Monday, December 10, 2018

10 Qualities I Aspire to Live By

I recently read Dr. James Doty's book, Into the Magic Shop. It is his memoir and is centered around the change that was made in his life when he when into a magic shop at the age of 12 and met a woman by the name of Ruth. She taught him meditation, although he didn't have a name for it at that time. He ignored some of her advice until after he made and then lost $75 million dollars.

He came up with a list of 10 as I call them qualities to live by or to have. The first of these is compassion. I feel that compassion for yourself is as necessary as compassion for others. Compassion, I think, helps me to reduce the amount of judgmental I have in my mind. If I can find a way to look at someone and see the possibility of the hurt, illness or whatever it is troubling them, that causes them to act in a certain way or say certain things, then I can have some compassion even as I believe that what they are doing or saying is harmful. 

I couldn't find a picture for the next 2 qualities on They are dignity and forgiveness. I don't think having dignity precludes having fun or seeing the world with child-like wonder. I just think it means taking a breath, pausing, and then acting or talking. 

Forgiveness is something we all struggle with. I am pretty sure that forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. I believe it just means detaching from whatever has hurt me, and then letting go of the hurt. Forgiveness is an act that is as much for me as for the person I want to forgive. Sometimes it means saying OK, I have to work with this person, so I'm going to let go of being angry and hurt at what happened so that my life is easier. I know this one well as some people at my last job tried to get me fired, which did not happen. I had to take a number of deep breaths and act as if nothing had happened. I was able to interact with them in a way that colleagues should treat each other. I did not, however, forget what they had done, I was able to let the hurt and anger go so that I could function in this job that I needed to pay my bills. I think that is a form of forgiveness.

The next quality Dr. Doty lists is gratitude. I believe that a gratitude practice helps us see the beauty and joy in the world. It can remind us that something exists besides pain, anger, fear, and loss. My current gratitude practice is using the phrase thank you as my mantra during meditation. There are times this lifts me into bliss. Other times it's just a recognition of the beauty that exists. Other times it's a reminder that my what I have in my life so much more than others and where I live is so much safer than other regions in the world. I try to remember to be thankful for my food, for water to drink, for the home I am blessed to have, and so on and so on. 

I could not find a photograph on unsplash for the next 2 qualities, humility and integrity. I know that Micah 6: 8 says that the things that God requires of you is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your god. It does leave out integrity, but somehow I think it must be intertwined with these. Seemingly then, a number of the qualities that Dr. Doty talks about have been striven for for centuries.

Humility, according to Wiktionary, is having the quality of humbleness or being humble. It also says that, in a religious sense, it is transcendent egolessness. One of the synonyms is modesty. I suppose this means that I don't assume I'm always right, that someone else's opinion has worth. That someone else has as much worth as I do.

Integrity seems to me to be living by using right speech and right action. Speaking in a way that is not hurtful if at all possible, saying things that you intend and that you can live up to. Right action is acting a way that is helpful and useful. 

Well, justice is, well, justice. It's being just, fair and impartial - as with the figure of justice that our judicial system uses, having scales that hopefully are balanced and not letting personal perceptions blind us to what is fair.

The next quality on Dr. Doty's list is kindness. Kindness is practiced with a gentle touch, a gentle word. It is knowing when to help and when not to help. It is a warmth of spirit that touches others and helps heal the hurt, the pain of another. It is the giving a gift just for the pleasure of seeing someone else's pleasure. I am sure that the actions that have the quality of kindness is almost endless. I agree with the photograph. It is magic.

And, Dr. Doty's last quality is love. As John Lennon wrote, "All you need is love." Well, maybe not all you need, but if you have love first and foremost, many other things such as compassion and kindness fall into place. This one is more than just romantic love, it is love of family and friends, love of the world, and extending love outward.

I hope that, the more that I live by these qualities, the more I can live with an open heart and a generosity of spirit.


The 1st 2 images are from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. The rest  are from The photographers are:

Gratitude: Gabrielle Cole
Justice: Joel & Jasmine Forestbird
Love: Steve Halama
Kindness: Robert Baker

You can find out more about me, my services and my book here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

When I Go Beyond Fear

I think this image is a good one for when I am feeling fearful. Things seem dark and I don't want to look, although in someways I can't seem to keep myself from looking. It's as if my energetic wings fold in and surround me so that I have trouble moving forward. I wonder if this is a good description for fear for everyone.

Luckily, I am able more and more often to move through or go beyond fear. So many times in life, the things I have feared or worried about have not happened. I am able to take a leap of faith, just hold my breath and do what needs to be done. Going beyond fear allows me to do so much more, to be so much more, to connect so much more than when I am in a fear state.

Life has so much more color since I've decided that I don't want to live in state of fear. It has more laughter, more love. Tina Turner was one of the three women who created a CD called Beyond. She speaks these words towards the beginning of the CD:

"Go Beyond Fear.

Beyond fear takes you into the place where love grows, when you refuse to follow the impulses of fear, anger and revenge.

Beyond Means to Feel Yourself."

And, I clearly feel myself more, listen to my own thoughts and voice rather than that of fear having me assuming what others will say and do. I do still have my moments, but they aren't as strong and they tend to be shorter.

I wish everyone could move beyond fear. 


The first photograph is by Melanie Wasser and the second by Sammie Vasquez. 

If you would like to know more about me, my services, and my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be, Please click here.

Monday, November 26, 2018


There are so many edges in life: actual edges to things, an edge in our voices when we are frustrated or upset; the edges we create between ourselves and others. The seeming edge between us and the out there, the not of this world, however you want to name it. 
And, yet....

The idea that we are separate from the universe is expressed in this meditation image from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. This idea of there being something between us and creation, the world, produces the idea that we have an edge between us and others as well. We seem to think, probably not unreasonably, that we stop at our skin. Everything outside our skin is otherness. But, is this true in all things? Is it true in all ways, all times?

The companion meditation in my book is this one. If, as science says, atoms are mostly empty space, then despite what we perceive on the macro-cosmic level, we are not as solid as we seem. Things flow through us. Does this make us connected to everyone and everything? Does this mean that there is truly no otherness? I do, at times, get a little weirded out by this. Oh, my as George Takei might say in that drawn out way that he has of saying it. 

So, what do I do with this seeming duality, this dichotomy of life? Some people have emotions that I don't want floating through me, let alone taking up residence in my being. I try to regularly cleanse these unwanted, unneeded emotions out and away from me. I try to have appropriate boundaries so that someone doesn't take over my life. I also, however, attempt to be open to the miracle of being connected, being at one with the universe.

I wrote two poems on this subject: 

What Keeps the Universe Out?

We do not see or feel
all of the Universe in
ordinary time, ordinary living.
Somehow we create veils,
filters to live in the everyday.
We ignore the signals, the clues
that the Universe exists within
each of us.

Is it our skin that does this?

Is it our minds instead? 

© 2018 Kathryn L. Samuelson

The Universe Flows Through

Here is a spooky thought:
the Universe flows through
each of us, connects each
of us to everyone, everything else.
Nothing keeps the Universe out. It lives
and breathes in us and with us
at every second of existence. 

© 2018 Kathryn L. Samuelson


The first photograph is by Martin Adams, and I found it on The other two are from my book.

You can find out more about me, my book and my services here.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Light and Dark/Good and Evil

It is typical to conflate light with good and dark with evil, and I occasionally hear someone talk about them as if there is no other spiritual/metaphysical meaning to light and dark. I think that that's not necessarily true, and, in fact, I think it would be good to separate or unconflate them (if there is such a word).

One good reason I can think of to separate the concept of good and evil from light and dark is that it is easy to think of light as white and dark as black because they are visually that. But, then it becomes too easy to unconsciously (and maybe even consciously) think of white as good and black as evil. Just think about where that leads. The other issue for me is that the uterus can be seen as a dark place, so women are dark, which leads to will women being evil and hence needing to be controlled, etc.

Now if we separate these concepts out from each other, what then are light and dark? I don't think we need to ask the same of good and evil.

One of the things that I believe about dark and light is that, metaphysically, they exist at the center of creation. The dark to me is the fecund, the seed place, the time and space from which, when sparked, creativity flows outward. Light is the spark that sets the seed growing.

They existed at the time of the creation. Light inseminated dark, and, et voila, the universe was created. Or, so I believe. There are so few animate things on the earth that self-generate the next generation. So, why would we think that the universe was created by only one force? You can designate them as god and goddess if you so choose. Or merely feminine and masculine energies.

And, if we free up light and dark, does that mean that we also cleanse good and evil of some of the associations that have tainted light and dark. Then good and evil could be seen as purely acts and thoughts that help or harm, and not necessarily somehow tied to races or sexes. Maybe then one less thing would be in place to keep white patriarchal supremacy would disappear. 

(I also believe that patriarchy exists in other cultures and places, but I really can only write of the United States and not those other cultures and places.)


The photographs, in order, are by Adrien Olichon, Nathan Dumlao, and Jerin J. I found all of them on

You can find out more about me, my services, and my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be here

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Monday, November 5, 2018

More Reflections on Ancestry: Immigration and Citizenship

I have been thinking over the weekend as the election approaches about ancestry, about immigration and the fear of the "Other." On Donald Trump deciding that he can override the 14th Amendment to the Constitution by an Executive Order which gives citizenship to anyone born here or born out of the country if one of the parents is a citizen. 

Ted Cruz, former Presidential candidate and Senator from Texas is only a U.S. citizen because of the 14th Amendment. He was born in Canada. His mother is a U.S. citizen, so he is allowed to be a citizen. No one has given him a hard time about this, just Barack Obama whose mother was a citizen. He could actually have been born in Kenya (he wasn't) and still been a citizen. The birther contingent seemed to conveniently forget the fact about his mother's citizenship. And, her long line of ancestors in this country.

Because, unless you are Native American, you are or your ancestors were immigrants. What I remember from my history lessons are that newer immigrants were often treated with fear and loathing. They were considered dirty. Well wouldn't we all be dirty if we'd spent who knows how much time traveling to come to the US. I imagine those coming from England, Spain, and Portugal in the 16th and 17th Centuries were a tad smelly and worse for the wear. I remember my MorMor (maternal grandmother in Swedish) saying that she remembers the family hoping that the new arrivals in the family would show up in the middle of the night because they would be dirty, etc.

Then there's the cry that they'll take our jobs away from us. I don't think that has proven true through time. I know that's one of the current refrain, but there are many jobs open because everyone now wants to go to college. That is leaving jobs open in the trades, in retail, and other businesses. Immigrants often take the jobs that those of us born here don't want. They work in the slaughterhouses, restaurant kitchens, and mow lawns.

Some people say that immigrants are a drain on the system meaning illegal immigrants in particular. Well, immigrants, legal or illegal, pay taxes. People think that illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, but they do through purchasing things subject to sales taxes. They pay property taxes through their rent, because landlords, after all, have the tenants pay a proportional share of the taxes in their rent. Many illegals somehow manage to obtain a tax ID number or are using someone else's Social Security Number. So, unless the illegal immigrants are living under a bridge somewhere, are paid under the table in cash, and buy nothing, they pay taxes.

I wonder about the consequences of repealing the 14th Amendment. What happens to all the people who were born here after their parents came legally but weren't naturalized citizens yet? Are they immediately no longer citizens? What would have been my MorMor's status? She was the only one of her immediate family born here. Would she have been required to become naturalized despite being born here? How far back would the effect of a repeal go?

The intent of this seems extremely racist to me as it is clearly, in my mind, aimed at those coming in from Central and South America. There are illegals from other countries, but people do seem so focused on those immigrants. Interestingly, the Spanish came to what is now the United States before the English. St. Augustine, FL, founded by the Spanish, is the oldest city in the U.S. Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California were colonized by the Spanish. Yet, somehow we are supposed to fear Latinx.

It also is racist as it ignores that fact that the 14th Amendment was passed by the Congress and then ratified by the required number of states in 1868 after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. It was put into place to address citizenship rights of and equal protection rights for former enslaved people. I believe it would be dishonoring the history of the former enslaved and what this country went through to end enslavement.

Would I still have citizenship despite the fact that my family origins are from somewhere else? Or would I have essentially squatter's rights because some of my family came in the 17th century? Would those whose ancestors were given citizenship in the 19th century due to the 14th Amendment lose citizenship?

I think that it is quite sad that the person occupying the Oval Office is so unaware of Constitutional law that he feels he can wipe out a right with an Executive Order. Or maybe he thinks that everyone will go along with it. 

Thank god for lawyers. I see a law suit coming over this one.


The photograph is by Ghost Presenter and was found on

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Sometimes it Just Takes a Push or Two

A friend noticed an ad in a magazine (Wisdom Magazine I think) for a book publicist. I had seen this ad before, had looked at her website and decided that, based on the authors that she represents, I could not afford her services. But, because my friend pushed me by suggesting I look at her information, I contacted this publicist. We came to an agreement for a way I could afford a bit of her services. I would not have connected with this terrific woman if my friend hadn't, in a very gentle way, pushed me to see what I could find out. I am deeply honored that this publicist decided to support me in the way we agreed on. 

I am now pursuing some avenues for publicizing my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be, that I might not otherwise be doing. I feel that the gentle push of my friend and this publicist has me standing on the shoulders of their support. You never know when you will find new people to add to your community. Or when people already in your community will step forward with an idea when you need it.

This small community of two has shed some much needed light. I am slowly reaching out to others to hopefully build more community around my book, to have others provide a gentle push here or there to move me in the direction I need to go.

May we all have the push that we need when we need it. May we all build our communities outward. 


The first photograph is my Mathew Schwartz. The second is by Corey Motta. The third was taken by Daan Stevens. I found all of them on This is the cover of my book: 

You can find out about it and my services at

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Monday, October 22, 2018

There is Time for Fun No Matter How Serious Things Are

I am not sure that this post will necessarily be more humorous than my recent string of posts, but it is necessary to balance serious work with play. The saying after all is: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Or it can easily be: "All work and no play make Jill a dull girl." So, play on.

I don't want to limit definition of play, except that it should be something that brings laughter, joy, happiness, or connection with the lighter side of ourselves. It can be any number of things. Gardening, walks in nature, playing tag with your children or grandchildren, visiting the local museum, and who knows what else. Making art can be play. Knitting at a knitting guild can be play. 

It seems to me as I reflect on play as I write, that it could, and maybe should be, something that breaks us open to let connection and light into our hearts and souls. It can also help us cross the divide between ourselves if we find play that we both enjoy. Laughter is healing. We can see that we aren't completely separate if we laugh together. 

Another thing about play is that it can often require that there be two or more people playing. Playing a board game by myself probably wouldn't be much fun, although I suppose something like scrabble might just be possible, but I'm not sure how I could do that without cheating. 

So, I guess I'm giving myself and all of you permission to go out and have fun. 


The first image is from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. For information on the book, please click here. The second image is by Clem Onojeghuo and the third is by Damian Patowski. I found both on

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