You are One, under the stars.

You are One, under the stars.

That’s it… and look upon this moment. Savor it! Rejoice with great gladness! Great gladness! Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are One, under the stars. Remember it well, then… this night, this great victory. So that in the years ahead, you can say, ‘I was there that night, with Arthur, the King!’ For it is the doom of men that they forget.

– Merlin, Excalibur

Stop, you’re killing me

Letter to a friend:

As you have rightly intuited, the inflammatory politics is merely symptomatic of a larger crisis — the end of the time we know and the beginning of another — as presaged by war, famine, fire, flood and reality TV.

This just in:

NATIONAL (NBC ) – Does the financial crisis have you feeling stressed out? Well, you’re not alone.

A newly released survey by the American Psychological Association shows the declining economy is causing stress levels to skyrocket.

The annual report takes a look at the stress level of Americans, and this year, stress is on the rise.

As things get worse on Wall Street, it seems Americans are hitting the wall. They’re stressed out and letting it show.

Dr. Katherine Nordal, the Executive Director for Professional Practice, says they have “irritability, depression, sleeplessness, problems concentrating…”

A new survey by the American Psychological Association finds eight out of ten Americans say the economy is now a significant source of stress.

Almost half say their stress has increased in the past year and they are now increasingly worried about their ability to provide even their families basic needs.

Dr. Nordal says, “What we’re seeing is more and more people coming in because they are more stressed about financial situations, having homes foreclosed on.”

According to the survey, women are being hit the hardest, feeling more stress than men about money, the economy, job stability, housing costs and health problems.

Since I’m the canary in the coal mine when it comes to stress, I can tell you with an uncertain amount of authority that exercise, rest, vitamins, meditation, prayer, soothing music and talking things over with trusted friends are all terrific for smoothing you out. Humor, where appropriate, can also work wonders.

That said, the sheer numbers of wobbling blobs of bobbling blubber among us — I speak, of course, of our fellow Americans — tell us that not everyone “gets” this. We therefore have a lot on our plate. Not as much as them, but you see my point.

The foregoing does not cover all those who resort to drugs and alcohol, of course, who can be counted upon to spiral out into all sorts of lunacy, not all of them comical.

You can, again, mightily empower yourself, being such a good ear and wise counsel, by helping others at this time of crisis, always bearing in mind the final temptation.

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

My love to you and the gang!

Our transcendent splendor,

Brian J. Flanagan

Independent Film

I attended a number of events at Iowa City’s Landlocked Film Festival this weekend and am absolutely delighted to report it’s been a roaring success.

There were many terrific films, panels and workshops and I wish I could have attended more of them.

I want to talk a bit about two of my favorite films, both of which have to do with fathers and sons.

The first, a huge hit with audiences all over, is a feature film called The Flyboys and … it’s a boatload of fun — exciting, hilarious, touching, beautiful. Made for a mere million, it packs more entertainment value than most films costing a hundred times that much. It has to do with two teenage boys who are wonderfully appealing and … their hair-raising adventures.

I don’t want to give any more away. Just go see it. Take the kids.

The second film I want to give special mention to today is called Journeymen and it’s also a truly heart-warming film, a documentary about a new movement that’s all about mentoring teenage boys who have no fathers in their lives.

We see quite “ordinary” men stepping up to bring life back to the eyes of lost boys who were formerly forsaken by our society.

It brought tears to my eyes. I wish every man and every boy in the country could see this film. It really is just that important. I know — I used to work with kids and continue to do, decades later. Because there’s a crying need but also because it enriches my own life.

I’m also pleased to report that both films took first place in their divisions.

Natural Capital Institute

 From  Paul Hawken and friends:

Wiser ways

The Natural Capital Institute serves the people who are transforming the world. We are a team of researchers, teachers, students, activists, scholars, writers, social entrepreneurs, artists, and volunteers committed to the restoration of the earth and the healing of human culture. We do two things: we describe pathways of change in books and research reports, and we create tools for connecting the individuals, information, and organizations that create change.

To that end, NCI is creating WISER: the World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility. It is a commercial-free, community-editable series of platforms where people, civil society, the private sector, and government can collaboratively define, address, and solve social and environmental problems. The millions of organizations and individuals who actively work towards ecological sustainability, economic justice, human rights, and political accountability address issues that are systemically interconnected and intertwined. Their effectiveness to prevent harm and institute positive change is undermined by the lack of a collective awareness, duplicative efforts, and incomplete connectivity.

Natural Capital Institute

Above & beyond…

Sometimes compassion rises to heroic heights.

War & Peace

War & Peace

 John Gebhardt’s wife, Mindy, said that this little girl’s entire family was executed.  The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head… but they failed to kill her.  She was cared for in John’s hospital and is healing up, but continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.

– James Gates, U. S. Navy

Stressed Out?

 Stressed out?

I used to work as a counselor and continue to help out pro bono among the walking wounded.

There’s been quite a lot of that, lately.

One group of obese people act like crack addicts, anticipating what’s for dessert.

Others drink & drug themselves into near oblivion.

Still others are sick at heart, missing work.

You can’t open the paper, lately, without finding an article relating stress to various illnesses — many of them fatal.

What to do?

  1. Go for a walk. Regular, rhythmic exercise works wonders.
  2. Talk to a trusted friend. For most of us, most of the time, this works as well as actual time on the couch.
  3. Laugh. It does a body good. Seriously.
  4. Listen to soothing music.
  5. Spend time in prayer and meditation, even if you don’t believe.*
  6. Have sex; see #1.

Beliefnet: Health and Healing

How Stress Affects Your Body

Coffee or Tai-Chi?


*Especially if you don’t believe.