Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Where Do You Live?

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We forge gradually our greatest instrument for understanding the world — introspection. We discover that humanity may resemble us very considerably — that the best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbors is to know ourselves.
No great inner event befalls those who summon it not.

Entrée:  Home, Sweet Home by John Howard Payne, From the Opera "Clari, the Maid of Milan"
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Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there's no place like home!
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain:
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gaily that came at my call;—
Give me them,—and the peace of mind dearer than all!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!

How sweet 'tis to sit 'neath a fond father's smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!

To thee I'll return, overburdened with care;
The heart's dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!

Main Course: Welcome Home
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Change! It never stops. It is part of being a grownup. It is scary. One of the most life-altering changes is that of removing to a new location. For days or perhaps weeks, one feels like a nomad, merely camping out instead of being at home in a comfortable place. Moving to a new location, leaving the familiar behind. For quite some time, I have been working away from home, sleeping not in my own bed for at least five days a week. It has been a difficult time in my life. I decided to move closer to where I work, for a change. Uh, that is, closer to where I am working for the next few months.

July became a search for a place to live. I had moved several times over the last few years. Since 1998: Tacoma to Sumner to Auburn to Beaverton to Denver to Auburn to Beaverton. Now back to the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Closer to home. I was born and raised here. But to where do I move? I don't always have to get my way. Sometimes, choosing a place to live can require compromise. Mid-August, second place I saw, I liked. We're movin' now... really.

Then, late August. Packing up everything. Everything? A lot of work, that. More choices. What do I want to be there with me? What will I need to learn to live without? Lifting, heaving. Some to the dump, some to recycling, some to St. Vinnies or whatever. The rest: Furnishings of a Life. Stuff, and lots of it. 4300 lbs in 24 feet of Me-Haul, with me driving. Another departure, another adventure, hi ho! I have known too much of this stretch of the Interstate. A lifetime of memories, just behind me, for one more move, one more trip. Boxed, ready, loaded and rolling. Every part of my body hurts, except what don't work.

At the other end, I got it unloaded, too, with kind, neighborly help. Put away, too (except for my office - whotta mess! But I am back online). Ahhhhhh...

Now, early September. A renewal, of sorts. An opportunity to affirm my committment to the positive value this change brings to my life. A chance to demonstrate my committment in conventional ways. How? Why, let's get involved in my environment! Go see what the neighborhood looks like, feels like, where the energy is, and where my place in it may be. Sample the native life, interact! The Library, the restaurants and stores. Community. My community.

I dropped by the Lodge and shook a few hands. Salmon Days in early October? Sounds like fun. Sure, I can lend a helping hand in one of the booths, so someone else can enjoy the parade. Dinner at the brew pub down on the lower floor of the same building. The gentlemen in the Lodge Above the Tavern highly recommend the smoked salmon melt. Jack cheese on an english muffin. A pale porter, too, if you please. Just one, but I could walk home from here if I had to. I'm not a beer guy, sorry. Three blocks to the Lodge hall. Cool. I like this place.

Just a 20 minute shoreline drive to work through the idle richness of Lake Sammammish homes (where the salmon come back from the sea to spawn in the home waters of Issaquah Creek), just a 30 minute drive home, back the same way. Home... Surrounded by green-clad mountains, soon to become ablaze with fall colors, just a block from the Kiwanis park, so near to the salmon hatchery, a southern exposure, a real wood fireplace and a view to Cougar Mountain sunsets. Vista Ridge on Mountain Park Blvd, they named it. No extra vowels, great. Exercize room, pool and spa. The churchbell rings, just up the street, each Sunday morning. Surrounded by family (not too close, yet not too distant), surrounded by that which I have chosen. I even had a grandchild over for the weekend. Surrounded by fun! Home. Papa's home. We like it.

Lovely, absolutely lovely. I shall see if it is all I have hoped for. Welcome home, Michael. Settle in, and rest a spell! Soon enough, there'll be more work to be done.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2004

Second Helping: The Self-Actualization Puzzle by Joan Marques
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Today I had an interesting conversation with my students in one of the management courses I am teaching at a local University. It was about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a phenomenon that many of you may already be familiar with. And to the ones who are not: Maslow distinguishes 5 levels of needs within individuals. From bottom to top these are: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs. Maslow's main premise is that a higher need can only be fulfilled when all lower ones are.

While providing examples about how several of these need-levels in the hierarchy can be fulfilled, we mulled over the self-actualization part. It was my conclusion that one does not have to own all the riches in the world to consider him or herself at the self-actualization level, which is the highest in Maslow's hierarchy. It is my conviction that fulfillment of each level depends on the individual in case, and that, therefore, it is very subjective. Some people may never reach the esteem level, let alone the self-actualization stage, because they keep struggling with their fulfillment of social needs.

One of my students even remarked that he had read somewhere that only 2% of the U.S. population ever reach the self-actualization level! I thought that such was downright sad, because this low percentage indicates to me that the majority of people seem to focus on the wrong thing. It seems that their achievements in certain need-areas are never enough: if they have 2 SUV's, they want to go for a third, or replace the older model for a newer one. And they remain stuck in the habit of keeping up with their social environment and with being socially accepted.

In my opinion it would be so much easier if people would limit the number or frequency of influence-sources they expose themselves to, because those are the ones that create the hunger for fulfillment of yet another social need within them. But I guess that's easier said than done.

Actually, my students could not relate too well with my statement that I considered myself in the self-actualization category, although I am in no position to afford top of the line of anything. However, was my opinion, if I am okay with not having top of the line, and if I consider myself satisfied with what I have achieved on the prior levels of Maslow's need-hierarchy, I can be in the self-actualization region.

A smart remark was then made by an eloquent lady in class who commented that one can actually go up and down the hierarchy as life makes its capricious twists. I could not else but agree: one can be perfectly satisfied at one moment, and get triggered by a new desire, or get confronted with an unexpected disaster the next, so that one finds him or herself once more at a lower level of the hierarchy, trying to climb this invisible ladder once again.

Life has its trials and tribulations, and stability is a moving target, just like satisfaction is. Even if a person is entirely content with where he or she is at one moment, something can occur that wipes this contentment away. And the strife restarts.

Concluding: I remain convinced that self-actualization could be around a not-so-far corner for each of us, if only we would refrain from comparing ourselves and our possessions to others, and if we would just determine our own criteria for fulfillment. Then the 2% that my student was talking about could rise to 82: Believe it or not.

Dr. Joan Marques Burbank, California, 8/31/0

About the author:

Joan Marques believes that the journey called 'life' should be as pleasant as can be, that one should reach out for themself, and for others within their reach. Her company specializes in teaching personal and organization leadership in higher education and promoting and teaching the how-to's of spirituality in corporate work settings. Her goal is to transform every experience into a worthwhile experience by teaching that, "nothing is worth doing if it is not fun." Visit here.

Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Dan L. wrote, "I read the first paragraph of your entry and knew that I would email you. It is rare that I read something so similar to my situation.  I was especially drawn to your statement, "So, instead of waiting until I hit the bottom, I raised the bottom up to where I was at that time." Thank you for sharing your story with me.  May you always stay connected to your Source, whatever/whomever that/they may be." Another fellow traveller joins my path - my honor, Dan. Press on.

Kathy P. wrote, "I want to thank you for being who you are, and sharing your soul with those of us eager to learn and grow in the Light. Your gentle soul is a bright light in this world. I just wish everyone could get your messages, and I love to share them with my friends. I hope things settle down for you soon. There really is no place like home, especially when you have to be away from home so much, but sometimes I think it makes us appreciate the little things a lot more. Thanks again for inspiring and motivating me... we need you and love you! Please don't ever stop!" Hope you enjoyed this week's issue, Kathy. Thank you for your subscription, your encouragement, and the trust you have placed in me. I am honored by your kind words.

Grace S. said of her visit to Friday's Inspiration, "I wanted to let you know that in tracking down stuff in hopes of finding information to help my daughter, I am finding reams and reams of wonderful soul-satisifying balm that I am printing to take back to her. I am being richly blessed, also... thank you, and may you be doubly blessed. Gentle hugs." Blessed I am. Thank you, Grace, and tell a friend!

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