Tag Archive: Christmas Spirit


I haven’t watched much of the news since starting my publication of the last 18 letters. I found three remaining letters, all addressed to God, written back in 2009. I may dare myself, open the letters, and publish one or two.

Sorry, I digress – back to news.

I haven’t listened to Trump in some 20 days. All-in-all, seems rather damn refreshing. However, I’ve read tidbits of the New York Times (NYT). One item that caught my mind was that worldwide voter turnout peaked in the late nearly 30 years ago, back in the 1980’s.

Unfortunately, the percent of electoral success in building and redevelopment is abysmal. To highlight, in February 2018, President Trump released a $1.5 trillion infrastructure financing plan that called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to repair and rebuild highways, bridges, airports, seaports, and water systems. But a relatively small amount of that funding would come from the federal government. This plan shifts the burden for raising infrastructure money onto state and local governments.

Likewise, import tariffs imposed by President Trump are adding thousands of dollars to the cost of building homes. That squeezes homeowners seeking to rebuild quickly after natural disasters, such as the California wildfires.

Compare that to the destruction. Trump wrecked any semblance of an immigration policy right out of the gate. Trump also filled two Supreme Court nominees. Significant Judicial accomplishments were processed since the GOP refused to confirm Obama’s lower court nominees for the last two years. The administration took significant steps to chip away at the foundations of the Affordable Care Act and suspended payments to insurance companies that helped control the costs of insuring poorer, sicker Americans. Changes to the tax code has been estimated at $1.5 trillion over 10 years with individual tax reductions expiring after eight years.

We cannot count on the Trump’s of the world to invest in us. As a whole, America has not invested in their most important asset: the incredible diversity of its people. Both GOP and Democrats discuss empowerment every few years during an annual/biannual election. But while all that happens, in the backdrop of ballot boxes, one third of the earth’s population lives in slums.

Where’s our humanity?

People … our global citizens are dying. As I, myself, dies, I’ve looked back upon my 58 years and witnessed so many amazing souls who live a life of service, adding massive value to the lives of others, yet they neglect to take care of or know how to handle adversity in their own lives. Thus, the trick to rebuilding is moving people from a ‘must serve mentality’ to ‘serving globally.’

Whether we’re aware or not, we’re all mentors. If the Trumps of our world will not invest in us, then we must. Only through global living will the halls and windows we’ve looked through would will change. It’s requirement? Invest in ourselves and each other. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

In this place where time stands still it seems like everything is moving. Including me. I can’t say I know where I’m going nor if my bad deeds can be purified. There are so many things I have done that I regret. But when I come to a full stop I hope you understand that the distance between us is not as great as it seems.

~ Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet ~

Humanity is about movement. So get moving. Invest and make the world you want.

When I started this project (opening all these unread letters from yesteryear), Letter 18 was held for last and remains the last handwritten letter written.

I never heard from her again.

After reading the message, the message remains true. Maybe, I should have posted it sooner. Thematically speaking, it’s a holiday message – God is love. That’s all my letters were about – Love.

Fast forwarding from eight years ago, I happened to catch to what I believe was a 1999 rerun of the cable TV show “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” If you’ve seen it, you know the basic idea: James Lipton invites celebrities to talk about their careers and how they do what they do. He always ended each episode with the same question:

If you believe that God exists, what do you think He will say to you when you finally see Him?

It can make for an interesting examination of conscience.

Lipton asked Spielberg, “What do you hope God will say to you when you finally see Him?

Thinking for a moment, Spielberg replied, “Thanks for listening.

Thanks for listening.

So much of the Christmas story is, truly, about two things: listening and loving. In essence, that’s what this blog is about – ‘listening’ to my thoughts and understanding the love I tried to instill.

If any one of the past eighteen letters help any of you, then my words were not for naught. I hope all these letters add some value to your holiday. Each reader, each follower, is important and I honor each one of you so very much.

So, I thank you for listening. And I thank you for all your love and inspiration.


My Dear Love:

When I was younger, I used to be enriched by the holiday spirit. Eyes sparkled with the excitement of the season and as Christmas carols played in the background. I had an overview of Baby Jesus, a lowly manger, and a couple of shepherds. Not sure if the real things were as glorious portrayed.

Let’s face it, I didn’t have great Biblical story role models. Ha. So, I settled upon a vision of God and Christmas Eve drawn from movies. My best all time movie? A classic. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ There’re several lessons I learned many years ago. One. When we are in pain, we tend to feel we are suffering alone. But that’s rarely the case. When someone we love hurts – we hurt. Two. Character speaks louder than cash. Always. Third. There’s always a Mr. Potter. Don’t let the buggar win.

In truth, there’s always someone who’s going to be different. May even put up a sign, “Bah, humbug” or “Go Grinch.” I read of a little girl who climbed onto Santa’s lap. When Santa asked, “And what would you like for Christmas?” the girl looked up and replied, “What do you mean? Did you not get my email?”

I really did envision angels coming to help the average soul. In fact, Christmas Eve 1978, God gave me His greatest gift – himself. I saw his transcendent beauty of faith and love. His purity of light and grace remains amazing. There were, of course, doubters for my experience. However, over the years, I learned to never let another man create your world for he always creates it too small. And neither should we create God’s world, for we always tend to create God’s too narrow.

My vision of God’s world evolved significantly, yet remains absolute. Many years had passed before learning God does not appear in the grand hall of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable. Not in power – but simplicity. And maybe as I write this, I just learned that’s the angle portrayed in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Funny how God’s angle is never our angle, nor is God’s angel ever like our angel.

God does come on Christmas Eve. He’s in that recovering alcoholic who walks by a bar, hears the laughter, but keeps walking. He’s there in the silence, when the one who used to share your life and your home is no longer there, and you find your heart full of sorrow and longing and memory. He whispers “You are not alone. I am with you.”

This Christmas, I am so blessed for you, someone so beautiful, so capable of delivering love without condition. You seem to overcome any obstacles. I meditate and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. When I am with you, I am home, full of humility and gratitude for having shared this life, my life, with you.

This Christmas, regardless what anyone else does, be true to what’s inside – the goodness, kindness, a loving nature and joy. Ultimately, God knows these qualities cement real change. Christmas exists to remind the world of His love. He gives us His love so we can be part of the solution.

You, my love, are my Wonderful Life.

With all my love … W

Letter 15 was written on ‘Mentoring Day.’ I attribute my entire success and my multi-decade career to mentoring. The reason I believe so strongly in mentoring is because those key individuals will tell you the truth. If you have a good mentor, they are brave enough to tell you what you don’t necessarily want to hear but need. For me, those key mentors helped me see a clearer path by clearing out the noise.

There is a saying, alternately attributed to Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni and the Theosophists: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I first heard the phrase from Wayne Dyer. Regardless of who came up with it, I think it’s a key concept. In my own life, I “went it alone” for years. “I am a rock. I am an island” was my mantra. Even though I had friends to lean on, I never did. Not only that, when I felt challenged in my life, it took years to realize that’s not what I needed. As such, over the decades, even the most unintentional connections turned into mentoring situations.

For me, my mentors lit the way. However, I had to walk the path. As a Buddhist, I have realized that anything and everything is a teacher in this world. I wrote this letter to my love in an effort to reminded others when they made a positive impact. The role my love had in my life, regardless of how long or how brief, how positive or negative, how ordinary or extraordinary, shaped my world for the better. Some would claim spirituality guided me. Maybe. But not quite. In truth, it was her that guided me through the ebbs and flows of life, and made an irrevocable impact on who I am.

A mentor should be life’s samurai. Cut the crap, “separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Always thank your mentor. This letter was meant for that.


My Dear Friend:

I am no longer the island seen from afar. It’s neither because God called me for a higher purpose nor for missed adventures. Simply understood, it’s because I know you are my port of worship.

Your willingness to expand horizons – to include me – ensured my existence. You are, bar far, the most influential person of my life. I am surprised to hear the multitude confused by your compassion. However, I can hear your heart from thousands of miles. Your eyes shine. Your heart beats. Your care sparks raging infernos. You make everyone possess the “well of possibility.”

I didn’t have enough life experience to know how special you were. You provided a wealth of growth that encouraged me to be the best person possible. You’d ask deep personal questions. And even though I didn’t know how to answer, I wish someone would ask me the same today. I was an unlovable monster. Yet you loved. I was often confused. still, you guided. At times, I was heartbroken. And you comforted. When I was me, you proved that was enough. You got so tangled up in my life’s web that you became my mentor, my love, and my friend.

I’ve been open and drank every glass of wisdom. I tasted your ups and downs, glory and peace. You peered into the crystal ball and gave me your best advice. I only hope my brain properly recorded and stored these thoughts forever.

I promise to continue chasing my dream, but I understand it will be hard. My journey will not hand success without sacrifice. I will be humble, charismatic, reserved, and learn to blend in. I will ensure the world sees my heart, mind, and yearn to understand how the flame within will be harnessed and used wisely.

You have influenced me to transform lives. I will transform lives.

You have influenced me to transform communities. So. I will transform communities.

You influenced me to transform myself. Yet, I hope I can transform you.

God hadn’t called for a higher purpose. I called myself.

With Love, …. W

After reading Forbes writer John Wasik article of how the GOP Tax Plan screws the middle class, I doth believe the Ghost of Christmas Hate has arrived.

First, the GOP argument is that an average family earning $60,000 annually nets a couple grand – roughly $2,100 – to which they get to choose how to dispense versus the U.S. Government selection. If you’re Republican, rejoice. Clap. Clap. Applause. Applause. Say, “Amen Brothers!” and “Praise Jesus.” If you’re Democratic, ‘Meh!

So how does the Ghost of Christmas Hate fit? Wasik noted that tax break comes with trade-offs. Two grand never comes free. Since the tax plan adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the imbalance is offset by cuts in “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid or tax increases. GOP Senators rarely mentions offsets.

  • Lower Social Security payments by changing payment calculations. Much of that money comes out of the pockets of middle- and working-class taxpayers.
  • As Trump and GOP allies crow about how middle class families will receive a tax cut, other current tax breaks — like personal exemptions and property tax write-offs — get cut.
  • By 2027, anyone making less than $75,000 will have their taxes raised.
  • GOP Tax Bill does not cut corporate loopholes, bring back trillions in offshore cash nor cut defense spending. GOP will reduce the federal deficit by slashing big programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. As such, there will be no help for families paying for long-term care, payroll taxes or college. Monthly Social Security Checks will decrease.
  • People ages 50 to 64 would face average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019. As a result, 4 million more Americans will become uninsured in 2019 and 13 million by 2025, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Even those who argue that the bill’s corporate and income tax cuts will spur economic growth can’t guarantee that any particular American will receive a raise.

Still, there’s positives to the GOP Tax Plan. The Ghost of Christmas Hate left wonderful rich boys and girls some benefits.

First, a quirk. The GOP Tax Plan exempts “private aircraft owners” from taxes on the “maintenance and support of the aircraft owner’s aircraft or flights on the aircraft owner’s aircraft.” I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Trump will not have to pay maintenance and support.

Second, Trump’s claim of “millions” of family farms and businesses suffering from the ‘estate tax’ (i.e., ‘Death Tax’) is not reality. There are no ‘millions.’ There’s no hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands. If the Ghost of Christmas Hate had repealed the ‘estate tax’ last year, approximately 80 of 5,500 of eligible estates would have benefited.

Why? Well, because only morons pay the estate tax.

Most fortunes amassed, like Trump’s, come from investment holdings, 55 percent of which were capital gains. They are rarely subject to tax. For these families, the first $5.49 million isn’t taxed, and careful tax planning can drastically reduce what’s owed on the rest. As Gary Cohn, the White House economic adviser, told a group of Senate Democrats this year, “Only morons pay the estate tax.”

Forbes notes wealthy people begin passing on their wealth to their heirs in the form of “charitable lead trusts” and other “exotic loopholes” long before the Angel of Death arrives. If Trump’s worth the $3.1 billion, as Forbes magazine says Trump is, by eliminating the estate tax excluding almost everyone, the Ghost of Christmas Hate saves Trump Jr., Eris and Ivanka $1.2 billion.

Third, Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans. Speaker Paul D. Ryan and other Republicans are beginning to express their big dreams publicly, vowing that next year they will move on to changes in Medicare and Social Security. President Trump told a Missouri rally last week, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.”

Meanwhile, the $2,000 tax break you and I received is funneled back to the IRS, medical care, college costs, taxes, etc., etc., etc.

Happy Holidays from the Ghost of Christmas Hate!

img_0006At a rally in Wisconsin, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

Mr. Bill O’Reilly returned to the War on Christmas this year, but with a triumphant tone.

That culture war issue ignited and we won,” he recently said. “Donald Trump is on the case.”

Question please. “What war?

There is no evidence on any type of organized war on Christmas, it’s simply personal ignorance used as a “device” to ensure bias and innuendo remain artfully sculpted by equally bias. Christmas war allies noted the 2016 naughty list included Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret. Starbucks came under fire for seasonal cup designs that emphasized social harmony over Christmas greetings.

Bah humbug Trump would metaphorically say, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Thank God for Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly claimed “The Donald” is on the case. So much so that he declared the war on Christmas officially over. ”We won,” O’Reilly claimed. After hearing that, I hurriedly rushed to the streets. Each corner brought a sense of excitement. “Celebrations Everyone.” “Celebrations,” I yelled. “The War on Christmas is over.”

Yet, not one corner yielded singing in the streets. There were no pictures of home bound sailors kissing women in New York’s Times Square. There were no pictures of Christmas War soldiers raising the U.S. flag, like that of Imo Jima. Did the Christmas war even have a flag? Sorry, I digress.

I FaceTime’d a friend in Finland. Surely, Finland will be celebrating? Surely? Right? “What the f…?” He said. “What? What war? Call me when you’re sober” Then I reached out to another friend in Norway. Christmas War? Nope. Nada. No celebrations. Nothing. Finally, I called the big man at the North Pole. Yes! As in the North Pole, Alaska (actually south of Fairbanks, AL). No war there either.

I perused the BBC, Yahoo, MSN, MSNBC and Associated Press (AP). No war. No war memorials to the lost and fallen, no one to lay an annual Christmas reef on the Tomb of The Unknown Christmas War Soldier Memorial and no evidence of any Christmas War veterans waiting in line at the Veterans Administration hoping to get aid for Christmas War PTSD.

Once Again, all of this begs the question, “What war?

Seriously, the only war won was where sensible men and women allowed ignorance an upper hand. As a Buddhist, I’ll take the harmony Starbucks offers. We need more of that.

Pass The Hamm’s

Hamms-beerVisiting octogenarians often holds its own rewards. And like stories passed from one generation to another, I often find octogenarians equally humbling and thought-provoking. Thus, yesterday’s visit with my parents proved no exception. The following is a summary of questions these octogenarians exposed.

Huddled in the retirement center’s clubhouse, an enclave of retirees parsed stories from the local daytime temperatures, events and best salad bars within five miles. Some octogenarians had voice capabilities of 350 words per minute, with gusts up to 500.

Suddenly, one octogenarian caught a local televangelist program storming up God’s salvation and heaven.Oh good God,” he exclaimed.All I want to know is whether there’ll be Hamm’s Beer? If they (sic) ain’t no Hamm’s, why go?”

This seemingly funny comment set off a firestorm of comments.

Better yet,” piped another,What will we do in Heaven? Do we just sit and sing wonderful songs to God?  If we do, that could get tedious. I mean, singing for the first thousand or so years sounds great, but that third thousand … man, that will suck. I’d probably go to God and say, “Got anything else?””

Everyone burst into laughter.

Won’t be tough if you have some Hamm’s.”

Another pondered out loud,Wonder if they’ll have the New York Times? I have to have the New York Times to do my morning constitutional?  Hey, do you think they’ll have gold toilets?”

Everyone erupts in laughter.

Hell, I’d settle for constitutional.”

Another bout of laughter.

Hey,” interrupted another.How come there’s no pictures of heaven? Think about it, if a hacker can bypass China’s state censorship, how come someone up there can’t sneak the world an old photo. If Snowden can get U.S. secrets out, how come no one has gotten photos out of heaven? Why can’t someone pass the Archangel Michael a note on the side …. Hey deliver this to my stupid neighbor on Elm Street –  your dog still sucks.

Yeah, what’s the deal with that,” another affirmed.

What about Lawrence Welk,” queried one?Does he still play?”

Absolutely not,” confirmed an octogenarian in the corner.I heard Welk was playing and God fell asleep. So he was never asked to play again. I’ll have ah-one, ah-two, ah one, two, three, four…..zzzzzzzzz

Laughter filled the room.

Truth be told, octogenarians have a point.  What exactly is heaven like? Likewise, each person provided some interesting questions of my own:

  • If a good Catholic married a good Buddhist and they lived happily ever after, when they died were they going to the same place?
  • Where did all the Buddhists, Hindus and goddess worshipers go before Christ came to the world? Was the Christian heaven already in place even before Christ was born? Or Have all the pre-Christians ended up in Christian hell?

At the end of the day, maybe we just need to think like Steve Jobs, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Maybe we all need a Hamm’s?

Christ CompassionSitting without power in a northern Vermont/New York town, a few of us huddle against the hotel’s fireplace and embrace the radiant heat. And thus, another Christmas Eve stands firm at my door. Here in the woods, there is no Santa, no ghost of Christmas past and even Marley has been placed upon the back shelf of many a mind.

Still, if I had to explain what Christmas is all about, I would summarize by using the word “love” or “compassion.” Certainly, we can see Christ’s compassion. He had many faces; some fierce; some wrathful; some tender; some wise. Dalai Lama once said, “Love and compassion are necessities. Thus, without them, humanity cannot survive.

Without becoming religious, I have been lucky to see Christ everywhere. There are so many whose hands and eyes have touched me. And in an unceasingly unending river of love, they continue to embrace my soul today. They touched me when I was partially paralyzed after a military accident some 30 years ago. And because of my caregiver’s strength, her strength became the kind of mudra and imprimatur that now guides my life. She could clearly see into the nature of my suffering. And she stood strong, recognized that I’m wasn’t separate from her and transformed my suffering.

But Christ’s compassion has another component: the seeds of compassion require watering. Several weeks ago, I attended a healthcare fair in East St. Louis, Illinois. Anyone traveling through East St. Louis would say that this is the land God forgot. The seeds of their own compassion had rarely been watered. But the conditions for compassion must be activated, they have to be aroused. Each us can activate an amazing abundant amount of compassion throughout our life, but we choose otherwise. Why?

Sometimes we hinder love through our own self-pity, our higher-than-thou moral outrage, or simple fear. We look unto the world and see a world paralyzed by fear. And in that paralysis, our capacity for compassion also becomes paralyzed. Instead, we harbor a “scarcity mentality” and shrivel in the face of trial. Thus, compassion drains us.

But I promise you the type of love and compassion Christ delivered can be truly enlivening.  We can open the world and have an undefended heart. The archetype of this in Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin, she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world. We can stand with 1,000,000 others, hand-in-hand, and embrace the powerful instrument of love.

This Christmas, I ask you to come out of the cave. Be compassionate, remove one another’s problems and transform yourself into the Buddha of love, into the Christ of compassion.

We can be powerful partners of life – we can be compassionate fathers, with sons who are loved, with daughters who are honored, with mothers who are proud. We can embrace the plumber, the road builder, the caregivers, the doctors, the lawyers, the president (faults and all), and with all beings.

This Christmas, sit in the lotus sea of love and actualize the potential for all mankind. That’s what Christ accomplished. And we can as well.

Have a wonderful and blessed holiday.

VermontThe window overlooking Vermont is surrounded by oceans of trees. Looking upon Nature’s marvel, I realize she gave nothing without labor. I remain utterly speechless and in awe.

Here in the deep woods, I can dust snow from tree branches and ponder the struggle. Yes, she struggled. In love, she forged and bored through listless rock to create this world, the world in which we live.  Each of us on this island earth are connected, born from that very labor of love. And everyone needs to understand our earth, this spirit of life, this beauty of creation loves everyone given life.

Over the years I have traveled to and fro, from Asia to Africa, from Canada to South America. In all those travels, I am not unaware of the encircling power of love – the love of people; the love of potential and the love internal peace that only someone who truly loves another gives. There is a tremendous power within unabridged love, in drawing life’s breath from one another. Those who share the depth-less, that someone so deep, so encompassing, there is no other.

Even I found the richness of God’s creation in my love, I now understand God’s true love includes both power and strength: the power of a received kiss and the foundational strength forged year after year.  Yes, my love knew me. She understood my significance and stirred life through a simple touch. In her hand, the key of the lonely heart trembled and the simple twist of her wrist unleashed the magic of Christmas. Agape love understands, for everyone needs someone to set them afire.

This Christmas, give the power of love.  We need NOT be independently wealthy. Nor does being a rich Scrooge to make a difference. Surely there’s something about our service that doesn’t require having an enormously rich neighbor to facilitate?

This type of glory is not about recognition. It’s about assisting those in need. Thus, this Christmas, remember those who’ve not had the opportunity to receive this power of love.  Understand one in six children live below the poverty level. 1.6 million children are homeless and represent 38% of the entire homeless population. Somewhere in your neighborhood, there is an elderly man or woman who believes they are alone.

Together, we have the power to reach unto those in need.  While shopping for the holiday, drop a toy in the collection box, pay someone’s monthly heating bill or sit and listen to their life story. There is nothing like the power of listening. All of these souls have the same right to kiss their dreams just as you or I. Awake from the slumber, come to them as a friends. Regardless of fault, each person is worth knowing.

While I lost my love to my own ego, I look through the forest onto Lake Champlain and I hope somewhere she searches for me.  Regardless, were she here, we would embrace the community and acknowledge a power greater than any CEO.

All of us can be the Christ in another’s life.

Live … love … offer peace and comfort. That is what God’s love is all about. It is very Buddhist and very Christ-like.

And to Ms. K. … Merry Christmas … wherever you may be.

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