Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve Pavlina: Personal Development for Smart People

He sold me on page xvi of the introduction. I quote, “These principles should lend themselves to a structure that is both simple and elegant.” Some of my readers will already know that I took a motto for myself many years ago against which I measure every choice I make:

An Elegant Simplicity

Or, conversely,

A Simple Elegance

And do these three words sum up the delicious new book Personal Development for Smart People by personal development expert Steve Pavlina! His website is a goldmine—when you are in need of reminders about who you truly are, go, go, go!

I need to cop to something up front here: I’ve only read the first half of the book which lays out the seven principles by which anyone anywhere any time may guide a life. The pages are so dense with wisdom that I want to take more time with the Practical Applications in Part II so I’m writing this review based on Pavlina’s Theories, not his Practices today. (You can expect a follow-up within a few days.)

Personal Development theories are rampant in this day and age as we all know, but rarely, except in older metaphysics books have I seen such simple, elegant instructions for the human psyche. There are three primary principles are Truth, Love, and Power. Various combinations lead to the three secondary principles which are Oneness, Authority, and Courage. Putting all three of the primaries together yields the seventh overarching principle in his system: Intelligence.

Here’s a telling fact: I’ve read the first 136 pages of the book, and I didn’t have to look up his major points as I’m writing this. That tells me that Pavlina’s points are clear, concise, thought through thoroughly, and well-expressed. True, all true, but the most exciting part of the book is the author’s motivation. He was very nearly a jailbird until he got real about his life.

It is so often true that we need to face the rock and the hard place before we’ll let go of how we think life ought to be and get grounded in how life really is. Mr. Pavlina knows how life really is. One of the great boons of his book is that he doesn’t avoid the hard stuff.

I’m one of the best positive thinkers around, but I’m also a realist. When someone hurts, I address it, I don’t ignore it. Positive thinking was never meant to be a gloss-over of reality; it was meant to be a way to guide living. Mr. Pavlina addresses both his own challenges, and his raw truth is fiercely comforting, as well as those of any conscious being. Yeah, we can get into struggling, resistance, defense, angst, you name it, and his three fundamentals, IF we will align with them, will, over time, get us out of these difficulties.

I really enjoyed some of his practical suggestions—in the theoretical part of the book no less. Try these on for size.

Consider a Media Fast: 30 days with no television, radio, newspapers, magazines. Think of the time you’ll free up to grow!

Consider Progressive Training: to “build power and especially self-discipline is to progressively train yourself to tackle bigger challenges.” He suggests an increasing raising of the bar for whatever you want to accomplish. What a relief!

Consider his Worst First: I loved this one! Start your day and do the worst things first. Get them over with, so that as your day progresses you become more and more successful. I learned this one years ago.

Two of the major ideas in this personal development bible have been the cornerstone of my spiritual counseling practice for more than 25 years:

You will have to face whatever you fear.
You will be so much closer to healing if you’ll take full responsibility for the way things are now.

As if I hadn’t already fallen in love with the simplicity and elegance of Mr. Pavlina’s systematic program for personal development, when I hit the pages on Honor, my heart bloomed like a lotus flower. It’s an old-fashioned concept, honor, but one I think needs reviving.

“Honor recognizes that service to self and service to others are the same thing. They cannot be otherwise.”

Amen! Hallelujah! Glory to be God! It is so true, and we, in the Western world anyway, have this bizarre concept that service to others has to cost us or it isn’t service. Nothing could be further from the truth, and Mr. Pavlina nails this one on the head.

I wholeheartedly recommend this simple elegant structure for personal growth. Click here to go direct to Amazon, so you can read it for yourself. Steve Pavlina is a personal development genius, and his book is as simple and elegant as the atom.

P.S. For Part Two, go to

Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetic Anatomy

Seeds X, 39

Seed: Poetic Anatomy

Many of you have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I’m sure. If you haven’t, give it to yourself as a gift. It’s transcendent. This Seed comes from her book. At one point, she writes, “There exists in each human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy.” I love this idea.

All able-bodied folk have the standard human inventory. I don’t have to list the items. But what of a poetic anatomy? What might that be? For my 5’4” self, part of that poetry is a me that is 5’10” tall. Another part of that poetry is the totally healthy me. Another line in that poem of my anatomy declares that I can eat anything and my metabolism will handle it.

Poetry doesn’t always top our lists in terms of artistic expression. We think it takes a rarified talent to create poetry and an even more rarified one to enjoy it. But what if you were to consider your body and its anatomy as a poem for a moment? Would you be a sonnet? Haiku? Free verse? Iambic pentameter? Dr. Seussian? Twas the Night Before Christmas-like? A combination?

There would probably be as many poetic anatomies as there are literal anatomies. If you get a second this weekend, grab an unlined sheet of paper, and write the poem of your current anatomy. A couple days later, try the poem of your ideal anatomy. Oh what a difference a vision makes!

Be content,

Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso

Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.

When you have friends you would like added to the Seeds e-mail list, send their addresses to me at and please visit my blogs Ode Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Service Industry

There is, of course, a whole industry called the Service Industry. It has to do with supplying services rather than goods, but what I’m wondering is: isn’t every industry ultimately a service industry? More, shouldn’t every industry be a service industry? I think so.

Reading the latest issue of Ode Magazine, I came across a wonderful article about the healthy masculine by Father Matthew Fox, that reprobate, formerly Catholic priest who writes so winningly about Original Blessing. In it, Father Fox writes, “Service is love of strangers.”

I’ll write it again so you have a chance to be with it.

Service is love of strangers.

Well, ain’t it the truth? It is! Living a life of service really doesn’t allow for discrimination of any kind. Service to humanity is service to all of humanity, or it isn’t service at all. A life of service makes humankind one’s master or mistress.

One needs a master or mistress in order to service. This raises another question for me. What in humanity am I desirous of serving? The highest and best in humanity would be my answer. The Divine Spark in each one of us. I see my service as turning Divine Sparks into Divine Flames. It doesn’t matter whose Divine Spark—we all have one and every single one of us deserves the experience of living from the heart of a Divine Flame.

What this means is that no one is a stranger to me. No one. Will Rogers wrote that “strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet.” I’m with Will.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pakistan, of All Places

Americans are notoriously amero-centric, myself included, so imagine my delight when I got a letter from a gentleman in Pakistan who had read last week’s Seed, called “Coexist.” His name is Muhammad Tahir Tabassum; he is an Ambassador for Peace and the Founder/Executive Director of INSPAD, the Institute of Peace and Development. It has offices in Belgium and Pakistan.

On Saturday, the worst terrorist attack ever committed in Pakistan happened in Islamabad near the Marriott Hotel. A truck bomb detonated killing forty and injuring many hundreds more. It was a few hundred yards from the Prime Minister’s home where all the leaders of the country were dining just after their new President’s first address to Parliament.

Normally, I would have read this headline with a sigh, said a prayer and let it go, except that my new correspondent is based in Islamabad. My first answer to Muhammad’s email was about his safety! One man, one spirit, one soul dedicated to peace (as am I) in the midst of a terrorist attack put a human face on what had happened halfway around the world from me! One!

And that’s the point. Those numbers in the story: the forty killed and the many hundreds wounded are human beings, individuals, spirits, souls, bodies who will be touched beyond imagination by this terrorist action. Ambassador Tabassum is safe—thank God—he wrote me a quickie response to my original email assuring me he was.

Of note: the Ambassador had spent the day at a meeting for the International Day of Peace—today, Sunday, September 21, 2008. He sent me an article about the ceremony during which they signed an agreement with the Coordinator of IBHI (Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues) to establish an International Commission on Kashmir Issue.

Perhaps my peace ambassador, because he spent his day working toward peace, was spared this time. His email to me closed, “Thanks again I am safe, but the country is in danger really.”

No one deserves to live under this sort of threat! No one. We’re all individuals, doing the best we can with what we have at any given moment. Please, please, won’t you pray for peace with me? For Ambassador Tabassum, his country and yourself and me and our world?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Seeds X, 38

Seed: Coexist

I drove past a car with a bumpersticker bearing an image similar to the one above for almost a year before I figured out what it said. And, of course, when I went looking on Google images for the exact bumpersticker that had confused me, I could only find images that were as clear as the one above!

Anyway, I can’t find whoever designed this but it’s allegedly a lesson on Coexistence for all beings. Track the symbols with me. First, the Muslim crescent; then, the peace symbol; the astrological symbols for male and female (and I’d add, all the genders along the spectrum); the Star of David; the Baha’i Star; the Taoist Yin/Yang; the Christian cross. From what I’ve read, the creator of this image intended it to be a recommendation to humanity that we are all dependent upon one another and the major religions of the world.

That works for me, but the more important statement in my mind is this: we have no choice, dear one, we all are coexisting whether we like it or not, and we can choose to like it if we want to so choose. Or not, and suffer the consequences. Me, I pick peaceful coexistence.

Be content,

Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso

Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.

When you have friends you would like added to the Seeds e-mail list, send their addresses to me at and please visit my blogs Ode Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

100% of Reality

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the ever-quotable, said, “Perception is one hundred percent of reality.” What appears below is a testament to his inimitable wisdom. It came to me several times in the past two days via the Internet.

I'm a little confused.Let me see if I have this straight:

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic', 'different.' but grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. But name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School, you are unstable. But attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a state senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment, Public Works, and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

But if your total resume is: Local weather girl, 4 years on the city council, 6 years as mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second-highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian. But if you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society. But if, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system, while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

But if your husband is nicknamed 'First Dude,’ with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25, and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Whether you agree with my politics or not, you have to agree that it’s all a matter of perception. The spin doctors are working overtime.

Can you allow your OWN perception to filter that of the media so that you make an informed, conscious choice about whom to support? You bet. Listen to your heart.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dirty Pool Online

An amazing thing happened this week. I had my first post in Politics on Huffington Post. I wrote about Sarah Palin and consciousness. Over the weekend, I sent announcements and various emails about the piece, and got some stellar responses.

Saturday afternoon the Obama Campaign called to ask me if I would volunteer for them, canvassing and voter registration. I said no. Too many timelines right now, but I am doing something for Obama (besides giving money). I told her about my piece.

When we hung up, the Obama folks called for Sheriden on the other phone line. She’d just signed up for a training so she could go help the Obama campaign in New Hampshire.

Here’s the dirty pool. It turned out that the site was a training to assist the Republican ticket.
She had clicked on an Obama button, and got redirected to help the Republicans. There’s something mean here. Illegitimate. An Internet bait and switch.

So when you’re volunteering and especially in signing up and donating online to do so be sure you’re dealing with the real thing before you commit your time, energy and focus.

Some people will do anything to get elected.

P.S. After I wrote this piece, I discovered that the Republican Party is seriously investigating foreclosures in the swing states of Michigan and Ohio. The reason? Most foreclosures in those swing states affect black person who would be voting for Obama. Word is that the Republicans will claim that they are not really voters -- because they don't really live there!

I'll say it again: some people will do anything to get elected.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fast Horses

Seeds X, 37

Seed: Fast Horses

I can’t remember where we were going but we were driving on a highway up a hill. That, I do remember. Oh, and the sign on the trailer in front of us:

Fast Horses
Slow Truck

We burst out laughing, and the idea stayed with me. Isn’t that what’s so about the human mind? Our thoughts go lickety-split just like fast horses, and our hearts and bodies can feel like slow trucks a lot of the time.

Do you know why? Thoughts travel, quite literally, at the speed of light. Emotions travel at the speed of water. And bodies, those dear vessels, travel at the speed of earth.

The next time your thoughts are out-stripping your feelings and your body, remember the sign on the back of the trailer and give yourself a break.

Be content,

Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso

Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.

When you have friends you would like added to the Seeds e-mail list, send their addresses to me at and please visit my blogs Ode Magazine and The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Shift—The Movie

This video trailer may just say it all. Here’s the URL:

Go! And send your friends!

I’m in!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Telling the Truth

As you know, I’m in the midst of working with a {marvelous!}web wizard to create—something I’ve been meaning to do for years. We’ve found a good working rhythm, my designer and me.

The process is fascinating. First, we created a Web Map. We decided on Navigation Buttons, and sub-categories for the items that would go under the major buttons. Then I took the Nav Map, and created one document called Web Copy ALL. On that I laid out, page by page, what visuals and text went on what pages. It was crystal clear, or so I thought.

You can imagine that much of our communication is via email, and it struck me this morning when there was a total misunderstanding about one page that I am doing a spiritual practice by telling my designer the truth. Don’t get me wrong, either. I do my best to tell the truth all the time, but this case made me look differently at truth telling.

This website is my website. It needs to reflect my work and my energy. That’s a no-brainer. What isn’t a no-brainer is that I’m suddenly aware of how I can fall into a pattern of allowing others to have “their way” in the name of making peace so that sometimes when I ought to insist upon what I want, I don’t.

So here’s the key. First, I HAVE TO TELL MYSELF THE TRUTH about what I want. My designer totally misunderstood something that was perfectly clear to me. I wanted a special, separate page for the current Seed of the Week. She did the whole of the Seeds pages and left this thing out.

Instead of immediately insisting on what I wanted, I spent some time pondering whether I could/should let this go! Ridiculous! I’m known for writing Seeds, and there ought to be a page for the current Seed. What caused me to do this? It doesn’t bother my designer if I need her to redo something.

I’ll tell you. It’s an overarching desire to “just get along” with everyone that makes me lie down and say yes when I need to say no. When I tell myself the truth, it’s easy to share that same truth with others.

And, here’s a bonus. If I can be unattached to the outcome, over and over again a newer, better iteration has arisen!

Truth creates.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Big Dreams

Seeds X, 36

Seed: Big Dreams

Do you subscribe to Mike Dooley’s Notes from the Universe? If not, consider it. His weekday emails are pithy and hilarious. You can do so by clicking here: (It stands for Totally Unique Thoughts.)

Anyway, he’s a HUGE proponent of Big Dreams. Dreams, of course, for our lives, come in all sizes and shapes. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are—they’re still dreams, our dreams, and that’s all that matters really.

Writing in the September 2007 Science of Mind Magazine, Tama J. Kieves writes, “Big dreams deserve big love.” That sentence gave me pause. Big pause. Are you gifting your dreams no matter how big or small with big love?

I am. Now. But I wasn’t when I read that sentence. Think on it. It’s the same feeling that takes over when one first falls in love. Everything exists in relation to that beloved. Everything. Sometimes big dreams come true faster when we enlarge our hearts to receive them.

Be content,

Susan Corso

Dr. Susan Corso

Seeds are remarkable gifts. Sown in consciousness, they bring you to the most important part of your being—your Divine Spark.

When you have friends you would like added to the Seeds e-mail list, send their addresses to me at and please visit my blogs Ode Magazine, and The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Secret Practice of Solitaire

Okay, I’m about to cop to it. Listen up. I use Solitaire on my computer as a spiritual practice. Really. Think I’m going to get into a huge theological explanation? Think again. It’s real simple.

When I know I’m holding on, I use solitaire to let go. It works the same way driving works for me—as a Zen activity.

Solitaire requires that I pay attention in order to play, not to mention win. By entertaining my brain, I am able to loosen the stranglehold of whatever is holding on in my mind or whatever I am holding onto in my mind. It's the same thing!

Let’s get specific:

I was away at the beginning of August, visiting friends in Santa Fe. One of them had a new partner whom I was really looking forward to meeting. Let me simply say delicately that it did not go as well as I had hoped. In fact, it was a disaster, a bona fide disaster.

Weeks elapsed and I received an email apology which I didn’t answer. I had nothing to say. Two more weeks and it began to nag at me. I was not behaving to the standard that I choose for myself. I was in resistance to this email, and did not want to answer it. Argh. I wanted to be a better me.

So I played Solitaire until I got clear. I wanted to teach the little so-and-so a lesson. I was angry. The apology wasn’t sufficient. I told myself stories and played Solitaire till I was storied out, and then I was able to get real.

I wrote the offending partner back. I said I’d received the apology and that now damaged trust would have to be rebuilt through actions. Small, gentle actions. And I felt better, clearer, no longer in resistance, and right with myself again.

Solitaire. A game played alone, against (or for) oneself, and a wonderful spiritual discipline for getting clear.

Go ahead, boot up!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Encore, Encore!

I’m sure you’ve heard my title before at every concert you’ve ever attended, but I do not refer to a concert here. I refer instead to the wonderful book by Marc Freedman, now out in paperback, called Encore: Finding Work in the Second Half of Life. What a wonder it is.

Mr. Freedman is the Founder and CEO of Civic Ventures—their tagline is “helping society achieve the greatest return on experience.” And that is the core of his message in the book.

Millions of us are approaching the second halves of our lives. We don’t want to stop working but many folk who’ve done their time in corporate America want meaning over money and to contribute to the greater good as well as earn something of an income.

Retirement, it turns out, ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. Truth to tell you, I’ve never witnessed anyone retire particularly well unless they had a passion to do something they couldn’t do whilst they worked. And no one ever thought that people would retire at 65 and then live another 30 to 40 years!

What to do? What to do? Take a page out of Mr. Freedman’s book. Give yourself a “gap year,” to contemplate where you might like to go, what sector you might like to impact, how your experience might apply in other areas, what issues make your blood go. Learn, open yourself to reflection from within and without.

Then, try on a couple of careers for size. Volunteer. Be an adult intern. Get in on the ground floor. The trenches. Check it out. See if it still makes your blood pump. Treat this time like your annual Back-to-School clothes-shopping trip. Try things on! And if you like, excellent, and if you don’t, move on. Work in the second half of life is meant to be fulfilling—both for your cause and for your self, and this, dear one, is the key to it all.

Work, no matter what kind, has to be fulfilling to the worker as well as to the business or else it’s not real, inspired work. This is Spiritual Law.

Mr. Freedman is a visionary, a wise, practical one. He has a vision and a plan of action that anyone can use. The stories he tells of encore career pioneers are heartening. Every one of them listened for and found their heartsong. Then they sang it!

Encore, Encore! Bravo!