REMEMBERING 9/11: UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF THE COLLECTIVE, INTERCONNECTED EXPERIENCE WE ALL HAD THAT DAY AND HOW WE CAN INTEGRATE IT INTO OUR EVERYDAY LIVES

Twin TowersIn Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience, of THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about the collective, interconnected experience we, and people from around the world, had on September 11, 2001 and explain how and why this happened.

As we remember this tragic day, I am sharing an excerpt from Chapter 32 and also from Chapter 13, God, which is in the obstructions section of the book, because it also talks about 9/11.

I hope these help you understand why tragic events like 9/11 unite us and how we can collectively live from this powerful place every day, and not just in times of tragedy:

Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience:

THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES WE HAVE BOTH individual and collective experiences.

Our collective experiences can be with other people or small groups, such as our families or the people at the companies we work for, in the towns where we live, and the schools we attend, etc.

Then there are the collective experiences we have with a large number of people, such as with the people in the country where we live or even many people from around the world. These collective experiences bring us together for a brief moment—or for much longer—to celebrate, cheer, support, grieve, mourn, speak out, or stand up.

The most powerful example of a large-scale collective experience I can think of (which I’ve mentioned before) happened when the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York were attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Together, as individuals, countries, and the world, we watched in shock and disbelief as both towers fell into piles of rubble.

As the events of the day unfolded on live television, we collectively grieved for those who died and for the loved ones they left behind, while cheering for the heroes who so courageously responded to the disaster.

It didn’t matter where we lived, what language we spoke, how much money we had or didn’t have, what color our skin was, if we knew anyone who worked in the towers, or anything else for that matter; we were all deeply affected—instantaneously feeling the pain, the loss, and the gravity of what was happening.

In that moment, the world changed forever, and we all knew it.

I have never before and have never since felt anything that compares to what I felt that day. To me, it felt as though every particle in the universe was grieving.

For the most part, we all experienced the same feelings—not intentionally, but instinctively—without thought or reason or anything else.

When a tragedy of this magnitude happens, our obstructions to spirit that make us feel separate from each other in our everyday lives, for some reason, disappear. And when they do, there is nothing to stop us from feeling the pain of what is happening. It travels across the universe, through the infinite web of invisible interconnectedness, instantaneously affecting all of us, bringing us together as one all-inclusive tribe.

At these times, there is no doubt that we are all somehow and in some way connected.

Collective Potential

These moments show us the potential we have to instantaneously connect with each other on a global level when obstructions to spirit are out of the way.

But we don’t have to wait for a tragedy to happen to experience this. Spirit does not go away in our everyday lives only to reappear in times of tragedy. It is always there, ready, willing, and able to bring us together when it is unobstructed.

But for this to happen, we will have to change the way we think, act, and move through our daily lives.

Yes, I know, change can be scary. Because of this, we resist it, even when we know it will create something better. This resistance, or unwillingness, to let go of antiquated beliefs and ways of doing things that cause pain and suffering is what stops us from evolving both individually and collectively.

We can become a bit more open to doing things differently when our suffering or pain reaches a level that can no longer be denied. But even then we can be slow to take action.

Unfortunately, I feel this is where we are in the world today—it has become too painful to continue on the path we are on.

While many of us know this, there are other people, businesses, politicians, and governments who benefit when things stay the same. So they will fight to stop progress, even if it means adamantly denying the existence of any problems, especially if they’re the ones causing them.

Chapter 13: God

Spirit Always Does the Right Thing

Spirit always does the right thing. It doesn’t wait, analyze, question, or discriminate—it just does.

I know we humans are capable of this kind of “doing,” and I know you know it, too. We have seen it countless times on television—and maybe even a few times in real life—in emergency situations or times of disasters when immediate action is required to save lives.

The most powerful example of this I can remember happened on September 11, 2001, when the world watched the incredible acts of heroism in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York.

Race, religion, political differences, and anything else that divides us in our everyday lives, disappeared as we collectively watched, collectively cried, and collectively cheered for the heroes who quickly took action to save so many lives.

They didn’t wait for God to tell them what to do or for Him to save people. They took action.

In this horrific moment, as we watched mere mortals take God-like actions with courage, compassion, and strength that is seldom required in everyday life, we witnessed Unobstructed Spirit (US) and its profound possibilities.

When there is no time to wait, analyze, question, or even pray, we will do the right thing.

The obstructions that stop us from stepping up and taking action in our daily lives are temporarily removed, and when they are, we will risk our own comfort and safety to help or save others.

As I said before: Spirit always does the right thing. And we do, too, when our obstructions are out of the way.

Possibilities Exist with Spirit

Can you imagine the world we could create if we lived every day from this place of Unobstructed Spirit (US) that we witness in times of tragedy?

I can, and often do. It’s what has provided me inspiration many times during the long processes of writing this book.

But it took more than just this to keep me going. I had to truly believe that the world I imagined could be created. And the more I wrote and lived the SPIRIT FACTOR, the more I knew it could be created.

I saw how removing obstructions to spirit transformed my life, and I knew other people could transform their lives by doing the same.

In reality, all it will take for us to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US) is for each of us to live lives of Unobstructed Spirit (US). It really is that simple.

Even so, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will be able to live every day without obstructions to spirit. But by striving to live this way, we will create more and more days in our individual lives where we do live this way.

And if enough of us do this, we will begin to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).

Learn how to live a life of Unobstructed Spirit (US) in THE SPIRIT FACTOR! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions!

The (R)EVOLUTION of spirit starts now!

Finding You and Your Home, Where the “Crawdads Sing”

It’s hard to put into words how much I loved the segment on Delia Owens, who is the New York Times bestselling author of “Where the Crawdads Sing”, on the Sunday Morning show this past weekend. (See video of interview at bottom of post)

Delia is 70 years old, and “Where the Crawdads Sing” is her first novel.

She spent almost a decade writing the book.

In the segment, Delia talks about how she has spent her life in remote areas, Africa and now northern Idaho, and how she loves—and at times loathes—the isolation of these places.

She said sometimes she gets so lonely that she feels like she can’t breathe.

The reporter said, “But you like a little part of that?”

Delia responded, “I do. And I decided to write a book about it.”

I related to so much of what Delia said because of some similarities in our lives.

While I’m not a New York Times bestselling author, well, not yet, it did take me almost a decade to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR.

And just like when she was writing her novel, inspiration came to me when it came and could not be forced.

Oh, and I, too, have a plastic storage tube full of old drafts, and scribbles and handwritten notes on pieces of scratch paper, that I wrote at all hours of the day and night when inspiration struck.

But I really found a kindred spirit in Delia when she talked about how she seeks out and loves isolation, and how she feels at home in nature.

The title of Delia’s book was taken from a phrase her mother used to use, when encouraging her tomboy daughter to take to the woods around their rural Georgia home and listen to what those woods had to say.

Delia explained that she learned from books that crawdads really don’t sing. But she learned from her mother that if you go far enough into the wilderness by yourself, and there’s nothing but you and nature, you will hear the crawdads sing.

Delia currently lives in a remote area of northern Idaho, and says that, “This is where the crawdads sing,” and that it took her a lifetime to find it.|

When my husband Michael and I decided to move from Southern California to a place in nature, we went on a year-long search to find a place “where the crawdads sing.”

We ended up finding a 10-acre property in the mountains of rural northeastern Washington that was surrounded by nature.

When we drove up to the property, I knew instantly it was home.

My spirit craved the silence and wisdom of nature, and also isolation after living my whole life in neighborhoods and working for many years in Los Angeles.

I fell head over heels in love with the forest that surrounded our new home and the nature that lived in it, taking long daily walks through it so I could hear the “crawdads sing.”

And, boy, did they sing!

What I “heard” in nature was different than the man-made information I had been taught and told my whole life.

It breathed life into me and my spirit, healing a depth of brokenness in me that I didn’t even know existed.

For the 9 years it took me to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I spent as much time as possible in the woods, observing nature.

I crossed paths with a mountain lion and a lot of other wildlife.

I witnessed up close the courage and resilience that nature faces life with every single day.

I listened to nature’s voice and did my best to translate it into words without distorting it with any agenda.

I feel that I was successful accomplishing this.

To spend almost a decade on this project, and for much of the time not really knowing when I would finish writing, was challenging. So was the isolation.

But what I learned during this time is that you have to allow yourself the time and space to fully explore and understand what you are writing about.

In order to do this, it takes listening to the “crawdads sing”, or as I call it, listening to spirit, which requires isolation and time in nature.

Inspiration can’t be forced and ideas can’t be manufactured. You can’t rush them.

This can be a hard thing to surrender to. But it is important to understand.

It’s also important to understand that this pertains to us and our lives, too.

Delia started writing “Where the Crawdads Sing” when she was in her sixties and became a best-selling author at age 70.

Many of us think that if we aren’t successful by a certain age that we never will be successful.

But discovering and becoming who we are takes time. Actually, it takes a lifetime.

Delia said it took her a lifetime to find her home in northern Idaho where the “crawdads sing,” and that’s okay.

No matter how young or how old we are, the most important thing is that we keep searching, learning, listening, evolving, and becoming the truest version of ourselves we can be.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR helps you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Anniversary of the Birth of THE SPIRIT FACTOR!

tsf new book cover front only 7-16-2018

Eleven years ago today, our book THE SPIRIT FACTOR was born. Well, at least it started Michael and me on the road to writing a book about spirit.

At the time, we had no idea that it would take us almost 9 years to write and edit the book. We also never could have imagined the many challenges we would face over those years that would almost derail us and this project, or the amazing journey we would go on because we asked one question: What is spirit?

THE SPIRIT FACTOR could never have been written on a deadline nor could I have prepared an outline for the book when I started writing.

The bits and pieces of the book came to me slowly, over the years I wrote it. I would have to digest the information then try to explain it in writing in a easy-to-understand way.

I included a quote from Joseph Campbell at the beginning of the book that describes perfectly how THE SPIRIT FACTOR was written:

“Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself.”

This is truly what happened with THE SPIRIT FACTOR, and it was one of the most magical things I have ever experienced!

THE SPIRIT FACTOR became the book I needed but had not been able to find in my decades-long search for something that would help me understand every aspect of life and live it to its fullest potential.

Below is the Introduction to the book that explains what happened on this day 11 years ago, and how, in an instant, the trajectory of our lives was changed.

INTRODUCTION: A BOOK IS BORN

On the evening of February 20, 2008, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., as a total lunar eclipse was taking place, Michael and I experienced a moment we had not planned on or that either one of us had ever imagined.

It was a moment of absolute clarity: clarity as to why the two of us were in pain, why so many others were in pain, and why the planet was suffering.

This moment started out as a conversation between Michael and me that began from a place of pain—deep pain—that we were both feeling but that neither one of us could explain or un-derstand.

Looking at our lives, we had so much to be grateful for. We had a loving relationship; we lived on one of the most beautiful pieces of property on the planet, surrounded by nature and peace; we had ideas and dreams that we were working on together; and we had three amazing dogs that brought complete joy to our lives.

Life was pretty darn good!

Over the years, Michael and I had worked hard to improve our lives on our own, and continued to do so after we met. Because of this, we were, at the time, in a place we had once dreamed of.
So, according to the numerous self-help books we had read over the years, the self-help speeches we had listened to, and the current onslaught of self-help movies we had watched, there was absolutely no good reason why we weren’t in “bliss” every moment of every day.

Since we weren’t, we felt there was something wrong with us that needed to “fixed” by affirming, acting as if, doing steps, being grateful, not watching the news, not getting involved or speaking out, or whatever else the latest self-helper was preaching as the way to this ever-elusive bliss.

If they were right, the pain Michael and I were feeling was all in our heads and could easily be “fixed” for the price of their latest book, CD, or seminar.

Unfortunately, we had believed this for years and tried to “fix” ourselves with these types of products, but we always ended up feeling like failures for not experiencing the results and sustaining change that had been promised.

On the night of February 20, it became clear to us why we— and so many others—were suffering.

You see, the pain Michael and I were feeling was not just in our heads; it was in our hearts and in every fiber of our beings.

Even though we had improved our lives, we could still feel the pain and suffering of so many others on the planet—and the suffering of the planet, too.

And even though our home was filled with love, peace, and respect, the moment we walked out our door, turned on the television, talked to a friend, neighbor, or family member, or basically did anything that involved being in the world, we could feel the pain and suffering that existed.

This pain no longer lives beneath the surface where it can be denied; it has reached the point where it is in clear view for all of us to see—and feel.

It can be seen in our addictions, illnesses, and disorders; in our broken homes and neglected children, elderly, and animals; in our prejudices and lack of compassion; in our apathy and pursuit of money and “things” at all costs; in our greed and separation and segregation; and in our words and in our wars.

On this night, Michael and I felt the collective pain of the people and our planet at a level that was beyond what we thought was humanly possible; we felt it at the level of spirit.

Feeling pain at this level is much different than feeling pain on an individual level—it is a depth of pain that can swallow you up and leave you in such despair that you could disappear in it forever.

When most of us feel pain, any pain, we try to avoid it or do something to stop it.

But on this night, Michael and I bravely sat together with this unbearable pain and looked it straight in the eyes.

When we did, we understood the pain, and realized it was telling us something very important—something we would have missed had we tried to avoid or stop the pain we were feeling.

Because we sat with this pain and listened to it, information, answers, and our purpose flowed freely from a place of spirit that was so present it was palpable.

This information was not separate from us; we simply knew it with every fiber of our beings, even though we had never been taught or told it.

There was no thought of doing anything other than completely surrendering to the moment with no judgment or distractions.

Actually, there was no thought involved in anything that happened that night—we transcended from thought to knowingness.

It wasn’t just an experience of being connected to spirit—we were spirit!

Every answer we had been searching for, we knew. All the pain the world was feeling, we felt.

This moment brought us to the purpose we had been searching for our entire lives.

But, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t the warm, fuzzy place we’d expected or that we had been promised in those aforementioned self-help books.

Actually, it was quite the opposite.

It’s not what we would have chosen had our decision been based on riches, relaxation, or a comfortable life.

But it is something we know we must do.

This purpose runs so deep, we feel that our survival depends on it.

It’s a purpose born out of the suffering and pain we are all feeling, yet have not been able to understand or express.

Even though there is no road map to follow, we know with absolute certainty, if we allow spirit to guide us, it will take us in the direction of healing—not just for the two of us, but for all of us.

Marie Kukula -Tyner & Michael Tyner

Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth

Somewhere CD Cover

Since moving from Southern California to the mountains of eastern Washington over 13 years ago, I have experienced so many moments of incredible beauty in nature.

While I love each of the four seasons the Pacific Northwest offers, I especially love the winter months because of the snow.

I don’t care who you are, when the first snow of the season arrives, you feel like a kid.

Yes, by the end of the winter I’m ready for the snow to go, but there is nothing more beautiful and magical than watching snowflakes gently fall from the sky, swirling about before they land on the ground or find their places on the branches of the trees.

Snow creates a silence that we seldom experience in our lives, and it turns everything it touches into a piece of art, softening the sharp edges of the world as it does.

I have taken countless walks through the forest we live in on many a snowy days, and there is no other experience I’ve ever had that compares to the silence and beauty of those times.

It truly feels like you’ve been transported to a place somewhere between heaven and earth.

On one of those walks, surrounded by stunning beauty, words came to me that turned into the poem “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth.” (The forest is where most of the inspiration for THE SPIRIT FACTOR came from.)

I sent this poem out in our Christmas card that year. Joe Rozum (joerozum.com), who is a talented pianist and composer, was one of our friends who received it.

Years later, Joe and his friend, gospel vocalist Stephen B. Steward, turned that poem into a song. Actually, they turned it into the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard with truly inspired vocals, music, and arrangements that brought a life to my words that I never could have imagined.

With no budget, we put together a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEdIhTuP-gc), which includes Joe and Stephen performing the song and me walking on the same forest path where I wrote the poem.

Please take a moment to watch the video, and let it transport you to that place where beauty, peace, and possibilities live … somewhere between heaven and earth.

A Night of Spirit with the Spokane Symphony and the Music of Queen

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My husband Michael and I went to see the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” last month. As you surely know, this movie is about the rock band Queen.

I grew up listening to Queen’s music, along with music from mega-rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, etc.

I never considered myself a huge Queen fan in the past, but that changed after we saw the movie. I am now completely obsessed with the band (especially Freddie Mercury) and their music!

So when I found out that the Spokane Symphony would be performing the music of Queen at the Fox Theatre in Spokane on my birthday a few weeks ago, I knew we had to go to the show.

Unfortunately, by the time we found out about the show it was sold out.

Michael continued to check online for tickets as the date approached but had no luck.

We’d accepted the fact that we wouldn’t be going to the show and tried to figure out something else to do to celebrate my birthday.

But on the afternoon of the show, Michael decided to check one more time to see if the theatre had released any tickets at the last minute. And they had!

The online box-office seating chart showed that two great floor seats had become available so Michael bought them. Yes!

That evening, we headed to Spokane early so we could have dinner before the show, making the hour drive from the rural mountains north of Spokane where we live to downtown.

When we arrived, we found street parking in front of a big, beautiful old church then made the short walk though the foggy and warm-for-January temps to the restaurant.

After a lovely dinner, we walked a short distance to the Fox Theatre.

There were other events going on in town that night at the Bing Theatre and the INB so the town was bustling with traffic and people walking about.

Spokane is a beautiful city, but because of the busyness and the fog that blanked the city it was magical that evening!

We arrived at the Fox Theater about 20 minutes before the show started, took our seats, and talked with some of the people seated around us.

The Fox Theatre is a special venue because of its history and intimacy.

It is an art deco movie theater that was built in 1931. It was part of the Fox Film Corporation Empire founded by studio mogul William Fox.

In 2000, the Spokane Symphony purchased the building and spent 7 years and $31 million doing an extensive restoration, which included reducing the seating from 2,300 to 1,700.

Just a few days prior to the show we went to, the theater had installed a new sound system that was paid for by an anonymous donor.

Inside Theater
Inside the Fox Theatre

The show started shortly after 8:00 pm, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it included a full rock band and a vocalist named Brody Doylnuk.

What happened over the next few hours was amazing!

The outside world with its problems, political divides, and noise disappeared.

If you’ve been to a concert since smart phones took over the world, you know that most people take pictures and video throughout the show. But this night, every person honored the “no recording” policy for the performance.

For Michael and me, what was so beautiful about the night was how everyone in the audience knew the words to every single song, and sang along in perfect harmony with the vocalist who was professional, entertaining, and very talented.

To not only see but also feel the joy in the audience as they participated in the show, clapping and dancing as they belted out the lyrics to “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Tie Your Mother Down”,  “Another One Bites the Dust”, Somebody to Love”, I Want It All”, and the many other hits Queen had, was just what our spirits needed.

While I enjoyed all the songs, there were two that really affected me.

The first was “Under Pressure”, which Queen recorded with David Bowie and released in 1982.

Interestingly, it had never been one of my favorite songs in the past.

But the lyrics took on new meaning and relevancy as I heard them at the show, thirty-seven years after the song was released.

I was brought to tears as I sang, “It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friends scream, ‘Let me out!” because, man, I feel that way sometimes.

The second song that affected me deeply was “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

This seemed to be the song that affected the audience the most, too, and was also the song they sang the loudest.

But it also affected the vocalist, Brody, deeply, when the audience so beautifully and tenderly accompanied him on the final few versus of the song, which are sung with minimal musical accompaniment.

He teared up, as did Michael and I, when everyone in the theater sang, “Doesn’t really matter to meeee,” carrying the last note together in perfect harmony, as we, in that moment, became a choir that had never before and never will again perform together.

We did the same for the final verse: Any way the wind blows.

Those who weren’t yet on their feet, rose, and the theater erupted in applause and cheers.

I think many were a bit surprised by the power of the amazing moment we had all unexpectedly created and participated in.

The clapping transitioned us into the final song of the show, which the audience politely demanded with its thunderous stomping and clapping.

Stomp, stomp, clap! Stomp, stomp, clap!

Yeah, you know the song.

Everyone remained on their feet, stomping, clapping, and singing their hearts out as Brody, the orchestra, and the band performed “We Will Rock You – We Are the Champions”.

We all felt like champions and rock stars as we released our inhibitions and freed our inner Freddie Mercury, who has been hidden away deep inside of us for far, far too long.

It was spectacular!

I didn’t want the night to end because it’s been a long time since I’ve had that much fun and experienced such an entertaining show,

This show and also the movie reminded me of the level of talent, creativity, imagination, and willingness to experiment that Queen possessed, and how much I miss that.

This level of “creative genius” has disappeared from the music industry, gradually, over time, and many of us haven’t even noticed.

But Michael and I, and the 1,700 members of the audience that night at the Fox Theater, where reminded how hungry our spirits are for music that is created and performed from this place.

I’ve been watching a lot of Queen videos on YouTube since the show, and what I’ve noticed about Freddie Mercury is how he sang each note of every song with every fiber of his being.

He put every ounce of himself into his performances, and seemed completely free.

His talent was extraordinary, and he was unapologetically himself, embracing his uniqueness and peculiarities, which is oh so rare today.

I love that the movie has rekindled a newfound love affair with Queen and their music for me and so many others, while also introducing their genius to a new generation of fans.

The mark of truly great music is that it remains relevant over the years, oftentimes becoming even more relevant than when it was originally released, making it eternal and those who wrote and performed it immortal.

Our spirits need to experience this level of creativity to survive. That’s why it’s so important to not only value and embrace creativity in our lives and in the world but also to become creative ourselves.

I talk about this in Chapter 33, “Valuing and Embracing Creativity,” of my book THE SPIRIT FACTOR.

Valuing and Embracing Creativity

Our lives and the world will benefit the more creative each of us becomes, but we have to give creativity the time, space, and resources it needs to live in us and others.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR will help you do this, and in the process free you from obstructions so you can discover the limitless potential that lives inside of you.

Marie Kukula-Tyner

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Martin Luther King, Jr. – A Light that Continues to Remind Us that We Still Have Darkness to Fight

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I took a walk with our dog Amber this morning.

After a week of dreary weather the clear blue sky filled with the sun’s warmth was a welcome companion on our walk.

Amber, who turns 13 years old in a few days, had a little extra skip in her step because of the weather and was in no hurry to return home.

We took our time walking to the lake and around our neighborhood.

I was happy watching her sniff and collect valuable data from the tracks and pee and poop left in the snow by the critters who had wandered the path before us during the night and early morning hours.

But I found myself pondering some things, too.

Before we left on our walk, I was watching a TV show while bundling up for the 20-degree temps outside that persisted in spite of the sun.

I was lacing up my snow boots when, in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday today, the show played part of an interview with Dr. King from decades ago.

What he was saying and how he was saying it made me stop what I was doing, sit still, and listen, even though Amber was making it clear she was ready to go for a walk.

Dr. King’s words were so pure they seemed to come directly from the heart of spirit, where truth and beauty live, and were communicated without being exposed to or distorted by any limiting or judgmental human beliefs.

And they were spoken with a passion and grace that so few in history have possessed.

Literally, my breath was taken away and tears streamed down my face as I listened to him speak.

Every fiber of my being has missed and longed for words like his and for the spirits who so courageously speak them.

I suddenly became aware that subconsciously I am constantly searching for this kind of substance, depth, power, and truth in the world yet seldom find it.

Our world is filled with mediocrity, and with many false prophets who are out to further their interests and fortunes at the expense of others, willing to lie, obstruct, and deceive to accomplish their self-serving and self-preserving agendas.

To be honest, watching these people and the pain and suffering they’re inflicting day in and day out has affected me—to what extent I’m not sure of.

But I do know that I have been struggling.

I know many of you have been struggling, too.

When we are starved of substance and light, literally and figuratively, we often forget that they exist and end up settling for emptiness and darkness.

When this happens, we can fall into a state of despair, believing that they are gone forever.

Only when we once again feel their nourishment and embracing warmth do we realize how terminal the darkness felt.

It is a dark time in our country.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had many moments when I’ve felt that goodness and light might not stand a chance of surviving let alone flourishing.

But today, not just because of the beautiful sunny weather but also because it’s a day that we take time to remember and honor Martin Luther King, Jr., I’m reminded of the power of light, and character and substance … and for standing up for what’s right and the possibilities that exist when we do.

Listening to Dr. King speak this morning, reminded me of the privilege I’ve had because of the color of my skin.

I’m a second-generation American.

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated from Europe to this country in pursuit of better lives.

Because of the fairness of my skin, I am considered to be “white.”

I am truly fortunate to have no idea what it feels like to be judged and treated differently because of the color of my skin; and I am privileged to not have to face discrimination due to my skin color on a daily basis.

I know this.

With that said, I do have people (white people), many of whom are complete strangers, make assumptions about who I am and what I believe based on the color of my skin.

Many feel safe to openly and unapologetically express their racism to me, believing that I share their views simply because we have the same skin color.

I can’t count the number of times these people have used racist names and made derogatory comments when they’re talking to me about people of color, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and former president Barack Obama.

Each time this has happened, I’ve been stunned not only that so many people still have such racist views but also that they believe that simply because I share the same skin color with them that I share their beliefs.

I’ve confronted some of these people, but I’m ashamed to say there have been other times I’ve remained silent.

I’m not proud of this.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

For me, I know the times I’ve stayed silent when something “mattered” have chipped away at my spirit.

Conversely, the times when I’ve spoken up, I am proud of and have never once regretted.

Even though I’ve been scared the times I’ve done this, I remember feeling a deep internal peace assuring me that I was, without a doubt, doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have a great track record for “doing the right thing.”

The times when groups that have been discriminated against or marginalized gained rights, it’s because they, and many others, have fought long and hard for those rights.

While we’ve come a long way as a country, we still have a great distance to go.

This is evident in our politics and in our lives.

In “Standing Up for Spirit,” which is Chapter 34 in my book THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about how important it is for us to individually and collectively stand up for spirit—in other words, for what’s right.

I start this chapter with the following quote from Dr. King: And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right.

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Today, as we are reminded of the sacrifices Dr. King made and the change that happened and continues to happen because he did, let’s begin to find the courage to stand up for what matters and for what’s right because it IS and always will be the right thing to do.

Thank you Dr. King for continuing to remind us to dream big and to fearlessly pursue that dream with every fiber of our beings!

I’ll end this post with the quote from Dr. King that I ended the “Standing Up for Spirit” chapter with: Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

Marie Kukula-Tyner

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR helps you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Spirit and the Addict

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A few weeks before Christmas, I spent a Sunday running errands in town.

As I was leaving one of the stores I had stopped at, carrying a heavy box, I noticed an extremely thin, young man leaning against a car that was parked almost nose to nose with mine.

He was dressed in torn, faded jeans, a baseball cap, and a dark zip-up sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his cap since it was cold outside.

He had a cigarette in one hand and some kind of iced coffee drink in the other.

When I set the box I was carrying on the hood of my car so I could reach into my coat pocket to get my keys, our eyes met.

When they did, the young man asked how I was doing.

I smiled at him and said, “Okay,” then opened the back passenger door of my car and put the box on the seat.

After I closed the car door, I asked him how he was doing.

“Stressed!” he replied.

Almost every spot in the parking lot was taken, and there were people heading in and out of the stores and restaurants that surrounded the lot. Holiday shopping was in full swing!

Assuming he was stressed over the holidays, I said, “Yeah, the holidays can be stressful.”

“No, life can be stressful,” he responded.

“Yep, life can definitely be stressful!” I said lightheartedly.

Then, to my surprise, he said, “Especially when you’re an addict trying to get clean.”

I had more stops to make so I was in a hurry to be on my way, but when the young man said this, I stopped, looked him in the eyes, and started talking to him.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know anything about this person who had just confessed to me, a total stranger, that they were an addict.

But the pain this human being was feeling was real, present, and palpable.

I could see it not only in his eyes but also in his body and posture.

He was simply broken, hanging on by a very frayed thread that could completely fall apart at any moment.

The young man eagerly began talking, jumping from thought to thought, seeming happy to have someone listen to him.

He shared with me how he wanted to get clean, but was also honest in saying that he was happy “getting high.”

The internal battle he was fighting became an external one as he spoke, his words giving me a glimpse of the demons that haunted him and that he struggled with every day.

My heart felt nothing but compassion and empathy as I listened to him.

Although I’ve never struggled with any drug addictions, I’ve faced some major health and personal challenges in my life, and I know what it’s like to feel that you might not ever overcome, or even survive, them.

He told me that he knew the right thing to do was get “clean” because it would make his family happy.

I told him I believed he could get clean and stay clean if he had the right support and counseling.

He wasn’t so sure, though.

He looked down at the ground and said, “My family is really disappointed in me,” then got quiet.

After a momentary pause, he looked up, his eyes filled with tears and his voice quivering, and said, “My sister said my spirit has already died.”

Out of everything this young man said to me, I could tell that his sister’s words cut the deepest and affected him the most.

I could also tell that he believed her.

I know many people believe, without question, that everything happens for a reason, but I’m not one of them.

I believe that there is a randomness to life and the world we live in, and that there are many elements and factors at play that can lead to moments that seem divinely planned or destined to occur.

But for me, when some synchronicity happens — when I’m in the right place at the right time or cross paths with someone whom it seems I’m destined to meet — I find wonder and amazement that out of this big ol’ world with billions of people in it that these magical moments happen.

So, when this young man, who had absolutely no idea that I had spent 9 years of my life writing a book about spirit, said to me that his sister thought his “spirit had already died,” I couldn’t help but stand there in complete awe at the perfection of our meeting.

I knew that this young man’s spirit had not died, and I assured him of this.

When I did, I could see a shift in his body’s energy and something in his eyes change.

The words I spoke seemed to fan a few barely smoldering embers of spirit that were hiding in some tiny place deep inside this broken being, and that were in grave danger of dying out, possibly forever.

In that moment, I saw spirit reignite in his eyes, and knew for sure that spirit had not only NOT died in him … but also that it truly wanted to live.

I don’t know if it will or not.

But what I do know is that for a brief moment this struggling addict knew that his spirit had not died, too, and maybe this momentary “knowingness” will provide him with the inspiration, courage, and strength he needs to move in the direction of healing and live — one day, one moment, at a time.

Words are powerful. They have the ability to ignite or extinguish spirit in us and in others.

A few words spoken can inspire someone for a moment, or for a lifetime.

Even so, continued support is needed to take a moment of inspiration and create long-term, sustaining change from it.

I hope this young man gets what he needs, both from himself and others, to accomplish this.

As or conversation ended, the young man was visibly moved. He walked over to me, shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and thanked me for taking the time to talk with him.

I got a bit choked up when he did, feeling that my words were heard and that they truly mattered to him.

In THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about moments like these – moments of spirit, or as I call them, SPIRIT FACTOR moments, and how they can happen anytime and anywhere, even in a parking lot with an addict on a Sunday afternoon.

The great thing is, once we understand these moments, we don’t have to wait for them to randomly occur; we can take part in creating them throughout our day by connecting on a deeper level with the people in our lives – and also with those whom we randomly meet.

Crossing paths with this struggling addict reminded me of this.

It also reminded me of something I wrote in “Being IT”, which is the final chapter of THE SPIRIT FACTOR, that is important to remember when the challenges we face seem terminal and problems seem permanent.

Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

— Through transformation within you and me and us, we can collectively create a masterpiece—a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US)—an incredibly beautiful world that we will get to live in every day. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, the odds are stacked against us. But the beauty of spirit is that, even when the odds are stacked against it, it will keep doing what it’s doing. Even when the prognosis is terminal, it will work to overcome obstructions and heal, as its nature is to live. —

But even though spirit always moves in the direction of life, it needs the right environment and support to continue to do so.

And since we are spirit, our nature is to move in the direction of life, too, but we also need the right environment and support.

This can be a challenge. Many times our environments have become toxic due to physical and emotional obstructions that hinder, harm, or completely handicap us.

Unfortunately, these obstructions can become terminal. But they seldom kill us instantly; most often we die from them in increments, experiencing “small deaths” that seem insignificant at the time they occur.

Yet these small deaths can prove to be fatal over time, each one chipping away at the core of who we are, smothering our spirits and starving them of the much-needed oxygen they need to survive.

In the parking lot on that Sunday afternoon, I could see that the young addict had suffered many “small deaths,” as so many of us have, and his spirit, while not dead, was struggling to live.

I’ve thought a lot about him since we crossed paths, and I hope with all my heart that he doesn’t give up.

I hope he finds the strength, courage, and support he needs to overcome his addictions and free himself from the demons that are holding him and his spirit hostage.

I know he has a chance to change is life, and I know that his spirit will do its part to help him.

Whatever struggles or challenges you’re facing, please remember that your nature is to move in the direction of life. If you’re not, I encourage you to look for obstructions that are preventing you from doing so.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR can help you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.