The Sound of a Chainsaw…

I arrived home from work early Friday morning. In the distance I could hear the sound of the neighbor running his chainsaw. The sound of a neighbor running a chainsaw is a neighbor inviting you to come help with some good, hard work. I knew he was working on cutting up one of the trees he had brought down last week. Art (the neighbor) and I came together to have a professional tree cutter bring down 6 trees between our two properties. Four on his and two on mine. His four were dead or dying but were too big for us amateurs to mess with. Mine were dangerously in need of being taken care of, again not something for weekend warriors.

I had a hickory that was rotting at the base and was about half gone from the ground up to about four feet. It was leaning towards my shop and we were concerned if we tried to cut it would fall on the shop. The other was an oak that had been hit by lightening a few years prior to me buying the place. It was close to the power line. Max, the neighbor on the other side of me, spent a couple decades cutting trees for a living but is in no shape to be doing that business now. He said that oak would come down in at least three pieces and there was no telling which direction any of it would come down. This actually prompted bringing in the tree cutter with his bucket truck.

Friday promised to be a good day for working on this stuff. Weather was great, especially for a day in February. About 40 degrees at 8am and got to almost 60 by the end of the day. I changed from my work uniform into home work clothes. This meant jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots traded for jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots. My company pays for my uniforms so I don’t feel it is right to tear them up at home. I grabbed a cup of coffee, changed the chain on my saw, gassed it up and topped off the bar oil reservoir. Threw it all in the truck (saw, fuel, oil, bar wrench and chain sharpening file) refilled my cup and went to play with my friends.

We are giving almost all of the wood to Max. He uses an Outdoor Wood Burning furnace. Wood is burned in a firebox outside of the house which heats a water reservoir. The heated water circulates into the furnace. The air blows over the hot water coil. The air absorbs the heat and blows out into the house. Same way a gas fired furnace works which is what us “industry pros” call a direct heat whereas Max’s furnace is an indirect heat. It is a very good system and something that I am looking at putting as a backup or “off grid” option for my house. For now, the propane is a better option for me.

I say almost all of the wood because I plan to keep about a “rick” for my wood burner in my shop and the smaller sticks will be used in my smoke house (when I get it built). A “cord” of firewood is a stack of wood that measures (about) 4 feet deep x 4 feet high x 8 foot long – stacked neatly and compactly. It is 128 cubic feet of compactly stacked firewood. A “rick” is 1/3 of a cord. Typically, cut and split firewood is cut between 16 and 20 inches, with 16 inches being the “standard”. A “rick” would then be 4’x4’x16”. I do not know how many cord of wood would typically be used over the winter, but if you cut your own wood it can be a very cost-effective method of heating. Wood heat is very common in this part of the country. Back home (Southwest Kansas) it is not as practical because we just don’t have the trees.

Friday, we cut up two of Art’s trees and my oak. We got the tops – the smaller branches – moved to the burn pile. I worked until about 3pm. At that point I had been awake for about 20 hours and I hit that proverbial wall. A good day’s work and well-earned sleep to end it. Saturday, Art was over at about 7am burning the brush pile. We had a little rain Friday night so it was great timing to burn. Less chance of setting the whole yard on fire. I got the two boys up and out and we started on the hickory. Got all the tops moved to the fire and would have got the tree cut up but I cut in at the wrong angle and damaged my chain. Max’s son and grandson showed up around 9am to cut up the large trunk pieces of the oak and to start hauling it to Max’s wood pile. About noon I had to call it a day – I had to work Saturday night.

Good, hard work shared among neighbors creates friends. We all had a good time. Joking with each other, sharing stories – probably mostly lies (except mine were all true enough) – and all while making my place safer and helping out Max. So, remember, if you hear your neighbor running a chainsaw go see what they are doing. They may welcome the help.

Principle Centered Life

A paradigm is like a map. It is the interpretation of a place, it is not the place. Our paradigms are how we see things, our perspective on any given situation is a result of the paradigm we used to see the situation. Stephen Covey said, “We must examine the lens through which we see the world as well as at the world we see, the lens [through which we look] is how we interpret the world we see.” This means, to me, that it is more important to understand why we see what see than to understand what we see. The lens is the paradigm. To change our world, we must first change how see it.

Continuing the map analogy, if we have the wrong map we will never get where we want to be. Covey used the example of standing in Chicago with a map of New York City. The map of NYC may be accurate, but it has no relevance to Chicago so will not help us find anything in Chicago. So first, we must determine how we see the situation to determine if we have the correct map. The more aware we are of our paradigms the better equipped we are to take responsibility for our lives. In other words, we must know what experiences we have allowed to shape our lens so that we can compare that to universal principles.

Natural laws govern human effectiveness, they are absolute, fundamental and unchanging. Covey describes it this way: “It is impossible to break the [natural] laws; we can only break ourselves against the law.” This tells me that if I am trying to live outside of the natural laws my life will be broken, unproductive, and/or frustratingly unsuccessful. Our paradigms are a subjective reality that we use to describe objective reality – principles are the objective reality.

Principles are not practices or values. Practices are situationally specific. Paradigms are not values; values can and do change with experience. Principles are hard wired, universally true. Unchanging, fundamental truth. Going back to the map analogy, principles are the territory that the map is describing.

The Nine Noble Virtues are a set of principles to compare our paradigms against. While the 9NV are not an exhaustive list of all the principles I believe that any principle will fit into one of the 9NV. If I come across a principle not already covered by the 9NV I will add this principle. If I find that a principle fits more than one virtue, then that principle should replace both virtues.

If we align our paradigms with the 9NV our map will be accurate (we will at least be in the city that matches our map). Let’s examine the 9NV as they relate to the study of the 7 Habits:

  1. Truth (Wisdom)

You don’t know what you don’t know.

This virtue is our yard stick when we examine the lens through which we see the world. This virtue governs the seeking of truth in the myriad of information presented to us from all directions in the information age we find now find ourselves. When we have access to the breadth of the world’s knowledge in the palm of our hands yet have very little facts being shared. When everyone is telling us their opinion of the facts without giving the facts. We must know where the truth is and how to discern it. This applies to all information and should not be limited to the mundane but applied to the spiritual as well.

  1. Courage

Do it anyway.

This virtue is our strength to act on the truth and not succumb to the trending ignorance (willful ignorance in many cases) that is prevalent in our society. The strength to do the right thing even when the consequences of doing the right thing are not beneficial. Yes, courage also is the act of doing the right the thing even when we fear the consequences. It is not the absence of fear, it is the action despite fear.

  1. Fidelity (Loyalty)

Stay the course.

This virtue has many interpretations. In comparing it to the 7 habits, I see this virtue as being loyal to the principled center. Staying the course and always examining, measuring, the results back to the principles, the 9NV. Also, this virtue helps us to determine priorities. To assign the hierarchy of importance and to remain in align with those priorities.

  1. Hospitality (Generosity)

Its not only about you.

This virtue tells us not to be self-centered. When we live a principle centered life we are more connected to the whole. That connection to the whole lets us know that we are not an island but a part of a greater continent.

  1. Discipline (Self-control)

No excuses.

Discipline is needed to stay in the principled centered life. We should strive to live a life that would not require us to ask forgiveness of anyone. Being disciplined to always do the right thing every time. Of course, we are human, and we are not perfect, but we should work towards that perfection anyway.

  1. Industriousness (Work/Perseverance)

Never quit.

We are not owed anything that we have not earned. If we do not put in the work; if we do not pay the price, we will never develop the mastery required of any of this. If we aren’t doing things, making mistakes, we will never learn anything. Nelson Mandela said “I never lose. I win, or I learn.”

  1. Self-reliance (Strength)

If it is to be it is up to me.

We make our choices, whether we are aware or not we have a choice in everything in our live. No, we don’t have any choice in what happens TO us. We do have the choice in how we respond to that stimuli. We can choose to be proactive in those choices or we can be victims – either way we choose. No one has any control of how we think, how we respond, to anything. We must make conscious decisions.

  1. Frith and Grith

Don’t worry, be happy.

The attitude with which we face life determines the results we get from life. You reap what you sow. Being miserable, always seeing the negative, will bring negativity into your life. Bad things will still happen, sad times will still exist, but a positive attitude will help to get us through those times and to see the good in all things. If we believe that everything happens for a reason and understand that we are not always meant to understand that reason life is easier to deal with.

  1. Honor

Actions out weight words.

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Your character is not what you tell people you are but what you show them through your actions. Honor is acting with integrity in living a principle centered life. It is not an act, it is not something that we can pretend to have for very long. We don’t get to decide if we are honorable or not. Those around us determines this. Honor is the command of respect – not the demand of respect don’t read that wrong. When we do the right things for the right reasons and respect those deserving of respect, we are we are living with honor.

A common misunderstanding is that principles, any or all of them, are subjective. They are not. The value of the principle may vary, but we do not define principles. They define us. Align your paradigms to the correct principles.

Hamingja

When I started this blog, I envisioned becoming some type of guru about the application of the Nine Noble Virtues in daily life – for Heathens and everyone alike. So far, I have made five posts and barely hint on the 9NV. The ancestors had a concept we know as Hamingja – essentially luck but way more complex than simple luck.

In most tales the Hamingja is a guardian spirit that blesses a person based on their intent and actions in life. The more good a person does the stronger their Hamingja can become. Of course, luck can be inscrutable, and a blessing may not look to be that on the surface. For example, I have been blessed with a creative imagination. I can see fantastic images in my mind. I can see exactly what I want something to become. There is a disconnection between that imagination and my ability to apply it. Have you ever seen a beautifully decorated cake in a picture and tried to recreate that? Then end up with something that is edible, probably quite delicious, but you just don’t want to look at it? Well, that is my daily life only the picture is in my head.

This is what I am experiencing with this blog. I can see where I want it go and want I want from it, I just don’t know how to make that materialize, yet. Writing has always been something I want to get better at. I am an avid reader and one of my dreams is to write something that affects someone the way that my favorite authors affect me; that I could transport a reader to a different reality. The blog is a stepping stone in that journey. Here I can write something and publish it to that world, eventually I will get feedback – maybe confirmation that I am doing it correctly and hopefully some critique to help me improve. Mostly, though, the blog allows me to practice. It gives me a media in which to strengthen my Hamingja.

Part of the concept surrounding Hamingja is the ability to pass on the spirit to my descendants. I want to have a strong spirit; a mighty Hamingja. A person with a strong Hamingja can lend their blessing to others. When we wish a friend to have a safe journey home from a visit or when they go on a vacation – this is sharing our Hamingja to strengthen their own. The beautiful thing about this? When we do this, it doesn’t diminish our own Hamingja, but strengthens it.

I believe it was my Hamingja that showed me the Daily Prompts to give me an excuse to just write without the restraint of a specific topic. I will continue my research on the 9NV and I will write more on them, this is just an inscrutable interlude. The Daily Prompts are also a blessing that gives my blog exposure to an audience I would not have otherwise.

 

Daily Prompt: Dominant

via Daily Prompt: Dominan

While browsing blogs on WordPress, you know looking for ideas I could steal and make me look more clever, I found a post by The Daily Post. She does a daily prompt word and challenges (invites?) other bloggers to write a blog post on that word. This looks to be fun and interesting. The word today is “Dominant”.

The most important thing in my life, the dominant concern, is my family. My wife and three children. The dominant concern here is that I am doing it right. I’m sure most parents share my fear – am I doing it right…

This past November my wife and I celebrated 20 years of marriage, both of us still on our first. We have been together since 1995. We met in Japan (her native country) while I was stationed on the USS Independence (CV-62). Her friend was dating a friend of mine and thought I needed to find a good girl and stop being a “butterfly” that went from flower to flower. Now I would like to say it was love at first sight or some romantic bullshit like that…but it wasn’t. Another friend of mine was into her and I wasn’t going to fight my buddy over a woman (no matter how hot she was) I had just met. Long of the short – about a month later my ship was out on deployment and I got a letter. She asked me if I liked her and if I wanted to be her boyfriend…Yes, she regrets that letter now and then. She hooked me (I’m sure she was only after my money – because a junior enlisted Sailor rolls in cash).

Our children (20, 16, 11) are good kids. All do good in school, aren’t in trouble, don’t do drugs (as far as I know), basically I am proud of them. Sure, there are days that I have to sit down and remind myself of this when I am frustrated with having to tell them to do a chore…or take a shower. Seriously! The daughter (11) must be pretty much drug to the shower and forced to clean herself! This is a phase, right?

I think we are doing it right. Not perfectly, but adequately. This doesn’t mean that I will stop being afraid that I am screwing these kids up, but I don’t really need to be afraid of that.

Who am I?

For as long as I remember, which is an increasingly shorter time period as the years roll by, I have searched for a connection to my purpose. Like many, I looked for this connection in religion. I started, also like many Americans, with Christianity. I studied the Bible, I prayed and meditated, and I never felt the connection; the calling. Then I came across the Nine Noble Virtues (9NV). When I discovered that they were connected to a pantheon, even if only loosely, I began exploring this pantheon. The lore was appealing; I felt called by it. The catch was that most of what I found in the beginning ranged from covertly to blatantly racist.

I questioned how I could feel called to a group of deities that existed on a racist creed? I am married to a Japanese woman and we have three children. I was reading about furthering the white race and keeping the bloodlines pure. All while seeing the core, the gods and goddesses and the honoring of the ancestors, the premise of the belief system as belonging to me. I fit here if not for the racism. So, I searched and researched. I found The Troth, a group of Heathens united in the lore and deities yet staunchly inclusive – meaning they didn’t believe nor accept the racism as being an intrinsic part of the package. I joined this organization and soon learned that they go back to the beginning of the reconstruction of the ancient ways.

I began to see that I am not a reconstruction type. I believe the gods and goddesses want us to bring them into the modern world, not constrain our efforts to recreating what once was. I have experienced many personal gnosis that support my belief. This is a great thing about a polytheistic spiritual walk with gods that desire personal relationships, in fact who want to be known as kin folk to us, they expect us to find our own path.

Until I found this path, I have separated, in my thoughts, the pursuit of spiritual connectiveness and personal development. I have been reading books in the personal development for a decade or so. I have lacked consistent application of the principles and ideas I read about. Most of the authors tie their success to their God and celebrate the relationship in their writings. I always felt that was missing in my studies of their works. Since I have made the connection between the two I feel more inspired and seem to be more consistent in my application. At this point I am centering my studies around two sources. Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the 9NV.

 

The Nine Noble Virtues:

  1. Courage – doing the right thing despite any fear
  2. Discipline – self-discipline, forming good habits
  3. Honor – personal ethics
  4. Truth – sincerity, both to self and to others
  5. Fidelity – loyalty
  6. Hospitality – the relationship between host and guest
  7. Self-reliance – the ability and practice of being independent
  8. Industriousness – work ethic, finishing what you start
  9. Perseverance – never giving up

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Be Proactive – respond not react
  2. Begin with the End in Mind – know where you want to go
  3. First Things First – know your priorities
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw – its cyclic – keep refreshing and studying

 

Looking at these two lists there is some correlation that can be easily seen and with some study, and the right perspective, the correlation can be expanded so that each Habit encompasses a number of the 9NV. Habit #1 – Be Proactive, for example, utilizes Honor, Discipline, Perseverance, and Truth. Dr. Covey describes the first Habit as being proactive. He talks about acting within your circle of influence and choosing to respond to circumstances instead of reacting to them. When we react, we chose to be a victim of the circumstance. Discipline is required to make that choice. Truth (to self) and Honor guides us to knowing when are making a proactive choice and being honest when we don’t. Perseverance is the virtue that shows us how to keep doing the right thing, even when it is easier just be a victim of circumstances.

Do you need to follow any religion to make the changes that Dr. Covey described? Nope. Does it make a difference if you are religious? Only if you are religiously active in making the right choices. So, why combine the two? I believe in a higher purpose than just existing; in a purpose for my existence. This leads me to the divine. The gods and goddesses I follow are honored by my deeds and accomplishments. When I grow and advance my self I honor my ancestors, which includes the gods and goddesses.

 

Vincent Enlund wrote this poem to explain our purpose in life, or at least some of our purpose:

My name is not my own,

It is borrowed from my ancestors,

I must return it unstained.

My Honor is not my own,

It is loaned from my decedents,

I must give it to them unbroken.

My blood is not my own,

It is a gift to generations yet unborn,

I should carry it with responsibility.