Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Discovering My Purpose

November 5, 2009
My professional life has been guided by an experience that I had in about 1986. I was an undergraduate student at Iowa State University in the Leisure Studies program. I had a wonderful advisor Steve Simpson, who assisted me in refining my curriculum to focus towards outdoor recreation with an emphasis on protecting the environment.

Leisure Studies was a program of study that I stumbled upon as I was trying to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up (I was 26). I had been floating between a variety of disciplines including business, biology and hadn’t found a niche. In order to fill up a semester course schedule I took an introductory Leisure Studies course. It fit perfectly. I thought ¨what better kind of work than to help people enjoy their leisure – isn’t that why we all work so hard?¨

Steve’s emphasis and teaching methods were very effective and influential. It took us to a place where we studied people like John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other great thinkers including, still living, Fritoj Capra (Center for Ecoliteracy). Our classes consisted of readings from all of these authors and many more, combined with Steve’s true passion “experiential education”. We did classes where we participated and lead activities like biking, rock climbing, kayaking, windsurfing, and also participated on outdoor excursions.

Even though I was very enthusiastic about outdoor recreation, I was still not clear what exactly I was supposed to do with my career. I had an idea to be a naturalist videographer, but I don’t think I had the patience for that profession. My answer to my “mission” conundrum came to me on canoe trip on the St. Croix river between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Now, as a little preparatory statement, I have discovered that many of my greatest personal discoveries occurred as a result of personal crises – times of great sorrow, struggle, or even at a juncture where I have had a choice, usually not conscious, between life or death. Those points where I was confronted with opportunities or challenges that relate to my character, or growth as a person. In many respects this relates to spiritual growth from my life experiences.

What I relate next could be easily avoided, and part of me would rather not reveal the “true story”. However, I believe it is possibly the most important fact, because if it weren’t for the circumstances to be exactly as they were, I likely would have not had the experience that I did.

One of my personal challenges in my life has been my relations to women. I have had struggles, and it likely goes all the way back to my relationship with my own mother. My woman “chooser” usually ends up getting me with women whom I, unconsciously, wanted to save. I have a sort of “hero complex”. So back to the story, in our Leisure Studies courses there was a woman whom I had a crush on. The problem was, I was married.

We were having a wonderful experience canoeing on the St. Croix to natural areas that were only accessible from the river. The day before I had my epiphany for what my “mission” was, we had taken a hike in a pine forest. It was incredible. Quiet, the tall, straight trees, and the whispering breeze as we entered, and then the silence of the forest was so memorable. I don’t know why it had such an impact on me this time, but I remember it to set the stage for the events that would follow the next morning. We finished the hike in the forest and returned to camp. We spent some time “processing” the experience and then were prepared to go to sleep in our tents. I don’t remember the details, but I remember I wanted to get into the tent with
this lady I had a crush on. But she wouldn’t let me. And the greater part of me knew that I didn’t want to anyway. It was a struggle between my lower and higher nature.
It was going to get cold that night, but I had a good sleeping bag. And maybe I was pouting, or maybe I wanted to punish myself, it could have been any number of reasons. So, I decided to sleep next to the tributary, Bear Creek, of the main branch of the St. Croix. It did get quite cold.

In fact, when I awoke at daybreak there was snow on the ground.

When I awoke, I just woke up and for some reason I had this realization about what I was supposed to do in this world – what my mission was. I don’t recall the details of thoughts, or anything. But to this day that experience marks the juncture in my life where I had a clear sense of how I could make a difference. I was supposed to work to help people experience the out-of-doors. To facilitate experiences, like we were having in this class, to where people, especially young people, could have an experience that might re-connect their spirit to the spirit abundant in the natural world. I don’t know exactly how this knowing came to me, but it is as clear today as it must have been then.

Now, this mission, this purpose, or responsibility has taken me on a very winding path in my life. Sometimes my work, or experiences have seemed to be a detour, or dead-end. But I now understand, at this point, that these experiences were part of a twenty year training program.

As is described in Appendix B with my Ecotourism Consulting International term paper, my path started with an idea to assist in developing businesses that would assist people’s in developing countries to create alternative economic strategies that would help protect the rainforests.

Here is a short summary of just a few of my more pertinent jobs and schooling which will provide a summary of this winding career path. To improve my credibility, and train me in natural resource management I got a masters degree in Forestry, with a focus on agroforestry and alternative energy systems. After that I spent five years with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, first developing the first “nature tourism” program called Texas Adventures, and then running a mail-order catalog (the TPWD Collection) within the same agency. Following that took me to back to school to become the Assistant Director of the Center for Nature and Heritage Tourism, where I learned the geographical perspective, and became knowledgeable about the Internet and geographic information systems (GIS). My PhD Dissertation is entitled “Nature Tourism in Cyberspace: An Examination of it’s Geography and Character in the

Finally, I ended up being a professor and research scientist at Texas A&M University where my first responsibilities were to teach farmers and ranchers how to start a nature tourism business, to work with communities interested in nature tourism, to create a Internet based tourism information system (TexBox), to be the founder of a tourism and technology business out of the university (AdventGX) and finally to become an assistant to the Vice President for Research in the areas of new environmental technologies (hyperspectral sensors) and commercialization strategies.

After all of this, and my mentor and boss Dr. Ewing passing, I took another huge risk to get back to my original dream and left academia to come to South America to develop, real, on-the -ground strategies for rural sustainable revitalization and empowerment. Over the years, my perspectives have greatly expanded based on my understanding of political, economic, social, business and bureaucratic realities, while at the same time increasing my passion for the need to stimulate spiritual awakenings in people.

I have experienced vast and numerous experiences with people and places, but one truth that rises up from it all, that we have to help people, and protect the planet. I have also found that almost all people are inherently good, and they just need some help to understand how to better live and relate to each other and Gaia. The means to accomplish this is through a principle I call “people helping people” and through education.

In any case, the core of my ideas in this regard, related to rural revitalization and
empowerment, are presented in the “Vision to Transform the World”. This story, of realizing “my mission” is the final contribution to this book “I Am Sharing” – although it very likely is just the beginning of a series of books that will go into detail about the various components and requirements of rural, regional development strategies. I feel I have been honored more than any other person with my experiences in this world. And I will continue on this meandering path, with the hopes to achieve some level of success to make my contribution to helping people to be happy and to have more fun – which is why I think that we came to the beautiful
place we call Earth!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Realization of Self Love

This is a very personal description of a great discovery about self-love and the teachings of Jesus and the ten commandments.

About twelve years ago (1997), I was recovering from divorce. It turned out to be one of the most challenging times in my life. This process literally took years. I am not sure why I drug it out so long, but that was just the process. I mostly felt myself to have been a failure as a father. Not upholding the social agreement of marriage, mostly for the sake of my son.

I struggled a great deal financially, probably a form of self punishment. I also had periods of deep sorrow- even so far as contemplating the end of my life. I never went so far to actually do anything, just going to that place of desperate resignation. The most profound of these times I actually went to the place of no feelings. Ambivalence, numbness, not caring. That I discovered is a much more desperate and dangerous place than anger or depression.

When I was at the lowest place I was in my apartment and I picked up the Bible. Now, I have never read the Bible to any great extent. I have tried a number of times, but found the language difficult to comprehend. Plus I have come to believe that much of the greatest truths to have been culled out. However, I still believe that it is filled with great wisdom and truth, it is just difficult for me to decipher what might have been added or deleted. Not the best use of my time, this is my opinion.

However, on this occasion I opened up the book at random, dropped my finger on the passage where the disciples are asking Jesus to speak on the commandments, I remember reading "and what of the ten commandments"? And Jesus's response, in my recollection "There are only two. Love God with all your being. And Love your neighbor as yourself".

Reading this caused great realizations for me, and insights on my perspectives on love of self, and also my access to the love of God. You see, I read in that passage in the Bible, having a scientific mind, a case of deductive reasoning. The bottom line, or the basic challenge of Jesus' message relates to Self love. The deduction, or the leap of reasoning comes because he did not mention three points - 1) Love God, 2) Love Yourself, and 3) Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. The second step in this reasoning is missing.

Why? I assume that Jesus "assumed" that we would love ourselves. But is this the case in our world? I think mostly not. For many reasons - one is that it has become "tabu" in many ways to "Love ourselves" (e.g. narcissism, arrogance, selfishness). However, as I have since discovered, if I don't harbor Love in my heart for myself, how can I truly Love others? And I am not talking about "selfish" love. I'm talking about the Love for God and for all others. For if I truly Love Andy in the true sense of Love then I do not have to worry about selfish love. My brother-in-law many years ago (1981) confronted me on this. I think I said something him to about loving my girlfriend more than I loved myself. And he replied, "Andy how can you expect others to Love you, if you don't Love yourself?" This I have realized over the years is one of the most powerful questions a person can ask - either of themselves, or of a dear one.

This reverie from the quote from Jesus made me think why I might have arrived at the point of not Loving myself. I thought that it probably had something to do with pain - and pain being a sign of being excluded from God's Love, which to me is the greatest fear. Much greater than the fear of death. (a little digression, imagine the world of people living day to day their greatest fear as their truth!)

I thought back to my first unconscious "comprehension" of God - which would have been my parents. They were bigger than me, took care of all my needs, protected me, loved me. But did they love me when they punished me? I think I came to understand/feel that when I did "bad", I was being excluded from Love. When I felt pain, either external or internal, I began to separate myself from Love. I began to believe that I could actually do something and become un-Lovable. A ridiculous notion as I understand today, but for most of my life I believed, I felt this. As my friend Tom says "little Andy", had programmed this idea into the very core of my being. This is the idea that the church has placed on us. The idea of "original sin", or at least the way that I interpreted it. And, if I look at many people in the world, I think others believe it too.

In any case, I examined this idea of doing things, and being "out of Love". And it explained my behaviors. You see, once I was out of Love, or had excluded myself consciously, it doesn't matter. Bad in degrees is immaterial. And, because of the internal pain, the need to blot it out became more and more necessary. Thus, in my case, I turned to drugs and alcohol as a young person. However, at the time of this experience reading the Bible, in 1997, I had been 16 year sober.

I think I somehow got the idea or belief that if I felt pain, I wasn't being Loved. Of course it started with my parents, but then I think it extended to God, and of course to everyone. Because, how or why would I feel pain (which is "bad") if I was Loved?

Pain is a sign of being a "sinner" and "sinners" can't be Loved by God, right? Because we have to become an "un-sinner" for God to really Love us, right? We have to become totally clean to be accepted into the Love of God. And this only happens when you "do something", and are transformed into being "white as snow". But if I feel pain inside, then I feel that I am the same. I know that this is not the case, and this seems like a very childish way of understanding. However, I think this childish "program" was actually running in my life - it explained my behaviors.

In truth, I do not think God condemns. It is a man made construct, like so many other concepts that have imprisoned us - but these are OK, because there is a purpose to all.

I also realized at this moment that pain is not "bad". It is merely an aspect on a continuum. And, in actuality, it can be very, very good. In fact, it was deep and desperate pain that lead me to "no pain", no cares, no feeling which was the stimulus for all of these epiphanies about "Self Love". And in that moment, and in previous moments, I realized that "pain" can be exquisite. And then I wasn't sitting in judgment about my feelings, about my actions, which would result in me being excluded from God's Love, which is not possible.

Whether I consciously bought into the idea of "sin" and condemnation, I think at some level I believed that I had done things that had placed me out of God's Love. Divorce.

Abandoning my son (this was my "programmed" belief). Having a tendency to be somewhat
of a "womanizer". But this actually tied to my own condemnation of myself. It became a self fulfilling prophecy. It was like, OK, I'm already a "screw-up" (a sinner) so fuck it! And I had come to believe that I was the kind of person to do those things. So, if I believe myself to be that kind of person, how could I do anything else? But in reality all I was doing in that process was trying to find love. Love from others. Love to fill the void in me. But no other person can ever fill that void. Because that was a void created by my lack of Love for my Self.

And I think Loving my Self first is actually one of the most gracious things that I could ever do. I am God's first gift to me. To my person. This physical, spiritual and intellectual being was God's gift to me first. And from there, all other expressions arise, at least in my conscious experience.

I realized this in another way a few years ago when I heard the song by Bad Company "Feel like making Love". I realized that we are supposed to be "Love factories". But how could I generate Love if I don't have the first ingredient - Love for the being, the gift that God gave me - me, myself and I. Isn't it a tremendous lack of gratitude to not love what God gave me, first?

Through all of this thinking I realized that "Self love" was to "Love God with All My Being" - and that if I could accomplish Self Love in the most pure and profound way, then "Love Others as Your Self" would flow naturally and effortlessly. That was the "missing deduction" in Jesus's statement about there only being two commandments.

I also realized that maybe, these feelings, were God experiencing itself through me. I imagined my joys, sorrows, and the agelessness of the feelings. I imagined how my body, and my mind seem to age, but my feelings don't. I thought of the loves and deepness of those profound feelings that I had experienced in my life and felt that that truly was a God living through me. And those forces are the ones that have motivated me, truly to seek Love with all my being. To be Love in all ways that I can.

So what next? Forgiveness. Yes, but if God doesn't condemn why would I need forgiveness?

I don't really know, but for me at that (and this) moment, the forgiveness was to know that God's Love was immediately available to me - all-ways, always. It happened to me long ago when I realized my life was in the "shitter", I was a drunk and a junkie, mostly because of my dishonesty with myself. When I had this realization that dishonesty had created my twisted little life, and admitted I was lying, and committed to take a different path, and said the prayer "God help me". My life began to be totally different.

All I had to do, I guess, was to accept the Love to flow. It was there waiting. I didn't grow any new Love acceptance organs.

Oh, you may be thinking, why do I say that God doesn't judge - well for me, it's about Love. Love Loves it doesn't judge. And if God is Love then God doesn't judge. God just Loves.

So what I had to do at that moment was look at Andy, and see him for who he was, and just appreciate that he never meant to hurt anyone - on purpose. That many times he was confused, and did things that resulted in apparent "problems" but that those really don't matter to Love. That no matter what I think that I do that is bad, and no matter how bad I might feel, I am always Loved by God. Period. There is no way out of it. It is everywhere and always.

And today, I have learned more and more about my feelings and their connection to the Divine. That they are actually the "program" the "guidance system" that I was given in order to know how to avoid doing the things that were contrary to my, and others, best interest. But I didn't learn this until about 2 years ago.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Man Who Planted Trees

This is one of my favorite stories of all time!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peace Making

How YOU can make a difference and Be the Peace You Want to See in the World
Dr. Andrew Skadberg

What Can You Do – How to Get Started

I suspect you may be wondering how you may get started for transforming your way of Being. If you are wondering this, that is a good thing. I often find myself agreeing with so much of these materials for “self-help”, work on making our lives better but the question always arises “so what, now what?” All of this is excellent information, but I want to know what I can do to get started: are there certain types of activities, or practices that I can do to begin this process. In other words, what actions can I take?

There are so many wonderful programs out there. So many resources, experts, workshops, programs, courses, etc. etc. And I am very glad to see these kind of developments. However, sometimes I feel there might be so much information and options as to be overwhelming. I believe that the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetheart) principle applies in so many things, and in this case especially so. So what I am providing here is one of the most simple, straightforward and powerful programs that I am aware of currently - “The Practice”. I very much believe also in not “re-inventing the wheel”. If there is something that works, use that as a starting point and then as you go along you can continually “add-value” or features to what you use for your own personal development.

The Practice – A Summary
By Desmond Donald Green -
Available for free, The Global Citizenship Passport that includes

The Practice
The Practice defines a body and process of core principles that when applied set the stage for life affirming demonstrations. The value of these core principles have all been well documented. For the most part the principles are presented with focus on their applications scripting new behavior patterns for productive living..

Gaia´s Message to Me

This was a message I shared with two friends who saw my blog "Love is the Motivator".

Here is the message I shared with them about my VERY CLEAR AND PROFOUND KNOWING as I woke up this morning. You must understand, that this realization has come as part of a long and arduous time of introspection, self seeking, prayer and hardship, but Self understanding, answers to the BIG questions, consciousness and true freedom have been just part of the fruits. Here is the first of what will be many messages along these lines.

Dear Friends,

I am still plugging away, and will be until my last breath. Today I want to share what I know to be the key, and I will be sharing this same message everywhere I go because I have known it since Gaia planted in me 23 years ago.

We have to wake people up to our relationship to Gaia. I suspect you really know this, but I woke up so clear TODAY that we have gotten caught up in the details, what with "global warming", pesticides, etc., etc., etc., etc. The key relationship that we must mend, to demonstrate our readiness to go through ascension, (if that is what is happening) is how we relate to our Spiritual Source.

Gaia is the primary link in our chain to Source, the One. My dear friend Desmond Green has been bringing home to me that "we are PHYSICAL SPIRIT and now just becoming conscious of it". This is consistent with all great historical messages.

But the converter of Spirit, or Star Stuff, in the form that we get this fabulous sense experience as "human-beings" is the Earth, Gaia!!!! It is the water plant, the rock factory, the aluminum factory, the air plant, the sun converter, the flower supplier, the bird and butterfly manufacturer, the light converter to physical matter that we can have deep and profound sense experiences and be conscious and "feeling" of the fact "plant"!!! Likely the first time in the history of the universe, based on my research to date. This is the half-truth that we have been sold that we are the only life in the Universe.

But at this point, being an ex-academic, we are not passing the course. We can do better. But time is really running out. That message came home emphatically in Osho´s video that I first posted in my blog Waking Up the World - Osho.

And I believe the test for us is to do our damndest in these last days to try to wake people up to this important relationship. I got the assignment 23 years ago, through Gaia´s Spirit I guess, while I was on a canoe trip in Minnesota. At that time it was my job to "try to create opportunities for people to experience the outdoors so their spirit wakes up". I have been following the path, but in not very effective strategies (at least that I can tell).

But this morning the urgency is upon me. We have to share this with our kids, and their kids, and our grandparents and our uncles and aunts. If we do our utmost we might be able to help more people go on the ride to 5D, but if even if the ascension doesn´t happen like we are dreaming of, we will have a different experience here too. Because I think inherently, if we become conscious of this one single relationship, I think our relationship with ourselves and with our God will change too.

I have come to the conclusion that if the church was really teaching the word of God, they would have been preaching about this.

I don´t mean to be ranting here, I just have been given a new assignment, after likely 50 years of floundering. Now it is time to become the clanging symbol, or the light on the hill, or whatever method it takes to plant a seed in each persons heart that I can.

We are all in this together we have to save ourSelves, and each other.