Exploring Forgiveness (3 part series)

This is the third and final article in my three-part series about forgiveness. In my previous articles, I shared some examples of situations where I had a difficult time finding ANY reason to forgive.  I also wrote a few words about why a forgiveness is an important choice to consider. Today I’m asking, how I can forgive? How can I let go of offenses that caused so much pain, anger, and suffering in my life? Is forgiveness meant to be a choice each time a new offense comes my way? Or is there a simpler way? This article will discuss some different ways to embrace forgiveness in routine and relationship. Join me on my “journey” through forgiveness.

Part 3 (Practice and possibility)


When a conflict happens and we feel anger rise it shouldn’t always be seen as a BAD thing. Anger helps us know that something is not in balance in that relationship or inside ourselves. Anger is typically the default position of response. Easy to find and expected. It’s important that we respect these emotions of anger or sadness but equally important that we do not allow these emotions to control us.

Forgiveness should never betray our emotions. It’s better that we take a bit of time (preferably less than 24hr) to let our emotions steady before “attempting” to offer forgiveness that isn’t sincere and also betrays our emotions.  Our natural response to pain is similar to that of anger. We have a very strong primal reaction at the beginning. But as the pain subsides  we cool down and are able to let other more useful emotions take over. Even if you don’t feel like forgiving someone after this “cool down” period you may want to consider what emotions you are willing to carry on your heart until you feel like you are “ready” to forgive. I wrote a more detailed explanation of this in my 2nd article, section “For Ourselves”. (HERE)


Yes. Ourselves.  This is one of the most difficult things to do. I have found that until I  forgive myself it is very difficult for me to forgive others. If I can’t even be kind or gracious to myself how can I ever do this authentically for someone else? The old saying “nobody is perfect” should never be an excuse. But it can be a good reality check. I will continue to make mistakes yesterday, today and tomorrow. I have a choice to either try to run from my mistakes or take ownership of them. In the past I was very hesitant to take ownership of them because they were always accompanied by guilt, shame, and resentment towards myself. Forgiving myself allowed me to escape these demotivating feelings and still acknowledge my faults and try to improve in the future.


I gave up trying to determine whether or not someone is worthy of my forgiveness. Instead, I made a choice to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. Now instead of wasting my energy on judgment, I spend it on things I enjoy or help build me up. When forgiving others it’s very important to verbalize it.  I think the most common excuse for NOT telling someone you forgive them usually sounds like “Well, I”m not mad at them anymore, so I have forgiven them” or “We are getting along fine now, so why do I need to tell them, they know?”. The 2nd half of the phrase “forgive and forget” seems to be the only part practiced.  Maybe someone pulled out in front of you on the way to work. That person can be forgiven from your heart even if you do not have a chance to verbalize it.

Just because I have decided to ALWAYS forgive doesn’t mean I will put myself back into harmful, hurtful or unhealthy situations. That is reconciliation. Reconciliation requires trust, and trust can only be rebuilt when harmful behavior changes. Click here for a short article about the difference.

“I have a choice to either try to run from my mistakes or take ownership of them. In the past I hesitated to take ownership of them because they were always accompanied by guilt, shame, and resentment towards myself. Forgiving myself allowed me to escape these demotivating feelings and still acknowledge my faults and try to improve in the future.”

Need for forgiveness/Ability to forgive

I noticed a very interesting connection between my desire/need to be forgiven and my ability/capacity to forgive. When I accept myself and my mistakes and take ownership of them and forgive them, I increase my capacity to forgive others. It seems the same relation exists in regards to our need for love and our ability to love as well as trust (I’ll hopefully explore this topic in another post) 🙂


If you are a believer in historic Christianity and teachings of Jesus, there is additional help and support. There are a few teachings that would certainly imply we ought to forgive ourselves.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. “

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I’ve spent plenty of time and effort worrying and stressing about forgiving others and myself. If a perfectly just God is willing to forgive even the WORST offense we can commit, shouldn’t we also forgive ourselves?


One of my favorite book as of late is “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud. I would highly recommend it if you are looking to improve your ability to handle and resolve conflict and generally improve your daily psychological and emotional health.

I hope that you will consider some of these stories and examples of forgiveness and decide for yourself if these practices can improve your life. My wish is that you will be able to find freedom and healing through it. Forgiveness is hard work. But carrying a lifetime of resentment, anger, guilt, and pain is even harder.

The Unsettled Settler

Exploring Forgiveness Part 2

Exploring Forgiveness (3 part series)

This is part two of a three-part series about forgiveness. This article will explore what is possible when we forgive in an authentic way. And why it’s an important choice to consider. Join me on my “journey” through forgiveness.

Part 2 (freedom and heroes)

In my previous article (HERE), I shared some examples of situations where I had a difficult time finding ANY reason to forgive.  If I can’t find any logical reason that someone deserves forgiveness, why forgive?


For ourselves

FOR OURSELVES! I would shamelessly argue this is one of the primary healthy motivators for us to consider choosing a life of forgiveness. Each of us has a capacity to carry a limited amount of emotions in our hearts. You can carry happiness, love, vengeance, anger, resentment and many other variations of those emotions. It is quite natural for us to have feelings of anger and prioritize this emotion when we have been hurt. Unfortunately, this can get in the way of emotions that would make us much happier. It’s up to you what kind of emotions you will choose to carry in your heart each day.

If your capacity to “feel” is being occupied with seeking “justice” from people who have hurt or offended you, this doesn’t leave much room for more enjoyable emotions like love, joy happiness. Also, it becomes quite difficult to heal from a wound when you continue to carry the blade of justice.  It’s possible to carry both positive and negative emotions toward someone at the same moment. This balancing act is tiresome and can create resentment. Good emotions that we previously had towards another are slowly eaten away by unforgiveness. The wound will become infected if left untreated. Eventually, it will lead to the death of trust and warmth in that relationship.

*NOTE There is a large difference between “forgiving” someone and being reconciled to them. There is also a huge difference between forgiveness and minimizing the offense. See the paragraph at the end of the article for a short explanation.

For Others

When we forgive others we release them from their “debts”. Justice becomes 2nd to grace.  In certain cases, the guilty individual who became cold, unkind, distant or depressed can be freed from these things when we choose forgiveness. There is not always a Hollywood ending when you tell someone you forgive them. Sometimes it reignites a conflict that the offender was hoping to forget, never to be confronted with it again. Of course, when we tell someone we forgive them for specific offenses, it indirectly implies they have done something wrong. For these situations, being forgiven feels the same as admitting guilt.  When we are offered forgiveness, our pride is on the front lines as a defense. Pride becomes one of the first casualties when we accept forgiveness.


Did you ever notice when we watch movies or read stories the person we find ourselves really intrigued with and attracted to is the one who faced some large challenge but managed to rise above it? Usually, this is through some amazing virtue or character trait. Courage, honesty (when it really counted) humility or graciousness are all character traits (virtues) we can have built in ourselves.

There is an old saying that asks “When is a thief, not a thief”? If he stops stealing, is this enough to NOT be a thief? No! Rather, when he has paid back all he had stolen previously and no longer steals. Only then he is NOT a thief. Think of how this applies to forgiveness. Being gracious or forgiving (as a character trait)doesn’t only mean no longer seeking to punish the offender or bring them to justice. No, it means more than that. Choosing to actively express and communicate grace in words and action.

“it becomes quite difficult to heal from a wound while you continue to carry the blade of justice.”


Most faiths advocate for forgiveness in one form or another. In historic Christianity, there is a text where Jesus teaches how much forgiveness should be granted to the same individual. “You should forgive someone 70×7”. An exaggeration to prove a point. If you are wondering if this was meant to imply only people who are sorry for their wrong, probably not. In another verse, Jesus teaches “love your enemies and pray for them”. Enemies are not often apologizing. I defined these teachings as “historic Christianity”. There seems to be a large canyon between this and much of what I see people who call themselves “Christians” following and believing.

There are many positive consequences of making the choice to freely forgive, for both the offended and offender. We also have a choice of what kind of life and legacy we leave. Each person has the freedom to do what they want. Justice may permit us to seek re-payment for our losses. I am not interested in spending a lifetime trying to collect what I may never receive.

I mentioned that there is a large difference between forgiving and reconciling. “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud contains an excellent chapter on forgiveness. And the differences between the two. You can see a short excerpt here.

I will publish one last article about some ways you may decide to put your lifestyle of forgiveness into practice. I’d love to hear what motivates you to forgive. You can leave your comments below.



Exploring Forgiveness Part 1

Exploring Forgiveness (3 part series)

This is part one of a three-part series about forgiveness. This article will explore how we define forgiveness. I’ll write two more articles in the coming weeks about what happens when we forgive others in a real way and some ideas on how to do this. Join me on my “journey” through this experience.

Part 1 (A choice of heart or mind?)

I often battle with myself trying to decide what people in what situations are deserving of my forgiveness. I usually start by weighing how severe the “crime” was in contrast to how much “positive” history we have together. Next, I wait for their apology. If an apology comes I usually believe they deserve to be forgiven.

But is this the way I really want to live with those around me? What if an apology never comes? Should forgiveness still be given? What should determine why we FORGIVE or DO NOT forgive? I’m starting to believe that if I use a “justice” based system to approve my choice to forgive. It’s likely not true forgiveness.  I”ll share a few stories that raised this question in my mind.

Justified forgiveness. Is it really forgiveness?

forgiven due to (positive history)

A few years ago, a close friend and confidant revealed information about some of my, hmm… how can I say, less than flattering behavior to some of my family members.This resulted in multiple family members guilting and shaming me because of what I had done. I felt betrayed because I had trusted him with this information and he shared it in a way that brought me pain. Although he committed this act of “treason” against me, we had many years enjoying each other’s friendship. Because of this, I was able to justify forgiving him. Even though he did not apologize. I didn’t ask him for an apology or mention anything to Him about it. It took me a few months to conclude I did not want to risk losing this friendship. I felt sad, angry, disappointed and distant during this time.

forgiven due to (apology)

During my late teenage years. I played in a band with my friend. We scheduled a fairly important show and had been practicing for nearly 2 months in preparation. 1 week before the show my friend called me and said he wasn’t going to play the show. I asked him why, and his answer was simply ” I don’t feel like this is something I want to do any longer” so he was stepping back and would not be playing at our show. It was a huge blow to our relationship. I thought this was a stable and trusting friendship. (note. A musician by definition is NOT stable 🙂  My friend did offer an apology and felt bad that he resigned. In spite of his last-minute breaking of commitment. I deemed him “worthy” of my forgiveness due to his apology. (If we use this method to determine whether forgiveness is offered we will often create an additional challenge for ourselves. Trying to determine if the offender was REALLY sorry, or only just saying they were)

If I only forgive someone when I am able to find a reason why it’s deserved is it really forgiveness? Or am I only trying to preserve what that specific relationship offers me? Maybe I don’t want to risk losing companionship, shared interests, attention, sexual benefits or ______?

What happens when I face a situation where I cannot find a justifiable reason to forgive? Another story…


I grew up in a family similar to many others. For most, it’s a mix of good and bad experiences. This story relates to my mother. My mother had many faults that affected our family in a negative way. The fact that each of us has faults or that they affect those around us negatively is not uncommon. Actually, it’s completely normal. But healthy people take the time to apologize for their wrongs and try harder next time to avoid repeating the same mistakes. (often this requires counseling or other professional therapy).

My mother was not one to apologize. In spite of feeling bad for what she had done or said, she had a very difficult time apologizing or taking responsibility for her hurtful actions. Any number of reasons can make it difficult for someone to apologize even if they feel guilty.(I will try to reveal a bit more about this in article 3). Even as she was suffering from cancer for 3 years that led up to her death (in early 2016). She was unable or unwilling to apologize for most of her wrongs. In this situation, I was faced with a big challenge. As I reflected, I had a list a mile long of things that my mother hurt me or my family with.The list wrongs are long enough and deep enough that I struggle to find justifiable reasons that forgiveness is deserved.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never hear an apology from my mother or see her adjust her behavior towards me or my family. I will never see a restoration of healthy family relations. My thoughts could not produce an acceptable solution. I realized that when there is no apology and no change of attitude from the guilty, forgiveness becomes a choice of the heart, not of the mind.

“Forgiveness can only be given or received when we realize that neither others nor ourselves deserve it.”
undeserved favor

Look up the meaning of the word “grace” and you will find an explanation of “undeserved favor”. Ironically, this was one of my mothers’ favorite words. The root of authentic forgiveness is born in the definition of grace. Forgiveness is only possible when we come to terms with the idea that forgiveness cannot be earned or deserved. I think we often resist this idea because deep down we know that WE ALSO will need to be forgiven by others. In some twisted selfishness, I would like to think others will forgive me because I deserve it. Because I was good to them, because I was honest (most of the time). Because I tried to help or be kind in the past. None of this makes us deserving of forgiveness. Forgiveness can only be given or received when we realize that neither others nor ourselves deserve it.

There is a very well written chapter on forgiveness in the book “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud. You can see a short excerpt here.

When I reflect on all the wasted months and years carrying anger in my life I can see the loss of so much happiness and enjoyment I could’ve had in my relationships. I am very grateful that I was able to discover this “secret” of forgiveness relatively early in my life. In my next article I”ll talk about the effects of forgiveness on ourselves and others, and why forgiveness may be a good choice even when the offender doesn’t deserve it!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post or some feedback about how YOU define forgiveness.


5 ways to Success (Satire)

5 ways to success

“Have you ever dreamed of making $100k or more each year through social media and online marketing?”

“Build an online following with as little as 2hr’s per week that will generate HUGE revenue”

“Learn more how I quit my day job and now earn over 10k per month while traveling”

“I started investing in cryptocurrency with no previous experience. Join me on a path to $1million in 2018”

Do you suffer from FOMO?(click HERE for definition) Maybe you have read quotes like the ones above and it made you feel insecure about your “foolish” choice to remain in your current job. The job that does not earn a 6-figure income. The job that doesn’t involve posting beachwear pictures of yourself somewhere in the tropics while working online. Do you wonder what you need to do to sip expensive mixed drinks in the corner of 5* hotels’ rooftop infinity pool and get paid for it? Look no further, this article is for you. Here are 5 ways to success.

1. Make your life all about others

After reading many self-help articles and spiritual quotes online I’ve learned it’s important that the focus of my life is about others. Please don’t misunderstand. This does not mean making sure others around me are cared for, or living in a way that is selfless. *note (care/being selfless cannot be monetized) I mean making sure every action (or picture I post) revolves around others approval.  This is the only way to true happiness and success.

2. realize a “like” or “follow” is the same as someone liking you

It’s easy to get discouraged in a world where “people” ask you to waste your time with them in a public place like a coffee shop or restaurant. So much time is wasted in these conversations that may only be deeply relevant to this individuals journey in life or well-being. These contacts, as warm and affectionate as they seem to be, detract from what’s truly valuable in life….Online presence.  *”people” A term used to describe individuals requesting inconvenient face to face interactions. These are not yet true “friends” or “followers”.

3. If you are not earning money online you are earning the wrong way

Everyone knows how the industrial revolution changed the way “work” was done. Those who were unable to adapt to the changing economic model were left behind. Without picking up a hammer, carpenters and other tradesmen have already found success building entire houses on Instagram and Youtube. Houses constructed digitally will make up over 20% of all builds by the year 2025.

4. Cryptocurrency

There are two types of people in this world. Stupid people, and those who invest in cryptocurrencies. Consider this, if you still believe that working is the best way to earn money. This is also the best way to contribute to the greater good around you. Each dollar earned through crypto investments directly impacts issues like world hunger. Because when I have MORE, I”m less likely to sympathize with the negative feelings associated with poverty. Investing in Bitcoin is investing in the future. Fast-food was the best thing since sliced bread. Whats even better than fast-food? Fast money.

5.reject jobs requiring time or effort

If there’s one takeaway that’s obvious it’s that any desirable job will not require much time or effort. If you consider the vast majority of successful people in the past 100 years it’s clear their success can be attributed to working as little as possible. Their vision from the beginning revolved around making as much money as quickly as possible. These individuals realized early in their careers that ALL work they would be willing to do should be fun, enjoyable and self-fulfilling. These are the building blocks of long-term success. (click HERE for an article I wrote about worthless jobs)

Now that you have learned all 5 ways you can find success in life, go share this on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Let’s go viral with this. Like an epidemic.

*Let me finish by saying I am not against having money or earning it. I don’t mean to imply anything negative about people who have had financial success. Success like this often me to obsess over how to earn it and stress myself thinking about it. This article was written to alleviate some of that pressure.




A Future of More With Less

A Future of More With Less

Around new years I see articles and interviews about planning for the future. Resolutions, reasonable goals and the preparations needed to have everything we dreamed of having before. What about the idea of having less, for more fullness of life in the new year?

Having Less (things)

I recently watched an excellent documentary on Netflix called “The Minimalists“. It explores the lives and mindset of individuals who practice “minimalism”.  Click HERE for a definition of this term from the guys featured in the film. Although their paths to (intentional/deliberate) minimalism are varied they all reached a conclusion having fewer things was an important part of improving their lives. For some, the death of a close family member that they never seemed to have time to visit. For others, a meteoric rise to financial success. Then finding only emptiness and loneliness at the destination they had dreamed of reaching all their life. These individuals started making choices to intentionally have less an consume less.

Having less (control)

I LOVE to have control. I’m not talking about self-control that allows me to say “no” to unhealthy behaviors or choices. (that is a good one to have) I mean dictator level of control over myself (my emotions primarily) and upon closer look, I also want control over the way others think and feel about me. If I believe someone doesn’t like me or approve of me to the degree I want them to, I find myself motivated to take action.  Willing to sacrifice my spare time, my own emotional well being and self-respect in an effort to manipulate and control their emotions to the status I WANT them to have. It’s important that I make intentional choices to allow others to think and feel what they want. This allows me to focus on being responsible with and for my own emotions. It’s a huge relief to not feel obligated to (take care) of everyone else’s needs while overlooking my own.

Having more (freedom)

Having fewer physical possessions and fewer financial obligations = having more freedom. Specifically, freedom of how to spend my time. When there is less financial pressure, working overtime may not look as appealing as spending time attending a favorite concert, taking a walk in the park, or reading a book? The list could go on and on. In my own life, my choice to have less financially and materially resulted in much more fullness relationally. And much less stress trying to think of ways to earn more to pay for all the “extra’s”. The people interviewed in “The Minimalists” benefited in similar ways. More time for family, less stress, less harmful impact on the earth (pollution/consumption) and a changed perspective on what they value most in life. 

Having more (peace)

I am learning how to surrender control and understand what things around me I have no power to change. While taking these steps I am finding more peace in my life. I am also amazed at how much easier it is to forgive others and accept their choices when I stop trying to take responsibility for how they will react to something I say, do, or do NOT do. I”m certainly not advocating being a jerk towards others, or being inconsiderate. Think of the old teaching of Jesus known as the Golden Rule”Treat others as you want them to treat you”. At the same moment, I am not obligated to do everything the way someone else (or a society) expects me to.  Realizing what I am responsible for and what I am not, also helps me steer clear of unhealthy/unfair feelings of guilt that others may try to send my way if I make a choice that they do not agree with.

I am aware of some changes I could make in my life to better my future. But being aware isn’t the same as realizing change. Intentional living, deliberate choices, and sensitivity to moments of clarity and inspiration. Learning to respect moments of truth in my life and take action towards them has proven to be one of the biggest challenges! I’m looking forward to a future with less. Fewer things, less pressure, less stress.  I’d appreciate any feedback or comments about how you have managed to cut back to have a more fulfilling life!



Finding meaning in a meaningless job

I have heard many people tell me how much they hate their job or how they have a difficult time finding meaning in their work. The idea of spending most of our “working” hours in jobs that intrinsically have deeper meaning and purpose is an inspiring idea. Yet most of us will spend at least a share of our life in seemingly meaningless jobs. But are they truly meaningless if they do not engage our deeper emotions or humanitarian visions? Have we failed to live up to our potential as a human being? Or is there something of value still to be found?

a purpose in enablement

When I realized the primary (or maybe only) reason I was keeping the job I had was for a paycheck, a red flag was raised. I found no passion in my work, no healthy challenge. Many of my friends in large cities seem to wrestle with this. They achieve a career goal of position or salary, then find their free time or quality of life to be almost non-existent. This is not a good place to remain in life but it could be an important step in enabling other goals. For example, provides enough money for hobbies outside of working hours, pays your rent and feeds your family.  Maybe this salary can enable the NEXT STEP in life. Starting your own business, trying to write and publish a book, taking an extended travel around the world or finding other interesting ways to give back to the world around you?

A Meaning in change

Maybe your 40hr workweek is spent doing a job that you find intrinsic meaning in. If you are one of these people that have the opportunity to quit your “day job” and work in something that you are passionate about and it provides enough money to feed yourself and put a roof over your head, better yet. As a musician and writer, I am very fortunate to finally be focusing on my creative pursuits. This moment didn’t arrive without many years (appx 10) of working on some business projects I had very little passion for.

frozen identity

There can be a real struggle to leave our jobs behind. Frequently, even if we hate our work, our identity is tied closely to the position we hold or the money we make that even the thought of quitting would totally undermine our image of ourselves. (a professional or economic success for example) Learning how to divorce who we are from what we do can be a painful, yet worthwhile practice. (click HERE for a previous article I published about this topic)

a question of value

It all comes down to what we value. Money is very valuable if we have little to none of it. If there is a sufficient amount of money to cover basic living expenses, then our emotional well being, stress, and self-development start rising in value.  Maybe you are a person who really likes brand name clothes or more expensive cars and furniture. If so, you will likely need to sacrifice more of your time, effort and potential well being to have them.  (Sacrifice is a very uncommon path in a world where we are accustomed getting what we want NOW!) There is nothing wrong with appreciating quality possessions. As long as you are aware where these things belong within your value system.

Well done

Sometimes I overlook the value simply in doing something well. Especially when doing menial tasks. When I think about it a little deeper I have new thoughts…Why would I want to be the type of person that does work less than my potential? The Hebrews had some wisdom recorded in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Final steps

We won’t always enjoy what we do. But with a little awareness and intention, seemingly meaningless jobs can provide purpose and potential for goals not yet grasped. I hope after reading this article you may see the 5 steps between where you are and where your goal is may very well contain a “meaningless” job. Maybe you feel like you are almost at the peak of a mountain. You have been climbing hard for quite some time. Now you feel the fear of uncertainty, what lies on the other side? Some parts of the unknown can only be discovered by “going” (read MORE). Fear not, step forward.

…the unsettled settler






My friend in the sex industry (lessons in love)

So, I was having dinner with my friend in the sex industry the other night….

Take a moment, try to be fully honest with yourself. What judgments or emotions does this sentence create in you? Would it be possible for you to say “my friend in the sex industry”? Or are you “unreachable”, never allowing a situation like this to take place? I’ll tell you how I found myself in this exact situation during one of my travels.

Meeting Nan

I have been attempting to write this article for a couple months now. How can I speak openly about something that is often so hidden and so judged that even just the mention of it can cause offense? During my recent time in SE Asia I visited some friends I have known for many years.I was welcomed to stay with them in an apartment shared with a few others and was introduced to a woman I”ll call “Nan”. I was excited to spend some time with my old friend and meet some new ones.We (My friend, Nan, another woman, and myself) spent a day together being tourists in a beautiful coastal region. We had a wonderful dinner together talking about life, family, and hopes for the future.

During our ride back home my friend mentioned to me under his breath that “Nan” was working as a “bar-girl”. (Click for a link to a definition) He mentioned that this was of course not approved of in society and that Nan was living separately from her children so they would not learn of their mothers’ shameful occupation. This same woman, who was nervous meeting and talking with new people, who had dreams for her children’s future, who wanted to enjoy an afternoon with friends… was working directly in the sex industry.


I immediately found my judgment sensors kicking in.

“She should stop living in this disrespectful way!” “She is wrong. Why would she do that – HOW could she do that?” And then without consciously thinking about it, I could feel myself distancing myself… my emotions, my mind, my talk. At this moment, I mostly wanted to stop speaking. Simply being another friend to this woman now felt uncomfortable. All the talk of interests, hopes, dreams, and stories that I felt comfortable sharing before somehow started to fade into non-discussable/non-engaging territory.

I had already listened to Nan share about her children, their ages, their interests and how much she misses them. I could see a sadness in her eyes. She made choices that many parents often make; desperate sacrifice for the sake of children. In the following weeks, I had a chance to speak more directly with Nan about her future, her family, and her own personal dreams. I heard a story that was familiar to many single mothers. A failed marriage, lack of employment and support from family and friends. With the cost of school fees, children’s clothes, food, and rent exceeding what Nan was able to earn in her previous job she took the difficult decision to earn money for her family by working in the sex industry.

Lessons of love or morality?

Mostly, I found myself heartbroken and challenged by the story told. I was heartbroken because I saw a woman with a gentle and quiet personality taking an occupation that not only went against her personality but also was eroding her self-worth and view of herself. Trapped in a cycle of hiding from her family in shame. I was challenged because my stereotypes of the type of person who is a sex worker were no longer fitting the mold.  I wanted to teach a lesson of escape, I wanted to reach out. But with what? A lesson of love or morality? How could I suppose to walk in shoes that were in no way my own?

Freedom & dreams

I don’t claim to have all the answers for how to bring goodness to what looks like a difficult and seemingly helpless situation. But as I considered my feelings of empathy I discovered that my own personal goals and dreams certainly have a way of re-humanizing me on days when I feel I have become just another cog in the capitalist machine. Nan and I began to have conversations about dreams and goals. At first, her responses were about dreams she had for her children, but in time we were able to start to speak about her own dreams and interest. One of them being painting and drawing. We also started talking about freedom. What other potential ways she could become free of this guilt and shame of her current occupation and what possibilities she had for sustainable work in the future.

Many religions attempt to offer explanations and solutions to injustices like this. I particularly like this verse from 2nd Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” This newness of life is something that people all over the world are trying to find.  Who will find it? And what does the “new life” look like? A common theme of suffering. An uncommon destination of freedom.

final thoughts

I wrote this article not to explain some narrow path or view of how you should behave in or judge a situation like this. But to raise awareness about how often we as a society are judgemental or indifferent to challenges so many women face on a daily basis around the world. Making a choice between self-sacrifice or sacrifice of family. I hope to keep my eyes open wider than before and my heart, less judgemental. I will face a “reality check”. Am I doing what I can in good conscience to love each person I meet fully? Or do I prefer the feeling of my familiar judgments and the safety of my disengaged comfort zone?


I recently learned that Nan was able to find a well-paying job in a restaurant and has started creating T-shirt artwork which can supplement her salary.  These positive changes in Nan’s life are allowing some happiness and light to re-enter her life.






I want a divorce. The process of separating who I am, from what I do

I want a divorce…

I know it’s not the popular thing to do. Still, I’m tired of living with this marriage between my occupation/accomplishment (what I do) and how I see myself. (who I am).  What is the difference between these two? And what effect does separating them have on my choices and my feelings each day?


In my past years, I can see where my legitimate and healthy desire to grow, challenge myself and improve started becoming something that only controlled me but also began defining me. During this failed marriage, each time my “less developed and unaccomplished self” ran into a harsh word from a girlfriend, disinterest, disapproval or rejection from a friend or parent the “performance” based value system became more established. I believed that in order to be worthy of love or acceptance, the things I did needed to be changed.

Lust for love
At a young age, I learned that
improved/exceptional actions=approved/acceptable person.
If my performance did not meet expectations in my relationships or work life my acceptance and value as a human being would diminish. Previously during childhood, I saw a good day as one where I ate a big bowl of cereal for breakfast, went out into the warm summer sun with my friends and enjoyed time together. Content in my existence. Healthy and fed with friends and a roof over my head.
By the time I reached adulthood I realized so many of my days were seen and felt as “bad days” because of someone’s disappointment or dissatisfaction with my business. Other times it was a former girlfriends’ accusation of my failure to live up to her expectations of a boyfriend. Or sometimes my own self-judgment of not reaching my own goals fast enough, or not maintaining goals and ideals set by the society around me.  (who I am vs. what I do) For example the expectation that a “real job” is one that involved staying in one place and manufacturing something. A job where you play music for a living or write and travel. These are not considered legitimate occupations to many people in my hometown. Any of this sound familiar? Tell me I’m not the only one who has thought this way and made these judgments? The consequence of all these years of failing to meet expectation left me feeling small, unworthy as an outsider and incapable of fitting in. A slow yet steady progression towards being a slave of others expectations of myself which became my expectations of myself.
awkward separation
In an effort to “file for divorce” I started stepping away from my businesses in a more direct way 6-8 months ago. I became isolated from my prior success. The confidence in my skills as a businessman could no longer be relied upon to prop up my insecure and uncertain self. When all was stripped back, I was left vulnerable to each and every word and judgment around me. No longer safe inside the cocoon of my accomplishments.  I was still forced to confront questions of “what do you do for a job and what are your plans”. Previously I could confidently reply, “I’m running a few businesses, a real estate investment company, an I.T. business, a recording studio” I could also feel comfortable and justified in my own mind by thinking of future projects and goals I intended to take on and be a shining success in. Now I was left with a shadow of the past and an unclear path for the future. Was this enough to still be “ok”? Was this enough to have “good days”?
future life of freedom
I was left with only myself. And who I am. These questions of how I define and value myself hit hard. Almost all people have the ability to “survive” life. But are these people living it well? Living abundantly? Living lovingly with a forgiving and helpful heart? Walking fearless in spite of all the horrors that life may throw at us? Cancer, death, abuse, infidelity and injustice.
I realized that the ground I previously worshiped as my stability was ground that many other feet had walked on, spit on and disrespected. Why should I keep using this filthy ground as a mirror to reflect and judge my own value?
I would prefer to base my identity and value in who I am, not this shifty ground of actions and accomplishment. In the past months of travel, I have met many others on a similar path.These individuals are quitting jobs, leaving relationships and seeking an understanding of themselves not rooted in their accomplishment or meeting expectations.
moving forward

I cannot answer every question as to how to direct your identity and value to a healthy source. Although my realization of this marriage and the separation that has followed has been very difficult. Living with the (what I do defines me) mindset for the rest of my life would be far more difficult. I have a clearer mind about the importance of this separation and also a faith that gives added clarity in regards to my value and my identity. I hope that you will take time consider what you spend most of your time focused on? What you do, or who you are becoming.

Going going gone. Destination unknown.

“He went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8


We are all going somewhere. Even those who chose to stay put geographically. This old text from the book of Hebrews inspired me in a new way today. It resonates deeply with a “searching” that many of us find ourselves in while taking steps of “faith” in our lives.  There is NOT ONLY a spiritual implication to this text, but also a inerhently human one.


Sometimes the choices we make do not direct us TOWARDS a specific identifiable end. They are only choices AWAY from something we are already familiar with. For example, I remember choosing to leave my family farm when I was 19 years old to pursue an education in sound engineering. This meant I had to leave the farm and apply myself to studying. In this choice I did not know where I was going, only THAT I WAS GOING. (I wound up studying in IRELAND) The choice to leave the familiar is challenging.I needed to place some level of trust in my own ability to make a choice. (for many including myself) A trust in a higher power also, to lead me safely to my final destination. (figuratively, and literally)


This text may not contain the destination details for this Unsettled Settler. But it clearly shows that this individual felt so strongly about GOING that HE WENT. As I read this, I’m encouraged to put away my fear about taking steps towards something not yet totally defined. There are many times where I made choices and started 2nd guessing myself. I often find myself caught between anxiety or not caring anymore. This third option of accepting an unknown destination appears to have the best outcome.

Maybe it’s the choice to end a relationship does not build you up or that is harming you? Or a choice to physically change locations and live a new life somewhere else? Maybe it’s the choice to pursue a new passion or art? Or finding a way to “reset” an existing relationship? Whatever you mean to do, wherever you believe you should go. The most important part is to “go out” and take faith that many unsettled settlers before you have started their journey unsure of where they were going.




Learning to shut up! My experience at Dipabhavan, 6 day silent meditation retreat.

Recently I decided to test my limits in a new way by spending time at Dipabhavan for a silent meditation retreat. I figured this would be a great way to clear and calm my mind after some hectic years in the states managing multiple business ventures. Also, I figured sitting in quiet for awhile would force me to address some less pleasant thoughts I had been putting off. Here are some of the basics you should know about these retreats and what impact it had on my life.

What’s it all about?

If you have not heard of these “retreats”, they typically involve spending a week or so at a “center” or “monastery”. This particular retreat was hosted by Dipabhavan on Ko Samui island in Thailand. 6 days long. No cost (donations only). And was hosted by Buddhist monks. Although they welcome people of every religion to participate. During this week you will spend most of your time involved in “meditation” exercises. You will spend some part of the day listening to a monk or other leaders teaching you how to meditate. They also share with you some of the practice and purposes of their religion.  You will have the chance to detox from your normal diet with only 2 vegetarians meals served per day. You can also detox from the digital world as they take away all cell phones and laptops when you arrive.

meditation center steps
Meditation center steps at night
Day 1

We had an orientation the night before which explained what the schedule would be, what the rules were and allowed each of us to meet & greet. There was quite a mix of people from all countries and walks of life. The old “hippie” from the States to young Russians as well as practicing Buddhists from Australia.

Brass Bell
Brass Bell that called us to meditation

We started our morning at 4:30 am and ended our days at 9:00 pm. You may be wondering how do you get appx 70 people up at 4:30 in the morning when everyone’s alarm clocks and phones were taken away? A large and loud brass bell. There was no chance of sleeping through this morning wake up bell. They encouraged us to forget about time and clocks, and just listen for the bell throughout the day. The bell would announce each change of task, meditation, breakfast and dinner. I became acquainted with what my body feels like after sleeping on a wooden bed with a wooden pillow, how to manage only 2 meals per day, how to use a toilet with no toilet paper for 4 days and how to cope with a bored and distracted (monkey mind).


Day 2

By day 2 my body felt the effect of sleeping on a wooden bed. My hips and my shoulders hurt the worst. Surprisingly the wooden pillow was fairly comfortable.  It seemed that the real reason they require “silence” during the retreat was to prevent people from complaining. 🙂 As you seek to deny yourself and your ego it’s important to not put your own needs and discomfort below that of the teachings of the Buddha. You are to be mindful/aware of each experience and feeling, but you are not to become “involved” in feelings and thoughts which are not calm, peaceful and content. We were taught how to observe these thoughts and feelings while focusing on long breathing meditation. If we practiced these techniques we would not be distracted by pain or discomfort.”These feelings too, shall pass.”

They had a wooden pillow and straw mat similar to the one shown above at the silent meditation retreat
Day 3

Each day we practiced different meditation techniques while sitting on the floor, standing or walking. Personally, I found the standing meditation to be the most useful for relaxing and clearing my mind. I was able to bypass the discomfort of sitting cross-legged for so long, and also not have the threat of falling asleep.

Sitting meditation (long breathing)
While sitting cross-legged on the floor with my back comfortably straight I learned about long breathing exercises. This was to help my mind and body be calm. It also increased my attention span, and focus. I took long deep breaths while focusing on the feeling of the air entering my nostrils. Then I was instructed to follow the breath down towards my lungs while noticing how my abdomen would naturally expand at the completion of each inhalation. Likewise, I would trace the breath back out of my abdomen area up to my lungs and out my nose. These meditations lasted 1/2 hour each. Being fully aware of each breath was the ONLY focus of this meditation. Click HERE for more info about long breathing.

Standing meditation (long breathing)

Standing meditation also focused on long breathing. (you can read about that above)

Walking meditation (Attention, awareness, and alertness)
I also practiced walking meditation sometimes in a group setting other times alone. I figured at first it would only be taking a little walk alone down a path to clear my head. It wasn’t like this at all. Again the exercise focused on awareness and mindfulness of each step I took. A 5 stage walking meditation was taught. Again, the point was to focus individually on each process of the step. From the raising of the heel at the beginning of each step. To the placement of your foot at the end.
You can read more about different walking meditation methods HERE.

Day 4

The eight teachings of the buddha are as follows.

  • I undertake the training to intend not to take away any breath
  • I undertake the training not to take away what is not given
  • I undertake the training to keep my mind and body free from any sexual activity
  • I undertake the training not to harm others by speech
  • I undertake the training not to harm my consciousness with substances that intoxicate and lead to carelessness
  • I undertake the training not to eat in between afternoon and before dawn
  • I undertake the training not to dance, sing, play or listen to music, watch shows, wear garlands, ornaments and beautify myself with perfumes and cosmetics
  • I undertake the training not to sleep or sit on luxurious beds and seats

For four days I listened how  “we should place our trust in the dhamma” (the teachings of the Buddha), how the goal of the long breathing exercises was not only to calm our mind but to eventually reach a point of “awakening”. My mind would be turned “inside-out” in a way. At this moment I would experience some kind of reward, a “positive feeling” and also the opportunity to be enlightened.  All my effort, dedication and hard work would “pay-off”.


I am very glad to have had this amazing experience. Separate from my phone. Separate from the outside world. Consequently, It provided so much quiet time that allowed me to have a proper detox and cleanse from so many distractions I had in my mind and my body. For example, it helped me clear away negative thoughts of past relationships and handle the hostile situations I find myself having to deal with in business without getting stressed about them. There are many wise and helpful teachings of the Buddha. When practiced, these teachings can enhance your life and also the lives of those around you.


I decided to end the meditation on the 5th day in the morning. I can only speak for myself. I found meditation practiced according to Buddhism was limited. All of my effort and time spent was inward focused in hope of enlightenment. As wonderful as a clear view of things around me is useful. It is not the same as being an active and helpful participant in the society around me.


Finally, I wondered what my experience would’ve been and what new insights I would’ve gained about myself and the world around me if I had dedicated 5 days to working in a Thai orphanage instead of sitting doing breathing meditation. Maybe my desire to grow and understand would’ve been aided more by reading the beatitudes and meditating on those words and their meaning. Click HERE to read them.  Maybe by focusing on the words I speak, the songs I write and helping others, I can achieve “enlightenment”. And create a positive impact at the same time.