Puppy saga continues

Xena apparently has an infection going. Last night she was shivering, vomiting and lethargic with no appetite so I took her to the emergency vet. They kept her overnight and put her on fluids and did lots of blood work. Now she's on an antibiotic for the infection. Bill – over $500.

But today's she's much better!

HOWEVER, no nursing for her until our regular vet gives the OK. Matt's going to take her to Dr. Norquist tomorrow to get the OK. So until then, I'm tube feeding all of them.

Wow….. as soon as possible, both Xena and Joey are getting fixed.

I'm also preparing to advertise the puppies for sale. Got all the AKC paperwork last week so we're ready!

What a year so far……. My motto is "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!"

It's been quite a year so far. For those wonderful friends I don't see very often, here's a brief summary of 2005 to date for me:

* I accepted a position created for me at our competing “Blue” plan after about 6 months of interviews and thinking about it. It was a BIG decision for me and I thought long and hard about it. Began that new job late April as Manager of their Medicare products. Very challenging, and stressful but I like the company's culture and the people I work with. They provide an onsite gym so now I'm working out at least 3 times a week and I've already lost 22 pounds. I feel much better and am well on my way to my goal of weighing what I did when I got married in 1980.

* My 'significant other' of almost 7 years – who I believed truly loved me and was committed to our relationship – out of the blue and with no reasonable explanation or discussion – ended our relationship on Friday, May 20, 2005. The shock of that has resurrected the Abandonment Demon (“AD” for short!) in me and I've been fighting that ever since – although it's much easier now because of my previous counseling and spiritual direction work with Claudia. The relationship wasn't really a relationship anyway but it was the idea of being left (aka 'abandoned') by someone I trusted and believed loved me. God has a wonderful way of allowing us to experience that which cuts most deeply so we can grow in Love and Consciousness.

Thank you, God!

* My pugs 'got married' and Xena became pregnant right around the time Steve ended our relationship (I think?)

* We noticed Xena was getting a little bigger around the middle about 3 weeks ago so went to the Vet – who confirmed she was probably pregnant and most likely going to have 3 puppies.

* This past Monday night, while I was traveling to Salt Lake City for work, Xena went into labor and Matt, my oldest, acted as midwife. I was coaching him on my cell phone from my hotel so I got very little sleep that night (and Matt got NONE). First baby was born at about 1 AM and the last baby was born at about 5:30 AM. She had 5 boys and 1 girl and the girl is one of the tiniest. Matt – who had been up for almost 30 hours began having Janz Myoclonic seizures so he called our wonderful vet (who by the way predicted only 3 pups!) and she said to bring Xena and litter to her. Her wonderful daughter took care of them all day and kept them alive as Xena is NOT a good mother. This gave Matt much needed sleep time while I finished business in Salt Lake City and flew home that evening.

* I canceled work meetings in Salem and Portland on Wednesday this week so Matt and I could tend to babies before I had to head to Portland Thursday for meetings. Babies have to be held to Xena to nurse as Xena isn't very helpful and they are so very little. Once nursed they have to be cleaned up (they can't poop or pee without manual stimulation) and then put on a hot pad to sleep. This is repeated about every 2 hours. Matt is a terrific 'wet nurse' and because of his devotion, these little guys have a fighting chance! Ryan has also been very helpful keeping 'Dad' Joey busy.

* On Wednesday morning I noticed the two littlest weren't strong enough to suck (aka “fading puppy”) so I rushed them to the Vet and she taught me how to tube feed them. Matt and I started supplementing all the puppies with tube feeding. Happy to say they are all doing OK now (it's Saturday when I'm positing this so they are 4 days old!). We also don't have to supplement as much because they are all nursing very well (when I'm right there so Xena will lay still!)

* Last night (Friday), was the first night of a little sleep for me and I feel much better. Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing and I can't remember when I've been so sleep deprived! Even my own babies didn't take this much out of me!

* I have also decided to fulfill a long-time dream of buying a touring motorcycle so after much research, I bought a 2002 Harley-Davidson Road King with lots of accessories. I'll be picking it up early in August from a wonderful family in Oklahoma who are selling it because they've adopted a daughter from China and need the $ to add on to their house.

That’s it so far………

Always remember – what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Breaking heart stuff

While on the treadmill yesterday – I'm reading my new “Spirituality & Health” magazine and find this quote:

“God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.”

Wow…………………. as I watch my son's heart open – and his awareness grow – I am reminded over and over how I must open my heart – always.

Bless you, God!

Kabbalah 2; Class 5; The Bigger the Obstacle, The Greater Potential Light

The more we resist our reactive behavior, the more happiness and pleasure radiates in our lives. It works like this:

* The bigger the problem in your face, the stronger your urge to react.

* The bigger your reaction, the more resistance you have to apply to stop it.

* The more resistance you apply, the more spiritual Light in your life.

Most people tend to choose the path of least resistance in life. They look for the easy, comfortable situations. We must learn to flee our comfort zones and plunge head first into uncomfortable situations. That is where we can apply the most resistance.

The path of MOST resistance causes a little bit of pain and discomfort for a moment, but it is coupled with long-term fulfillment.

Most people tend to choose the path of least resistance in life.

The path of least resistance produces immediate gratification, coupled with a short-circuit and long-term chaos.

All of which leads us to Rule #7:

THE BIGGER THE OBSTACLE, THE GREATER POTENTIAL LIGHT

Is it any wonder, we haven't found total happiness? We've been conditioned to react to problems since time began. We can no longer be victims. No longer can we gripe or lament over the hardships, problems, and turmoil that confronts us. All those nasty difficulties, roadblocks, and complications that disrupt our path, are there to offer us something rather remarkable — the everlasting Light of fulfillment.

Kabbalah 2; class 4 continued – Focus on Reactions, Not Right and Wrong

FOCUS ON REACTIONS, NOT RIGHT AND WRONG

We expend so much wasted energy always trying to prove that we are right. It becomes so difficult for us to let go of our anger, opinions, frustration, and vindictiveness just because we know we are right – even if we ARE right!! Our reaction should be our sole focus—not whether we are right or wrong. If the other scoundrel is totally and completely wrong and we respond in a reactive mode, we lose any way. Got that? You lose.

If that other nasty person is wrong and we shut down our reaction and behave proactively, we win. Light comes into our lives.

And, if we are wrong, but we stop our reactions, then wow, will we begin to see miracles in our lives. That is how we raise our level of consciousness and begin to perceive a higher truth that lies beyond the logic-based concepts of right and wrong. That higher truth is about unity—dignity—compassion—and sensitivity toward everyone in our life.

The rest of the world — our friends and enemies — are actually our teammates in the Game of Life. Our collective opponent is the Satan.

To help keep us focused on our own reactions, we must always be cognizant of Rule #5:

Never lay blame on other people or external events.

The secret to happiness is to remain focused on our own reactions in every situation we confront. The secret to generating chaos is to remain reactive to our own opinions and our limited view of reality.

Remember, the Opponent likes to play mind-games. He will send us paranoid thoughts, suspicious thoughts, doubts, uncertainties, you name it, and he's broadcasting it in stereo. He makes us second guess and outsmart everyone around us. We become so smart we become foolish.

Kabbalah 2; Class 4 – The Mysteries of the Mind continued

These two streams of thoughts pulsating over the airwaves of the mind express themselves in this way:

* The Opponent's thoughts manifest as our rational, logical mind and ego.

* The Light's signal manifests as intuition, gut instinct, mystical insight, and dreams.

99% of the time we are not in touch with our intuition. In other words, The Opponent rules the airwaves of the mind and plays one particular hit song over and over again — the song called reaction!

He is constantly downloading his reactive music into our brain. We must recognize this powerful fact of life: The Opponent controls the landscape of our mind. 99.999% of the thoughts and sounds that play in our brain belong to him. Consequently, we need to start shutting down his noise and begin cranking up the whispers and melodies that play in the deepest recesses of our beings.

The secret to taking control over our lives is to cut off our Opponent's signal. We can do that the moment we stop our reactions. When we stop our reactive impulses we disrupt his frequency.

This creates a space.

The Light's signal is now free to fill that space. Our decisions and feelings are now rooted in the infinite wisdom of The Light.

Kabbalah 2; Class 4 – The Mysteries of the Mind

……..our thoughts do not originate from the physical matter of the brain. Rather, the brain is likened to an antenna, a receiving station that picks up a signal and then rebroadcasts it into the conscious mind of the individual.

2000 years after the Zohar revealed this rather startling idea, medical science reinforced this ancient kabbalistic view of the mind-brain relationship.

The brilliant and world-renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield, began extensive scientific research into the mind-brain phenomena.

Penfield, who revolutionized the techniques of brain surgery and achieved major breakthroughs in the areas of human cognition, memory and sensation, set out to prove that the mind emerged from the matter of the brain.

He devoted some 40 years of his life to exhaustive research, brain mapping, and medical exploration.

However, Penfield then admitted that he had failed.

In a remarkable book, The Mysteries of the Mind, that detailed his decades of research, Penfield wrote:

“The mind seems to act independently of the brain in the same sense that a programmer acts independently of his computer, how ever much he may depend upon the action of that computer for certain purposes.”

Then there is computer pioneer Norbert Wiener, who was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Lyndon Johnson. Wiener summed it up best when he stated:

“The brain does not secrete thought as the liver does bile.”

According to Kabbalah, there are two cosmic broadcasting stations emitting signals to our brain –The Light and the Opponent. It's a ratings battle for the audience of mind, a bigger and far greater ratings battle than the Neilson company has ever conducted for the major television networks.

The Opponent targets our mind, for that is where we are most vulnerable. The mind is the front lines of war. It is our thoughts that motivate us into action and influence our states of consciousness. Thoughts are the command post. Lose control of the command post and we lose the war. If we could learn how to distinguish which thoughts are from The Light versus which thoughts originate from our clever Adversary, we could reclaim control over our lives.

A good starting point is this: Any thought that is loud, crystal clear, urging you to react to a situation, you can be sure you are hearing the music of the Opponent. Any thought that tells you that you are the architect of your success; that you know better than the next guy; that you’re right and the other person is wrong, well once
again this is the Opponent.

If, however, a thought is barely audible, a faint voice emanating from the recesses of your subconscious mind, that is the song of The Light.

“Listen to the inner voice that is on the other side of your ego” – author Unknown

Kabbalah and A Strong Character Arc

From Kabbalah 2; class 3

In Hollywood, an astute film producer always looks for a strong character arc in any new screenplay he considers producing. The character arc is the degree of inner change a character undergoes, from the beginning of the story to the very end.

We all came to this world to achieve the greatest character arc possible—from being just an effect to becoming the actual cause. The amount of true success or chaos one generates in life is relative to the degree of character change one undergoes in life.