Five Steps to Jedi Calm

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One.) Acceptance is Peace.
In order to correct a problem we must accept that there is a problem. It is the first step. Acceptance is acknowledging and allowing something to exist. Most feel acceptance is passive. You accept and so you just leave it. “I accept injustice in the world, so I won’t do anything about it.” But that is not full acceptance. You have to accept your world, but also yourself. And that means accepting all of you. Your strengths, your weaknesses, the things you like, and the things you don’t. It is okay if you feel you have darkness in you – philosophically debatable, but if that is the label you use then accept your darkness as well. This allows you to fully address all situations you find yourself in because you know your limits and how far you are willing to go. So our first step to Jedi calm and peace is to accept the universe and ourselves.

Two.) Measure the Risk, Embrace the Now.
Too often we can get caught up in the what if scenarios. The potential hazards and consequences of a situation. Our minds can process hundreds of scenarios where something bad happens. And sometimes we feel anxiety and have no real reason, we just are worried. Focus yourself on the risk, regret, reward. Not worse case scenarios, we know those readily and easily. Instead think on the moment. This moment – what is the risk of doing? Will you regret not taking this opportunity? What about in a year, five, ten? Is this moment worth the leap? Measure your risk, sure. Be rational and consider your options, but don’t live so far in the future of endless possibilities that you never live for the moment and act in the present.

Three.) Acknowledge the Warning, Forget the Worry.
Fear is a natural response to what our instincts tell us is dangerous. That we are about to do something we are not comfortable with and don’t feel confident in doing. It is not bad or evil or dark. It is just a natural process. The issue arises when we allow fear to create worry and distract us from what is right in front of us. The endless possibilities of consequences and bad things that could result if this happens or if that happens. Worrying is a hamster running on a wheel. There is a lot of movement, a lot of energy, but no progress and no advancement. Acknowledge and accept the fear. Thank yourself for the warning. Measure the risk, and then embrace the moment. Worrying about it won’t change it.

Four.) Focus on Your Reality
We all know the Qui-Gon quote. Direct your attention where it will be most beneficial. You have accepted and embraced, now it is time to just focus. Steady the mind and hone that energy and focus onto something productive. If you are lost in thought on some what-if scenario you could miss important signs. You may not react or respond properly. Keep your attention here and now, because this is the moment that requires your attention. So focus on where you are and what you are doing. Hmm?

Five.) Just Live.
In the end forget all this nonsense and just live your life. Be happy. Enjoy the ride. It is going to end eventually anyhow. No one lives forever. No sense in wasting what time you have trying to be something that doesn’t make you happy. Being with someone who doesn’t make you happy. Refusing to do anything that you might enjoy because it is safer to do nothing. Live. Embrace your life. Whether that is the Jedi Life or the Snowboard life. Whatever. Just live. And if that means staying in a bed reading an endless pile of books because that is what makes you happy – then go for it (I mean you will have to work to afford more books and hot cocoa and such, but still). Point being is to simply live the life you want to live to the very best of your ability. Do that and you’ll build that inner calm within.

Jedi, Relationships, and the End…

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Romantic relationships can be hard work sometimes. Heck all relationships really. Communication. Trust. Attachment. Many things can happen in life where we act or react in a way that puts a strain on the relationships around us. Romantic relationships are great! Until they are not (a little Yogi Berra there for you). When you are in love it can be insanely difficult to tell if your relationship has come to an end. To clarify this doesn’t have to mean romantic love. Love of family and friends applies here as well. Though my point and focus for this is based upon romantic love.

I have had several core relationship in my life come to an end. I like it is a natural part of life. We continue to grow and sometimes we outgrow certain relationships. A few years ago my friendship with my best friend that I had known since Junior High came to an end. We drifted apart over the years, ignoring those differences until we just didn’t understand or trust each other anymore. I have gone through divorce with a woman I had every intention of spending the rest of my life with. But as the struggles of life hit we turned in different directions, sought different outlets, and lost what drew us together in the first place.

It is painful to lose someone we value. As such we can find ourselves holding onto toxic relationships simply because loss sucks. Doesn’t matter how much you experience it, it is still sad to find that something that was once central in your life just no longer has a place within it. Of course strong relationships mean strong emotions and as a Jedi we know what that means – judgment isn’t always clear. And “knowing” something doesn’t mean we act on it. Just because we understand the rational choice doesn’t mean we are anymore inclined to follow it. The heart wants what the hearts wants, but when can we tell it is time to Jedi-Up and take that first bold step in a new direction?

Over the years I have ended good relationships too early, stayed in bad relationships way too long, and vice versa. Eventually I found I needed a checklist. Something to use my Jedi-Mind in conjunction with my Emotional State of Being. It simply helps me make sure I am not making a completely emotional and impulsive decision in regards to my personal relationships. So here are the questions I present to myself. Through reflection, being honest with myself and my answers, I can come to a fair conclusion. As I find myself running through this checklist again, I figured I’d share it.
1.) When I think of this relationship ending what is my major feeling/emotion?
Fear? Loneliness? Relief? Sorrow? Apathy? Usually there is a mix (anger can make appearances), but generally you can feel one above the other. And it tells you a lot about the state of your relationship. Sometimes this alone can show you if you have already checked-out or that you were truly in a bad situation. Fear is rarely about love. Often it is something within us, a fear of being alone, a fear of public perception, a fear of loss of friends, or support. Sorrow and heartbreak can be clear indicators, that you really don’t want the relationship to end. That you value it and the person and while you would wish nothing but the best for them, you have no desire to remove the relationship from your life. Still, you have to make sure that is a balanced feeling, not just chemical levels dancing and jumping around. So. How do you feel about the end?

2.) How will I feel about this in two months?
A couple days can be enough to help calm, settle, and get perspective, but we are still close to the situation. Years down the road won’t matter, because we are survivors. We have lived through a lot and will continue to do so. And even when we get tired of it all, here we are, still taking each day as it comes. So in 20 years most things won’t matter. In 200, no one will care. But two months from now? Where will you be at? Honestly, how will you feel? Will you miss and regret and be wanting to build a time machine? Or will you already be in the process of moving forward? Will you be going through the mourning stages and allowing yourself the chance at something better? No one can predict the future. But we can take the time for honest self-reflection and get an idea of what we will do should this end. We know ourselves well enough (even if just barely) to understand if we can truly let go and move forward. Which often goes back to that first question of how your truly feel about an ending. If you are already planning your life without that person in two months – then you know your answer.

3.) Can I trust this person?
No, not “Do I trust” because frankly you may not within that moment and that may be perfectly justifiable. The question is not of right now, but is that trust gone forever. No wait, that is too long. The question is, will trust be there when things have calmed down? If a person says they will learn from the situation, do you believe that can happen? Will you be able to (in relative time) trust in their commitment to you and your relationship? In a couple months will you be wondering who they are talking to? Will you be worried about leaving your phone in their presence? When they say they miss you, or love you, or that everything is fine – will you believe them? Will you trust them? Again, trust takes time, so it is okay it have that shaken a bit for a little while. But if it is still going to be an issue down the road than you ask what is your relationship without trust?

4.) Can I talk to this person?
Communication is harped on time and time again. Read absolutely any article on successful relationships and it is one of the first two things mentioned. You cannot have ANY relationship without communication. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends that if we saw each other we would pick up right where we left off. Family experiences this a bit more, we don’t always have constant contact with certain family members. However the question is can we? Can you reach out to this person and trust them to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time? Not only that, but do you feel comfortable speaking to them? I have been in relationships where I was terrified to speak openly and honestly. I was scared to communicate because of what might happen. This is not healthy, you may experience some worry, but if you tremble at the thought of speaking up, that is not good. So the question is can you talk with this person? Will they ignore you? Will they get defensive and lash out at you? Blame you? If you are terrified to talk or on the flipside you are shouting into a vacuum then the answer of your relationship is pretty clear. Open and Honest Communication is necessary.

5.) Has there been a change in investment?
Relationships require investment of time and energy. When new and exciting we often invest a lot – hours of talking and emotional energy. As things settle that can change into a more comfortable schedule (which doesn’t make us fall asleep at work anymore). This is normal, but the question of investment is important. Especially if there has been a drastic change from one side. It is the first and most used way to create distance (which is a sign of things to come). The question to ask is – would this have been the same two weeks ago? If two weeks ago you were super busy and you still were talking with this person, has that changed? Is playing a video game now more important than talking? You have to know the difference between a gradual decline into schedules and comfort versus being made to feel less important than a tv show or whatever. If someone once made the effort to talk with you and now they are just “too busy” – that is something to look at. And if you cannot talk to them, if you are being shut out, shut down, or attacked – you have to ask, what kind of relationship is that really? Remember, no one is too busy to say hello or good morning or goodnight or so sorry I am busy we will talk later. It is a two second investment and if you aren’t worth that or they aren’t worth that to you then what relationship do you truly have?

Honorable Mention: Do I Love this Person?
I don’t have this numbered because it is a trick question. It IS an Important question. If the answer is no, then there you go. Hence why I am mentioning it, but the answer being yes doesn’t automatically mean to stick it out. You can absolutely love someone and still know it is not a healthy relationship. It is okay to miss people that no longer have a place in your life. As people grow and evolve (not about for better or worse, just different) so do relationships. And sometimes we love people but know they are not good for our lives. It is hard. It still sucks. Doesn’t make things easier. But while Love can go a very long way, it alone cannot save a relationship. You both need to be willing to spend time together, make sacrifices for each other, talk to one another. A good relationship is about love, communication, trust, and working together to build a steady and solid foundation for the future. If you are the only one willing to do that -or they are the only one willing to do that- then it is time to move on.

Personal Entry: Failure and Accountability

Accountability. It is a scary thing sometimes. It is great when you are doing well. It is fine when you have a hiccup or two. It becomes harder when you realize you screwed up bad and feel that if you own up to it the consequences will only get worse. Of course, trying to hide or lie about things will always make the situation worth. As they say, three things cannot be hidden for long, the sun. the moon, and the truth. Generally I am good with accountability. Because I have worked hard to get into the first two areas, especially as a Jedi. I have had some major wrong turns and done some completely boneheaded things (I have more than a few examples of good intentions paving the road to hell for me). But over the years I have learned from these experiences and sought to better myself for them. Yet the Jedi Path is not one of Mastery. It isn’t a craft that you gain a certain level of skill in and are good to good from that point forward. It is fluid. It is lived every day. And each moment is a Jedi Trial. Each moment you have a chance to fail at being a Jedi. I recently had that moment (we’ll get there) and I am stuck in my head about it. So it is time to be open and honest about that failure. Of course there are people in the Jedi Community who follow my material just for this moment. Looking for that thing they can use against me or try to hold over my head. People who want to tear down. And knowing you have those people circling your life can add a bit of trepidation to owning up. But here we go….

In my life I have lost my shit a total of three times. And I mean where I was barely in control of my actions. And by control I mean I was just vaguely enough aware of myself and actions that horrible things like severe bodily harm wasn’t a likely outcome. Twice was when the person I was in a relationship with physically attacked me with the full intent of seriously injuring me. In that situation I yelled, and pushed, and slammed doors until there was a hole. I teetered on the edge of physical violence (a byproduct of poor life choices as a kid, though never an excuse for such behavior, especially as an adult years removed). It was a horrible moment in my life. I figured myself a Jedi and yet here I was, pushed to the point of being everything I stand against. It was a very scary thing for me to realize; That under the right situation I would revert to that angry lashing out selfish child. Anger was a challenge for me as a kid as were my insecurities. But I have been interested in, studying, training, and living the Jedi Path for most of my adult life. And there have been times where I felt I had it. You know? That I just was good, a Jedi, through and through.

The first time I completely lost myself was when I was living in Michigan. I knew how a situation was going to end, but for some reason I had gotten my hopes up. I allowed myself that beautiful lie. And when it came crashing down I freaked out. And that is no exaggeration. Two people were there to witness this wonderful display of pure emotional breakdown. Hysteria. Tears, shouting, broken laughter, self-inflicted pain (though nothing major, I have always been horrible at that. A high self-preservation system I guess). But for whatever reason – I got off the phone and just completely lost it. The control being that I had thoughts of seriously injuring myself, suicide, and all that nonsense. But again, just enough self-control to stop myself. Just enough self-awareness and compassion not to inflict that mess upon my two roommates watching me stomp around the apartment completely distraught.

Again. You learn. You grow. You seek to be better. Took me a long while. In fact a lot of my growth there was smokescreen growth. It looked like was improving and such, but it was just a mask. As evidenced by the two freak-outs listed above. Though, to be fair, those second ones were much more out of blue. Still I had not progressed enough to handle such a situation. Clearly.

The problem. Last week was the fourth time I lost myself. I allowed myself to get stuck in my head full of thoughts with little rationale attached to them. I should have called someone. I should have reached out to my Jedi friends and expressed my situation. More than that I should have talked to the person who these thoughts all related to. Instead I bottled up (a Jedi 101 No-No) and when it came time to address the elephant in the room I freaked out. And said and did dumb things. Okay. I said Horrible things. All to a person who didn’t deserve it. It takes two in any situation and I had my justification all lined up before, during, and somewhat after (though mostly after I just felt/feel like a complete failure and shitbag). And the consequences have been real and might be lasting. I have no answer there, no solution, no movie saving moment which brings happily ever after.

The point. Failure. I failed horribly as a Jedi that day. I failed as person. As a boyfriend. I let things get away from me. Obviously not just that day, but fears and insecurities and stresses that I thought I was handling, but quiet clearly was not. I was falling into the trap of needing to be strong for someone and thus was not communicating my own worries. Again, this I find to be a failure on my part. I know better. I have lived better. I have trained better than all of that. Yet it happened.

Jedi isn’t about mastery. It is about the day-to-day. This is why the five practices are daily. The five goals, daily. It is a daily thing. And it can get away from you. If you allow your self-discipline and accountability to slip, it will get away from you. Fortunately for most of us, when it does it is usually little hiccups. Mine, due to my unique situation created a much harder landing. And I write all of this where it can be seen by anyone for accountability purposes. Jedi are not perfect. Being a Jedi for a whole bunch of years does not mean one is infallible. I cannot express fully my regret for my stupidity. And for anyone reading I am sorry. That apology will mean different things to different people. But there it is. I messed up. I failed. And now I must begin the long road back to improving and being better for it. Which is always difficult. Thank you for reading.

Jedi Advice (Another Five List)

Define Your Focus
Your focus determines your reality.” A tried and true Jedi quote given to us by George Lucas through Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace. What you chose to focus on will ultimately define your life and outlook. So before you begin anything, take a moment to really define your focus. Where is it going to be spent? Why? How? To what end? Dig into it and explore where you are putting your focus currently and what you would like to focus on from this point forward. Jedi, School, Career, Relationships, make sure you truly understand where you focus is and how much it takes. You cannot do everything. You don’t have enough time to focus on everyone. You are going to have to adjust and make the necessary commitments to the things you can invest your time and energy into. And sacrifice (at least temporarily) those things you simply cannot afford to invest in. You only have so much time and energy, so chose wisely, because where you put your focus will impact your life.

Outline Your Practice
Control, control, you must learn control.” Yoda the Green Muppet Master was ever the preacher of training and repetition. Both of which take a lot of patience, after-all practice takes time. People will say, ‘practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.’ But that is a silly and absurd way to look at things. Practice is about learning from the ground up. It means you will make mistakes, you will be sloppy, you won’t be perfect, but you will be working to correct that. Take control of your practice by outlining it. Outline what your exact goals are, long term and short term. Outline the methods you feel will best help you obtain them. Make your practice gradual. Again, you are not a superstar from day one. No one is born a Jedi Master. It will take time and a lot of trial and error to work out the problems and get to that steady level of “perfect practice.” So practice, be patient, and take control of your schedule. Time management is critical to your success in anything you do. So outline, plan, and be prepared.

Trust Your Instincts
Stretch out with your feelings. Trust your instincts.” – “Feel, don’t think. Use your instincts.” Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn were great fictional mentors that inspired. When they spoke you felt you could block laser bolts blind-folded as well. These lines endure because we know them to be accurate. When we let go of the doubts, the over-thinking, and just take a deep breath and trust ourselves and that nameless force of the universe things tend to work out. When we are present within the moment and trust our training, study, and preparation we can let go and allow our feelings and instincts to help guide us to the right answers. Things don’t always go how we intended or hoped or deisred, but often we can feel good about the outcome and not have regrets over how we chose to live our lives.

Acknowledge Your Fear
There are many lines in which Jedi consider fear. But the main idea is not to ignore, banish, or bottle up your fear. You must acknowledge your fears. Then you need to seek to understand them. Why does public speaking terrify you? What can be done about it, if anything? Once you acknowledge your fear and face it head on, it loses a lot of its power. This isn’t to say you won’t feel it, or that you will stop sweating, shaking, or your heartbeat will return to normal. This simply means you are aware of it and as such in a much better place to act regardless of the chemicals coursing through your body. We can be afraid to try new things, because we are scared of failing or be laughed at. We can be afraid to trust someone because we are scared of being hurt and going through that emotional turmoil again. Without acknowledging this, we just blindly refuse these opportunities and let them pass us by. Yet if we acknowledge why we want to say no to these things, why we want to let them pass us by, then we can make a much more informed decision. And we can begin to make decision based upon knowledge and understanding rather than fear and ignorance.

Always More to Learn
Don’t get cocky kid.” A strong reminder by a grounded voice of experience. Han Solo was no Jedi, but certainly knew the price of over-confidence. He also knew the reward for trying new things and working from a confident state of mind. Sometimes you have to be willing to try new things and open to learning from experience. The character progression for Han Solo eventually shows him acknowledging that he had some things wrong. He learned the universe wasn’t exactly what he thought, but in that learning and growth he was in a position to help guide new heroes along their own journey. From Aayla Secura to Yoda the Jedi knew that learning never ended. And often when you thought you reached the top, life would kick you down to show how far you had yet to go. It is an on-going journey in which each days provides new opportunity to learning more, to experience something greater. Even if that lesson is simply when to slow down, relax, and enjoy the quiet moments.

Real Jedi, Activism (Written Lecture)

I was asked to do a video on this topic. Which yes, if you have a topic or question, ask away and I’ll do my best to address it. With some videos I feel having a written lecture or script to share helps people understand the topic better.

Okay. So, is Activism a part of the Jedi Path? And if so, what can we do as Jedi? If not, what actions can Jedi take? This will be a two-part look at the topic. The first on Activism. The second on Jedi less keen on Activism. Activism and Action is basically what I went with.

First let’s make sure we properly define Activism. Activism is defined as the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. I am sure people have their misconceptions of the word. But I’d prefer we approach this with a Beginner’s Mind. So try to put aside the assumptions about activism and lets just dig into it.

Activism is just about demonstrating the change you want to see in the world. What “change” will determine what group of people you will associate with. There are many activism groups out there; with a wide range from the NRA to Farm Sanctuary. However this is NOT a requirement for a Jedi. Yet many Jedi, due to our seemingly over-developed sense of justice, do have an eye towards political and social change. So many do find themselves seeking to be more proactive in these areas (on all sides of many topics).

If you are one of these Jedi who wants to get more involved – how can you do that? Basic Jedi Code stuff. Knowledge over Ignorance. First determine what you want to see changed. Then research what groups are available, especially in your area. Dig into the group and be sure they practice activism in a way that you agree with. Some groups go to extremes that can undermine their causes. Be sure their actions are things you won’t mind doing and supporting (especially as a Jedi). Knowledge, Information. Arm yourself properly before running off to change the world.

Along these lines – You may want to write clear goals and the vision you have. Help establish exactly the direction you want to take. Also – look at successful events which may help you organize peaceful events for your cause. Mainly it boils down to this.
Step 1 – Preparation/Planning. Have a clear outline of your event. Inform necessary people of your participation. Friends, Family, and Teachers. So they know where you are, what you are doing, and can respect your rights to peaceful protest.
Step 2 – Get Your Materials Together. Signage, Markers, Baked Goods. Whatever you need for your event.
Step 3 – Meet up with your group and those interested in participating to fully plan and organize your event.
Step 4 – Promote. Spreading the word about the event will help raise the awareness of the cause and encourage other people to join in your event.
Step 5 – Participate in Event. Don’t forget to have ways to record your event. Especially if there is strong or hostile opposition. We all have a voice and the right to be heard, but you want to protect yourself from any misinformation and ensure everything goes down peacefully.
Lastly – Use that footage, pictures, etc. to share with other like-minded groups and social media to continue to raise peaceful awareness and encourage and support the change you want.

As with all things in life exercise some moderation. Remember to be a Jedi. That means being patient. Changing the world takes time. Segregation in Schools in the US didn’t change over night. The right for women to vote didn’t happen overnight. Remember to take time out for you and your peace of mind. Self-Care is important. Do not burn yourself out. Remember it is okay to say No. You do not have to be at every event. If you had a 12 hour work shift, don’t feel you have to be at a protest for the next four hours thereafter. Don’t forget to take a break from Social Media, News Outlets, and even your fellow Activists. Disconnect to Reconnect. Go hiking for a day. Camping for the weekend. Stay in bed and cuddle with someone having marshmallow fights and candyland tournaments. And of course, keep up your daily Jedi practices.

In the end, be smart, be safe, be a Jedi. And if activism is your jam – here is a link to some great tips for getting involved.

Here is a link which has some great tips if Activism is your jam. http://www.publiceye.org/ifas/fw/9606/guide.html

Be smart. Be safe. Be a Jedi.

Jedi and Politics….

How Jedi Approach Politics

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Opening Statement: I, like many fictional Jedi, do not like politics. However I do understand them and their necessity. I fully understand that they will impact my life for the short term and longer term. They have far reaching effects. So while I have a disdain for them I recognize the importance of voting and giving my say. This year has been particularly brutal, especially for the United States. As we approach elections I’d like to offer a core reminder. You don’t have to like politics. You do not have to like the candidate. But you should know where your vote will serve best and how that will affect things around you. Many seem to have forgotten themselves and their path in this heated and divisive year. So a small reminder.

One.) There is no emotion; there is peace.
Say it with me now: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Currently there is a party waging a fear campaign. And we are seeing the results. Not just the minor unpunished crimes happening and being encouraged at rallies. But high tensions over justice and shootings. There is a lot of fear on all sides which is being turned to anger and hate. And we are seeing a lot of suffering (and death) because of this fear. This lack of understanding and ability to exercise patience and look for the truth of a situation is leading to emotional responses rather than Jedi ones. Which is generally these situations are a lot more complex than some one-sided emotional news reporting when none of the facts or circumstances are known. Patience, Objectivity, Knowledge. Approach these tense situations with the Jedi Mind.

Many leaders have lead fear-based campaigns. It is a known tactic within politics (and one which has proven to work – unfortunately), but it is not one Jedi should vibe with. We are all well aware of a Jedi’s stance on emotional reactions. We are all aware of a Jedi’s stance on fear and using fear as a tool to control people. Our decision-making is not based in knee-jerk reactions. We have a process and a method to comb through these very difficult and tough situations.

So remember Jedi. Emotion, yet Peace. It is very difficult – especially when some situations hit closer to home than others. But find refuge in your fellow Jedi, in your practices, in your routine and those that love you. And then approach the policies and topics with a Jedi Mind. Peaceful and Focused – not on the smokescreen of fear, but on what is actually being said and done.

Two.) There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
Knowledge. It is one of the Three Pillars of the Jedi. It is in any Jedi Code version you want to pick. The Jedi Circle, The Jedi Compass, no matter where you look Jedi prize, value, and extol Knowledge. And yet we are seeing a campaign infamously shrugging off facts as well as relevant and prudent information. We are seeing the media not bothering with fact-checking or holding candidates accountable for their claims and words. We are allowing the fact that so much crazy stuff has been said we are no longer calling it crazy and we are just letting it slide.

This does not vibe with the Jedi. Knowledge. Information. It is important to know where candidates stand on core issues. What policies they endorse and how they are looking to enforce them. It is important to know a candidate’s approach and negotiating tactics. In order to make an informed decision as Jedi we need to have as much of the prudent information as possible and we need to be willing to fact-check that information. This helps us make informed decisions. Not ones based upon emotional ignorance. If over 300 leading scientists tell you a candidate is going to cause problems within their respective fields which will have a negative impact around the world – that is something to take into consideration (not blindly and intentionally ignore).

Three.) There is no passion; there is serenity.
Another widely used political tactic is to appeal to the passions of the people. Because emotional and passionate responses help drowned out the logical and knowledgeable ones. Passion likes to ignore facts and information in lieu of heartfelt reasoning. There is a time to trust your instincts – but that is different than someone appealing to your passion. Right now there are a lot of hot issues which are sparking fierce conversations and debates. But allowing that to blind us to the overall effects a candidate will have is not the proper approach.

Instead focus in on the core policies with a calm and serene mind. Be objective in your views and dig into the issues that you are passionate about. Then approach them with the Jedi Mind. Take them one by one. What is the candidate’s position? What is their resolution? How will they make that happen? Be a Jedi – ask questions, be objective, and approach even the heaviest of topics with a calm and peaceful mind.

Four.) There is no chaos; there is harmony.
All of this directly ties to us and what we are looking for and want. But do not forget the bigger picture, the living Force if you will. Do not forget that we are part of an entire world and our actions have repercussions. Like ripples on a pond, the stone of this election will affect all of the water. So get the Jedi Mind on and consider how the candidate will affect the world. The world economy, the world environment, world trade, immigration between countries. Consider the entire impact.

Sometimes in politics you have to trade off impact. You don’t like this approach, but like the impact of this other policy. So you are willing to make that trade-off. It is a reason I really dislike politics. Cannot please everyone, but generally we are all making compromises during the election. Still, Jedi Diplomacy 101 – compromise is sometimes necessary. You have to work with it. Determine which is the best option forward for all involved.

We have a very diverse community – likewise so does the United States – and even more so the world. It is a benefit to us as a species (and as a Nation). It is something to be encouraged. So how does the candidate approach diversity acceptance? How do they handle and deal with different cultures and lifestyles and beliefs? This is valuable insight, because this view tends to effect policy and laws. It tends to highlight how people will be treated within the country and how the candidate will approach these issues on a global scale.

Five.) Honor Life / Respect All Life.
Instead of finishing out the Code here, because it got real dark in my first draft. I wanted to highlight something that is like Knowledge. Something that is core to all Jedi across the board. No matter the text you find a Jedi ideal of respecting and honoring life. Yet we see people support dehumanizing and degrading analogies. We see mass insults of entire cultures and heritages. We see a complete lack of understanding of different life experiences (the environment we grow up in will color our world view). Campaigns waged not only in fear and ignorance, but also a complete lack of respect for the diversity of life.

For a Jedi we have to look at the bigger picture. We have to understand that there are a million sides to every story. We will never know all the facts and the complete truth of all situations. But what we can do is honor and respect life. We can help foster an environment where life can thrive and grow in a positive and beneficial manner. That starts within us and grows outward, but it is also within our voting rights. We get to have a say on the world we want to live in. From your local City Council, to your Mayor to Congress, to the President. What is your value of life – what life would you like to see thrive? What life is conducive to the Jedi Way?

Closing Thoughts: Approach politics as you would all things – as a Jedi. Knowledge. Objective Information. Calm Fact-Checking. Looking at the policies not the hyperbole and smokescreens of emotional appeals. In other words – Emotion, yet Peace. Ignorance, yet Knowledge. Passion, yet Serenity. Chaos, yet Harmony. Remember the topics that mean the most to your. Rights, Laws, Education Reform, economics and the increasing gap between the classes. Be a Jedi, determine your stances, and which candidate best helps keep this ship floating until we can actually fix this broken thing. So if you can – get out and vote. And may the Force be with you.

Ten Time Budgeting Tips

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Lately I just felt overwhelmed and done. As such I allowed certain things to fall to the wayside for a bit. I was mentally exhausted. And allowed my own time management practices get lost in the business of life. It was a bad Jedi moment. Minus 20 Jedi Points for me. A student at Jedi Living labelled and talked about Time Budgeting in our financial budgeting lesson. And it really reminded me about the point of the Art of Timing. We only have so many hours in a day, just like we only get so much money per month. Both require us to keep a close eye on how we spend this so that we can maximize our spending and budgeting habits. Here are some tips I found to be useful in getting back on track with my time budgeting.

One – Get Yourself a To-Do List. Pick an app. Make it happen. Google has the todo list app which can really help. There are many great organizational Applications out there. Get one. Make use of it. Put it to work for YOU. It helps. It works. If you use it. So that is step one. Sometimes the obvious needs to be said. Sometimes it just needs to help pad the list.

Two – Do the Quick Stuff First. And I do mean the quick. Taking out the garbage. Putting dishes in the dishwasher. Or putting dishes away. The things that have like five to ten minutes? Get them done and out of the way. This does an amazing thing on your To-Do List and adds the feels of accomplishment even if the day gets away from you. Remove the easy stuff so you can really focus on the important tasks.

Three – Knock out the Important Stuff Thereafter. With the super quick out of the way – get the important things done first. Prioritize. This is key. Make sure you prioritize your To-Do List. And then knock out these important things first. It will give you peace of mind. “At least I got that issue taken care of.” Saying that at the end of the day is wonderful. Removes a lot of stress from your life.

Four – Budget Time not Projects. When setting up your to-do list and schedule make sure you give time to projects. Don’t just write in a project and exclude all things until it is finished. Instead offer up a set time. Example – I am writing a book. I don’t have – Book Project. I have two hours set aside for my Book project. That way I don’t get tunnel vision and allow other things to go undone while focusing on my important project. This still applies to above. Knowing you put in some work on your important tasks makes a difference and you don’t get discouraged because you didn’t finish the project.

Five – Say No. You are not Superhuman. You are not the Flash or Superman. You cannot do everything for everyone. You will have to say no. When you are swamped – No is your friend. It sucks. We want to help and do it all, but we cannot. So learn to say no. You only have so much time – make the most of it and do not spread yourself thin. It helps no one when you bury yourself and burn out.

Six – Delegate. Likewise learn to delegate. Know who might be able to cover things. If someone asks for something and you cannot help, you can always direct them to someone who might be able to. Or maybe pass on a project to someone you know is available (maybe even better suited) while you pick up the new project. Budgeting time is about knowing the resources around you and who is available, willing, and capable of taking on work.

Seven – Get an Early Start. Don’t delay. Get it done as soon as possible in your day. Knocking things out right away just feels like it opens up your entire day. Not only that, but toward the end of the day when everything is done? It feels good to just sit down and relax knowing your To-Do List got done for the Day. You can truly enjoy your down tie then. So Do Not Procrastinate.

Eight – Make Use of Your Down Time. Weekends (whenever those are for you) are sanity savers. But if you use just a couple of hours each day in them – you will cut down on the To-Do List while keeping your weekends for You. It is important to have down time. But you can also throw in a small amount of budgeted time to finish off a couple of tasks. That way on “Monday” (again whatever day that is for you) you are not stuck with a huge pile of work. You can also make use of time you are waiting for things. Anytime you have idle time – waiting for laundry to finish (for example) you can use that time to knock things off of your to-do list.

Nine – Buffer Time. It is important that you give some time in-between tasks. I recommend a quick meditation in there. Give yourself some time to rest and refresh. Maybe snack time, lunch, time to go for a walk. Especially after one of those important and big tasks. When we form a budget we often list and list and list all the things we have to do, but forget to give time for ourselves and our mind to recharge. And that is how we get burnt out. So make sure you Budget in some Buffer Time in between tasks. You can use this to budget internet and phone time. Facebook, BuzzFeed, YouTube. All that more frivolous internet browsing time. Budget it in so you still have it without it becoming a distraction. Giving a time limit and allowing you some time to just enjoy rather than work on something.

Ten – Do or Do Not. Focus and lock into the task at hand. Close all the extra browsers. Put the phone on Do Not Disturb. Create or Find a place you can work without distraction (or at least minimize distractions as much as possible. I like to put on some music (mostly soundtrack background music – no lyrics) and close my desk off to the rest of the world. If you want something to get done then get it done. Don’t allow yourself the distractions and set yourself up for failure. Focus on the task at hand and work towards your budgeted personal time.

Also – side tip. Do forget to have fun. Even chores can be made in a game. Play music that makes you move and lifts your spirits. Have fun with your day. Just because you are working doesn’t mean you cannot have fun while doing it. Enjoy your life – even when it is budgeted and filled to the brim with To-Do Lists.

Seeking Peace through the Jedi Lifestyle

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Many seek to find a more peaceful life. One not defined by the hustle of life. The Jedi Way often talks of peace and peace of mind. But what ideas can we applied directly to our lives from our fictional counterparts to make that a reality?
“Conquer Materialism” – The desire for more is not a bad thing, but certainly moderation is key. The newest this or the slimmer that – are they needs? All material things are impermanent and will require replacing eventually. Enjoy what you have now. It may not be the best or where you want to be, but that doesn’t take away from the great things you do have in your life. The necessities of life, Water, Food, Shelter. So yes, enjoy that phone or computer (however you are reading this), but don’t get lost to the chase for more, more, more , more. Embrace your now and be content with what you do have.

“You were right about one thing master. The negotiations were short.” – If you cannot laugh at the situation or yourself you may be taking things a bit too seriously. This isn’t to say that a situation isn’t serious, but a dose of humor goes a long way to ensuring we don’t get caught in a stressful way of thinking. Laugh, Smile, seek the messed up humorous side of it all. Life can be pretty ridiculous, best to laugh with it.

“Jedi are encouraged to love.” – Love freely and openly. No that does not mean try to sleep with senators from Naboo. It means that this world has many great things to truly appreciate, enjoy, and love. Pets, family, friends, significant other, love deeply, richly, and openly. Again, nothing lasts forever. So enjoy these memories and relationships and connections while they are here. Do not worry about some ‘what if’ – instead embrace the love now with all your heart. Especially for pets. Give them pets and treats for me.

“Concentrate. Concentrate.” – Meditation. Focus. A daily routine and practice of meditation makes a impact. There is no – doing it wrong. Do a little research, find a meditation technique that you find enjoyable. Set it into your daily routine. We have a couple videos that may help. Whatever works for you. Do it and reap the benefits of cultivating a center of calm. It is well worth the investment.

“Keep your concentration here and now where it belongs.” – The major theme here. Yes, future plans and goals are important. Yes, the past provides valuable lessons to learn from. But happiness, peace, these are found in this very moment. It is a choice. Turn off the tv, go admire the beauty and wonder of nature (even a local park in the city provides this). Just 10 minutes of not drowning yourself in media and noise – instead spend it outside just taking in the world around. Life. Concentrate on the moment – this time. This is for you. You have this moment – what will you do with it? Hopefully close this article and go enjoy what the moment has to offer. Even if that is merely looking out the window of your office building at the sky above.

Five Jedi Life Lessons

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1. Stay True to Your Word
“Easy it becomes to be false in big things, if false you are in small ones.” – Yoda
Do what you say you will do. It is really that simple. Don’t promise anything you aren’t comfortable with. If you really don’t want to do something and feel you won’t follow through (making plans to hangout, helping someone move, whatever) then don’t say you will do it. Say what you mean and do what you say. In this you will build a solid reputation and honor to your word.

2. Don’t be a Bystander
“Courage was something a Jedi did not think about. It was simply the will to do right. It was the discipline to move forward.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
It can be scary to stand-up for what is right. Equality, fairness, not to allow bullying. The silent observer is much safer and certainly has a time and place. But if something feels wrong it is okay to say something. Don’t stand on the sideline of your life. Don’t allow fear to make to accept hurtful and unfair behavior. The way we make changes and stop such things is by standing up and saying something. Showing that we will not allow such behavior to go unchecked.

3. Make a Change for the Better
“Must relax…reach out with my mind…reach inside…through the pain…renew!” – Ki-Adi-Mundi
Look in the mirror and commit to a positive change. Be willing to sacrifice who you are for who you want to become. You want to be a Jedi? Then be a Jedi. Commit to the practices and philosophy. Live it and understand that it will change how you see and approach life. This goes for all things. Make the effort to be better. At school, at work, in your social relationships, commit yourself to working pass the obstacles, fears, and pain, and being the best version of you possible.

4. Focus on Problem Solving, Not Problem Blaming
“If all who faced adversity surrendered to it, nothing of value would remain.” – Plo Koon
It doesn’t matter where the fault and blame lies. What matters is finding a solution and resolution to the problem at hand. We can point fingers and pass blame all we want – but it doesn’t matter if it was our fault or someone else’s. Focus instead on fixing and oslving the problems. Fault might be necessary for stopping an issue at its root, but don’t get so caught up in blame that you miss the core fixes and ways to avoid the similar problems in the future.

5. Act Now Not Later
“Use your time. You’ll find one day that you have too little of it.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
The best place you can apply this in chores and tasks and homework and all that stuff that most people want to put off. Forget that. Play the Nike slogan- Just Do It. Better to get it done and out of the way now and use the time later on for fun things. Focus on responsibilities, get them done and out of the way so you can enjoy what time you have left. Focus on the here and now. Handle your responsibilities. When asked to do something – stop, take care of it right then, and get back to doing things you’d preferring to do. This also applies to number 2. Don’t wait until things are out of control or too late. Act now, get it done, solve the problem, move forward.

Pokemon Go + Jedi = Charity!

First off I have to say I haven’t been into Pokemon for a long time. It is not really my thing, but when I was younger and it was relatively new – I did partake in the cartoon and games. But now they have released this new App Pokemon Go and it is not only pretty fun, but has really encouraged kids (of all ages) to get outside and walk around. So how does that work? Well it is simple. Pokemon Go is a ARG – Alternate Reality Game. In which you use your phone to track your movement/walks and stumble upon Pokemon out in the world. When that happens you pull up your camera and you use Poke Balls to catch the Pokemon. You collect as many as possible. And you find new Pokemon by going to new locations. Parks and major shopping areas tend to have stores and Gyms where you can connect with others. Overall it is a pretty interactive and fun little App that encourages outdoor exploration.

This has really come in handy in a couple service projects I am a part of. One is a little more limited in application – as it is with the Big Brother (Big Sister) program. And has really helped turn our little hikes into more regular events and much more interactive as well. This has been a great thing as we were struggling in common ground activities there for a bit. Especially in more active (and free) activities.  So this has help create a fun way to hike around and explore the city we live in. Driving to different parks, walking around the paths, hiking in the hills. It has really been a great experience. However this is a very personal experience and limited really to my current situation. There is a way to use Pokemon Go and your normal Dog Walks to help a great organization.

The WoofTrax App (http://www.wooftrax.com/) is a great thing I have been using recently which tracks your dog walks and helps support a local shelter in your area (or if there is not one in your area – a animal shelter of your choosing). Can you see the connection? Download WoofTrax, Download Pokemon Go, get out there and catch them all at the same time as supporting a great organization. If you don’t have a dog you can virtually walk their own rescue dog. This has been a great blend of modern technology, internet fade, and doing some community service.

No one said Community Service had to be trying, boring, or no fun. Blend your passions. Be a Jedi. Catch ALL the Pokemon. And support a wonderful cause at the same time.