March 17, 2020

You Tube Video

Hey there, I/m trying something different. My life and the COVID-19 events have impacted me to create in different ways.  My most recent adventure is a return into YouTube. Consider my thoughts and words here

I'll get back to podcasting soon.  Thanks. J

Photo (The Fresh and The Ancient) Credit -Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash 

Jim enjoys a half-hour chatting with Tenneson Woolf. Tenneson, as you'll learn by listening is a poet, sage, spiritual inquirer, and in the best of terms - a well-above average human being.

Tenneson, for the past 25 years or so, has been facilitating teams and groups using a variety of participatory leadership style.  His work and collegiality with Margaret Wheatley, guided him to learning about The Circle Way. Tenneson, since that time, has introduced persons, individuals, and teams into circles in a variety of communities.  For Tenneson, this work is Spirit-Led and essential to the circumstances human beings face in their families, jobs, faith communities, and the broader world.

Jim and Tenneson spend the majority of their chat discussing the concepts of leaning into trouble. They discuss what trouble is and why people naturally avoid it. They also chat about why it is often most difficult yet most rewarding to lean into unknown, chaotic, fearful circumstances because creating islands of sanity, as Meg Wheatley states, is essential to humanity'swell being in this day and age. All of these topics flow into and through Tenneson's purpose of "striving to help people be smart together."

Who Do We Choose to Be? Cover

Watch M. Wheatley's presentation on Choosing who we desire to Become.

Tenneson and Jim share their stories, offer their appreciation, and wrap much of their thinking about the way forward as they stand on the frontier of entering into an 18-month rite of passage and leadership pilgrimage entitled Fire and Water. Fire and Water's participants will explore their ancestry, lean into the unknowingness of new relationships with self, fellow pilgrims, and The Divine.  This CircuOsity episode offers hope for the Fire and Water adventure as well as similar leadership and communal endeavors going on around the planet.

Thanks to Tenneson for his wisdom and presence in this space and all of his endeavors.  You can learn more about Tenneson on his website or by clicking on the Fire and Water site. Enjoy the pod and offer your comments and questions.


Tenneson in one of his contemplative moments.

Artist's Credit - Mother of God of Tenderness - Icon written by Caroline Furlong

Jim dedicates this episode to the art of becoming a faithful, asture, ethical observer. A good friend introduced Jim to Dr. Jordan Peterson's work and words. Jim was especially motivated by Peterson's podcast concerning scriptural and psychological tenets for guiding a person's virtuous decisions. Peterson offers a quote that shapes the essence of today's episode. 

  • "The frontier is the edge between what you know and what you don't know. You want to put yourself on that edge." (Jordan Peterson - Wikiquote)

Pin by Sarah Herbots

Jim uses a variety of resources to gather observations about observation. These include:

Butterflies have symbolized the process of birth, life, death, and resurrection across a wide spectrum of spiritual and religious cultures for centuries. Their story, especially the story of Monarch Butterflies is all the more morally and environmentally critical because monarchs are at severe risk of becoming extinct in a very short period of time.  

Jim has undertaking an active process into observing, learning more about, and assisting monarchs for the past three summers. He is coming to understand that he doesn't know much about what he doesn't know. He also sees this joyful process as a practical and spiritual way to learn more about himself,his moral choices, and how his thoughts,words,actions, and deeds have a much larger butterfly effect upon the world than he and probably anyone else comprehends.

If you're interested in becoming a more holistic, spiritually grounded, proactive human being,then listen to the podcast. If you have less than 20 minutes right now. check out these guidelines. 

Be curious and patient

Take into account your biases and assumptions.

Find joy in love, suffering, awe, sorrow, alike.

Don't intervene when there's already 400 millions years of wisdom inside the miraculously minute brain of a butterfly or something/someone else you don't understand.

Watch this video.

Blessings along The Way, 

Butterfly on Flower.

August 17, 2019

Curious about Courage

Photo Credit to Hazel Bartram-Birchenough - Transfiguration (Oil on Canvas) - as seen at The Episcopal Church Visual Arts' "Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness" display.

There's lots of talk on lots of levels about courage. Jim takes up the topic in this episode.  He opens by thanking the folks at Insight Timer, especially Glenda Cedarleaf, for offering a courageous meditation. Glenda cites E.E. Cummings with this quote:

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

Jim uses Cummings' quote as a foundation for discussing courage.(curiously).  He offers perennial wisdom from a variety of Perennial Tradition sources including (falsely attributed to) Buddha, Jesus, Brene' Brown, and Pat Metheny to develop wholehearted, compassionate courage.  You'll find his detailed podcast outline over at Musings from the Corner of Market and Pine

Be courageous on your pilgrimage.  Blessings along The Way.


Jim promises that CircuOsity and more thoughts about living into loving relationships via The Circle Way will be on later this week. For today - Jim considers the deepest meaning of Christ Jesus' instruction to his followers to be fearless and wholehearted.  Jim provides an example of someone, Becca Stevens, and her work with Thistle Farms and Magdalene House  transforms the lives of thousands of people.  Jim's sermon suggests that it is possible for a trip with $2.42 to a foreign land is indeed life-changing and that love heals along with faithfulness to live into an uncertain and divine future is worth the trip. Listen especially for Becca's ABCs to transform your life and the lives of the people around you.  

32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves wallets that don’t wear out—a treasure in heaven that never runs out. No thief comes near there, and no moth destroys. 34 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too. (Luke 12 32-34)

J.R. Korpa's photo "Mannequin Models" courtesy of Korpa and Unsplash.

Jim Opens up this week's episode with a welcome and explaining of CircuOsity's purpose. He then introduces today’s theme - learning to seek awareness in order to reduce ignorance. He uses one of Silas Day's Insight Timer meditations as a primary resource for ruminating upon this important topic. Our development of a meditative practice offers us intentional time and space to shine out awareness onto our ignorance. We focus mindfulness onto our views, experiences, and attachments (Christian terms, passions or sins). Ignorance is based upon our presumptions of reality.

  1. A Fool who discerns his ignorance gains understanding and therefore becomes wiser.
  2. A Fool who assumes that he is wise expresses and shares his foolishness. (chime)

Complaining is a common place and almost always inconsequential habit in and of itself for increasing awareness, reducing suffering, and gaining insight. Jim uses this podcast to summarize how bringing awareness to his habitual complaining is helping him to shift his way of being.

Silas' meditation "A Contemplation on Ignorance" shines light upon the importance of developing a meditative mindfulness practice. Complaining is a consequence of our attachments to ignorance. Jim's shadow resides in unexplored or unrefined awareness of childish desires to possess control and impatiences with himself, other people, God, and countless other circumstances residing outside of his sphere of influence. Complaining only offers wisdom when someone gains awareness of the circumstances, experiences, attachments (passions) provoking the complaint. Ignorance means to lack wisdom or unknowing. (Complain derives from the Latin term for lamentation - an expression of suffering)

Buddhism teaches us to express our awareness of sufferings existence. Christianity teaches us that it is through suffering that resurrection becomes most possible. If true, and complaining or other unhelpful habits (patterns) exist, what might we do? 

Jim suggests that bringing awareness to this issue renders solutions. Such opportunities include paying attention to Buddhism's Eightfold Path , Christianity's Gifts of the Spirit, and The Circle Way's principles. And, the Plan (Prayer), Do (Devote), Check (Contemplate), Act (Adapt) model,  (PDCA) provides a proven contemplative and actionable means for increasing awareness and compassion as well as for reengineering work in sacred and worldly settings.

Here is some of what Jim learned and is learning as a consequence of undertaking a 21-Day Complaint-Free Challenge experience. The process requires an intentional examination of his complaining. The work begins with observation and continues with creating a prayerful (mindful) plan. The purpose in this endeavor has been to Identify a meaningful improvement opportunity, Jim loves learning and thereby understands that he needs to shine light upon the ignorance of his complaining. You should listen in order to hear about the rest of his work rather than read his probably boring explanation here. :)

In sum, this opportunity (and similar intentions) all possess capacities to establish new ways of being.

Jim concludes with another summary of Silas Day's wisdom. He refreshes some of today's episodes of learning:

    1. Small rituals such as meditation shine awareness onto the shadows of our personalities – our soul’s and ego’s suffering

      1. Offering Love depends upon enlightenment and devotion toward something bigger and better than ourselves.
    2. SMART Goals are excellent for any intentional practice to reduce ignorance, acknowledge suffering, and gain wisdom and joy.
    3.  Emotions are fluid and fleeting. God’s presence is always available.
    4. Working on one attachment, one pain, one burden, one wound at a time will encourage further growth, and a possibility or renewed body, mind, and spirit. .
  • Jim says Good Bye with a Blessing, Thank you for listening, and a hope that you will share CircuOsity.

Blessings along The Way, Jim



Visit Silas Day's website and follow him on Insight Timer.

Jim takes an adventure on how to be navigate our pilgrimages with our emotional elephants.  He calls upon Jonathan Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis work to understand why our emotions more often than not govern our gifts of reason.

Haidt uses the metaphor of a rider upon an elephant that cannot force the elephant to go in a particular direction. The rider is the rational part of our brains whereas the elephant is the emotional (automatic) portion of our brains. It takes courage and compassion for human beings to create a synergistic relationship with ourselves,neighbors,and God. (Read the Happiness Hypothesis for deeper learning).

Jim refers back to last week's episode and the Plan (Prayer), Do (Devotion), Check (Contemplate), and Act (Adapt) [PDCA] cycle as a model for talking with and riding the elephants in our living rooms who we avoid, or fear to tame . Jim shares how he is using this model to hold the reigns of his emotional, complaining elephant with more wisdom, patience, and maturity. His current work is with a 21 day Complaint Free Challenge

Emotional elephant joy riding can be awesome when you have a purpose, plan, and flexible course of action.  You shouldn't be afraid of falling off either.

Check out Michelle McQuaid and Peggy Kern's podcast to learn more about developing emotionally well elephants in workplaces. 

Check out Marc Chernoff's elephant metaphor to better understand how old and outdated habitual patterns and beliefs keep us tied down.  

'Hope that you enjoy this adventure and your own ride w/ your elephants and the emotional opportunities to grow in your self, families, and communities.

Happiness is not something that you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality. Other conditions require relationships to things beyond you: Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger. It is worth striving to get the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work, and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right, a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge.” 

Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom


Blessings along The Way, Jim



A curious thing happened on Facebook today. Amy Welin invited her friends to join her in complaining less. Amy is the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Stephen's in Harrisburg. She seemingly has somethings unsettling her. Jim has been kinda frazzled recently and consequently been complaining about many things rather than contemplating and acting upon potential improvements.

Jim decided to take Amy up on the 21 Day Complaint Free Challenge. Amy referenced Rabbi Brian's Not to Complain blog post as a resource. Jim decided to blow the dust off of an old continuous improvement friend - The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) model. Jim revises the PDCA model a bit to frame it in a more spiritual fashion. You can learn more about Jim's adaptation here.


Today's podcast uses Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan's Immunity to Change model as a basis for initiating today's conversation. Learning to complain less means making an adaptive change - a gut-felt yearning for choosing a different way of living. The PDCA Model offers a template for undertaking such an transformational learning process. (Jim offers a somewhat detailed description of the PDCA model from 5:27 - 11:28 in the episode).  Jim lays out his proposed plan and do stages of  his complaint-free journey.  Thankfully, there are lots and lots of models to work happily with for the next three weeks.  Jari Roomer recommends achieving success one step at a timeSMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) are handy for keeping track of progress.  WOOP is a quick and imaginative way for visioning a healthier future. And of course, taking a challenge with friends is more fun than doing it alone (except for truly introverted people)

Ultimately, this 21 Day Challenge like any transformative growth is about letting go of established habits of thinking believing, most likely because a person's love for a greater goal is more powerful than the status quo. Have a listen and follow along with Jim and others as they strive for less complaining and more compassion.


Jim offers his reflection on the themes of freedom, liberty, and independence. The July 4th holiday in the United States is next week. Politicians and citizens alike will celebrate the United States' freedom. Yet is independence such a great value? Does valuing one's greatness and/or a nations status really invoke the highest virtues of liberty and justice for all.  Jim suggests that the greater good is to be found in interdependence. Such virtuous living begins with one's self and one's own transformation. Jim uses an article from Ron Esposito of the Conscious Living Center to support his ideas. He also builds upon one of his heroes, Robert F. Kennedy's as a foundation for truly understanding American justice and freedoms.  Jim references John Donne's No Man is an Island poem too.

In sum, Jim suggests that living spiritually well as a person and nation is to strive for interdependence and honest self-understanding.  The Circle Way  offers principles for shared understanding and maturation. Spiritual paths grounded in contemplative meditation and holistic communal collaborations will also promote freedoms beyond The Declaration of Independence and unhealthy proclamations of national greatness and privilege. 

Jim invites Gil Stafford into CircuOsity's space. Gil shares a bit of his writing to set the space for this chat.  Gil shares how his writing shapes him as much as he crafts the writing. Jim then invites Gil to talk about his personal pilgrimage using the Enneagram as a frame for the discussion. Both Jim and Gil claim the Enneagram 4 (or the Enneagram 4 claims them).  Gil describes how his own understanding of his life experiences shapes how he shows up in the world, shapes his writing, and how he leads because of this wisdom and intentional work.

Gil and Jim then shift the conversation toward understanding how the Enneagram provides an excellent foundation for exercising leadership using The Circle Way  as a purposeful way for guiding groups towards wellness and effectiveness. Gil and Jim both endorse the importance of holding silence, listening attentively, and validating how one's individual work is being carried out into a person's circles (families, neighborhoods, towns, and more broadly into the world).  

In summary, Enneagram and Circle Way. are methods that are accessible and fruitful for personal and shared wellness. 

Gil checks the duo out with another reading of how our writing - words have meaning beyond the page.   They both offer what was this most important lessons from the conversation. Jim offers a blessing for Gil and all listeners as they travel on their pilgrimages.   

May the Road Rise to Meet you and Blessings along The Way, 



Cathy and Gil's Wisdom Way School. 

Gil's Webpage

Gil's Blog

Gil's Books on Amazon

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