Welcome to The Front Porch

Okay, dinner's over. The little ones are already at play in the yard. Lizzy, the devoted 'tween, is engaged in a lively game of giggle tag with the two toddlers. Braydon, while re-fitting the muffler to his dirt bike over at the side yard, is also busy pretending not to care. Grandpa has settled into his favorite lounge chair and lit his pipe. The twins are still at the dishes, noisily whispering about the recently discovered lump on Aunt Mary's left shoulder. Cool air brushes in off the nearby lake and shooes away the heat as well as the mosquitoes. The sun is heading for bed, and the long day rounds the bend towards home. There's just enough time left for a little light conversation and some good old-fashioned fellowship. So grab a seat here on the steps, or there by the old oak, and join in the discussion. Say your piece, or just while away the time listening to the chirping of the creatures hidden all about. Either way, we're here to entertain, enlighten, and encourage each other. And by the way, thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OTHERS: How they define us, and why we should allow it

It seems counter-intuitive, but other people's perceptions of who we are are absolutely essential to a complete and well-balanced sense of Self.  Naturally, we know ourselves as an expression of our place and our passions, but (believe it or not) we also come to know ourselves more fully through the mouths and eyes of others.

By place I mean we know ourselves as a product of our environment, our circumstances of birth, our day-to-day existence. We are what we do with the baggage of our lives.

By passions I mean we know ourselves as our dreams, our unfulfilled potential, our new and improved better versions of ourselves. We are what we aspire to become.

By perceptions in others I mean we also know ourselves as the labels others pin on us that we accept as true. A story may help clarify this point: I recently saw a web interview of Kelly Clarkson the American Idol singer. In answer to the question when did she become a singer she responded this way: (paraphasing from memory here, so bear with me) "I always sang around the house as a kid, but it was not until I was in a choir around 13 or so that I discovered that I was a singer. We would be doing scales and I would just keep going up or down the scale past the rest of the group hitting notes the others could not reach. At that point people started "telling me" I was a singer." There and then, when she accepted others' perception of her as a singer, that's when Kelly's self-identity changed from normal kid to kid singer. And so it is with us.  We are, in addition to our place and passions, the labels we allow ourselves to internalize. 

That is why it is so important to monitor carefully both the mud and the flowers flung our way. The labels we hear and heed; the identity we formulate in response to others' perceptions is surprisingly vital. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011


(This prose poem is meant to supplement the previous essays on Dreams and Voices.  I hope you enjoy it.)



Solitude and the scent of morning.
The smell of it calls to her from down the hall.
Calling her to consciousness
as the small finger of her left hand
lifts out long strands of black hair
trapped in the watery sleep at the corner of her lips.
She becomes aware of the pillow next to her:
soft, fluffy, empty.
Her two boys a dozen years or more past crawling in with her
on stormy nights.
Abandoned also by her ex, who shares pillows now with another,
in some other city, in some other state.
The one who before brewed her coffee and brought
the steaming mug to her bed replaced now by a Mr. Coffee
with an automatic timer and an alarm.
So many mornings come and gone.

Soda. Tea. Beer.

Stimulants and mood-inhibitors.
Self-awareness gives way
as she moves through her day
to socializing.
A lunch with friends, shopping,
her focus always on the other.
Sub-conscious coping strategies?
She momentarily forgets her pain, the shame
of letting her life interrupt her dreams.
Dreams too hastily misplaced in the arms of an undeserving other.
Some steps taken. Some steps forsaken.
All leading here, now.
How to restore her dreams?
A second family? Too late for that, and not quite right somehow.
An artistic work? Hmmm. But who will understand her?
What is there in self-expression that can connect her
to anything outside herself?
So many opportunities come and gone.

And so finally, Wine.

Still another day passes away.
And only the distilled spirits of a fruit to lift her spirits.
Yet Hope rises in her. Ever rising the way need rises in others.
She sees her image reflected in the robust burgundy.
And she likes what she sees.
Why shouldn't she? There is much to like.
An inviting warmth in her eyes like a hearth in a home.
A grace in her smile that belies the weight on her shoulders.
Truth and elegance in her posture. Strength and poise in her hands.
A final sip of the wine and her heart opens more deeply.
Unanalyzed dreams, visions of a better version of herself, enfold her
in a more loving embrace.
She accepts.
She moves on.
She finds her pillow, rests her eyes, and awaits her...
morning coffee.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Talk is cheap, they say.  To make your dreams come true you must act.  Unfortunately, this is a hurdle too big for many people to mount.  They simply cannot muster the energy needed to take the steps that lead to making their dreams come true.  Often, they don't even know what steps need to be taken.  And this is so I believe b/c they have the feeling that their dreams are out there ahead of them somewhere.  They are under the mistaken impression that it takes an overwhelming will and effort on their part to achieve them.

Personally, I think the process is much more natural than that. The fact is, a dream that is 'out there' has not been embodied as part of one's identity, in which case it will never be realized because it can never be reached 'out there'.

But once we make a dream a part of our identity (in the face of all factual details to the contrary), once we become that better version of ourselves in our own mind's eye, wholly committed to that description of ourselves, then the small steps we need to take flow naturally out of our being. Not to mention Providence (which favors the bold, as has been said) jumps in behind the scenes, and all manner of mysterious support comes our way.

The point is, we don't have to muster up big willfull amounts of energy and push upstream against the world to pursue our dreams. We just have to bring those dreams into our center and follow their unfolding from there, naturally and willingly.

So go ahead, dream your dreams. And then take the one and only step you ever have to willfully take, and that is: start believing that you are the person that that dream wants to manifest through.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Voices. So powerful, the voices we give authority to motivate and guide our behaviors, or sabotage our dreams. Wittingly, or unwittingly, we do choose which voices to hear.

Out of the distant past certain voices dominate our mental landscape and shape our future. An example: you were bullied or shamed or otherwise hurt somehow by the "rich" kid in school. Now 30 years later, that is a fact of your experience and should not be buried nor denied. But the meaning you gave that experience all those years ago - that "rich kids are mean" - may now be sabotaging the very dreams and actions you could take to bring wealth and abundance into your life. After all, you don't want to be a "mean" person, so naturally, you can't become "rich."

So an experience that once was a functional advisor in your development - "sometimes people will abuse the power and resources available to them" - has now become a dysfunctional voice in your head to be wary of wealth. As a result your behaviors will produce conflicted, confused results at best, and although you dream of wealth, for instance, you will do everything in your power to avoid it b/c you have embodied and hear only a voice of fear.

Through a process of recognition and awareness (what some would call a process of forgiveness) we can come to terms with these dysfunctional voices and replace their authority with more effective and appropriate affirmations.

Our lives are an echo of the voices that rule us. Choice lies in which voices we give currency to. The key is to choose purposefully.

The Good Earth.

like sand in an hourglass
rich fertile soils pass
through a farmer's hands
marking the seasons

like troops on a parade field
seeded rows align
with sun and rain
producing fresh life

like great rooted oaks
hearty men survive
by wits and bare knuckles
sustaining souls

like ageless gladiators
earth and man engage
in tests of strength and will
bringing forth goodness