Posted in Gratitude, Inspiration

Transitioning to my new website and starting a new Facebook group

To all my readers and followers,

Happy New Year. May 2018 be your best year so far.

Recently, I have created a new WordPress blogsite called Jimmy’s evergreen glen and glade. Thank you for reading and following my posts here so far. In future, I will be posting more often in my new blogsite.

My new website introduces who I am and what I do for a living; namely writing, editing, photography and video-storytelling.

You are welcome to drop by and read and subscribe to my new blogsite, where I share my life stories, reviews on workshops, and so on.

And if you would like to get free tips on basic writing and editing English, do check out my new Facebook group “Write Better English with Jimmy Tan“.

Hope to see you on the other side/site.

Posted in Inspiration, Meditation, Psychology

Dark night of the soul

Honesty, courage and authenticity.

These are the things that get to the heart of everything.

Emotions become intensely and keenly felt as one revisits the pains, wounds and traumas that one has gone through in the past, that have been buried and repressed over the years.

If these traumas are ignored or dismissed or not dealt with, they may resurface surreptitiously in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times.

The dark night of the soul is painful but necessary.

It brings rain that cleanses. A sense of relief follows.

On the other hand, being on a public platform, whether it be a workshop or chat group, seems different, based on my experience in attending workshops on how to be successful.

The sense of positivity seems predictable after a while, or even manufactured.

Maybe there is a place for such positivity, even if it may appear trite and formulaic.

After all, who wants to be sitting in a seminar room and be faced with awkward silence and forced smiles when learning about how to be successful and wealthy?

(But being in a mindfulness meditation session is another thing altogether, for cultivating silent contemplation is encouraged, but that’s probably another story for another day.)

Thus, I can imagine that the speaker would have to gather the inspiration from within in order to carry out the workshop in such a positive and empowering manner.

In addition, by expressing positivity and gratitude, we are egging one another on to go further in life.

I suppose that we all have to start somewhere, even if it looks obligatory and formulaic.

Still, there is something about the dark night of the soul that grabs the heart in a way that no amount of positive thinking practice can do.

It enables the soul to feel its sheer rawness and express its unedited and unadulterated feelings.

It creates a space for the primal cry of the soul to be heard and acknowledged in the universe.

I believe that the psalmists took to writing precisely to experience such catharsis.

Perhaps Henri Nouwen said it best:

“What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.”

Posted in Inspiration

Whatever it takes

Woke up feeling a little more refreshed.

Decided to take a walk, and felt motivated to jog.

So happened to wear shoes instead of sandals, and the cloudy weather made it a bit more bearable to jog.

Whatever it takes – this motto defines where I am at this point of time.

I have to stay hungry, healthy, lean for success – in every sense of the word.

Muhammed Ali didn’t just believe and proclaim he is the greatest. He acted upon it by training and taking part in boxing.

Serena Williams didn’t just believe and proclaim she is the greatest. She acted upon it by practising and seeking to win and making new world records.

There may be days when I don’t feel as motivated or everything feels like a drag, but that is where the rubber meets the road – staying inspired is an ongoing process.

I must stay focused. Stay hungry. Stay balanced – there is a time to be still and a time to move.

I can practise being still while visualising how I am moving forward so that after my meditation, I end up moving forward in the direction where I want to go.

Similarly, I can practise moving forward while being still on the inside without being distracted and without struggling so that I remain focused on the path towards my goals.

It is only human to wander at times, and to lose hope and motivation. There is no condemnation, no shame, no guilt.

Sometimes, it is through our wanderings that we come to a point where we tell ourselves “enough is enough. time to start moving on and taking on challenges and rising to greater heights.”

It is never too late to start over again. We can do it, and we will do it.

Always choose to be gentle with myself, so that I can be gentle with others when I seek to inspire and encourage others, just as I encourage myself.

We are our own best coaches and mentors and teachers.

Posted in Inspiration

Living consciously and choosing relationships over performance

I am getting a clearer vision of how important it is to value relationships over performance. For sure, sterling performance – whether it be making music or doing work etc – may impress people or reap material rewards at the workplace, but these are temporary and may not be always guaranteed, nor are they really necessary.

Relationships, on the other hand, are rewarding both materially and immaterially, and the benefits are lasting. When I choose to build relationships with people, lives will be blessed and transformed.

To be sure, there is a place to perform well, to maintain high standards and to meet schedules. But these goals are not the end goal in and of themselves; ultimately we do things well because we want to cultivate good relationships with others and we want their lives to be blessed and touched.

Furthermore, performance can be arbitrary because there is no one “correct” way of doing things – everyone has a different style, whether it be blogging, public speaking, editing, interacting with others, and so on. In fact, most, if not all, of us appreciate originality and authenticity, hence we can choose to shine and express ourselves through creative ways of doing things and enjoy the process and not worry about how well received our performance will be.

Last but not least, our identity and self-worth can never be defined by our performance. If we have an off day and do not perform up to par, it doesn’t mean our value has diminished. In comparison, regardless of our ability to do things, we can always cultivate good relationships by being kind and friendly.


Posted in Inspiration

Experiences, not things, bring lasting happiness

I noted from BigThink’s article “Want Happiness? Buy Experiences, Not Things, Says a Cornell Psychologist” that experiences are the glue of our social lives and are inherently social, hence they matter more to us than material objects. That is true as I can vouch for the fact that experiences, such as attending a music concert, leave a lasting imprint for beautiful memories in the heart.

I also noted that experiences reflect more of who we really are as they are closer to our inner selves as we are – the sum total of all our experiences. Yes, whether it be a hiking trip or a Nature retreat or yoga classes and so on, such experiences are worth immeasurably more than inanimate objects as the profound experiences enable us to connect deeply to our inner selves, to others and to Mother Nature around us.

Posted in Inspiration

The power of inspiration

This morning, a colleague emailed some of my team members and me to congratulate us for winning a finalist award for the publication of an educational book series. I replied to thank her for her congratulations, and I added: “It (The award) was so unexpected, as I wasn’t aware there was this awards thingy going on. All I know is we had this project to be worked on, and we did our part. If anything, everyone in this company deserves an award or recognition because we all have contributed in some ways to the publication of the books we are working on, due to our interdependence, regardless of whether these publications are publicly recognised in the industry.”

Having said that, I think people, including myself, like to be inspired. Whether it is meant to be a contest, competition or the like, people like to be inspired by those who challenge themselves to rise to higher heights, or who work for the betterment of society, and so on.

Also, I think everyone appreciates being credited or acknowledged in some ways, whether expressively or reservedly. Sometimes I wonder how to respond to awards or praises in an appropriate manner, as my response may be perceived by others as being humble or being proud. Then again, perhaps humility and pride are strange bedfellows, for they can in a way co-exist in a contradictory fashion in which we are somehow wired to be, given our complex, multidimensional nature. While we may not be expecting or looking for praises or recognition when we seek to do something meaningful or fulfilling, sincere compliments and acknowledgments can go a long way to keep us motivated to continue doing the good work we are doing, as they serve as feedback to let us know that our labour of love is not in vain as it has shown to help make the lives of others better in some ways. It appeals not to our ego but to our conviction that we are on the right track to help alleviate people’s sufferings and so on, and it brings refreshment to our weary souls and renews our vigour and resolve to advocate social justice, emancipation, empowerment of the disenfranchised and so on.

In fact, Jesus himself might be saying that he appreciated being appreciated for helping others when he spoke about the leper who returned to thank him after he was healed, while the other nine lepers who got healed didn’t return to thank him. Jesus, of all people, would be someone who is humble and secure in who he is, and still, he is moved by sincere praises when people acknowledge his good work, even though he often tells others to not announce to anyone after he heals them.

Jesse Williams’ recent BET award acceptance speech taught me how it is possible to use his award to inspire others as he dedicated his award to all those who have also contributed to the humanitarian cause of social justice and racial equality and freedom from oppression. He is wise and mature to know that everyone plays a part in working together for the common good, and everyone deserves to be recognised for the good work that they have done and are doing to make the world a better, safer and more equitable place for everyone. As a representative of these contributors, he uses his platform to speak on behalf of them and gives them the credit they deserve, so that they too can be mutually encouraged and inspired to continue with the good work for the healing of humanity.

“Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” Jesse Williams

Posted in Equality, Grace, Healing, Inspiration, Love, Peace, Psychology, Racism, Religious fundamentalism, Unity and harmony

Social activism – the inner life

Social activists need to grow as humans as well because the greatest enemy isn’t outside, whether it is white supremacy or colonialism or patriarchy; it is the untamed ego or shadow side of us. (We can have a holistic t’shuvah understanding of ourselves, recognising that while we bear the image of the divine, we have a capacity to do tremendous good or terrible evil.)

When we succeed in bringing about a revolution and challenging and dismantling white supremacy, for example, the question is “what’s next?” Is the response “who’s the next enemy?” If so, it can become a means to not deal with our interior life and stay preoccupied with fighting against an external perceived enemy all the time. This can lead to infighting in social activist groups or movements as the members begin to turn on one another. But if the response is “how can I continue to create a better and more humane world?” then one can find creative ways to bring about or facilitate restoration and reconciliation. It might mean working through one’s own pain and suffering to experience healing and peace more and more; it might mean reaching out to help the oppressed heal from their pain and suffering; it might mean working with the white people who are aware and willing to bring about equality in real and tangible ways in society, and so on.

To be sure, social activists are human and have their own fears and egos and insecurities. But are they going to allow these to override their primary motivation in activism, which is a love for oneself and others and working towards their emancipation? If others’ freedom and well being are their top priority, they can choose to not their own hurt pride and wounded ego get in the way of their mission to alleviate the oppressed of their pain and suffering.

Social activists have to learn to develop a thick skin and a willingness to be open and receptive to questions and criticisms. They have to realise that as public figures who have a platform that is open to scrutiny from the rest of the world, they cannot be shielded or sheltered from opposing views or different perspectives. Instead, they can choose to learn from the criticisms and different perspectives to do their own soul searching, to grow and expand, to become stronger and bigger persons.

Social activists need to create a space for themselves to embrace their own brokenness, weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as that of others. Only then can they live an honest and authentic life, and continue to inspire others with their humanness.

Social activists can choose to learn from other role models who have been through struggles and upheavals themselves and who are open about their struggles. People such as Rob Bell and Carlton Pearson, who have suffered and been ostracised in their work to challenge oppressive systems and mindsets and who have worked through their struggles and shared openly about them, can serve as such role models.

Posted in Inspiration

Thoughts on why emotionally intelligent people are hard to find but highly sought after

I have checked out this article and could relate to it, as I myself would have been bored sitting in a reunion, whether with former schoolmates or colleagues etc, and listening to exchanges that revolve mainly on “where everyone was working now and who had how many babies”. I am coming to realise how the capitalistic, materialistic and wage-slavery societal system has turned otherwise emotionally intelligent people into mostly numb and dumb drones who have been programmed or manipulated by fear or guilt or shame to conform to the status quo and toe the line, as open show of emotions or conflicts isn’t usually welcomed in workplaces that are mainly interested in making things run smoothly with minimal disruption, keeping up a facade of efficiency at the expense of deep human connections.

Like the author, I would love to be plunged “into the ocean of human spirit filled juicy soul stories any day”, and I realise that though there may be good storytellers in the corporate world who are CEOs and motivational speakers and the like, they tend to use the soul stories to propagate the societal ideas of “success”, “wealth” and other materialistic concepts, so I find that the kind of soul stories that I would really appreciate and find inspiring are those that liberate and empower the oppressed and the marginalised, that advocate social justice and equality as well as human rights. I like this article as it reminds me to continually check myself and not be carried along with the undercurrents of the dehumanising societal system and mindset in order to practise a natural and consistent form of empathy and maintain a deep connection with my soul and that of others as well.

Posted in Equality, Identity, Inspiration, Love, Psychology

Conscious Parenting: Shefali Tsabary at TEDxSF

Video information

Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, New York. She is the author of the multi-award-winning, The Conscious Parent. Heralded as a game-changer in the parenting genre, this book turns the traditional parenting paradigms on its head and revolutionizes how we raise our families. She has been exposed to Eastern mindfulness at an early age and integrates its teachings with Western psychology. This blend of East and West allows her to reach a global audience. Her ability to appeal to both a psychologically astute and consciousness-driven audience establishes her as one of a kind in the parenting field. She lectures extensively on mindful living and conscious parenting around the world and is in private practice. She resides with her husband and daughter in New York.

“Parents, few hold a greater power or more immense responsibility. And this is why I’m here today, to propose that we occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way, with a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness, a transformed commitment. Because nothing like parenthood that needs to be at the forefront of our global consciousness. It’s the call, the linchpin that affects how our children will thrive. Everything: how they take care of themselves, each other, the earth, show compassion, tolerate differences, handle their emotions, create, invent, innovate. This is where global transformation begins. We cannot expect our children to embody an enlightened consciousness if we parents haven’t dared to model this ourselves. It all starts with us and how we parent.”

To a large extent, this observation is true, although I would add that children who did not experience conscious parenting from their own biological parents are also able to embody an enlightened consciousness when they decide to listen to their own heart and devote themselves to conscious living and philosophy as they grow up, and choose to learn from other conscious people who serve as their role models.

“You know, we don’t hurt our children because we are evil or ill-intentioned, certainly not out of a lack of love. We hurt our children for one reason only: it’s because we are hurting ourselves and we barely know it. It’s because we are unconscious, because we have inherited legacies of emotional baggage from our own parents. We’re sitting on the emotional baggage that lies dormant unconscious, waiting to be triggered at a moment’s notice. And who better to trigger us than our children? They just know the buttons to push.

Through our children, we get theatre seats, orchestra seats to the theatrics of our emotional immaturity. You know when we lose our temper with our children and believe that they’re devils and monsters, chances are it isn’t because they’re that, but because they’ve triggered an old wound within us. They’ve made us feel feelings that we don’t care to feel. They’ve made us feel powerless and out-of-control, helpless, and in order to regain a sense of supremacy, we lash out at them in reactivity. You know when we pick on our children nonstop, we nitpick at them, ‘Why aren’t you like this? Why don’t you do that? Why couldn’t you be more like her?’ chances are it’s not because they are inadequate, but because we come from a place of inner lack, and we ourselves live under the tyranny of a severe inner critic. You know when our children are disrespectful to us and cross our boundaries and we fret and fume, and commiserate with our friends about our evil children? Chances are it’s not because they’re wild and chaotic, but because we ourselves have a problem with our leadership, with consistency, with order, with handling conflict, with saying no.

You know, our children come to us whole, complete and worthy. They’re happy with two sticks, a stone and a feather. But because we’ve been conditioned so deeply in an unconscious manner, so severed from our own sense of presence, wholeness, attunement, and sense of self and whole and abundance, that we project a sense of lack onto them, and we teach them, ‘Do not depend on your sense of self for worth and value, but look outward. Look to the Ferrari, the corporate corner office, to the casino, to the pill, to the bottle, to the needle, to spouse number one, two and three, to where you live, to where you graduated from.’ Because we are severed from a sense of being, we are consumed by doing. This is how we know self value. We teach our children, ‘You can’t simply play, you must achieve. You can’t have a hobby, you must excel at it. You cannot dream, you must dream big, and why really dream if you can’t succeed?’

It’s time for us to change the spotlight, to turn it inwards, and change it from being the child who needs to be fixed, the child as the one with the problem, and parental evolution as the solution. … The time to awaken is now. The parenting paradigm needs to shift. No more the parent as the greater than, but now we need to look at our children as equal if not greater transforming agents. Our children are our awakeners, they are our teachers.

It is time for us parents to answer the call, to pause, to reflect more, to connect to our own abundance, to trust our children, to understand their brilliance, to follow their lead, to self-love, to create purpose, to enter worth, to be in gratitude. For this is how our children will absorb wholeness and abundance, fullness and spirit. And from this place, they can fly free. It is time for us parents to answer our call to our own awakening. The moment is now and our children await.”

An inspiring and impassioned speech indeed, full of insight and wisdom for conscious parenting and conscious living, which I believe will result in a greater healing of humanity and the planet. I would add that each of us can be that conscious parent because “family”, as a concept and social construct, needs not be confined to blood relations only.

Each of us has the power to be that example, that role model, for other children to learn from, so each of us – whether we have children or we are childless – can choose to awaken to who we really are intrinsically – spiritual beings on a human journey who are already whole, beloved and abundant.

We are not defined by our actions, and neither are we defined by our age nor gender. The concepts of “father”, “mother”, “son” and “daughter” are only applicable in the physical realm that are tied to gender, age and biological relations, but our true self is genderless, ageless and formless. Therefore, each of us can play the role of a father, mother, son or daughter to someone else. Just as it can be said that each of us has a divine feminine and a divine masculine side, it can also be said that each of us has a sacred call to being a parent and a child. We are all parents to someone else, and we are all children to someone else as well. This is because we are all interrelated and we are all one in the deepest essence of our beings.

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Gender issues, Inspiration, Racism

“Karma” by Dominique Christina

Giving voice to the voiceless, in an expression of empathy and rage, a cauldron of fire and hailstorm of ice, hitting deeply into the core of humanity

by Dominique Christina

We become poets in an attempt to tether words to righteousness,
Our notebooks to social consciousness.
Sitting cross-legged and anxious in wing bat chairs, we sip lattes to news of regimes,
firing American-made artillery into crowds of folk.

Dead bodies pickled by the sun,
they line streets in countries we never think about and we
suck our teeth and ask a thesaurus to become a machete
and as romantic as pacifism is, these days I dream of dictators falling headfirst into karma and forget to be afraid.

If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.
This ain’t poetry, this is rage unabated, a verb, a means and end.
This is my body.
This is Sankofa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South-side Chicago, Compton, California. Redhook Projects in Jersey, Roosevelt Projects in Brooklyn.

This is severed hands and clubs against flesh,
black boots to pregnant bellies.
Sterilizations masked as inoculations, leg irons and chains, the bit and the noose,
this is a war-cry.
Tell ‘Massa I coming back,
carrying fire in my knapsack.
Tell him “Patrice Lumumba, Steven Biko, Fannie Lou Hamer.”
Tell him “they have been born again in me.”

Tell him, “I found my mother tongue buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center.”
Tell him, “this shit ain’t no poem, this is me, running naked from sugar cane and cotton field having dropped my crocker sac.”
Tell him, “He can call me Karma, I am refreshing the bones of a witch, a root worker, a sorcerer, a priestess, a gangster.”

Tell him, ”this is the result of segregation.“
Tell him, “this is the result of integration.”
Tell him, “I have never been invisible.”
Tell him, “He has never been invincible.”

Tell him, “I am melting the barbed wires and steel bars of prison yards, they ‘gon flow over him like lava.”
I am returned, I am blood thirsty, I am fangs, and hooks and swollen feet in welfare lines, the gauntlet thrown down.
Lines drawn in the sand.
I am apocryphal-
Historical deletions gathering themselves up into textbooks.

I am the niece of exploitation on a rice and pancake box come to collect the royalties for Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben.
I am the line of smoke, a rain dance, the Tomahawk used to kill the first invader.
I am a passbook in South Africa, a Whites-only sign on a courthouse door in Mississippi,
The streets of Benghazi pocked in prayer beads and shell casings, the juxtaposition of faith and savagery.

Tell him, “I am African wide hips and American bulimia, peace symbols affixed onto assault rifles.”
It is the deepest kind of contradiction.
If I could write this shit in fire, I would write this shit in fire.

Tell ‘Massa “I’m coming back.
Howl in the wind I’m coming back,
Burr in your heels I coming back
‘Massa, I coming back. ‘Massa, I coming back.
‘Massa, I coming back.”