Harness the Power of Your Metaphors!

It is has been said, “there are two things that you can count on in life, death and taxes.”  In my case, there’s one more and that would be visiting Kristy’s grandmother, lovingly called Gnin in Cantonese every weekend in Monterey Park, California, where everything is in Chinese and a tall white guy always seems a bit out of place.

Gnin is going on 90 now, and if that weren’t enough of a reason to see her every week, she’s a real hoot, cute as a dumpling, speaks very little English and is brutally honest. She loves anything sweet and reminds Kristy and I on a continual basis that she’d like to see us pop out a baby soon.  Fortunately for us, Kristy’s brother just had a boy so that should take a little bit of the pressure off for now.

Without fail, as if programmed into our genes like a pair of migrating African Lovebirds, Kristy and I get up early every weekend, regardless of our desperate need for sleep, in an attempt to beat the LA traffic, see Grandma and take advantage of the breakfast specials at one of the thousand Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park.  Last weekend was no exception, but this time something quite remarkable happened.

Jumping on the 101 South from Hollywood, we were pleasantly surprised, if not shocked, to find very little traffic.  But as we turned the bend through the heart of downtown we could see across the divide the 101 North, our usual route back home, was already bumper-to-bumper.

As if Kristy could read my mind, which I think she can at times when she’s not hungry, she uttered,  “Wow! That looks like a parking lot.”

“Yes it does.”  I replied.

“Maybe we’ll have to take the streets back.” She said.

“Maybe.  Hopefully it will clear up by the time we head back.” I replied trying to sound optimistic.

Continuing on our way unimpeded and with a constant view of the opposing traffic, I couldn’t help but notice how easily it was for both of us to see the opposing traffic as a parking lot and something bad.  The mood in the car immediately changed from a joyful “to grandmother’s house we go” to a sobering “Crap!  Look at that traffic.”

Wanting my joy back, I began to wonder if I could perhaps see it another way, choose another metaphor, throw the parking lot out and replace it with something more positive.

Searching for the positive, I began to see the traffic as an opportunity for people to relax, slow down, listen to good music, spend more quality time with each other and do a little sight-seeing.  I began to see each car as an oasis for meditation and personal reflection, a chance to learn a foreign language or finally reset the clock on the dash.  I saw symmetry and cooperation as each car edged ever so slightly forward.  I even saw it as a piece of contemporary art.

Sharing my thoughts aloud as we passed this beautiful still life entitled “Cars on a Highway,” we both began to laugh and the mood once again returned to joy. Gone was the negative metaphor we both shared, replaced by a plethora of positive ones.  Traffic would never look the same way again.

*******

The power of a metaphor, much like a 90-year-old grandmother, should never be underestimated.  A single metaphor, much like a single comment from a loved one, has the power to bring us down and stop us in our tracks or raise us up to a world of unlimited possibilities.  Fortunately, we have power over the metaphors we use.

Whenever I notice myself using a metaphor, I ask myself “Is this a meta-for or a met-against?”  If I feel good and empowered by it, I call it a ‘meta-for’ and make a mental note that it’s a keeper and available for use at any time in the future.  But if I notice any negativity around a metaphor I have just used, I call it a ‘met-against,’ let it go and set an intention to replace it with something positive and empowering.

While this may seem all too simple, I assure you it works and it’s fun, not to mention it keeps me from thinking about those two other things I can inevitably count on, death and taxes.

Copyright 2010 Rob Gruber, M.A. Life Mastery Coach

Love Without Reason

IMG_1535One of my earliest memories of unconditional love occurred in the spring of 1975. I was six. My four sisters and I were huddled around the television in the family room watching Saturday morning cartoons when my father poked his head in and said with a big smile on his face, “Turn the TV off and come into the living room. Your mom’s got a surprise for you.”

Hearing the word surprise, we all jumped up and ran into the living room. But as we turned the corner, we were stopped in our tracks by the sight of our mother sitting in a chair at the other end of the room with a stack of beautifully wrapped presents at her feet.

Frozen and fixed on our mother’s every move, we waited in anticipation for what would come next. Without any delay or explanation, she proceeded to call out all our names, oldest to youngest, and presented us each with a gift.

When my name was called, I ran to my mother’s side, thanked her for the gift and plopped down on the floor right in front of her. To my delight, I found something I had always wanted, a collection of plastic dinosaurs, caves and cavemen.

Consumed by my gift, I was a bit oblivious to what my sisters received. But what I wasn’t oblivious to was the fact that it wasn’t a holiday, someone’s birthday or special occasion. It was just an ordinary day. Curious to the reason for our gifts, I went to my mother and asked, “Mom, I really like my present. I really do, more than anything, but I was wondering. Why did I get a present today? It’s not like it’s my birthday or anything like that?”

She smiled a smile only a loving mother could smile and playfully replied, “Just because.”

My curiosity not satisfied, I asked, “Because of what?”

“No reason. No reason at all. Just because.” She said with that same smile.

“You mean you gave us all presents just because, for no reason at all?” I asked.

“That’s right.” She replied with joy. “Now go and play with your dinosaurs.”

And play I did well into the night.

As I laid in bed that night with a dinosaur in each hand, thinking about this extraordinary day, I couldn’t help but come to the realization that it was possible for me, a six-year old boy, to love and be loved “just because,” for “no reason at all.”

Now as a man, deeply and positively affected by my early childhood revelation, I have come to the conclusion through much trial and error that it is not only possible to love without reason, but it is, in fact, the only way to love.

Rob Gruber

Life Mastery Coach

Copyright 2009

Across the “OUR”niverse

DSC_6045While tending to the small vineyard in our backyard, I noticed the grapes growing up and over the garage were not as plentiful as last year.  Thinking it was due to the new Los Angeles water restrictions the city implemented to move towards sustainable water conservation, I accepted the few grapes that had came forth and appreciated them all the more.  But it wasn’t until a few days later that I discovered the real reason for my lighter than usual harvest.

It was late in the night, well past midnight.  Kristy and I were sitting in the back office catching up on each other’s day when all the sudden we heard through the screen door what sounded like someone eating.  Startled, Kristy jumped up from her seat.  Trying to stay calm myself, I got up slowly from my chair, flipped on the back light and cautiously peered out the screen door.  As my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit backyard, I heard the rustling of vines over the garage.  Looking in the direction of the sound, I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather large raccoon sitting up and looking right at us eating our grapes.

Relieved it wasn’t an intruder and taken back by the sheer beauty of this creature, Kristy and I stepped outside to get a closer look.  Unaffected by our presence, he continued to eat while staring back at us as if we were just as interesting to look at.

As we watched him eat, Kristy exclaimed, “But he’s eating our grapes!”

“Yep.”  I said with a grin.

“Can’t you stop him?” She asked.

Not wanting to fight with Mother Nature or even knowing what to do even if I had wanted to, I asked in all sincerity, “What if we made him ours?”

“What do you mean?”  She asked.

“Well, if we made him ours, accepting him as part of our family, he wouldn’t be eating grapes that weren’t his.” I replied.

With a smile and nod, she said  “Yeah.  I like that.  Let’s make him ours.”

Making him ours, we shifted our perspective from wanting him to stop eating something that wasn’t his to hoping he was enjoying his grapes as much as we enjoyed watching him eat them.

After some time, appearing to be satiated, our newfound family member slowly turned and disappeared into the night.  Wishing him a goodnight, we headed to bed, feeling fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend such quality time with our raccoon.

A few days later, just as Kristy was leaving for work, she turned to me and said with a smile, “I think I heard our raccoon eating again last night.”

“I thought I did too.”  I replied.

“He sure is a noisy eater.”  She remarked.

“Yep.  He sure is.  If only we could teach him to eat with his mouth closed.” I replied.

****

Making him part of our family really opened our hearts.  So much so that I can’t help but wonder, “What else in my life could I make ours?”

Rob Gruber

Life Mastery Coach

Copyright 2009

Live by a Greater How!

At the wide-eyed age of twenty, well before the Internet and armed with only a telephone book and rotary phone, I purchased my first airline ticket to fly across the country to begin interviewing for jobs after college.

Never having bought a plane ticket, I wrote down everything I thought I could possibly say or be asked.  Just when I thought I had it all under control, the young lady on the other end of the line asked me the one question I had never thought of.  “How would I like to fly?”

“I’m sorry.” I replied. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Would you like to fly first class or coach?” She clarified.

“Oh! I didn’t even know I had a choice.  What’s the difference?” I asked.

As she explained the seating options and the price difference for each class, the decision was quite easy for a young college student on a budget.  I chose coach.

As I hung up the phone, pleased with my first ticket buying experience, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a greater unanswered how.  That “Greater How” was the manner, quality, state or way I could choose to be and experience myself as I traveled.

Considering the “Greater How,” I opened my journal and wrote at the top of the page, “How would I like to travel?”  Within seconds, I wrote down the words effortlessly and joyfully, then comfortably and playfully.  Gratitude, appreciation and enthusiasm soon followed, along with wonder and curiosity.  Last but not least, I wrote safely.

On the day of my flight, with my “Greater How” asked and answered, I packed a few of my favorite snacks, a good book, a neck pillow, sleep mask and a couple compilations tapes for my cassette player.  Settling into my window seat, I knew I was flying in a class all my own.

*****

How would you like to travel through your life?  How would you like to experience yourself as you go about your life?  Could you consider the possibility that you can choose how you wish to experience life?

Copyright 2009 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

The Frequency of Love

While waiting for a friend in the arrival area of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, I noticed a young Korean woman pulling a large cart of luggage.  As she passed customs, she found an empty seat right across from me.

Just before she was about to sit, she pulled out from one of her bags the most adorable, fluffy, brown poodle that licked her profusely as she lovingly spoke to it in Korean.

As she sat down, she placed her little dog on the ground and opened a magazine.  Completely taken by this magnificent creature, I leaned over, reached out my hand and attempted to call it over to me.  Instead of rushing over, he just cocked his head and looked at me as if I were speaking another language.

Then it dawned on me that I was speaking English and he understood Korean.   Wanting to connect to this little bundle of joy, I dug deep into my memory for the few Korean words I learned years ago living in New York City and asked it to come, but still nothing.

Its owner, hearing me speak Korean, looked up from her magazine, smiled and politely complemented me on my Korean.  She explained that Louis was shy and didn’t usually respond well to strangers.

As we both continued to wait for our respective parties, it occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t Korean that Louis was responded to.  Perhaps it was the love he felt coming from his owner.  And if that were true, I asked myself,  “Would Louis respond simply to my love?”

To test my hypothesis, I closed my eyes and focused on the most loving thing I could think of.  As I held that thought, I began to feel my love grow.  When I felt I could no longer contain my own love, I imagined sending all that love to Louis.

When I opened my eyes, I no longer felt the need for him to come to me.  I felt only love.   Ironically, it was at that very moment he walked right over to me. I reached down and he began licking my hand like we were the best of friends.

Witnessing this, the young woman exclaimed, “Wow!  How did you do that?”

I smiled and said, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Please,” she said. “I’ve never seen him do this before.”

“I imagined something I love with all my heart and when my heart was full, I imagined sending all of that love to him.” I replied.

“I see.  That’s good.”   She replied, “That makes sense.  He’s a rescue dog and he responds best to love.”

“As I imagine we all do.” I replied.

Copyright 2009 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

See the Fundamental Similarities in All of Us

While stopped at a traffic light at a busy intersection in the city of Los Angeles on a late Saturday night, a young bearded man wearing a blue flannel shirt walked between the stopped cars holding a sign that read, “Please help me.” Walking up to the right side of my car, I rolled down my window and handed him a few dollars. Thanking me, he turned to the truck to my right. As he turn and looked into the truck, he stopped in his tracks.

For what seemed to be a frozen moment in time, the two men locked eyes and recognized the uncanny resemblance they had to each other, down to the very same blue flannel shirt. The young bearded man in the truck, seeing this young man that could be his twin asking for help, rolled down his window, reached into his wallet and handed him a large wad of cash.

The young homeless man, taken aback by such a generous gift, tried to give the money back, but the young man in the truck insisted he keep it.  As the homeless man finally accepted the generous gift, the light turned green. They quickly shook hands and the young bearded man in the truck drove off into the endless sea of traffic.

The three of us were changed forever.

*******

If you came upon a stranger that looked exactly like you needing assistance, would you help? I imagine you would. I know I would. I would find it hard to turn down a reflection of myself.

But now imagine that a complete stranger that looks nothing like you asks for help.  What would you do? I know you already know your answer. But before you commit to that answer, imagine taking a second to see all the fundamentally similarities you share with this imagined stranger.

From this place of fundamental similarities, would you be more inclined to help?

Now imagine that you practiced this in your everyday life. How would your life be different if you began today to first recognize all your fundamental similarities with everyone you encountered you before you recognized your differences?

I can tell you that if you can master this, seeing the fundamental similarities first, you may never get around to seeing the differences.

With Love,
Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach
Copyright 2009 Rob Gruber

Three of my Favorite Words! “No Assembly Required”

One of my the fondest childhood lessons did not come from a book,teacher or class, but rather from my mother in the toy aisle at Kmart at the age of five.

Being one of five, Mom had little time for nonsense.   So on the rare occasion when we did make it to the store, which was almost always the local Kmart, the superstore of its time, we were expected to stick to her like glue.  Which, we did of course.

Knowing the floor plan of Kmart like the palm of her hand, she had the ability to get in and out of there more often than not without ever passing the toy aisle.  But on the rare occasion that she had a moment to spare, she would surprise us and let us roam the toy aisle for a minute or two.

In those brief moments of exploration, we did what kids do.  We went crazy.  Looking, exploring, playing, dreaming and if we felt Mom was in the mood, presenting her with a toy she could perhaps give “the nod” to take home.

Rarely did we get “the nod.”  But over the years and through trial and error, we did figure out how to increase our odds.  The toy generally had to consist of three things. First and foremost, it had to be reasonable priced (read into this on sale). Second, it had to be creative or promote growth.  And third, it had to contain the words “No Assembly Required.”

We picked up on the first two criteria pretty quickly. “On sale” and “good for you” were part of our family vocabulary.  But the third criteria, “No Assembly Required” took some time to figure out.

I discovered her third rule after giving her a toy for consideration. As I watched her go through the steps: On sale? Check. Good for me? Check, I caught her reading to herself, “No Assembly Required.”  She then turned the box back over, looked at the front again, looked me in the eye, smiled and gave me the Nod.

Excited, I hugged her and thanked her.

Beaming as I held my toy, waiting for my sisters to pick out something for consideration, I asked.  “What does “No Assembly Required” mean?”

Smiling she said, “It means you don’t have to put it together.  You can open it up and play with it right now.  It’s whole. It’s perfect just the way it is.  Just like you.”

“Just like me?” I thought to myself. “Mom just said I was perfect like a really cool toy. Oh my God, I could explode with joy!”

Not knowing how to respond to her affirmation of my worth or even knowing what an affirmation was at the time, I hugged her and thanked her again and then realized I had to tell my sisters what I just discovered.  Running through the toy aisles I whispered to each of them, “It has to say, “No Assembly Required” on it. It has to be whole and perfect just like us!”

And to this day, on the rare occasion that I do go shopping, I often find myself taking a second to walk through the toy aisle and turn over a box or two to read three of my favorite words, “No Assembly Required.”

Your life may be fuller than you’ll ever know!

Every summer as a child, my father would take the whole family to my Aunt’s house in the country for an all-day bar-b-que.  I remember those days like they were yesterday, not because of the wonderful times we had there, which we did, but rather because of the stomachaches I always got from eating way too much.

Despite my mother’s ever-watchful eye and her constant reminder not to over do it, I always found a way to sneak back to the buffet table for a yet another little taste of bar-b-que heaven.  As the day progressed and my sneaking continued, I did what I had done so many times before, I ate my way to a stomachache. An ache so painful, I could only ease it by lying face down, motionless on a picnic bench for the rest of the night.

It took me three years of family reunions to learn my lesson, but I learned it well and remained ever mindful of the need for moderation.

While I always wondered how I could be perfectly fine one minute and then all of the sudden painfully full the next.  I found out much later in life that it takes about twenty minutes for the stomach to signal the brain that it is full. More plainly put, it takes twenty minute for me to realize I was full, in which time I continued to stuff my face, resulting in one memorable stomachache.

Realizing the mind is a step behind the stomach I began to wonder.   If it takes twenty minutes to realize I my stomach is full how long does it take to realize that my life is full. Could it be that my life is full now and I have yet to realize it?

Not knowing how to measure this since my mind is a step behind.  I decided to look back at my life, not through memories, but through old photos I had of myself.  It was here I found the proof I was looking for.

In each and every picture, from the perspective of this present moment, I can honestly say my life was fuller than I was consciously aware of at the time.  I was, in a word, full and never fully knew it.

I realize this is a completely subjective test. But it has made me a firm believer that my life is and always will be much fuller than I am able to realize.

Copyright Rob Gruber 2009

Present Life Mastery Coach

Unbridled Permission

It was at this very spot!On a cool summer morning, at the impressionable age of six, I joined the swim team at the neighborhood pool. Decked out in my new warm-up suit, Speedo and goggles, I was ready to go.

When Coach Thomas blew his whistle and hollered, “Let’s go guys, let’s get in there and warm up.” I tore off my warm-up suit, put on my goggles and ran across the deck of the pool to dive in. But just as I was about to make my first big dive, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, my fellow teammates had barely even moved.

A bit confused and not wanting to look silly, I slowed down and nonchalantly walked back to my original position, waving my arms back and forth as to make it look like this was all part of my warm-up.

As I stood there swinging my arms with my goggles still on, waiting for what felt like an eternity for my fellow teammates to get moving, Coach Thomas, seeing my excitement, came up from behind, placed his enormous hands on my small shoulders and said with a gentle nudge, “Go get’em Tiger. Show them how it’s done.” Without skipping a beat, I ran across the deck, dove in to the frigid water and swam my heart out.

At the end of practice, while attempting to warm myself up from a mild case of hypothermia, Coach Thomas, walked over to me and said, “You did good kid. Real good.”Before I could say anything, he turned and walked away. But then, all of the sudden, he turned back around and said. “Oh Yeah, and kid? You don’t need my permission to get in that pool and swim. You got that?”

“Yes, Sir.” I answered through shivering teeth.

“Good.” he said, turning and walking away.

From that day on I was the first one in and the last one out of the pool each and every practice. In no time at all, I became and remained one of the best in the league in my age group.

Looking back over the years, I often wondered why I didn’t excel in everything I endeavored like I did swimming. And then it occurred to me a few years back, the missing ingredient was unbridled permission. Coach Thomas, perhaps unknowingly, gave me the incredible gift of unbridled permission by making it clear I didn’t need his to swim my heart out.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize his words applied to anything I wanted in my life. But I am glad I finally realized I don’t need anyone else’s permission to live my heart’s desires.

And while I don’t need anyone else’s permission, I do need my own. To remedy that, I crafted a bunch of permission slips I write to myself that say this. I, (I fill in my name), give myself permission to (whatever I wish to be, do, have, create or experience) with all my heart and soul. After I have written my permission slip out, I read it to myself often and carry it with me wherever I go. It has made all the difference in the world.

Copyright Rob Gruber 2009
Present Life Mastery Coach

If I were Love…Imagine, Ask and Be

Searching for my keys as I was running late for a red-eye flight home to see my mother before her surgery, I did something I had never done before.  Instead of panicking and asking, “Where are my keys?” over and over again until I turned my home upside down,  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and asked, “If I were my keys where would I be?”

As I opened my eyes, I was immediately drawn to a piece of luggage I had already checked twice before.  But this time, without hesitation, I reached into my bag and pulled out my keys as if I actually knew where they were the whole time, just in time to catch my flight.

Settling in for my flight, I couldn’t help but think about the powerful connection I had felt to my keys.  But as the flight progressed, I began to wonder what else I could possibly connect to.  In my wondering, I thought about everything I ever loved.  But to my surprise, the only thing that stuck out in my mind was not a “thing” at all, but rather love itself.

So, in the early morning hours, cruising at about 30,000 feet, surrounded by a sea of slumbering souls, I closed my eyes, imagined and asked, “If I were Love, where would I be?”

With my eyes still closed and my right hand on my chest, I felt my heart burst open and reply, “Here…Here I am…I am Here…I am Love!”

Being Love, I asked and answered.
“How shall I love?  Unconditionally.
When shall I love? Now. The only time that is.
Who would I love?  Myself, everyone and everything that is.
Why would I love? Because Love is all I am and Love is all there is.”

And as the plane made its descent, I opened my eyes to a brand new world.  A world filled with Love.  A world filled with You.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Present Life Mastery Coach

iwishicouldtellyou

Accept … Love

The phone rang.  It was my sister, 3000 miles away, telling me that our mother was rushed to the hospital.  As she shared with me the news of her condition, I hung on her every word.   But as soon as I hung up, my emotions overtook me.  I wanted it to be different.  I wanted everything to be different, and the more I wanted it to be different, the more I suffered.

Realizing I was the maker of my own suffering, a suffering that was of no service to my mother or myself, I did the one thing I hoped I would never have to do. I accepted the fact that my mother was in need of critical care and I could do nothing to change that fact in this very moment.

As I slowly moved into acceptance, the most remarkable thing happened.  My emotions gently subsided and I became present once again.  In my newly found present state, I was not only able accept what was happening in the moment but was also able to consider what could be in the next.  I did this by asking myself a very simple but powerful question. “Accepting what is, what is the most loving thing I could do now?”

Before I could even finish asking the question, the answer came forth from deep within my heart.  “Go to her! Love her!  Be there for her!  Now!” And within minutes I was booked on the next available flight home.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

Imagine Love

“If I were to imagine only one thing today, it would be love.”

Imagine Love Exercise

1. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably and not be disturbed. Close your eyes and relax.

2. Imagine you are standing in front of someone you love with all your heart.

3. Now imagine you have the ability to express your love by giving them a gift, something they have always wanted. *

4. Imagine what you would love to give them. *

5. Choose how you would love to give them that gift. *

6. Give your gift exactly the way you imagined giving it. *

7. When you feel your giving is complete, focus once again on your breathing, gently opening your eyes when you are ready.

*Take your time with this step. You’re only limited by your imagination. The more you do this exercise the more loving and fun it will become.

Imagine Self-Love Exercise

After you feel you have mastered the Imagine Love Exercise, modify the exercise by replacing “someone you love with all your heart” in step 2 with “yourself.” Follow the remaining steps with you as the giver and receiver of your loving gift.

In essence, you are imagining yourself loving yourself with all your heart while giving yourself something you have always wanted.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Present Life Mastery Coach

Go for the Gold – “Love Yourself”

One of the most remarkable characteristics of gold is its ability to be forged into almost anything without breaking. Applying this same principle to The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want done unto you,” I created a few new rules from the same vein.

The first two, and my favorite, are The Golden Rules of Self-Honoring (or Self-Love), designed for those souls that always seem to put everyone else before themselves. They are the following.

Love yourself the way you wish to be loved.”

And

“Allow others to love you the way you wished to be loved.”

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these rules, they are powerful.

Some additional Self-Honoring Exercises you may enjoy include:

Breathe in Love

1. Find a comfortable place to relax, Imagining your breath is nothing but love.
2. Inhale, imagine being filled with light and love
3. Exhale, imagine that same light and love going out into the world.
4. Repeat for as long as you wish.

Recite your New Golden Rules as Affirmations

“I love My Self the way I wish to be loved.”

And,

“I allow others to love me the way I wished to be loved.”

Take Time for Self-Honoring Inquiries

“What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?”

and/or,

“How could I be a little more loving to myself right now?”

Create a Self-Honoring To-do List

Write down at least two ways you will love (take care of) yourself today.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Present Life Mastery Coach

iwishicouldtellyou

Decide and Live Your Dream

“The moment you decide to pursue your dream is the moment you begin to live it.” -gruberism

On a recent trip back to Ohio, while visiting my sister Pat and her family, Eli, the youngest of her three boys ran up to me and asked if I would go fish’n with him. Looking out the window and seeing the sun gently set, I replied, “Not tonight, it’s getting dark. How about we go fishing tomorrow?” Excited by my answer, he ran off to tell his brothers.

As the night progressed, I couldn’t help but notice that Eli seemed a little happier than usual. Curious, I playfully asked, “Hey buddy, what are so happy about?”

He replied with joy, “I’m fish’n.”

“Not tonight. It’s way too late. Tomorrow we’ll go down to the pond and fish.” I replied.

Looking up at me like I just didn’t get it, he lovingly explained, “Fish’n don’t start at the pond, Silly. Fish’n starts when you decide you’re gonna fish. And we decided.”

Humbled by his insight, I smiled and conceded, “You got me there kid.”

In my nephew’s wise little head, he began fish’n the moment it was decided. He continued fish’n, as he went to bed, as he woke up and as walked around the pond to his favorite spot. He was even fish’n as he reeled in a clump of algae. And if you were ask him what he was doing as he walked home from the pond that day, he would tell you he was still fish’n, because he knew that walking back home was just as much a part of fish’n as catching the big one.

An Inquiry

What are your dreams?
Have you decided to experience/pursue/live any of them yet?
If so, are you allowing yourself to enjoy each every step along the way?
If you haven’t yet, can you now begin to see how all those little steps are part of your dream?

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

i wish i could tell you

Live by a More Golden Rule

While having tea with a friend on her garden patio, her playful and loving orange and black tabby cat, Tig, jumped up onto the table, gently placed a lifeless little field mouse in front of me and jumped back off.

Shocked, I gasped.

My friend’s reaction was quite the opposite. She simply smiled and commented, “Awe, look. He likes you.”

“Really? He sure has a funny way of showing it.” I replied motionless.

“It’s just his way of showing you how much he loves you.” She said.

With Tig long gone, that little field mouse suddenly opened his eyes, got back on his feet and ran straight off the table, landing not so gently on the ground and scurrying into the dense foliage of the garden, never to be seen again – at least not by me.

********

In a way, Tig was following the golden rule, “Do unto other as you would have done unto you.” And while I was grateful for his expression of love, I was, unfortunately, not able to fully appreciate his gift at the time.

All too often we are much like Tig, giving to others what we would want for ourselves. I call this the 14 Karat Rule, acting from our own limited preferences. While thoughtful and often appreciated, it occasionally falls short of its intended result.

A more golden rule, which I call the 18 Karat Rule, is this. “Do unto others as you would imagine they would want done unto them. In Tig’s case, with a little imagining, he may have chosen to simply climb up onto my lap, allow me to pet him and purr like there was no tomorrow.

While cats like Tig don’t have the capacity to imagine what others would want done unto them, we humans do. Possessing this capacity, we have an opportunity in each and every moment to live this rule in a more loving way.

If we were to all live by this 18 Karat Rule long enough, imagining and doing unto others what we imagine others would want done unto them, I believe we would all eventually come to the conclusion that we all want the same thing – love.

Realizing love is the answer to all our wants, an Even More Golden Rule, the 24 Karat Rule, might go like this. “Love others as you imagine they would want to be Loved.” Or simply, “Love others.”

Looking back at Tig’s gift, now, I can’t help but love him for loving me the only way he knew how.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

Interested in being coached toward a Life of Self-Mastery?
Email me at rob@iwishicouldtellyou.com!

The Door is Open! – Part I – A Story of Unconditional Love

Just after supper, the day before I was to leave my childhood home of Cincinnati, Ohio for the bright lights of New York City, I sat with my father on our front porch admiring his perfectly manicured lawn.

Just as the sun was about to set, my father humbly said, “I have a little something for you.”

Before I could say anything, he placed in my hands a beautiful clay sculpture of a Garden Pagoda, an Asian-styled gazebo, a symbol of our mutual love for gardening. Seeing the emotion that was coming over me, he lovingly added, “Do you see that? The door is open.”

Speechless, I nodded.

“These doors will always be open to you.” He said, not being able to hold back the tears. “You will always be welcomed home.”

“Thanks Dad!” I said, tearing up as well as I hugged him as tight as I could. “I love you, Pop!”

“I love you too Son.” He said hugging me back.

If you were to ask me to describe unconditional love to you I believe I would begin here…(to be continued)

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber

Leverage Your Strengths

A few years back, I fell and injured my lower back. After a year of traditonal medicine, I was told there was little else they could do to aid my recovery.

On my final visit, still in great pain, my doctor offered me one last glimmer of hope by saying, “You know, there have been a few recent studies that have shown significant improvement in patients that worked soley on strengthening the muscles around the injury that were strong, leaving the injured area completely alone, allowing it to heal in it’s own good time.”

Long story short, I followed his advice, focusing on solely on strengthening those muscles which were strong and surrounded the injury, and within a short period of time, I was able to significnatly increase the strength of my back and reduce my pain and suffering. Three years later, I can honestly say I am stronger now than I’ve ever been and am living a pain-free life.
___________________________________

Could this be the beginning of a new paradigm for healing and growth?

Could we as a society learn to grow and/or heal ourselves by focusing on, nurturing and leveraging those areas of our mind and body that are already strong?

An inquiry.

What strengths could you focus on, nurture and leverage today to begin living the life you’ve always wanted?

Copyright 208 Rob Gruber

Perspective – Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child

While assisting a local preschool program for children in an economically challenged area, I had the rare opportunity to see through eyes of a child that had so little but saw so much.

It happened on their lunch break. That day, I was in charge of handing out small, brown-bag lunches to ensure they would each have a least eat one nutritious meal that day.

As all the children carefully emptied the contents of their bags, I noticed one boy ever-so-gently pull out an orange, lift it to the light of the window and exclaim, “Wow! This is the most beautiful orange I have ever seen.” He then turned to me, holding his orange with both hands to his chest, and said “Thank you! Thank You!”

Taken aback by his gratitude, I was barely able to muster up the words, “You’re welcome.” My heart felt as if it was about to explode. I can honestly say I had never experienced such a genuine expression of gratitude and joy before in my life.

As I regained my composure, I noticed he didn’t eat his orange. Instead, he wrapped it with a paper towel and put in his backpack.

Curious to know why he didn’t eat his beautiful orange, I asked him why.

Looking me straight in the eye, he replied, “I love my grandmother very, very much and I know she has never seen an orange as beautiful as this one. So, I will bring it home to her and we will share it together.”

I can honestly say that I have never looked at an orange or a small child the same way since.

Copyright 2007 Rob Gruber

Awaken Your Inspiration!

Within all of us lies something quite magical, loving and uniquely our own, we need merely to awaken it!

About five years ago, I picked up a magazine featuring a series of articles on some of the world’s most creative minds. Just as I was finishing the last article, it occurred to me. All of them had one thing in common. They all had their own very unique way of getting their inspirations out of their heads and into the world in a moment’s notice. One designer went so far as to resurface his workspace with a blackboard type material.

Inspired by his genius, I decided to cover the walls of my workspace with artfully hung, clusters of dry erase boards. I cannot begin to describe the sense of freedom and assurance I have felt since the moment I hung my first board. Over the years, I have filled my boards with anything from gibberish and doodles to bouts of inspiration that have profoundly changed the way I look at and love my life.

You too can Awaken Your Inspiration!

1. Open up your journal and write a love letter to your inspiration, inviting it to take a more active part along your path of growth.

2. Develop a way to take notes and record what your inspiration is telling you throughout your day. When I’m not in my workspace, I carry a pen and pad.

3. Schedule a time to meet with your inspiration each day. The morning works best for me. Find a quiet space, close your eyes, relax your breathing and imagine your inspiration coming forth in anyway it feels comfortable. Once you feel it is present, have a conversation with it. When you are finished speaking with it, thank it for coming and invite it to visit or stay with you throughout your day. (I’ve also had a great deal of success working with my inspiration, when I am doing things that require little thought, like washing the dishes or brushing my teeth.)

4. Listen to the many subtle and loving cues you are receiving from your alignment with your inspiration.

“Wisdon that remains in the mind as an idea, rather than being incorporated into the tapestry of who we are, cannot change us.”
– Joan Borysenko, Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Answer

Copyright 2008
Rob Gruber Life Mastery Coach

Interested in being coached toward a life of Self-Mastery?
Email me at rob@iwishicouldtellyou.com!

Run Barefoot on the Grass!

If I were to ask you to finish the statement, “The grass is always greener,” you would mostly likely answer “on the other side of the fence.” Am I right?

Now, how did I know that? Could it be that I, like you, have accepted this seemingly harmless idiom as true, made it a part of my belief system, and am now able to rattle it off whenever called to do so? Well, yeah. That’s exactly how I did it.

Unfortunately, this widely accepted idiom is wrong. The grass, a metaphor for life, is not, nor ever will be, greener on the other side. “The grass is always greener under your feet.”

The reason I say this is because the grass you are standing on is where you are now, and where you are now is where you are able to grow, love and experience life.

That grass on the other side can’t offer that. It is but a reflection of light we have been misled to believe is greater that us and that is simply not true. Making it, in my opinion, a lighter shade of green.

So run barefoot on the grass and know that it’s always greener under your feet.

______________________

A Present Moment Exercise – Questioning Beliefs

1. Monitor your thoughts and language throughout the week.
2. Catch yourself when you begin to express beliefs that require little thought or effort to express.
3. Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
Did I create this belief or was it given to me by society?
Is it true or false?
If it’s false, could I create a new, better and more loving belief to replace the old one?

I realize questioning your beliefs may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but I assure “an unexamined idiom is not worth living.” gruberism

Expansion – A Present Moment Exercise and Game

Expansion is a present moment exercise in the form of a single-player game where you, the player, cannot lose!

Working off the premise that what you focus on expands, the object of the game is to reside in the present as much as possible by increasing your awareness of it.

The Rules.

1. Begin by creating a strip of three connected boxes labeled Past, Present and Future respectively. (As shown below.)

2. Throughout your day, on the hour or half-hour and whenever you feel a shift of awareness, record where you just were in that moment by placing a check in the box it applies to.

3. At the end of the day tally up your scores.

4. Divide the total number of check marks in each section with the total of check marks for the three sections combined to get a percentage score for each box.

5. Adjust the size of your boxes in length according to their percentages for the next day. For those of you who are into graphs, your favorite spreadsheet program’s graphs can be a fun way to do this.  (At first, your present moment box may be quite small. That is perfectly natural and expected, being present is not something most of us consciously aspire to be, but once become aware the power of your present moments your score will significantly increase.)


6. The goal, of course, is to increase your present moment score each time you play.

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Supplemental Exercises

1. Journal what you are discovering about being present.

2. Visualize, each morning,  your “present” section expanding and becoming a significant portion of your day.

A Special Note to Hard-Core Gamers:

Do not judge, reward or punish yourself for your scores! Simply become aware of the quality of your life as you become more and more present.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber
Present Life Mastery Coach

Interested in being coached toward a life of Self-Mastery?
Email me at rob@iwishicouldtellyou.com!

Reside in the Present!

If you were to ask a Realtor, “What are the three most important factors in determining the best place to live? He would reply without batting an eye, “location, location, location.”

Imagining the past, present and future as places you could reside, this tried and true answer could just as well be applied to the question of time.

Expanding on the Real Estate metaphor, the chart below highlights a few of the amenities you may consider important to you and where they can be found.

I realize a few of these factors will reference the past or future but the actual action or process takes place in the present.

So, where would you wish to reside?

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber
Present Life Mastery Coach
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Listen Visually!

“An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.” – Sanford Meisner

I love a good foreign language film. No other art form has been able to move me so deeply. The reason being, I suppose, is the fact that it requires me to do something I don’t normally do, which is to listen primarily with my eyes. Not understanding the language, the visual content and behavior become paramount. Its as if the language barrier actually becomes a bridge for something far richer.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “don’t you spend most of your time reading the subtitles.” No. I don’t. I can’t. I’m a bit dyslexic. I may look down from time to time, but for the most part I don’t. If the film is good, I’ll watch it again at a later date and read the subtitles the best I can. But for the most part, the visual experience is more than enough to take me places I would never have gone and feel things I never would have felt if I relied on the spoken word.

Now, you don’t have to go to the movies to listen visually. It’s actually something you do every day, i.e., driving or watching a sporting event. But you can learn to develop you ability to listen visually into a powerful tool for communication. The better you are the more meaningful and effective your communications will become with others and yourself.

Here is are a few exercise to increase your ability to listening visually

The Foreign Film Exercise
1. Buy a movie ticket to or rent a good foreign film, here are a few of my favorites.
Amelie by Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeune
Cinema Paradiso by Director Giuseppe Tornatore,
The Lives of Others by Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Director Ang Lee.

2.Listen to the movie with your eyes. Ignore the subtitles. Let the images, sounds and behavior envelope you. Trust that there is enough going on without words to experience something visceral and genuine. This may feel a little “foreign” to you at first but I assure it has the potential to awaken something quite beautiful within you.

The Group Setting
1. Go to a place that has a lot of foot traffic, like a café or a mall and take a moment to gracefully and respectfully observe those passing by. Take in everything you can visually about them. Are they in a hurry, do they appear happy, focused or bored? What does your intuition lovingly tell you about each person?

One on One
1. Have a conversation with anyone and take into consideration that their behavior will reveal to you a great deal about themselves and the communication they are sharing. Are they interested in the topic? Where is their primary focus?

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Present Life Mastery Coach

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Claim your Presence in “The iwicty Registry”

Hello Folks,

Today I would like to announce a new collaborative page called The iwicty Registry.

It is here you will be able to claim your very presence in the here and now!

Simply click on the folder tab above marked “The iwicty Registry” and sign the registry.

Carpe Praesentium!

Sincerely,

Rob Gruber

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber

Present Life Mastery Coach

i wish i could tell you

The Next Big Thing in Communication!

Your ability to effectively communicate is paramount, hence the birth of bottom lining, the ability to express yourself succinctly.

While much has been written on bottom lining, little has been written about the ability to express what you have heard succinctly.

I call this ability, Headlining. Much like an editor that reads an article to determine its headline, you can listen to the speaker and express what you have heard in the form of a head line.

Headlining is not only efficient but fulfilling.   You not only listen for the information being conveyed but for the meaning of the communication.

The irony of this technique is that once you begin to master it and truly connect with others words are often no longer needed.

A HeadLining Exercise

1. Carry on a conversation. (Begin practicing this with those you know well, until you’ve got a hang on it.)

2. Listen to them with every fiber of your being.

3. Share with them in as few words as possible what you feel they have shared with you.

4. Listen again for feedback to determine how well you headlined.

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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My Wish is My Command

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

“To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all.” – Anatole France

What did these great thinkers discover about the power of imagination? I have a theory, a simple but profound one. I believe they were able to tap into the hidden and powerful nature of the word, imagine.

Did I say hidden?

Yes! Hidden within the word, imagine, right before your eyes, is an affirming and declarative sentence of your ability to create your world.

Breaking the code

Breaking down the word, first visually and then phonetically, you will find its message.

Visually: I – m – a – gi – ne

Phonetically: Im – ah – gee – nee

The Declaration: I am a Genie!

That’s right. “I am a genie!” I did say simple, but I also said profound. The profound part is found in the definition of the word, genie. A genie, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is “a supernatural creature who does one’s bidding when summoned.”

My argument to you is that you have within you a supernatural being, call it a soul, an authentic self, your higher self or even pure genius that can be summoned to help you create the world you truly desire.

You are a genie! You create your world through your imagination. Your wish is your command.

Awaken the Genie within You!

1. Spend some time each day welcoming your newly found awareness. Say to yourself each day, “I am a Genie. My wish is my command.”

2. As you imagine, call on your Genie to aid you in making powerful and loving wishes.

3. Work with your Genie to determine what wishes are working for you and which aren’t, so that you can wish more wisely next time.

4. Never stop wishing.

A Query

What does your heart truly wish for?

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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Once Upon a Present Moment

Once upon a present moment, an old queen looked into her mirror and asked, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all?”

The mirror answered back, “I am the fairest, reflecting only what I see.”

Enraged by the mirror’s answer she exclaimed, “That’s not what I meant. Who is the most beautiful?”

“Still it is I,” said the mirror, “reflecting only what I see. What could be more beautiful than that?

The queen, angered by the mirror’s answer, threw it on the ground, breaking it into a thousand pieces screaming, “Now what do you have to say for yourself?

The thousand broken pieces answered back in a thousand tiny voices, “I am still the fairest, reflecting only what I see.”

Refusing to listen to the mirror’s many voices, the queen ordered all the mirrors in her kingdom to be destroyed and buried far, far away.

———————————————————-

I realize that this may seem like a simple play on words, but it’s not. To see things as they truly are is a beautiful thing. And as easy as it seems, it’s not, and we humans rarely do it.

A Mirroring Exercise

1. Go to a busy place you feel comfortable, like a café, and write in your journal everything you see in the most descriptive way you know how. Describe what others are doing around you. What you think they do for a living? How do you feel about them? Describe the environment and setting in great detail. (Do this for about fifteen minutes.)

2. Now I want you to do the exact opposite and write in your journal what is going on in front of you in its purest and most generic sense. Avoid using adjectives and adverbs or anything descriptive. Use only rudimentary nouns and verbs. Simply record what is in front of you without any imagining, discerning, judging or evaluating. To simply describe someone as male or female is too descriptive for this exercise. i.e., person walking, man standing, couple holding hands, machine making noise, wind blowing, door moving, sign flashing. (Do this for about fifteen minutes.)

The second part of this exercise may seem odd or difficult at first, but with some practice, you may find it quite liberating or even peaceful to see things as they simply are.

“All of life is within a stone’s throw.” gruberism

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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Awaken Your Very Essence from the Outside In

On a recent trip to the theater, I had the pleasure to see a production called The Rat Pack. The show transported me back in time to a night at the Sands Hotel in Vegas with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. at their very best.

Watching the confidence of Frank, the charm of Dean and the poise of Sammy filled my very being. In their presence I began to assume their essence. I was profoundly changed, not only during the show, but for many days after.

Over the next week, I noticed that my profound change was starting to wane, and I wanted it back, but how? And as sure as I asked the question, the answer arrived, in the form of a question? “What would Frank do? Or Dean? Or Sammy? And as I asked these questions, I began to experience once again the essence I attributed to each of them.

Frank, Dean and Sammy didn’t give me anything I didn’t already have, but awoke in me, an essence I attributed to each of them. And when I asked the question, “What would ______do in this situation?” I was able to re-awake the very essence I attributed to them.

As I ask the question, What would Frank do? I begin to smile, walk taller, and know that “I have the world on a string…What a world, what a life – I’m in love.”

An Awakening Essence Exercise for Determining Action

1. Choose someone or something in your life that you attribute a certain essence, quality or characteristic you wish to experience more of. This can be a hero, an actor, a religious figure or a natural wonder. It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as you attribute a quality or essence to it that you wish to possess.

2. Ask the question.
What would ____________ do (in this situation)?

3. Allow the answer to flow from your sense of the essence you have given that person or thing.

4. Experience the fullness of the answer and determine if it is the right course of action. If it is not, enlist another hero, person or thing into the process and ask again?

Copyright 2008 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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Become a Modern Day Alchemist

An Alchemist, in ancient times, was a philosopher and metaphysical chemist that sought to transform common metals into gold or create the elusive elixir of life.

While I have yet to transmute any common metals into actual gold or brew the elixir of life, I do consider myself a modern day alchemist and am becoming quite competent in transforming my world.

Here’s a simplified version of The Principles of Modern Day Alchemy.

1. Every thing in the universe contains its opposite, e.g., light and dark or love and hate.

2. The essence of Everything is contained in every Thing, as the poet Blake described seeing “a world in a grain of sand.”

3. You have the ability to choose what you wish to focus on.

4. What you choose to focus on, in your mind, will expand.

5. Once your level of internal focus reaches a critical mass, you will begin to look for and see evidence of it in your outer world.

6. Knowing every thing contains the essence of everything, you will now be able to see that which you are looking for in that which you are looking at.

“The modern day alchemist does not change anything into gold, but rather, sees the gold which is contained in all things.” – gruberism

May you harness these principles to transform your life!

Sincerely,
Rob Gruber

Copyright 2007 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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Live a more Balanced Life. Create a Two-do List.

You’re always busy doing everything you can to succeed. You make your lists and manage your time, but still, you feel out of balance.

Add a little balance back into you life with a Two-Do List!

The Goal of the Two-Do List

To create a system to get you to focus all the areas of your life.

The Process

Build a Foundation. (To be done monthly)

1. Write down in your journal where you are in each area of your life.
2. Now, write down in detail where you wish to be, how you would feel being where you wish to be and some of the ways you could get there.
3. Answer the big Why? Write down why it is important to you?
4. Do this exercise until you have addressed each important area of you life.

Make Your List

1. Choose between five and eight areas of your life, from your journaling, you wish to work the next day.
2. Create a list of action steps you could take to further your growth in each area.
3. Pick two action steps from each area.
4. On a clean sheet of paper list the areas you have chosen and the two action steps you have chosen for each area.

Follow the Rules

1. Take Action. Work off your list.
2. Once you have completed two tasks from a particular area of your life move on to the other areas you have chosen to work on that day.
3. Once you have completed one action step from each area on your list you can refill your entire list, complete the existing list or just go about your day, satisfied with your ability to have addressed every area of your list in one day.

The Skills You Will Strengthen

Self-Awareness
Balance
Time management
Visualization
Imagination
Creativity

Copyright 2007 Rob Gruber Life Coach

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