worries: having enough money, keeping up with the Joneses, making judgments about people and worrying about their judgments of us. These accumulations take up a lot of psychic & emotional weight. Wouldn’t it be a great big relief to let it all go and turn toward the simpler joys…like the sounds and smells of cinnamon and summer, sunshine and lake water lapping the shore…making snowballs, the taste of chocolate and seeing aunts and uncles and the sound of unwrapping and excitement and laughing and crying. Feeling like life lasts centuries instead of decades.

Well I think that’s enough for now. Thank you all for being in our lives, whether you’re a client, a service provider or friend, thank you. Deb, Elissa and I hope your greatest times are still out ahead of you. We hope you catch a glimpse of that truth, and see that light surrounding you (if you can bear it), and of course we hope that you stay…forever young. Merry Christmas and God Keep and Bless you every day.

The LaVoie Family: Ken, Deb and Elissa Rose
And LaVoie’s Landscape ~ Central Maine Web ~ Southern Angel Properties

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Are you ready to die

I never really thought much about death…mow own mortality, until my Dad died a few years back.  I’m one those lucky saps who reached middle age without really losing anyone super-close.  My grandmother died a few years before, and she was one of my top 5 favorite people of all time, but it was also sort of expected. Sad but not shocking. 

My Dad died at 59 years old. I received a call from the Cambodian Embassy at 11 PM, awakened from a deep sleep to hear that he’d died earlier that day.  Continue reading

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Let me live a little longer

This post marks a change in the way I plan to write. In the past I’ve focused on “facts” and “content” but there was something that bothered me about these writings. They seemed a bit phony and empty. Some are well written, sure, but there’s something missing. I figured it out finally after writing my last Christmas letter to my clients. My wife always reads these letters and gives me a “pass” if they make her cry, or at least give her a few goosebumps. Continue reading

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Survival Directive

So individuals, organizations, professions, even ideologies such as religions will take on what appears and functions as a “survival directive.” It will do what it needs to do to survive, similar to the traits of a single biological organism. Continue reading

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Using Death as an advisor

As spoken to a little boy who was having a hard time with the idea of death.

So I draw a circle here on this paper and this represents everything known to you; your world. You might think that we all live in the same world but we don’t, really. We just agree on enough “facts” to give us the illusion that we do. Continue reading

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